Thursday 17 February 2022

Bible Book:

'You cannot serve God and wealth.' (v. 24)

Matthew 6:22-24 Thursday 17 February 2022

Psalm 78:1-7


Today we consider two more familiar sayings from the Sermon on the Mount. They present different challenges.

The first (vs 22-23) doesn’t fit with our understanding of how eyes work. Jesus is saying the eye acts like a window. If it is open and healthy the light comes in and, like a lamp, it lights up the inside. Hence, Jesus is probably presenting a similar thought to the surrounding verses. What we choose to focus on brings either light or darkness to our lives (good or evil). Just as if our treasure is in heaven, so if we focus on light our lives will be filled with good.

It seems to me that we take this for granted in much of our lives. We generally recognise that a focus on violence, hate, exploitation, bigotry and so on will drag us down, while choosing to focus on peace, love, generosity, kindness etc, will lift us up. Here, of course Jesus is specifically centred on God as the light to choose, rather than darkness, which represents evil. Hence, in one sense it is straightforward to apply. When we are using social media, watching TV, reading, engaging with friends, are we choosing those things that point to God and to kingdom values? Or are we dragged down by the negative, hateful, violent options that abound in our society? Maybe that's a straightforward message? But it's also very challenging and it can take something huge to get us to notice or admit the impact of what we consume on our lives and on our faith. Many find the story of Ignatius of Loyola  daydreaming about becoming a saint while recovering from a battle wound very helpful.

In verse 24 of the reading today, Jesus says no one can serve two masters (God and wealth). I believe a key challenge in our society is the courage to be honest about who our master is. It is easy to be glib, confident and assertive in denying the power of money/wealth in our lives – maybe we wouldn’t feel safe in some groups admitting anything different. Perhaps we live parallel lives, saying one thing publicly on Sundays and living differently the rest of the week. Again I don’t feel this can be tackled in isolation. We need to build supportive, safe communities that integrate this message within living out the whole of the Sermon on the Mount teaching. The big question is how?


To Ponder:

  • How about an audit of what we consume (books, TV, podcasts, social media, etc)? Where are there opportunities to switch to things that enrich us spiritually and lift us up?
  • Do we dare examine the proportion of our resources (time, money, energy, etc) that are given over to making money and how much is spent serving God? Are our priorities as we want them to be? What changes might we want to make?


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