SUMMARY.--The Right and Wrong Way of Righteousness. Charity Not for Show. Our Alms-Giving Not to Be Sounded with a Trumpet. Prayer Not to Be Offered for Public Praise. The Model Prayer. Fasting to Be in Secret. Impossible to Serve God and Mammon. Trust in the Heavenly Father. The First Aim of Life.
19. Lay not up treasures on the earth. This forbids, not the laying up of treasures, but laying them up on the earth; that is, the piling up of worldly wealth for worldly purposes. Riches are no sin in themselves, but the improper use of riches is a sin. Where moth and rust corrupt. Unused garments often become moth-eaten; unused coin sometimes rust. All earth treasure will finally perish. Thieves break through. Literally, "dig through." Often robbers in the East dig through the house walls of mud or unburnt brick.
20. Lay up . . . treasures in heaven. This is the only way to save our wealth. It is a positive precept. Our wealth must be consecrated to God and used as his work demands. Wealth used for doing good is treasure laid up in heaven.
21. For. This introduces a reason for the preceding precepts. Where thy treasure is will be thy heart. This states a universal truth. A man's heart will be upon what he treasures most. If his treasure is in heaven, heaven will have his heart.
22, 23. The light of the body is the eye. This is not an abrupt transition, but bears on the same subject. If one's eye is diseased, all he sees is wrong. So the mind, or conscience, is the light of the soul. If these be darkened, all is darkness; if these see aright, all is light.
24. No man can serve two masters. He cannot give his heart to two services at the same time. He cannot follow two callings successfully. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. This is the direct application. The Chaldee word "Mammon" means money or riches. It is here personified as an idol. "Mammon" originally meant "trust," or confidence, and riches is the trust of worldly men. If God be not the object of supreme trust, something else will be, and it is most likely to be money.
25. Take no thought for your life. At the time the Common Version was made, the expression "Take thought," meant to be anxious. The Revision properly renders it, "Be not anxious." The Greek word means, "to have the mind distracted." Christ does not forbid prudent forethought. Is not the life more than food? The argument is: God gave the life, and it is higher than food. If he gave it, he will see that it is sustained, if you trust in him. So, too, he made the body. He will see that it is clothed.
26. Behold the fowls of the air. God feeds the birds without their sowing or reaping, but they do the work for which they were created, and God takes care of them. So, too, he will take care of us--not in idleness or improvidence--but if we do the work for which God created us.
27. Which of you can add one cubit, etc. There can hardly be a doubt that this ought to be rendered, "add one cubit to his age," or period of life. The idea is: "What is the use of anxiety? Who, by his anxiety, can add anything to life's journey"? If it is proper to speak of "length of life," it is also appropriate to speaking of adding a cubit to its length.
28. Consider the lilies. While the lilies do not toil or spin, they do their work, draw up sustenance from the earth, and drink in the dew, rain and sunbeams. So we are to do our appointed work. It we do this, trusting in God, he will supply all our needs.
29. Even Solomon in all his glory. To the Jew the court of Solomon was the highest representation of human glory. The magnificence of the court is not only celebrated in Jewish writings, but in all Oriental literature, and it is still proverbial throughout the East. Yet he was never arrayed with the taste and beauty of one of these. It is probable that both birds and lilies were in sight from where the Lord was sitting.
30. If God so clothe the grass of the field. Wild flowers belong to the herbage that is cut with the grass. In Palestine the forests in many localities disappeared thousands of years ago, and in the scarcity of fuel, dried grass and weeds are often used to heat the oven.
31. Therefore take no thought. Have no anxiety over the question of food and raiment. Do your duty, with a full trust in God that he will see that you do not lack for these things.
32. For after all these things do the Gentiles seek. This worldliness, anxiety, and distrust, might do in heathen, who have no knowledge of a heavenly Father, but you have a heavenly Father, and he knows that ye need all these things.
33. Seek ye first the kingdom of God. The promise is made that if we seek it first, and its righteousness, all earthly wants will be supplied. The condition demands, 1. That we seek the kingdom first in point of time. Some propose to secure a competence, and after they have gained it, they will serve God. 2. We must make it first in importance. Everything else must give way before its demands. 3. It must be first in our affections, have our whole hearts. We must "love the Lord our God with the whole heart" ( Matt. 22:37 ). His righteousness. The righteousness that God bestows upon those who are in the Kingdom, Christ's righteousness, the forgiveness of sins in his name.
34. Take, therefore, no thought for the morrow. Again, it should read, as in the Revision, "Have no anxiety about to-morrow." The morrow will take thought for itself. Not "take care of itself," but bring its own cares, anxieties and troubles. We should not foolishly increase our present burden by borrowing trouble about to-morrow.