23. Sermon on the Mount 8

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:19-23).

Our souls are transformed by and into whatever we feed our minds upon. If our attention is on the world then our minds will be darkened and our spiritual life void of holiness and godliness. If we have a heavenly focus then the light of God’s nature will flood our souls, and our Christian life will be one of purity and holiness.

The light of the body
The eye represents one’s intention, and what the eye is to the body, intentions are to the soul. The eye guides the movement of the body, so the intentions guide the soul. The eye of the soul must be single, that is, focussed on one thing only. This means that all of our affection must be upon Christ. In this sense a Christian ought to be narrow minded.

Full of light
If we fill our minds with true divine knowledge we will maintain a healthy Christian life. Those whose desire, disposition and affection are holy will shine for the Lord in this world’s darkness. We become what we fill our minds with. If we seek God in all things, we will find Him in all things. He alone is the fountain of all holiness, continually filling us with His likeness, mercy, justice and truth. If were to daily fix our minds on Christ we would find that our souls are being transformed into His image … “Conformed to the image of his Son … And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 8:29; 12:2). We need the “sun of righteousness” constantly shining upon our souls (Malachi 4:2).

Full of darkness
Notice that there is middle ground between light and darkness in the Lord’s sermon. There is no grey area between being holy (healthy) and evil (darkness). If our minds are set upon the things of this world then we cannot have a healthy spiritual life, and because of this everything we do is corrupt. If our focus is not single then we will have a veil of darkness covering our hearts and minds, and we will become increasingly blind to the glory of God. We will find ourselves careering towards ignorance and error, and will be unable to discern the true way of God. Our minds become darkened by the god and the things of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Are we laying up the treasures of this earth or of Heaven? If we are storing this world’s goods then we are focusing upon that which perishes.

How great is that darkness
So many are living in ignorance, error, sin and misery because their motives are earthly rather than heavenly. The shadow of death darkens their souls as they fix their minds on everything but God. The darkness is great because it is a bottomless pit that leads the soul to Hell.

Treasures on earth
Those whose minds are full of lust for the things of this world prove that they do not love or trust in the Lord. We live in an age that is obsessed with material things. People think they can better themselves by accumulating gold, silver and other treasures. This does not mean that we should not provide for the necessary things of life, including food, clothing and a roof over our heads, but it is certain that we ought not to go overboard in them. We should not store up treasures simply for the sake of owning a lot. A good principle is to gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can. The man who hoards this world’s goods finds it hard to enter the Kingdom of God and to follow righteousness (Luke 18:25). Those who go after riches are caught in the devil’s snare (1 Timothy 6:9), for “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Death robs the rich man of all his wealth.

Treasures in Heaven
We should invest everything in the Bank of Heaven. This is better security than the world could ever provide. Scriptural treasure will last for eternity. We can lay up heavenly treasure by how we live our lives for Christ on earth. The Lord Jesus tells us, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). We can be “Rich in good works” (1 Timothy 6:18). We will lay up treasure in Heaven by doing all for the glory of Christ by using what we own the way He requires. The Lord does not forbid us having things, but He does warn us against allowing things have us. If He commands us to relinquish our possessions for the needs of others, let’s do it immediately and not sorrow over their lose. Therefore “Labour not to be rich” (Proverbs 23:4) and “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you” (John 6:27).

Whatever holds our attention while we live in this world will transform our nature, character and outlook. Have the treasures of this present life so attractive that we are unable to see God? Has “gross darkness” invaded our souls that we no longer know what holiness means (Isaiah 60:2; Jeremiah 13:16)? By looking to Christ, and laying up treasures in Heaven, we can be filled with heavenly light.

29 January 1736