No one can serve both God and wealth. (Luke 16:13)
Jesus is just telling it like it is: Gravity pulls at 9.8 m/s² —and—“No one can serve both God and wealth.” It’s a fundamental law of the unseen kingdom: our hearts were constructed to give treasure-level value to one thing or the other. The economies of God’s kingdom and our trust-wired hearts give us no choices other than Jesus or this material world. This is a big deal since allegiance to things other than Jesus is idolatry. God has said it early and often: “They shall have no other gods before Me.”
The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)
Jesus teaches that what we trust in is what we are worshipping. What we treasure determines how we perceive reality. He is telling us emphatically how to watch over our hearts and avoid idolatry: “Don’t be anxious.”
Is He saying we worship him by managing our emotions? Are worshippers just good emotions-managers? Jesus means much more than this. He instructs his beloved children how to steward their trust-wired hearts. No, we can’t choose how we feel, but we can choose what we think. Emotions will eventually follow thinking. Have you ever thought of thinking as worship? Thinking is the arena where we steward our hearts. This is why Paul put the ball in our court: “Renew your minds.”
Life, as Jesus defines it, is not associated with what we eat or wear. If we are preoccupied with external material things, Jesus tells us we are missing eternal things. He didn’t denounce material things as evil. He denounced inordinate heart-level devotion to them.
Jesus explicitly promises to cover our material needs if we will accept life as he defines it. To illustrate life, he uses birds of the air, lilies of the field and the grass in the meadow, things inherently beautiful and vibrant, which never ask, “Where have I come from? How do I look? How will I survive?” To receive life, we must become as the sheep of His pasture, creatures radically dependent on Him alone. Here is the disentanglement clause of the New Covenant: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.”
He promises that if (there’s that “if” word again!)—if we do this, our external needs will be met. Granted, the kingdom is a big topic; however, we may know more about it than we think. We know that seeking righteousness can only be accomplished by receiving it as a gift. We can also infer something about the kingdom from Jesus’ statement, “Do not be anxious for tomorrow.” The kingdom of God is not just in the sweet by and by. The kingdom of God is the now-realm of Christ’s rule. The grace God offers us for abundant life is always available in this kingdom moment.
Even the chosen must choose life. To taste Christ’s abundant life requires that we obey His commands, which He contends are not burdensome. Yet, we do feel burdened—so much so, that we can even feel like victims. We must not allow our anxieties to lead us into victimhood. We must take responsibility for our thoughts. Thinking is a domain God has entrusted to us. It is here in our hearts and minds where we steward truth.
Through Paul, Jesus instructs us to renew this domain (aka; repentance). The Lord disentangles us from this world as we obey his commands. As we do, our worldly notions will be displaced by eternal realities. Our obedience will eventuate in radical dependency on Jesus. Just as the hymn predicts, the things of earth will grow strangely dim.
Anxiety will be undercut as our hearts discover Jesus as our treasure. Even for those who feel as though they may explode any moment, Jesus says, “Trust in Me. I promise I will never leave nor forsake you.
Father, succeed in awakening the abundant life of Christ in us. May your kingdom without end, which is in us even now, noticeably expand. Where darkness remains, expose us and deliver us. Take vengeance on our enemy. Deliver us from every entangling lie. May the light within us grow progressively bright until that day when all will see the radiance of Your glory. Amen.