Matthew 6: Sermon on the Mount -- Focusing on What Matters

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Today's Bible Reading: Matthew 6

Selected Biblical Text
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:19-24, 33-34 NIV)

Thinking and Reflecting
Here is a good question: what really matters in life? Many Christians today would say that what they do in service to Christ is what really matters. Certainly Jesus commends the one who both hears and acts (see Matt. 7:24-27, Jesus' teaching about the wise builder and the foolish builder), but first he cautions against "acts of righteousness" that call attention to ourselves more than to God. There is a certain danger in prayer, self-denial, and giving. That danger is that our hearts may stray and our attitudes may falter. The way to focus on what matters is to invest our lives and resources in the most important things, because our hearts follow our treasure. Jesus contrasts two attitudes in verses 22-23: the attitude of generosity and the attitude of stinginess. (These are the basic meanings of the NIV words "healthy" and "unhealthy.") The priority of life lived in the kingdom is made clear in verse 33: seeking his kingdom and his righteousness takes care of everything else!

How can you know what is important to another person? Looking at your life, what would others say is important to you? How well does your life reflect your priorities? Make a list of the things that matter to you. (You may want to think about your life in categories to identify the one or two most important things in each category.) Those who study human behavior say that reviewing your list regularly will help keep you on target in your desire to focus on the most important things. How can we avoid the "tyranny of the urgent?" How can we keep from investing the entirety of our lives in trivial things? (Hint: One answer is to do the things that are most important first!)

Father God, focus our attention today on the things that really matter. Help us seek Jesus' kingdom and his righteousness above all. Focus our attention on kingdom things more than worldly things. In Jesus' name and by his power we ask it, Amen.

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Last updated January 2019