( A commentary on Matthew 6: 19-23 )
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.” (Matthew 6:19-23)
Today in the Gospel, Jesus, as he has been doing throughout the Sermon on the Mount, continues to teach us the wisdom of how to live as he lives, how to live well, how to live to the full, so that with him we may live forever. He exhorts us to set our hearts on the true treasure of his kingdom, a treasure not measured in clothing that moths can wreck, metals that rust can corrode, or money that thieves or taxes can take.
He reminds us that our heart will be where our treasure is. If we’re setting our hearts on these worldly treasures — pleasure, getting our way, health, fame, material possessions big or small — our hearts will be weighed down, enslaved, and it will be difficult to lift them to the Lord. But, if we set our hearts on the kingdom, on storing up for ourselves treasure in heaven, then we can turn everything into an investing in eternity.
There is a single theme that links these various concerns together: integrity. Jesus is inviting his disciples to a life of integrity, a life that is lived for the sake of the principle, not for appearance; a life that is deeply healthy, not only outwardly attractive. Appearing pious, gathering and collecting shiny things, striving after wealth at any cost – these habits betray one’s relationship to God and undermine God’s call to live a full and meaningful life.
Perhaps the heart of this passage comes in the curious statement about the eye. Why is the eye the lamp of the body? Because it is through the eye that we look out onto the world and via the eye that we let what is in the world into our body and, more to the point, our soul. So, what are we watching? What are we looking at? What do we focus on? The answers to these questions reveal more about our character and destiny, Jesus suggests, than just about anything else. If the eye – and the things it looks to – are healthy, so will the rest of the body and person be healthy.
In an age when we are bombarded each and every day with information and misinformation, via the internet, what might seem initially to be an odd assortment of sayings is revealed to be sage wisdom for our day. What are you looking at? What are you focusing on? These are vital questions because what we give our deepest attention to is what we eventually gravitate toward and ultimately become.
And so to his disciples then and now, Jesus’ counsel and command is simple: keep your eyes wide open in wonder, belief, and gratitude, focusing on what gives life and shunning what takes it. If we can do that, we will live a healthy and full life and make this world a better place.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, you have the words of everlasting life. May the light of your truth free me from the error of sin and deception. Take my heart and fill it with your love that I may desire you alone as my Treasure and my All.
Jesus contrasts two very different kinds of wealth – material wealth and spiritual wealth. Jesus urges his disciples to get rich by investing in wealth and treasure which truly lasts – not just for a life-time – but for all eternity as well. Jesus offers heavenly treasures which cannot lose their value by changing circumstances, such as diminishing currency, damage or destruction, loss or theft. The treasure which Jesus offers is kept safe and uncorrupted by God himself.
What is this treasure which Jesus offers so freely and graciously? It is the treasure of God himself – the source and giver of every good gift and blessing in this life – and a kingdom that will endure forever. The treasure of God’s kingdom produces unspeakable joy because it unites us with the source of all joy and blessings which is God himself. God offers us the treasure of unending joy and friendship with himself and with all who are united with him in his heavenly kingdom.