Matthew 6:19-24

Setting and Overview
Following the extended section in Matthew 6:1-18 addressing superficial self-righteousness, Jesus addresses the problem of compromised loyalty to God’s Kingdom. In verses 19-24, He does this through a number of metaphors and comparisons, which collective move our focus and examination from our external actions to our internal heart, specifically by addressing an area in which men have tended to compromise for millennia: our pursuit of material wealth.
 
Exposition
In understanding the warning against accumulating treasures on earth, we must understand that it is not preventing us from providing for our families (I Timothy 5:8), working hard to prepare for the future (Proverbs 6:6-8), or enjoying any material things (I Timothy 6:17.) Rather, the admonition is against dishonest gain (James 5:2-5) and inappropriate fixation on and consumption of material things (Luke 12:13-21.) Instead, He exhorts us to pursue treasures in heaven, which we are told is done by using our material things to meet the needs of others while focusing on God (Luke 12:33, I Timothy 6:18, Matt 19:21.) Further, He reminds us that where we establish our repositories for accumulating and storing wealth will determine where our focus and desires are, and will thus determine what we invest our time and resources in.
In verse 22, Jesus changes to a new metaphor, but not a new topic. In declaring the eye to be the lamp of the body, He isn’t saying that it illuminates the body, but rather that light passes through it, like a window. How much light a window lets through depends on how clean the window is and where it is pointed. The first part brings to mind the generosity instructed in vv. 19-21, but the focus is probably more here on an undivided orientation toward God, which is then emphasized further in verse 24. The contrast between hate/love and devoted to/despising does not necessarily mean that we would truly hate or despise, but rather that we cannot have split devotion, and one will always take clear preference over the other (Luke 14:26, Mark 7:9-13.) Therefore, if we allow ourselves to become devoted to accumulating and relying on worldly wealth, then it will compete with our devotion to God, which is unacceptable. Instead, we must have our eyes full focused on His glory and the blessings He offers us for all eternity (II Corinthians 4:6, 3:18.)
 
Examination and Application
This passage challenges us to first change our perspective. Human nature sees the short term as more valuable and we are naturally drawn to meet those desires and needs first, but God tells us to recognize of how little relative value earthly things are. Why pursue something that cannot last when you can pursue something that cannot be lost? Therefore, we must take action by establishing repositories that will put our focus on treasures in heaven (6:21.) Next, we examine ourselves to identify improper attempts to accumulate treasures on earth, such as selfish consumption or envy of the goods or stability of others (6:19.) We instead make sacrifices to meet the needs of others and to serve God gladly, knowing that His rewards are of immeasurable value (6:20.) Ultimately, we focus exclusively on God, seeing His glory and learning more and more that no earthly reward or enjoyment can compete with what He has in store for us.
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