Matthew 6:19-34 - Homiletics
The fourth part of the sermon: self-consecration.
I. THE WHOLE MAN MUST BE GIVEN TO GOD .
1 . The heart. God asks for it. "Give me thy heart," he says to each of us. The heart will be where the treasure is. Where is our treasure, our chief good, the object of our strongest desires? If it is on earth, it will fail us at the last. "I must leave all this! I must leave all this!" was the sad cry of the great French statesman, Cardinal Mazarin, when, stricken already by the hand of death, he took his last view of the treasures of art, the costly adornments of his earthly home. God bids us trust our precious things to him. He is able to keep that which we have committed unto him against that day. He asks it for our sake; it is safe in his keeping. Then lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven—the treasure of holy thoughts, holy aspirations, holy deeds. Above all, let Christ himself be the Treasure, the dearest Possession of our hearts, the Joy of our souls. Earthly treasures are but as dross to those who win Christ, the heavenly Treasure. If our treasure is heavenly, our heart will become heavenly too—filled with heavenly affections, heavenly hopes; and this hope maketh not ashamed.
2 . The intellect. The eye receives the light of the sun. If it is blinded, all is dark; if it is diseased, the image presented to the mind is no longer clear, distinct, single, but confused, distorted, double. The intellect is the eye of the soul; but earthly affections distort and pervert it. If the heart is set on low, carnal objects, the intellect cannot discern clearly things high and heavenly; it cannot receive the light of the Sun of Righteousness; its vision is obscure, darkened. And if the intellect cannot see with a single eye the blessedness of religion, still more, if it becomes dark, how great must be the darkness of the whole soul! The consecrated heart enlightens the intellect; for God dwelleth in the heart that is given to him, and his presence is the light of the soul.
II. THE GIFT MUST BE ENTIRE , THE SURRENDER COMPLETE .
1 . The two masters . "God spake these words, and said; I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt have none other gods but me." It was the first of the commandments of Mount Sinai; the Lord repeats it from the Mount of the Beatitudes. There are two masters who divide the allegiance of mankind. Some serve the living and true God; some serve mammon—riches, earthly things. No man can serve both; it is impossible. The heart cannot be divided between the two; its chiefest affection must be set on one great centre. The true Master cannot be despised; he may be hated. Those who set their love on mammon will end in hating God. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God." He who clings to God, the heavenly Treasure, will despise the good things of this world. There is nothing upon earth that he desireth in comparison with God. To serve mammon is to desert the true God, to set up an idol in the heart. Covetousness, Holy Scripture tells us, is idolatry. There is no escape from this solemn, this awful, alternative—God or mammon, Jehovah or Baal, heaven or the world. There is no middle way, no compromise. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thing heart;" "Love not the world."
2 . The one Master : his loving care for his servants.
(a) The fowls of the air. The Lord of nature, he by whom the worlds were made, directs us to the study of nature: "Behold the fowls," "Consider the lilies." lie loved to contemplate the works of God, and to draw from them lessons of holy, heavenly wisdom. The vine, the fig tree, the corn-land, the sheep of the pasture, the fishes of the sea, supplied subjects for his parables. He has sanctified the love of nature, and elevated it by his own example. Doubtless in his early life he had watched the countless birds in the clear skies of Palestine, from the soaring eagle to the humble sparrow. He watched them not in vain; he draws lessons of holy trustfulness from their free, wild life. "They sow not, neither do they reap; your heavenly Father feedeth them"— your Father. He is not the Father of the irrational creature in the same holy, blessed sense in which he bids us call him "our Father." Yet he careth for the birds of the air; how much more doth he care for us, his children by adoption and grace! Therefore let us trust him. We cannot by the most anxious thought add to our lives a cubit's length, a day or an hour. Let us imitate the birds of the air in their happy, bright contentment, in their freedom from distracting care.
(b) The lilies of the field. God has shown his love not only in providing for our actual needs by flocks and herds and harvests. He has clothed the earth with beauty; mountain and valley, sunlit seas and waving woods and gleaming rivers, bear witness to the goodness of the Lord. "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." The sin of man has marred the primeval loveliness of creation. But there are yet traces of that first beauty left. The flowers of the fields are relics of Eden's bowers—
"As pure, as fragrant, and as fair
As when they crowned the sunshine hours
Of happy wanderers there."
The Lord gazed on the wealth of gorgeous flowers that deck the hills of Galilee in the spring; they were very fair in his sight; more delicately beautiful, more radiant in their bright colours, than any work of human art or skill. He draws a holy lesson from them: "They toil not, neither do they spin;" but God clothes them with beauty. He bids us learn the happy secret of their calm loveliness. He bids us trust in God with quiet faith; he will give us food and raiment who feeds the ravens when they cry, and adorns the lilies of the field with brilliant colour.
3 . We must trust him. He knoweth our needs; he bids us ask him for our daily bread; he listens to our prayer. His children must not be like the heathen. They have far higher privileges; they must live a higher life. The heathen seek eagerly after the good things of this world; Christians must "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness"—that kingdom of grace in the heart, which is "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." That must be the first and paramount object of the Christian's hope and earnest effort; the glad submission of his whole heart, with all its fears and hopes, all its joys and sorrows, all its desires and all its thoughts, to the heavenly King, who would make that heart his dwelling-place, reigning there with undivided sovereignty. Seek that first, above all things else—above riches, honour, comfort, ease, even above the love of those who are nearest and dearest. Seek that first, seek it of God with unresting, unwearied energy of supplication; and for other things trust his love. He bids us ask him for our daily bread, not to be over-anxious for the morrow. We must not allow distracting fears for the morrow to interfere with the calm performance of the duties of the day. Each day has its burden, its difficulties, its temptations; each day, too, brings its help from God, its grace, its mercies, to his children. "Take therefore no thought for the morrow Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." Give your whole energy, all your thoughts, to the work of the day, the duty which is present: "Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Do not allow the day to be darkened, and its work to be marred, by gloomy forebodings of possible troubles in the future. They may never come; we may pass away before they come; if they should come, God will give his people strength and wisdom. Do your duty; and then leave the future in his hands, to whom alone the future is known; who has promised to make "all things work together for good to them that love him."
1 . "Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven."
2 . Make no compromises; give the whole heart to God.
3 . God careth for his children; trust in him, be not over-anxious.
4 . The present is yours; the future is God's. Do your duty, and trust.
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