Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 7:7-11

Matthew 7:7-11

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
(NET Bible)
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.

The disciples refuge

Though the Old Testament — the Bible to those in Jesus time — has plenty of examples of prayer, there was some feeling that God was inaccessible. Living after the coming of Jesus, we feel much closer to God than those who had to approach God through priests and sacrifices.

Jesus enhanced our prayers by directing us to the Father and by promising the Fathers willingness to hear us. The question is not whether the Father will listen; the question is: will we pray?

Anyone who reads the Sermon on the Mount prior to todays section would agree that it challenges disciples in ways that are daunting. Those who follow Jesus will not live according to this worlds values and will certainly encounter not only temptation but even hostility.

The only way to face such challenges is to take your needs to the Father, and that is exactly what Jesus stresses at this point. He does so using a typical pattern of parallel clauses:

A: Ask and it will be given to you; (7:7a)

B: seek and you will find; (7:7b)

C: knock and the door will be opened for you. (7:7c)

A: For everyone who asks receives; (7:8a)

B: and the one who seeks finds; (7:8b)

C: and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (7:8c)[1]

The letter pairs work together; the first A tells what to do, and the second A tells why. Further, the verbs ask, seek and knock are all in present tense, implying habitual action. As Jesus disciples, we take our needs and concerns directly to the Father on a continual basis.

Each of the three verbs (ask, seek, and knock) is a way of referring to prayer. The need for our prayers to be habitual is a strong argument against weighing down prayer with a host of supposed conditions or rules. Prayer to our heavenly Father should be as simple as making a request to our earthly fathers, and Jesus next uses that exact example (7:9-10).

Jesus uses the care of human parents for their children to set up a how-much-more style of argument about the Fathers care for the disciples. Jesus begins by asking that any man in the crowd identify himself if he would give his son a stone in reply to a request for a loaf of bread (7:9). This ridiculous situation comes in the form of a question that expects no for an answer. Jesus then repeats the question by asking if anyone would give his son a snake when asked for a fish (7:10). [Can you imagine the smiling faces at such a crazy idea?]

In Matthew 7:11, Jesus caps his argument by moving from the lesser case (human parents who are all prone to sin) to the greater case (the Father in heaven who always does what is right). If mere sinners care for their children, how much more will the Father care for the disciples!

The Father will care for his own!

The author of Hebrews reminds us, the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Heb. 11:6). This is exactly the assurance and the push Jesus was giving by commanding us to ask, seek, and knock.

The apostle James rebukes believers when he says, You do not have because you do not ask James 4:2). We must never neglect speaking to our Father about all of our needs. When we do so, we show our obedience to Jesus and our faith in the kindness of God.

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 244.

 

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 7:6

Matthew 7:6
“Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces.”
(NET Bible)

Identifying pigs and dogs

For those trained in modern techniques of personal evangelism, it is tempting to press the presentation of the gospel even when the resistance is extreme. For a disciple confronted with entrenched refusal, Jesus has two words: “Do not . . .”

When you review commentaries on the meaning of Matthew 7:6, such words as cryptic and enigmatic often occur. However, analysis of the context and information about cultural background will combine to solve the mystery.

The verse is most easily understood as a balancing statement to what has been said in 7:1-5. David Turner makes the telling observation that Jesus’ disciples must not be judgmental — as described in 7:1-5 — “but neither must they be oblivious to genuinely evil people.”[1]

I hope it is obvious to you that Jesus uses the words dogs and pigs to refer to certain people. Yes indeed, he is making a negative judgment about them even after the warning against harsh judgmentalism! While the disciples must guard against adopting the judgmental attitude of the Pharisees toward others, they must also avoid the other extreme of being naïve. As in so many matters, there are two cliffs where one may fall down, and the wise path for a disciple lies between the two. Jesus is implicitly teaching that his disciples must make the judgmental identification of dogs and pigs when necessary for advancing the gospel of the kingdom.

As to the cultural background of this verse, the Old Testament has hundreds of examples where the literary pattern A-B-B-A is used to make a point with literary style. Here is how Matthew 7:6 looks when arranged that way:

A: Do not give what is holy to dogs

B: or throw your pearls before pigs

B: otherwise they will trample them under their feet

A: and turn and tear you to pieces.

So, in a word order more natural to a 21st-century American, Matthew 7:6 would say: “Do not give what is holy to dogs; otherwise they will turn and tear you to pieces. Do not throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet.” Such a rewriting takes away the literary pattern that would have been quickly decoded by Jesus’ audience.

Turner informs us that dogs were generally wild scavengers in the first century, and pigs were unclean animals according to the law. He adds, “Their use here is as striking metaphors of those who contemptuously and viciously reject the message of the kingdom.”[2]

In our tolerance-ridden times you might doubt that such vicious (human) dogs were a real danger to Jesus and his disciples. Think again! Luke 4:16-30 tells what happened when Jesus preached in the synagogue at Nazareth, his hometown. Because Jesus refused to work miracles for them, the people became so enraged that “they got up, forced him out of the town, and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff” (Luke 4:29). Only then did they see a miracle, when “he passed through the crowd and went on his way” (Luke 4:30). Notice carefully that he did not remain in Nazareth to press the matter further.

What a Savior!

Any swine or canines in your life?

If you never let on that you are a Christian, then you will probably never encounter a dog. But if you live as a disciple of Jesus and spread the gospel of the kingdom, then you will eventually get a vicious response. Your task as a disciple is not to strongly condemn such people; instead, provide the gospel in a sensitive and caring way and then let God deal with any hardened hearts.

In sharing the gospel with those in your sphere of influence, remember that you are not responsible for their response to the message so long as you take care to be thoughtful and sensitive in your presentation. The issue must not be you; the issue must be Jesus Christ, the one who died for our sins and rose on the third day. He will handle those who forcefully resist his Word.


[1] David L. Turner, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008) 206.

[2] Turner, Matthew, 207.

 

Preparing to judge others, Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 7:3-5

Matthew 7:3-5

Why do you see the speck in your brothers eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, Let me remove the speck from your eye, while there is a beam in your own? 5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.
(NET Bible)

Laughing at ourselves

Many years ago I met weekly with a colleague for lunch at the State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. In time I came to regret that standing lunch because my friend, who was intelligent enough to discuss many things, chose to spend his part of the conversation by running down people we both knew. My attempts to introduce other topics generally failed. Another salient fact is that my friend never acknowledged any weakness or shortcoming on his own part; in his view, he was perpetually blameless.

What does Jesus think about disciples who judge others without any regard for their own faults and failings? They will not be pleased to find out.

Some people think that God lacks a sense of humor. Those folks would have been shocked to hear members of Jesus audience laugh at some of his exaggerated metaphors. Jesus was known to be a carpenter (Mark 6:3) and the son of a carpenter (Matt. 13:55). What we have in 7:3-5 is carpenter-shop humor with a sharp lesson about judging other disciples fairly.

Imagine the absurdity of a disciple with a roof beam sticking out of his eye who is trying to see a small object such as a chip, splinter or piece of straw in his brothers eye (7:3). Jesus abruptly sets the hook with that potent sentence: You hypocrite! (6:5a). Is Jesus saying this to the disciples? What does he mean?

The previous uses of the Greek noun hypocrites (6:2, 5, 16) were consistent with its general meaning actor, in the sense pretender, dissembler.[1] We have learned that such people were pretending to worship God when in fact they wanted to be seen by people and considered pious. Since Jesus most frequently uses this negative term to describe the scribes and Pharisees (23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29), it seems that here (6:5a) he is saying that any of his disciples who judge others harshly in order to seem pious are no better than those pretending to love God while seeking popular admiration. In this, such a misguided disciple is following the Pharisees rather than Jesus!

How must the disciple repent of making harsh judgments? Jesus says, First remove the beam from your own eye (7:5), but he does not explicitly say how to do so. To answer this question we should consider all that Jesus has said to this point. The first thing to realize is that Jesus has spoken to his disciples as their teacher and even their Lord. When Jesus finished teaching, the crowd was astonished that he had spoken with complete authority (7:28-29). That had never happened!

The first step toward clearing ones vision is to listen to Jesus and no other; that would mean rejecting the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees. The second step would be to develop the character traits Christ wants in his disciples (5:1-16). Next, the disciple should adopt the understanding taught by Jesus of how the law must be fulfilled (5:17-48). Finally, the disciple must learn from Jesus how to view his religious duties and to put seeking God above seeking money (6:1-34). Following Jesus in all things is the way to see clearly and to make sound judgments.

Craig Blomberg skillfully summarizes: But verse 5 makes clear that verses 34 do not absolve us of responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Rather, once we have dealt with our own sins, we are then in a position gently and lovingly to confront and try to restore others who have erred (cf. Gal. 6:1).[2]

Judgment is not a laughing matter

Unless we are laughing at our own faults as disciples, judgments about others are no laughing matter!

Jesus had great concern about unity among his followers. He knew that harsh, loveless judgments could sour that unity and hurt the gospel of the kingdom. Judge we must, but let us do so with an eye to our own limitations and the priority of Jesus mission over our personal concerns.

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] BDAG-3, hypocrites, actor, q.v.

[2] Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992) 128.

 

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 7:1-2

Matthew 7:1-2

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.
(NET Bible)

What did Jesus mean?

Judgment is a normal and necessary function of any society. Too little judgment can bring big problems. As of March 2010, India had a backlog of 31 million court cases that would require 320 years to clear![1] One serious criminal case in India that involved the death of more people than the 9/11 attacks in the US took 26 years to go to trial.

In spite of such ridiculous situations, Christians have somehow understood Jesus to say that they should never make judgments about others at all. How then do we expect unbelievers to make a judgment about Jesus? How will we make judgments about who has not believed?

New Testament scholar David Turner rightly says, Matthew 7:1 is certainly one of the most misquoted verses in the [New Testament].[2] It will take several steps to clarify the verse and correct the misunderstanding.

First, the Greek word translated judge means, to pass judgment upon (and thereby seek to influence) the lives and actions of other people.[3] The word itself is neither positive nor negative; individual judgments may be wise or foolish, fair or extreme.

Second, it is sensible to consider the context of the Sermon on the Mount in the ministry of Jesus. Remember that Jesus has been preaching throughout Galilee: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near (4:17). Those who have gathered to hear him are either his disciples — presumably people who have repented — or they are the curious, who may yet repent. Whatever the makeup of the crowd, a message of repentance provokes defensiveness on the part of the uncommitted and possible arrogance on the part of those who have already crossed the line to Jesus. Even among self-proclaimed disciples of Jesus there can be disputes about whether some have repented enough; that remains a hot topic to this very day!

Jesus does not want his message or his disciples sidetracked over petty squabbles created by personal judgments. What then does Jesus mean when he says, Do not judge so that you will not be judged (7:1)?

Once again, David Turner hits the mark when he says that discipleship inevitably requires discerning judgments about people and their teaching (e.g., 3:7; 5:20; 6:24; 7:6, 16, 20; 10:13-17; 18:15-20).[4] Further, Jesus himself makes such judgments (e.g., 4:10; 6:2, 5, 16; 7:21-23; 8:10-12; 13:10-13; 15:14; 23:1-7). What Jesus condemns is the critical judgmentalism that analyzes others without even a moments thought about oneself. That concept will be explained in the next post.

Verse 7:2 informs us that God will evaluate us with the same standard we use for others! That is a tremendous incentive to judge with a measure of grace and forbearance. Verse 7:1 informs us that the way to avoid harsh judgment by God is to avoid being merciless and harsh in our judgments of others. Christian interpersonal judgments must be constructive and gracious since our Lord commands us to love even our enemies.

Making fair judgments

All of us routinely make judgments about people. We do it instinctively when we look for a good doctor, a dependable babysitter or a reliable auto mechanic. Parents must often decide which of their children is telling the truth. In fact, I am making a judgment about you by saying that you do these things, even though I may not know you. I hope you do not decide I am being unfair, because then you will be making a judgment about me!

You and I are going to be evaluated by others for the rest of our lives. There is no avoiding it. What we can do is make sure our own judgments stand the test of scrutiny by Jesus himself!

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] Courts will take 320 years to clear backlog cases, The Times of India. 21 June 2010. <http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Courts-will-take-320-years-to-clear-backlog-cases-Justice-Rao/articleshow/5651782.cms>

[2] David L. Turner, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008) 205.

[3] BDAG-3, krino, judge, q.v.

[4] Turner, Matthew, 205.

 

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:31-34

Matthew 6:31-34

So then, dont worry saying, What will we eat? or What will we drink? or What will we wear? 32 For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.
(NET Bible)

The mentality of discipleship

The intrepid adventure traveler found herself high in the Canadian Rockies clinging to a rock pinnacle beside a gorge that dropped away for 1700 feet. Safety — if it existed at all there — was fifty feet across the gorge, over a rope bridge featuring wooden slats about two feet apart. The secret to crossing, she later said, was to ignore the gorge and the spaces between the slats and to focus only on placing her feet and hands carefully for every single step. After an eternity, she was across.

Following Jesus is not always safe. Are you up to the challenge?

It is important to remember that Jesus is teaching his disciples on a mountainside in rural Galilee, and a crowd of potential disciples is listening to what he said. The people Jesus is addressing are either part of his itinerant ministry or thinking about joining it. They are not wondering how they will eat and drink in the normal course of their previous lives; they are trying to figure out how they will live if they start or continue following Jesus. Jesus says, Dont be concerned about it!

Those already committed to Jesus are saying, What will we eat? (6:31). Those contemplating discipleship ask, What would we eat? (6:31). But Jesus gives two reasons to set aside such practical questions: 1) God-fearing disciples should not face the future like Gentiles, and 2) the Father already knows what the disciples need (6:32).

The assurance that the Father knows what the disciples need is not merely a generic statement about Gods care. Jesus says the Father knows that you need them all (6:32, ESV), referring back to food, drink, clothing and other necessary things. The Fathers care for the disciples is not some half-hearted effort that figures two out of three is good enough!

Matthew 6:33 gives the top priority for Jesus disciples: But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. No other English translation uses pursue in translating 6:33, for the simple reason that it does not work! We are to seek Gods kingdom and righteousness, not chase them. On the other hand, the statement that Jesus disciples are to seek these things above all is outstanding.

This ringing command of 6:33 meant most to those listening to Jesus. The days when Jesus walked the earth were not like other days before or since. Jesus spoke of this special time using two metaphors that brought out its vibrant possibilities. In Matt. 9:14-15, Jesus likened his days with the disciples to those of attendants to a bridegroom at a wedding. In Luke 23:31, Jesus warned the daughters of Jerusalem that his death when the wood is green did not bode well for the dry season to come after. It was especially during this epoch-making time that the disciples had to cast aside ordinary lives to follow Jesus wherever he led. We too must make crucial choices!

Of course, the decision to follow Jesus meant that nothing in a disciples life would ever be predictable again. Where will Jesus take us? What will we eat? How will we live? It was in that psychological context that Jesus told them: So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own (6:34).

To be clear, I am saying that Matt. 6:33-34 had a particular force for Jesus actual audience that we do not fully share. Only they could follow Jesus in a literal, physical way. We must also use his commands to guide our figurative walk as we too follow Jesus in our day and time.

Focused on the goal or the obstacles?

The path to which Jesus summons us does not always look safe. Will we focus on each step we must take or spend our time shuddering over the gorge below?

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need (Matt. 6:33, NLT).

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:25-30

Matthew 6:25-30

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isnt there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Arent you more valuable than they are? 27 And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life? 28 Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! 30 And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, wont he clothe you even more, you people of little faith?
(NET Bible)

The interaction of faith and worry

Perhaps lifes biggest temptation is to go it alone. Some choose to go all out for their own interests, no matter what the effect on others. Such people often rise to great power bearing names like Stalin, Hitler and Mao. Maybe they become princes in hell after a wealthy life on earth. Maybe not.

Jesus calls us to humbly follow him and trust in the care of the Father. If we live as Jesus directs, we will likely not be wealthy, but we will serve in heaven after a life of Gods blessing. Which path are you on?

One important word in Matthew 6:25 is therefore. All of 6:25-30 is controlled by the principle that you cannot be a slave to both God and money (6:24). One challenge for us is to determine the logic that justifies the use of this word therefore. We will get to that logic after a little preparation.

Jesus first commands his disciples not to worry — or to stop worrying— about their lives or their bodies. On a practical level this concern is shown by the scramble for food and clothing (6:25). The disciple is assumed to have chosen slavery to God, and so his clothing and food become Gods problem. Just as God feeds the birds, will he not much more care for the faithful disciple (6:26)?

Further, worry is futile (6:27). Jesus has a way of cutting right to the heart of an argument. He very simply asks who in the group can add even a single hour to their life by worry. David Turner explains that this questions power lies in its absurdity; worry can even shorten life.[1] If worry is impotent, why worry?

Next Jesus turns attention to clothing and challenges his disciples not to worry (6:28). Since the flowering grasses were commonly gathered to feed the fires of bread ovens, it was astonishing that God would clothe them in such splendid colors (6:28-30). Jesus argues from the lesser (wild grass) to the greater (Jesus disciples). If God clothes the flowers, he will certainly clothe his own!

In all his assurances to the disciples, Jesus looks back to the history of Israel. After bringing the people out of Egypt, God fed them in the wilderness of Sinai for forty years. Further, when the Israelites stood on the shores of the Jordan River, Moses reminded them that for all those years God had kept their clothing and their shoes from wearing out (Deut. 29:5).

The phrase you people of little faith (6:30) translates a single Greek adjective that is used only by Jesus in describing the disciples (Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Luke 12:28). Jesus consistently pressed his disciples to raise their faith to a higher level. Like many people today, the disciples too frequently found reasons to doubt Gods care.

R.T. France points out how Jesus words applied to his first disciples: In the specific situation of Jesus first disciples the issue was one of direct . . . importance: their itinerant and dependent lifestyle made questions of daily provision constantly relevant.[2] When James and John left their fishing boat to follow Jesus, they were no longer earning a living. Jesus had called them to follow him and assured them of the Fathers care.

This biblical text does not mean that Christians should walk away from their jobs and trust God to feed them. Indeed, Paul says that anyone who is unwilling to work should not eat either (2 Thess. 3:10). We are to work to care for our own families (1 Tim. 5:8).

Since we cannot be a slave to both God and money, we should be slaves to God. Craig Keener wisely says, In the end, Jesus teaches here, wealth does not matter, but Gods blessing does, and he will provide it.[3]

Seek Gods blessing!

If you or someone you love is regularly consumed by worry, then you know how difficult and unpleasant that can be. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you (1 Pet. 5:7, NLT).

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] David L. Turner, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008) 199.

[2] R.T. France,The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007)266.

[3] Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999)236.

 

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:24

Matthew 6:24
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
(NET Bible)
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.

The two masters

Every resort which features snow skiing tells its customers not to ski off the carefully prepared ski runs. But not everyone listens. Michael Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, did not listen and met his death when his head struck a tree at Aspen. Less than a week later, singer Sonny Bono failed to heed the warning and died in a collision with a tree at Heavenly Ski Resort in Nevada.

Don’t be too quick to consider them foolish. Jesus says that no one can serve both God and money. Are you trying to do so in spite of the warning?

Sometimes English translations try a little too hard to make biblical language contemporary. Matthew 6:24a is better translated: “No one is able to be a slave to two owners” (my translation). Since a slave owes all his service, attention and allegiance to his owner, it is nonsense to think of a slave having a second owner.

Jesus explains what such a ridiculous situation would lead to: “He will hate the one and love the other” (6:24b). Craig Blomberg says, “Love and hate in Semitic thought are often roughly equivalent to choose and not choose.”[1] Alternatively, Jesus says, the slave “will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (6:24c). The latter clause might be translated, “he will be devoted to the one and disregard the other” (my translation of 6:24c).

In other words, a slave owned by two masters will make a choice and make one master happy while disregarding the interests of the other master. Even an uneducated slave knows they cannot please two different owners. Jesus’ audience understood this principle thoroughly; it was common sense and common knowledge.

After setting the stage, Jesus lays out the crushing conclusion: “You cannot be slaves of God and of money” (6:24c, Holman Christian Standard Bible). Notice that Jesus does not say that you may not serve both, as if it were a matter of permission. No, he says you cannot, making it a matter of ability. It simply cannot be done!

The word Jesus used for money is relatively rare — the Aramaic word mammon. So, the King James Bible says, “Ye cannot serve both God and mammon.” The word mammon refers to both money and possessions. They each present a danger to the soul. Later in this Gospel, Jesus will say, “I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven!” (Matt. 19:23). In a country such as ours whose whole economic system is set up for the acquisition of wealth by individuals, that is not good news.

Blomberg points out that the greatest danger to Western Christianity does not come from Islam, humanism or Marxism “but rather the all-pervasive materialism of our affluent culture.”[2]

The one-master life

If your life is all about making the one big score, then God is not your master. If you believe the person with the most toys wins, then God is not your master.

One of the cruel things about chasing possessions is that you can never get enough to satisfy. That is one reason Jesus turned down the devil’s offer of all the kingdoms of this world. Imitating Jesus by choosing God rather than possessions will make the difference between heaven and hell.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992) 124.

[2] Blomberg, Matthew, 124.