THE GOSPELS 54
REPLACE WORRY WITH FAITH
It has been my experience that some of the most familiar passages in the Bible are often read, and even quoted, but never really understood. The message is not in the words themselves, but in the concept contained in the words. I think this is true of this passage in the Sermon on the Mount. As we look at each phrase, I want us to be aware of the real lesson the Lord is trying to convey to our minds and hearts.
“The eye is the lamp of the body”. It is obvious that we get light and a vision of the world through our eyes. However, Jesus is warning us that we control what we see in our world. The condition of the physical eye determines the color and intensity of what we see. But, our attitudes, prejudices and personal identity determine how we see the world about us and the people we encounter. For example, if we have pre-conceived biases toward people of a certain culture, we will never be able to view them, or the things they do and say, with an honest assessment. We do not see “them”. We see them colored by our own prejudices. Here, Jesus is trying to tell us to examine ourselves critically, so that we may be able to see and treat our fellowman fairly, and with Christian charity.
Throughout this passage, Jesus is examining our “spiritual” qualities, for it is those very qualities which determine our relationship to God and man. He wants us to divorce our physical world, with its concerns, from the spiritual world in which we live, and which is so much more important. This is emphasized when He says, “No man can serve two masters”. Literally, these words mean, “No one can be a slave to two owners”. We are created beings. Therefore, we are never free to do as we please. The ancient slave was not considered to be a person but a “thing”, with which the master could do as he wanted. We are God’s possession…His creation, but if we refuse His will, as Adam did, then we are under the dominion of our worldly self and our possessions. This is the world dominated by Satan, and doomed to death and destruction.
This next verse presents us with much food for thought. If we simply look at the words, Jesus seems to be saying God will supply us with food and clothing, so we don’t need to be worrying about them. However, this is not what the Lord is teaching here. The example He uses is the birds, which He says do not sow or reap, but the Father feeds them. A little thought will cause one to see that the birds work very hard to get what the Father supplies. They may not sow or reap but, as a certain writer said, “No one works harder than the average sparrow to make a living”. Jesus is saying that we should not spend our time worrying about food or clothes, for these things are available with little effort, but that our concerns should be concentrated on the really important things in life, which affect the life of the soul, and it is eternal. The life sustained by food and drink is a one-dimensional life, consisting of length. The life of the soul is three-dimensional: eternal in length, with breadth of meaning, and God-related in its ultimate purpose.
Worry is debilitating and distracting. It can cause physical illness and prevent us from concentrating on the really important things in life. Worry is the opposite of faith. Jesus makes it clear here that the man who concentrates on his eternal relationship with the Father will find that the essential things of life are available. The more we worry about getting or acquiring, the less we appreciate, and are satisfied, with what we have. The man whose concerns are with his relationship to God does not want for a lot of this world’s possessions, and is easily satisfied with what his labors produce of life’s necessities.