“I just need to check my Instagram one more time before bed.”
“If I don’t worry about it, no one will.”
“I cannot believe I just did that. People are going to think I’m a loser.”
At the start of my New Testament Survey class, I did a study on Matthew 6. I had always looked at the Sermon on the Mount as a collection of thoughts — random lifestyle directives from Christ. However, when I studied Matthew 6, I found it is more than just a collection of teachings.
Jesus says in 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 one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” This verse is the hinge of the chapter and, I believe, of the entire Sermon on the Mount.
The driving question behind Matthew 6 is “Who is your master?” The first eighteen verses of the chapter are about not practicing righteousness to be noticed by people, but instead practicing righteousness for God’s eyes and His reward alone. Three times in the chapter Jesus says that our “Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (vv. 4, 6, 18). Verses 25-34 are all about anxiety and choosing to have faith in our Father instead of worrying.
So who is your master? Is it man? Money? Worry? Or is it God?
Our culture today is enslaved to many masters. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 40 million US adults over eighteen. A study by James A. Roberts found that female college students spend about 600 minutes and males 459 minutes a day on their smartphones. Stephen Willard states that “the average person checks his or her phone a whopping 150 times.” Even more disturbing is what John Brandon, contributing editor of Inc.com, reports — that “We tap, swipe, and click on our phones 2,617 times per day.”
How many people are mastered by fear of what others think, video games, television shows, the need for more and more possessions, busyness, the desire for success or popularity, or “me time”? We are controlled by many things, often without realizing it. I struggle with worrying about my grades, what others think of me, my health. The list continues.
What is the answer to these misplaced masters? It is found in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus paints a beautiful picture of our heavenly Father, who rewards His children for doing good and meets their needs. When money, worry, or reputation masters us, we are filled with darkness, anxiety, and dissatisfaction. When God is our Master, we practice righteousness for His honor. Instead of focusing on the things of this world, we focus on God’s heavenly kingdom, seeking His will and storing up eternal treasures. When we seek God’s kingdom and righteousness, allowing Him to be Master instead of everything this world tries to throw at us, we are filled with light because God, who is light, is shining through us. When God is our Master, we do not need to live in worry. God is our Father and lovingly cares for His children. We can trust Him.
What master is keeping you from seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness? Are you willing to surrender it to Him, sit at His feet, and seek Him wholeheartedly? Truly, if we surrender to our Father and allow Him to be Master over us, we will have what we need.