WORTHY AND UNWORTHY AMBITION
--MATTHEW 6:19-34.--FEBRUARY 13.--
Golden Text:--"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and
his righteousness and all these things shall be added
THE Great Teacher taught no extravagance. He was energetic in the Father's business and taught his followers to be "not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." Nevertheless his teaching in this lesson is that our energies are not to take the selfish form of laying up earthly treasures: We are to lay up heavenly treasures instead. Notwithstanding the reference to [R4567 : page 72] moth and rust and thieves despoiling earthly treasures, we understand his teaching rather on a higher plane, though the principle is a broad one. All will admit that it would be folly to lay up clothing or food far in advance of need, except under very peculiar circumstances. But gold might be treasured, or money in the bank, or bonds, or stocks, or farm added to farm, and house to house, and the same principle would be involved.
Although no moth could touch the bank account, nor rust injure the gold, and no thieves could steal the title to the property, the principle is the same. Treasures of every kind may lose their value--do lose their value to us, when we die, if not before. Death, corruption, touches everything earthly under present conditions, no matter how careful or thoughtful the provision. "Naked came we into the world, and naked must we leave it." (Job. 1:21.) Intelligent people are generally agreed that God has provided a future life beyond the tomb, attainable in the resurrection morning. And the Scriptures teach that the degree of our blessing then will stand related to our use of the present life. It is this point that the Great Teacher emphasized in the study of today. All intelligent minds assent to the reasonableness of this.
Let us not take the extreme view entertained by some; let us not suppose that the Master taught that people might not make reasonable provision for their own comfort, and that they might not be dependent upon charity in old age. Let us not suppose that he meant that parents should be neglectful of their duties toward dependent members of their family. The Bible distinctly teaches that "he who provides not for his own is worse than an unbeliever." The proper thought, then is that it is right to economize and, as St. Paul expresses it, "to lay by in store" for our own future needs or that we may have to lend to others, in need. God's people are to be frugal, to avoid debts, to be "forehanded," and with some reserve of capital.
But earthly things are not to be the treasures of their souls, but merely their servants, conveniences--always ready for use, for every emergency, freely, whole-heartedly. He who follows this course will rarely have large earthly wealth. Only by making wealth a treasure and setting upon it inordinate desire can one become miserly or very rich. Setting the affections on things above would signify so loose a handling of worldly riches as would hinder the accumulation or preservation of great wealth.
The Master's word is, that whoever sets his affections upon earthly treasures will become sordid, selfish, earthly; while he who sets his affections upon the things above will become correspondingly heavenly, spiritual, blessed, generous. We have two eyes and if they be not properly adjusted with relationship to each other our vision of things will be distorted. Hence we seek to correct such a difficulty, that we may get the true view of matters. So it is with the eye of our understanding. It has both a present and a future outlook, an earthly and a heavenly view. It is important that we get these rightly adjusted, so that we may see matters in their true light--see the great value of the future life in comparison with the present one, and correspondingly be guided to the setting of [R4567 : page 73] our heart affections there, and in general balancing all the interests of life wisely.
As in the natural body the eyes may become darkened or blinded, so it is with our eyes of understanding. And if this blindness come upon us after we have once seen and enjoyed the Divine promise, our case would be all the more pitiable. How great that darkness would be!
Still another lesson there is for us along the same line. The serving of mammon would bless us in the present life, but be injurious to our future interests. But the service of God would prepare us for future influence. And although obedience to God may cost us the loss of the pleasures of sin and the loss of some legitimate worldly blessing in the present time, nevertheless there is a blessing even now to those who are faithful servants of God and righteousness. And additionally there is the glorious prospect of the future. It is necessary, however, for us to choose between the two masters. We cannot serve both. We cannot get the rewards of both. As Joshua did, so let us determine, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
The Master urges us to commit all of our interests to God and to wholly resolve to be obedient to him, to the extent of our ability, and then to realize the Divine care which is over all creation to be specially over us, because of having come into special relationship to him, in accordance with his promises. Such need have no anxiety with respect to their earthly affairs, but may trust all their interests to their Heavenly Father. Our eternal life is worth more than the food and raiment of the present life. If wise we will seek the future life at any cost, at any sacrifice of the present one.
As for the ability of our Heavenly Father to care for our interests, we should consider the manifestations in nature of his power and wisdom and grace, in his provision for the fowl of the air and for the lily of the field. We should realize that he has equal power to provide for our best interests; thus faith should firmly trust him, come what may. Suppose we were of small stature, and inclined to worry over the matter of increasing our height? Then let us realize our own littleness and look rather to the Lord for the things respecting the present as well as the future life. Let us be diligent in his service, leaving all of our present experiences as well as our future rewards to his wisdom, love and power.
Should we suppose that God, who cares for the lilies and the birds, would not much more care for us after we had become his children through faith in Christ and through the consecration of our lives? Let us then cast off all anxious care respecting food and raiment and all matters pertaining to these which the world in general are worried about. To be without worry would not mean to be without proper concern and due diligence to find work and to do it. But our Father knows better than we the things that we really need, and faith is not merely to trust him, but to accept what he gives as being for our best interests.
Our chief concern as followers of Christ is to seek to attain a share in God's Kingdom with our dear Redeemer --a share in the Millennial Kingdom as the Bride of Christ, who shall sit with him in his glorious Throne for the blessing and uplifting of the world of mankind. We have our Master's assurance for it that whoever pursues this course will do wisely and that God will look out for his earthly interests, for his highest welfare. So doing our lives will be crowned with peace and joy and rest in the Lord, which in his Word he has promised those who trust him.