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Life Upside Down

Who is Your Master?

Matthew 6:22-24



This study through the Sermon on the Mount has been so powerful.  Sometimes when we are reading it, we think of it as disjointed, like Jesus is just giving us little snippets of instruction that are not necessarily related.  But nothing is farther from the truth.  We have said all along that Jesus is pointing us to the condition of our heart.  The question of our heart’s motivation; why we do what we do.  Even in the first part of chapter 6, Jesus makes it clear that whether we are giving to the poor, praying to God, or even fasting, that the motivation of our heart is crucial.  Our love for Him should be the supreme motivation, otherwise, He refers to us as hypocrites.  What is our motivation for doing what we do?  Are we doing it to be seen of others or do we do what we do because we love Him and want to grow closer in our relationship to Him.

Two weeks ago, we found that the attention of our heart is focused in the place of where we are storing our treasures.  Are we treasuring up treasures in Heaven’s treasure chest or in earth’s treasure chest?  No matter who you are, we all focus our heart’s attention on our treasures.  Do we treasure our relationship with the Lord more than life on earth, do we treasure the souls of others more that we treasure our own comforts in life?  What do you treasure and in what treasure chest is it being placed?

What we are going to talk about today is not unrelated to all of that.  Though at first glance, it seems as though Jesus has moved on to another subject, but in reality, what Jesus says next ties all this concern about our heart’s motivation together.  How do we control the motivation of our heart?  How do we focus our heart on the right things?  How can we make sure our heart’s treasures are the right ones?  It seems as though there is a continual struggle in my life for control over my heart’s desires, as if someone wants to be the master of it.  Why is that true?  Can I control these things in my life?  What Jesus says next I believe will answer that.  Let’s begin by reading our passage this morning.

Matthew 6:22-24

22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,

23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

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.

So, what does this have to do with our heart’s motivations, our treasures, our desires to appear godly to other people?  What does the eye have to do with what He is talking about?  Is He referring to our physical eyes?  I believe Jesus is using the eye as an illustration of what we allow into our lives.  The eye is a picture of access to our souls, much like a gateway into a city.  So, we are talking about:

Granting Access to Our Hearts (vv. 22-23)

The analogy is simple and yet profound.  The things we allow into our lives will have an impact on our hearts.  Try to think of it this way.  Let’s use the houses that we live in as a picture of our lives, and the front door as the place where we grant access into our house.  Many people will come knocking at the front doors of our homes and when we come to the door we choose to either allow them access into our homes or refuse access to them.  We certainly would not grant access to people we know who are evil because they might wreak havoc in our homes.  We grant access to people who we know as friends and are good people, people that will treat us well.  We never purposefully allow bad people into the front door of our house.

We could say that the eye talked about here is that front door into our lives, or the access to our souls.  Jesus is using the eye as an illustration of what we allow into our hearts, what we grant access into our lives.  It certainly could be through what we see with our eyes, but I believe this illustration applies not just to what we see, but anything we allow into our lives.  Jesus is using the eye as an illustration of access to our heart and soul.  The eye is likened to a lamp, in that it can allow light into the whole body, or it can restrict the light.  Jesus is using the eye as an analogy for the gateway to our soul.  He uses two kinds of eyes to illustrate his point; a healthy eye and a bad eye.  First let’s look at the healthy eye depicted in verse 22 as it represents healthy vigilance in what we grant access to our lives.

~ Healthy Vigilance (v. 22)

"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,

When we consider our eyes and how valuable they are in everyday life, we begin to see the importance of the spiritual vision pictured here.  Our eye illuminates our body in the sense that the eye is what gives the rest of the body the information needed to walk, talk, and do the things that we do.  Without vision, it becomes much more difficult to do the things we do in our daily lives.  We see where and how to walk, run, or stop in place.  We see with our eyes how to hold, handle, or let go of things.  Our physical eye is a gateway of information that illuminates most everything our body does.  So, what we see with our physical eyes is very important.  This is also true in our spiritual lives as well.  What we focus our spiritual eyes on will illuminate or leave dark our heart and soul.

David recognized this connection between his heart and his spiritual vision in Psalm 119:

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.  10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! . . .

18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

You see, David is crying out to God for spiritual vision from the Torah, from the Law.  Eyes to see so that his whole heart will seek for God.  Someone has wisely said, “What you look at is what your heart seeks and eventually you will look like what you look at.”  There is a vivid connection between the focus of our heart and what we become.  The eye is not just a physical illustration of what takes place in our everyday lives, but a spiritual revelation of our life in Christ, our spiritual sight.

Jesus says that “if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”  What is a healthy eye?  Physically, many of you know what it is like to lose some of your vision.  If your physical eye is not healthy, life becomes more difficult because vision is impaired.  In the same way, unhealthy spiritual vision makes spiritual living difficult whereas, healthy spiritual vision allows the whole body to be filled with light and your life is lived with intensity for the Lord.  Your life is full of light, full of living for Jesus Christ, full of enjoyment of your salvation.  Every aspect of what you do is full of light!

How do we get the kind of spiritual vision Jesus is talking about?  Our eyes are opened spiritually when we become a child of God, when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  In order to see spiritually, our spiritual eyes need to be opened.

2 Corinthians 4:6

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:17-18

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.

God gives us spiritual eyes to see the light of His glorious salvation.  The problem is that many who hear, understand, and have the message of salvation opened to them, do not receive it.  They chose to reject it because they love the darkness more.  Listen, if that describes you, I encourage you to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior while you have eyes that see and understand His glorious offer.  By allowing you to see with spiritual eyes the wonder of His salvation, God is inviting you into His family.  Don’t turn away, receive Him today.  You may never see it again like you see it right now.  Spiritual vision begins when God opens our eyes to Him.

A healthy spiritual vision begins at salvation, but only remains healthy as we focus on our Heavenly Father and His Son.  The more our vision focuses on Him, the more we become like Him.  Spiritually we grow in our relationship with God as we focus our spiritual eyes on Him.  As we fill our hearts and minds with His Word and understand our life in Him we become more and more like Him.  Why?  Because we become like what we look at.  Healthy eyes fill the body full of light.  But verse 23 makes it clear that the opposite is also true.  So, there must be a vigilant determination to keep the eyes of our heart focused on God.

~ Corrupt Permissiveness (v. 23)

but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Now this is where it gets interesting.  If you have a bad physical eye, you are blind or at least visually impaired.  Our physical eyes allow the images or light of our surroundings into our mind.  Thus, we are able to respond physically to the conditions of our physical surroundings.  But if our eyes are bad, we are severely limited because all we can see is darkness and we stumble around trying to find our way.  We may have physical visual impairment that still allows us to see unclear images, but we see things from a distorted perspective and believe that it is reality when it is not.  That could be even more dangerous than complete blindness.

Jesus’ use of the eye as an analogy of spiritual vision is very powerful.  Without God giving spiritual vision, there is nothing to illuminate the darkness that is naturally within.  The Apostle Paul uses a similar analogy in 2 Corinthians 4.

2 Corinthians 4:3-7

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.  6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

The unsaved person does not understand the glorious message of God’s salvation because they cannot see.  They have allowed the veil of this world to blind them and they revel in the darkness.  There is spiritual blindness to God’s saving grace.  So, if God has allowed you to see and understand His salvation, don’t wait, receive Him now.  You may not always have this clarity of spiritual vision.

But this bad eye Jesus is referring in verse 23 goes much deeper than just our salvation.  He has often referred to the Scribes and Pharisees as blind guides.  You see, the Scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of their day.  They taught the law and Old Testament Scriptures.  They implemented many things to supposedly help people to live rightly before God.  But Jesus calls them blind guides because they were so concerned about the little things of the law that they missed the heart of the matter.

Matthew 23:24

You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

They claimed to know God and show the way to Him, but the Scribes and Pharisees were in fact leading the people away from God, and because of their distorted view of reality, they refused to listen to the truth.  Their spiritual eyes were bad and thus they were filled with darkness and Jesus expounds with “how great is the darkness!”  When the eyes of our hearts are bad, we can still act like spiritual people, but Jesus is telling us that we are filled with darkness.  We must take time to do a vision check.  How well are we seeing what we should see?  Is the light filling us completely?  Do I have a relationship with my Savior or am I simply a religious person?  This is what Jesus is addressing.

When I was young, I had poor eyesight.  I could not see what was written on the chalkboards in school unless I was in the front of the class, and who wants to sit up there?  It wasn’t until the teachers and my parents figured out something was wrong with my vision that I was taken to an eye doctor to evaluate the problem.  I thought my vision was normal in 1st and 2nd grade.  It wasn’t until about the 3rd grade I began to realize that I couldn’t see as well as everyone else could.  I had no idea that I had a vision problem before that.  But, once I went in to the eye doctor and was fitted with glasses, everything changed.  I could see clearly, my perception of the world around me changed completely.

The same is true when it comes to our spiritual vision.  We get comfortable with our religious activities, believing we are doing okay as a Christian, but we never allow the Word of God to check our vision.  Our morals get twisted and somehow, we begin to justify our sin and our responses to others as proper when in reality, it is just darkness.  Because we do not allow God to do a vision check on our hearts we become filled with darkness and how great is that darkness.

What an interesting comment Jesus makes about the greatness of darkness.  If you walk into a room that is dark with no light coming in from windows or doors, the darkness seems great, oppressive, and completely hindering to any activity you may want to do in the room.  But if you light a match or small candle immediately you can see what is in the room and you are able to maneuver around in there.  We can allow light to shine in a room, but no one can take a room filled with light and bring darkness into it making it impossible to see.  Darkness can only occur when there is an absence of light.  Thus, a bad eye does not allow the light to shine into the darkness of the heart.  A bad eye does not spend time focusing on the things of God and the result is a heart full of darkness, no matter how religious you think you are.  Thus, the healthy eye is vigilant about letting light shine into our lives, where as the bad eye does not grant access to the light and in doing so it is permissively allowing the darkness to permeate our lives.  “How great is the darkness,” Jesus says!

Verses 22 and 23 are talking about what we allow into our spiritual lives.  What do we focus our lives on, what do we live for, what motivates us?  Why is the motivation of my heart so important?  So, what, if I live with someone having premarital sex.  What difference does it make if I am addicted to drugs or alcohol?  Does it really make a difference if I attend church, or go to Bible Studies?  Can’t I just live a good life without having devotions or taking time to pray?  Why is all this heart stuff so important?  Jesus answers us in verse 24.  Is about the mastery of our lives.

Mastery of Our Lives (v. 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.

What you focus on in life will become the master of your life.  Jesus is making something very clear to everyone who will listen.  You cannot say you are serving God and focus your heart on something else in life.  It just won’t work.  Jesus says that it will come to a point in your life when you will hate one and love the other or you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot focus your heart on two things.  You must focus your heart and life on God and allow Him to become the master of your life.  Then, everything else will begin to fall into place.  You can only do this when you have a healthy eye that gazes upon the things of God.

In the ESV translation, it says “you cannot serve God and money.”  The word “money” is translated from the Greek word μαμμωνᾶς, mammonas.  The KJV transliterates the word into English as “mammon.”  But that doesn’t help us know what this word means.  The meaning of the word μαμμωνᾶς is treasure, riches, wealth, or an accumulation of goods.  Though often used to refer to money, it is also used to refer to greed, ambition or motivation.  Given the fact that we just found out a couple of weeks ago that where our treasure is, that is where our heart is also, I like the translating this word as “treasure.”  You cannot serve God and earthly treasures.  Why?  Because what you treasure, what you focus your life on, where your gaze is, that becomes your master.  It becomes that which rules what you do in life.

Consider these questions;

1) If you can only have one possession in your life right now, what would it be?

2) If you could do anything you want in life, what would be the very first thing you would do?

3) What are you most passionate about right now?

4) What if you just received an unexpected inheritance of $100,000 dollars, what would you do with it?

You see, the answers to these questions all tie back to what Jesus said about our treasures in the previous verses.  So why does what we treasure and set our heart on matter in what Jesus is saying now?  Simply because what you focus your spiritual vision on will become the master of your life.  Though we may think we can serve more than one master in our lives, Jesus says it is impossible to serve two masters.  Sooner or later you will despise and hate one of them and love and devote yourself to the other.  If you value the things of this world and are pursing after them, you cannot pursue after God.  You cannot love God and love the world.  You cannot serve God and money, or God and treasures.

1 John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16 For all that is in the world-- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life-- is not from the Father but is from the world.  17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.


What is the condition of your eye, spiritually speaking.  Do you value the things of God or is your heart blinded by the things of this world?  Do you pursue your relationship with God, or is He left out while you pursue other things you focus your heart on?  What are you focusing your life one?  Do you continually get your vision clarified through time in His Word and prayer, or is your vision distorted when it comes to the questionable things of this world?  Are you a slave to the wrong master?

We hear the saying all the time that “What you see is what you get.”  “What you see is what you get” could mean that what you look at will eventually be what you look like.  If you want to look like Jesus, you have to look at Him.  You must spend time with Him in the Word and prayer, you must spend time with believers growing into His likeness.  Though we enjoy many things of this world, our heart and life are focused on becoming like Him.  He becomes our master, not the things of this world.

Who is your master?

Are you a slave to this world or a servant of God?