Good eyesight is highly valued. It enables a person to gaze upon the world and see things clearly. And oh, what a delight to behold the vast beauties of God’s creation and to cast our eyes on those who are near and dear to us!
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Of even greater importance than physical eyesight is good spiritual eyesight. Being gifted by the Holy Spirit with such eyesight can mean the difference between beholding God and His wondrous truths through eyes of faith—and blindly stumbling about in darkness, unable to see through the fleeting joys and vain hopes offered by the things of this world.
The sad reality of life is that we are all by nature spiritually blind. And even though the Holy Spirit enlightens us at conversion, we still have to contend with a fleshly nature that, like cataracts, clouds our eyesight so that we don’t always see things clearly to judge rightly.
People are often tempted to think that glistening gold, sparkling diamonds, and a sizable bank balance will supply security and happiness. Look at addiction to lotteries, and the millions of dollars poured into them, with the pipe dream that winning the jackpot will make all the difference in a person’s life. The devil, the world, and man’s sinful nature sure have a lot of people fooled!
In this portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He bursts the bubble of this kind of thinking when He opens our eyes to the vanity and destructiveness of setting one’s heart on and placing one’s trust in earthly treasures. What is here today may be gone tomorrow—with moth or rust destroying them or thieves stealing them away.
The happiness which earthly treasures can give is very fleeting. Read Jesus’ parable of the farmer who foolishly devoted his life to the things of this world and lost everything, including his soul, when suddenly he died (Luke 12:15-21).
We also know from the Word of God that earthly riches are not evil in and of themselves. The problem comes, however, when one’s affections are set on these things (1 Timothy 6:10), and when all of a person’s time and energy are devoted to acquiring them.
God blesses us with earthly riches and temporal goods, but He does not do so in order that we live for such things, but rather so that they might be used to serve Him in His Kingdom. Jesus has redeemed us from sin, death, and the devil not for the purpose that we might live for ourselves and the things of this world, but rather that we live for Him here and in the world to come.
The Savior would focus our eyes and hearts on laying up treasures for ourselves in heaven. He would have us devote ourselves to growing in spiritual knowledge and faith so that we do not lose our hold on eternal life and that glorious world to come.
And of course, the spiritual treasures are intended not only for us. That is why Jesus commissions His disciples to share His gospel, so that others too might come to enjoy the treasures of heaven.
Lest we be tempted to think we can live for both God and the things of this world, Jesus declares such divided loyalty impossible: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). There is room for only one master in our hearts—either God or earthly riches.
Working through His Word and Sacrament, may the Lord ever bless us with spiritual eyesight so that we behold Jesus in faith as our Savior, devote ourselves to God, and finally behold Him face to face in heaven.