This group of verses is broken into two sections. The first was addressed to the multitude; the second was specific instructions to the Savior’s twelve chosen disciples. The instruction that had been given to the twelve is some of the doctrines that I’ve taken to me most personally. There is obviously a reason why these particular instructions were given just to the twelve.
Treasures in Heaven
In five verses (19-24), the Savior sums up all of our relationship to the goods of this world and contrasts them with true treasures of eternity, without offering a lot of specifics or details.
New day of study, I have mapped out on our wall this morning something of a personal overview of our mortal experience:
This depiction is representative of some thoughts I had today after listening to a talk last evening from President Nelson entitled “Now Is the Time to Prepare”.
The final timeline is labeled “Earthly Treasures/Pleasures”. I had first labeled it as “Money $$” referencing President Nelson’s talk, but then as I thought more about what the Savior is teaching in these verses, he doesn’t call it “money” but rather “treasures upon earth”. These earthly treasures are contrasted with “treasures in heaven”.
- Corruptible things, can be destroyed by moths, rust, or decay.
- Things capable of being stolen by thieves.
- Things which are incorruptible.
- Riches which cannot be stolen, because they are stored in heaven.
This definition actually leaves a lot to the imagination. Here’s a quick brain dump of some general ideas.
Examples of Earthly Treasures
- Riches, mammon, temporal possessions
- Fame, recognition
- Excessive houses, fine clothing, expensive cars
Examples of Heavenly Treasures
- Family and family relationships
- Friends and neighbors
- Knowledge and skills
- Divine attributes
- Temple covenants
The Savior then states a defining and clarifying point: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” So the Savior is then giving it to us to define for ourselves where our treasures are, or where our priorities are at.
There is more here, as the Savior goes on to explain that where you direct your sight, can determine whether you are allowing light or darkness into your life. In verse 22, in the Matthew version of this scripture, there is a Joseph Smith Translation which adds: “if therefore thine eye be single to the glory of God, thy whole body shall be full of light.”
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. Our eyes are the light of our bodies. “Blessed are your eyes, for they see.” See what? They see the Light of the world. So if we can see the glory of God, Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, and our eye be single to Him and Him only, then are we full of that light. And if we are filled with light, then do we comprehend all things. (See Doctrine and Covenants 88:67)
(This last point was an addendum of the Father that the Spirit of the Lord constrained me to consider before finishing for the day. What am I to learn?)
No Man Can Serve Two Masters
Our loyalty is to God or to the devil, but it can never be to both. Loyalty is synonymous with trustworthiness, obedience, and faithfulness. My loyalty, as explained in Jacob 1:7-8, I feel is not as it could be. What can I do to improve this? I follow Jesus Christ, or in this I am trying. I really, really struggle when it comes to blessing others though by following Jesus Christ.
In my studies from yesterday, I followed the footnotes on the Topical Guide entry for Service found in Matthew 6:24, which in turn took me to Jeremiah 22. This caused me to consider other matters of family dynamics and father to son relationships, and the wrath of God upon those of the covenant who did not hear His word.
In these particular verses, the Lord also decrees that the lineage of that king (Jehoiakim) will never prosper or rule again in Judah. I don’t know why that strikes me as important this morning. This goes back to the original verse, “No man can serve to masters.”
The very existence of any Israelite kingdom in antiquity was that God might have had a covenant, righteous people. When the people departed from their righteousness, then the very purposes for their organization as a people was nullified. They were to remain in their scattered state until such a time as was given them to be gathered in again, not because of their identity or association as a people, but because of their righteousness.
This morning I am in a preparation for General Conference this weekend. I’ve had a small but jolting reminder in my own behavior that has caused me to remember that God can do His own work. One planted, another harvested, but God gave the increase.
Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.
He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.Doctrine and Covenants 107:99-100
This is where I am failing in terms of fatherly responsibility. I do not know my duties. I do not attend to my duties as a father.
The pruning is hard and deep this morning, but needed. I have read “An Eye Single to the Glory of God” by Elder Marlin K. Jensen. These thoughts bring me full circle in this particular study. The principles of gardening are all very real in my mind this morning as well. I’ve learned a few things as of late that I am finding to be applicable as well in my current circumstances as a husband and father. I’ve also read an article from then President Utchdorf entitled “God’s Harvest”.
I am back in verse 24. After the Savior says that “no man can serve two masters,” he goes on to explain why. “…for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.” Now, here pronouns are used.
First he says “he will hate the one, and love the other.” Let’s assume that the hate assigned here is towards Mammon and the love is towards God. But then, he flips the tables and says “or else he will hold to the one (no love here), and despise (a word that means a feeling stronger than hate) the other.” Then we assume here that this is Mammon that we hold to and God whom we despise.
Despise is defined as feelings of contempt or deep repugnance, and it is also said to be a feeling stronger than hate. Why would we despise God if we do not love him?
Jacob, from the Book of Mormon, warns:
Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.Jacob 4:8 (emphasis added)
Mammon – See Idolatry, Idols in the Topical Guide. The theme of idolatry is prevalent throughout the Old Testament. It was the common sin of the House of Israel from the beginning. They could not understand the covenants of God and so they frequently defaulted back to idolatry, to worship the workmanship of their own hands.
Study of Idolatry (continued)
But this is not just an Old Testament issue. It is detailed in the Book of Mormon and is even mentioned in the introduction of the Doctrine and Covenants. So what does idolatry look like in our days? In the Book of Mormon, idolatry is associated with idleness, the two activities made to be equal. Idolatry = Idleness. If idleness is laziness, then it means to do nothing, or it seems to stand in opposition to work. And yet it sometimes requires so much work to accomplish wickedness. Vain, laborious exertions are made in pursuit of activities that bear no fruits.
Idolatry is also grouped in a host of other wicked activities as a catalyst for war.
One more day on this particular thought, following the Topical Guide entry for worldliness. (This is a particularly strong spirit about my study this morning: 14 Apr 2020) The Psalms are resonating deeply with me this morning, for the wicked may prosper for a season, but the Lord will not maintain them as He does the righteous. (Psalms 37, Psalms 73)
Psalms 73:12-17 stands out to me in particularly, that perceived dynamic of the righteous, who see the wicked prospering in their own ways, without any credence to the way of God, His commandments, or His covenants. Oh those covenant obligations that keeps the man of God from prospering after the ways of the world! I love how it is in the temple, in the attendance to covenant duty, that the Lord then reveals to the Psalmist the truth end of the wicked, who appear to prosper. And the most important part of this entire conversation is that in the end the man of God is he that prospers. Behold, how he prospers, in both temporal matters and in the riches of eternities, all of His children who follow Him.
Verses 25-34 are a commission directed exclusively to the twelve disciples that Christ had previously called. This is different than how this same set of instruction appears in the New Testament.
There are several invitation given to the disciples in this group of instructions:
- Behold the fouls of the air
- Consider the lilies of the field
- Take no thought for food, drink, or clothing
- Seek ye first the kingdom of God
There are so many lessons to be learned in the mere observation of life that surrounds us. I find it fascinating that Christ points to birds and flowers to instruct his disciples. What I’m really struggling with right now is the connection between God, the natural world, and man. Why do these observation of nature feel more like a time-wasting hobby than an opportunity to be instructed and to hear the voice of God in his creations? Why won’t the Spirit of God guide me to further consideration of the lilies? (I will stop here for the day, but expect to learn more in the days ahead.)
First the Savior gives instructions to the disciples that they should not concern themselves with temporal affairs of food, drink, and clothing. Then ends with a rhetorical question: “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” In this question, it is more of a declaration: the life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. There is more to it then just our temporal needs. The questions then are what is the “more”? There is more to life than just what we eat. Or there is more that is required for life to be sustained than just food. There is a greater purpose to our bodies than just for the purpose of clothing it.
Behold the Fouls of the Air
To illustrate this point, he first points to the birds of flight as proof that without thought for it, God can and does feed these creatures, which exist in abundance. The entire life span of billions upon billions of birds that cover the earth all get a “free lunch” if you will. “Work we must, but the lunch is free,” as scholar Hugh Nibley was fond of saying. The birds contribute essentially to the natural systems of the earth into the spheres in which they are placed. They give of their songs, and are clothed in beauty, not of their own thought or choosing. They are obedient within the realm in which they are placed and God takes care of them.
In our “Come Follow Me” instruction, we were recently in Mosiah 1-3. So King Benjamin’s remarks are fresh in my memory. I am feeling that there is a parallel there between his remarks on keeping the commandments of God in chapter 2 and this particular point on beholding the fouls of the air. The birds are blessed for their participation in the Plan. So are we.
…I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual…Mosiah 2:41
In Matthew, there is a footnote on “consider” that leads to the TG entry for “Mediation”. Herein is a key to spiritual strength. “Lord, consider my meditation,” Psalms 5:1. I wasn’t expecting such a strong impression of the value of meditation this morning. I’m particularly considering it as a part of discipleship. The following two verses from Doctrine and Covenants give this practice particular credence:
Hearken ye to these words. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Treasure these things up in your hearts, and let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds.Doctrine and Covenants 43:34 (emphasis added)
Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.Doctrine and Covenants 84:85
…The Lilies of the Field
The fouls of the air were proof that God can feed all of his creations. Now he points to the lilies of the field as proof that he can beautifully cloth all his creations. God can do His own work in His own time.
A new day, I watched a video last evening where a gardener suggested that one of the best things that you can do for your garden is take time to observe it. Meditate in the garden. His reason for doing so was to observe ways in which the natural process were working.
I am not outside at the moment, but as I draw my mind to some of the wild field flowers that overcrowd my yard in the spring time, I am brought to consider that they are their in dormancy year round. They will flower once in the spring time. I say they lie in dormancy for most of the year, but maybe they are working and only fruit once a year. Their visible activities are only apparent when conditions are right.
Christ is not saying that food, drink, and clothing, these necessities of life are not of importance. He knows of their importance, just as he knows of our needs.
To Build Up… and to Establish
In the 3 Nephi version of verse 33, there is a footnote on commitment. The idea rubs me a little raw, because of misplaced priorities in understanding what commitment to the Kingdom of God really looked like. In Matthew 6:33 however, Joseph Smith translates this verse slightly differently:
Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.Joseph Smith Translation – Matthew 6:38
The additional wording is significant in my view.
I am going in two directions with these statements: one is looking back, the other is looking forward. As I look back, I have the testimony of a providential Hand that has placed me in my current state of abundance. Home, clothing, food, and modest yet reliable transportation are all temporal blessings that I currently enjoy. Could I ask for more than this temporally? Is it needed?
So looking forward, if I have been established in every needful thing temporally, how much more should I put first the building up of the Kingdom of God and to establish His righteousness! The questions in my mind are how, and in what ways am I being lead. Clearly there are matters of temporal importance that continue to merit my attention, but what have I ever lost in devoting time to the Kingdom of God? Nothing.
My devotions have been slightly off-centered though, not giving enough diligence and heed to my own home. But at times, as I allow space for children to grow, I have been prompted to attend to service in the Church, instead of at home.
To build up, to establish the kingdom of God, there is another phrase that goes inline with this thought: How beautiful is he that publisheth peace, that saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth. (See Isaiah 52:7) The act of publishing peace, or establishing righteousness connotes work, and an effort yet to be made. It is a call to arms.
Another day, I have spent another half hour reflecting on the same group of verses, cross referencing footnotes, which are abundant. The reality is that within this group of verses are the keys of abundance in this life and instruction on how to prepare for eternal life.
He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.Proverbs 21:21
Abundance and prosperity are the promises of the scriptures for those that follow God. Not as the world would illustrate prosperity, but as in the riches of eternity which the earth is designed to release to those who are obedient.
I end on this point, “Take no thought for the morrow.” The Lord is not telling us to not plan or prepare. Rather, this morning, I am almost paralyzed with fear of the future for my family. I think this is what the Lord is counseling me to avoid. The translation from the Spanish back into English simply states: Don’t worry about tomorrow.