From Glory to Glory
The Life of Devotion
In this life of devotedness with its three acts of piety as they are outlined in Matthew chapter six, our Lord warns of three great hindrances to its progress, materialism (6:19-24), anxiety (6:25-34), and censoriousness (7:1-6). As a counteraction He places three holy exercises for the soul.
Depositing Treasure in Heaven
Over against materialism the Lord sets the aim of laying up treasure in heaven and being rich toward God. The treasures of earth are summed up in one word, “mammon” (V. 24). To serve mammon is to incur spiritual poverty, to serve God with a single eye for His glory results in spiritual wealth. Every kindness, every act of self-denial, every suffering endured for His name; yea, everything with which we enrich others will meet us on that day. Not only so, but our souls are enriched as we enrich others. Furthermore, thereby our fellowship with God is deepened and our satisfaction and joy in Christ are increased. The believer in Christ learns the secret of spiritual wealth when he learns to live with an eye single to the glory of God. The single eye is the eye that sees only one thing, the glory of God. The person with the single eye lives for only one thing, and concentrates upon attaining that one thing. The lamp of the body is the eye (V. 22). The eye here is not just one faculty of the soul such as perception or conscience, but is the combination of all the faculties which constitute the vision of the heart. The eye, which is the vision of the soul, if single, that is, healthy and without hypocrisy, will be filled with heavenly light, the light of the Word and Spirit of God (Col. 3:16. Eph. 5:18). This light will guide us throughout our pilgrimage here. Oh, to be men and women of the single eye!
Paul was a saint with a single eye. He wrote, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).
In contrast to what Paul was, James writes of “A double minded man unstable in all his ways” (Jas. 1:8). That unstable man receives nothing from God, that is, he has no treasure in heaven. The church in Smyrna was poor in the things of this world, yet, the Lord said, “Thou art rich.” The church in Laodicea was rich in the things of this world, yet, the Lord said, “Thou art poor.” True riches are imparted only to those who escape the snare of materialism (Luke 16:11-12).
Confiding in God
To neutralize anxiety our Lord places the aim of confiding in our Father’s care. Three times He warns us not to be over anxious (Vv. 25, 31, 34). Moreover, He gives us three reasons why we should trust in our heavenly Father. I. Because we have such a kind and loving Father Who knows and supplies the needs of all His children (Vv. 25-30). II. Because we are subjects of His glorious kingdom to which all the promises of God are vouchsafed in Christ (Vv. 31-33). III. Because over-anxiety hinders us in living a day at a time (V. 32), in confiding in a Father’s care (Vv. 26-28), a Father’s knowledge (V. 32), and a Father’s promise (V. 33).
To counteract censoriousness, the Lord sets the aim of cultivating the holy habit of self-judgment (7:1-6). Here we are reminded that we are the subjects and not the rulers of the kingdom; therefore, when in doubt of any matter, we are not responsible to judge it. Our Lord, in verse one, is referring to what has not been perfectly revealed to His people. He is condemning a legalistic and suspicious spirit, and shows that where there is an eagerness to condemn others, when evidence is lacking, there is proof of unjudged evil in the critic’s own heart. We are members one of another and responsible for each other’s welfare. The best way to seek a brother’s good is to apply the knife of God’s Word to our own flesh.
William Kelly has well said, “We must not break that which is bruised by yielding to personal or party feelings. What a danger this is! The inevitable effect of a judging spirit is, we get judged ourselves. The soul whose habit is censorious is universally ill-spoken of.” The Word of God says, “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.” God will see that every unkind word and deed against our brethren will come back on the head of the guilty one. May the Lord save us from evil surmisings, and from the imputation of evil motives to our brethren whose consciences may be perfectly clear before the Lord.
There is, however, a judging which is according to truth, and which we are called upon to exercise (Vv. 5-6). This requires spiritual discernment, a discernment that is only obtained by earnest prayer (V. 7). How may we live and act in order to cast the mote out of a brother’s eye, to be preserved from casting our pearls before swine? The answer is, to live by divine power and wisdom. These God gives to all who seek them (Jas. 1:17). What a need there is in the Church today for men who have understanding in the visions of God (2 Chron. 26:5). Why are there so few? because there are few men of the sanctuary. The sanctuary is the place of help (Psa. 20:2), the place of power (Psa. 63:2), the place of vision (Psa. 68:24), the place of understanding (Psa. 73:17), the place of holiness (Psa. 74:7), the place of enlightenment (Psa. 77:13), and the place of praise (Psa. 134:2).
Our Lord had taught His disciples that they were the salt of the earth and the light of the world. These holy aims at which we have been looking, these principles of divine truth working in the heart, are like salt in the soul that preserves from corruption within and without.
For the sake of all who were standing listening, our Lord applies the plumbline of divine truth to all profession in verse 13. He speaks of the experience of true discipleship (Vv. 13-14), the test of true discipleship (Vv. 15-23), and the habit of true discipleship (Vv. 24-29).
The proper choice: He speaks of two gates, two roads, two classes, and two destinations. To enter the narrow gate which opens upon the road of life, requires a choice. It is the choice of an earnest honest heart that feels the plague of sin; a choice that entails repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. In this capitulation of the soul to Christ, the new birth into the kingdom is experienced and discipleship begins.
The new nature: Our Lord now speaks of three things in the world of religious profession which may deceive us, although they never could deceive God. They are outward appearance (V. 15), lip service (V. 21), and material success (V. 22). Consistency of life is the real proof that a new nature within has been planted (Vv. 17-20). The fruit is after its kind. If in Christ, as the branch in the vine, the fruit will be Christ-likeness. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”
The new practice: The rock mentioned in chapter 16 represents Christ Himself, but the rock mentioned here in verse 24 is the word of Christ upon which we should build our lives and characters until we attain to His blessed image. The life that is built upon the teachings of Christ will be secure in every storm. The storms of temptation, of persecution, of trial, and of sorrow will certainly test us, but nothing will ever prevail to separate us from the love of Christ. As we build upon Him, our souls will be kept from falling.
Everything else is shifting sand. To build our lives upon the ideas of men, to shape them in any other mould than the Word of God (Rom. 6:18, N.T.), is to end destitute of comfort, succour, and assurance in the days of calamity and testing.
The Lord give us wisdom and grace to build our lives upon “The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture.”