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Serving Two Masters

24 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


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24. No man can serve—The word means to "belong wholly and be entirely under command to."

two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other—Even if the two masters be of one character and have but one object, the servant must take law from one or the other: though he may do what is agreeable to both, he cannot, in the nature of the thing, be servant to more than one. Much less if, as in the present case, their interests are quite different, and even conflicting. In this case, if our affections be in the service of the one—if we "love the one"—we must of necessity "hate the other"; if we determine resolutely to "hold to the one," we must at the same time disregard, and (if he insist on his claims upon us) even "despise the other."

Ye cannot serve God and mammon—The word "mamon"—better written with one m—is a foreign one, whose precise derivation cannot certainly be determined, though the most probable one gives it the sense of "what one trusts in." Here, there can be no doubt it is used for riches, considered as an idol master, or god of the heart. The service of this god and the true God together is here, with a kind of indignant curtness, pronounced impossible. But since the teaching of the preceding verses might seem to endanger our falling short of what is requisite for the present life, and so being left destitute, our Lord now comes to speak to that point.

25. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought—"Be not solicitous." The English word "thought," when our version was made, expressed this idea of "solicitude," "anxious concern"—as may be seen in any old English classic; and in the same sense it is used in 1Sa 9:5, &c. But this sense of the word has now nearly gone out, and so the mere English reader is apt to be perplexed. Thought or forethought, for temporal things—in the sense of reflection, consideration—is required alike by Scripture and common sense. It is that anxious solicitude, that oppressive care, which springs from unbelieving doubts and misgivings, which alone is here condemned. (See Php 4:6).

for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on—In Luke (Lu 12:29) our Lord adds, "neither be ye unsettled"—not "of doubtful mind," as in our version. When "careful (or 'full of care') about nothing," but committing all in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving unto God, the apostle assures us that "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Php 4:6, 7); that is, shall guard both our feelings and our thoughts from undue agitation, and keep them in a holy calm. But when we commit our whole temporal condition to the wit of our own minds, we get into that "unsettled" state against which our Lord exhorts His disciples.

Is not the life more than meat—food.

and the body than raiment?—If God, then, gives and keeps up the greater—the life, the body—will He withhold the less, food to sustain life and raiment to clothe the body?

26. Behold the fowls of the air—in Mt 6:28, "observe well," and in Lu 12:24, "consider"—so as to learn wisdom from them.

for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?—nobler in yourselves and dearer to God. The argument here is from the greater to the less; but how rich in detail! The brute creation—void of reason—are incapable of sowing, reaping, and storing: yet your heavenly Father suffers them not helplessly to perish, but sustains them without any of those processes. Will He see, then, His own children using all the means which reason dictates for procuring the things needful for the body—looking up to Himself at every step—and yet leave them to starve?

27. Which of you, by taking thought—anxious solicitude.

can add one cubit unto his stature?—"Stature" can hardly be the thing intended here: first, because the subject is the prolongation of life, by the supply of its necessaries of food and clothing: and next, because no one would dream of adding a cubit—or a foot and a half—to his stature, while in the corresponding passage in Luke (Lu 12:25, 26) the thing intended is represented as "that thing which is least." But if we take the word in its primary sense of "age" (for "stature" is but a secondary sense) the idea will be this, "Which of you, however anxiously you vex yourselves about it, can add so much as a step to the length of your life's journey?" To compare the length of life to measures of this nature is not foreign to the language of Scripture (compare Ps 39:5; 2Ti 4:7, &c.). So understood, the meaning is clear and the connection natural. In this the best critics now agree.

28. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider—observe well.

the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not—as men, planting and preparing the flax.

neither do they spin—as women.

29. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these—What incomparable teaching!—best left in its own transparent clearness and rich simplicity.

30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass—the "herbage."

of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven—wild flowers cut with the grass, withering by the heat, and used for fuel. (See Jas 1:11).

shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?—The argument here is something fresh. Gorgeous as is the array of the flowers that deck the fields, surpassing all artificial human grandeur, it is for but a brief moment; you are ravished with it to-day, and to-morrow it is gone; your own hands have seized and cast it into the oven: Shall, then, God's children, so dear to Him, and instinct with a life that cannot die, be left naked? He does not say, Shall they not be more beauteously arrayed? but, Shall He not much more clothe them? that being all He will have them regard as secured to them (compare Heb 13:5). The expression, "Little-faithed ones," which our Lord applies once and again to His disciples (Mt 8:26; 14:31; 16:8), can hardly be regarded as rebuking any actual manifestations of unbelief at that early period, and before such an audience. It is His way of gently chiding the spirit of unbelief, so natural even to the best, who are surrounded by a world of sense, and of kindling a generous desire to shake it off.

31. Therefore take no thought—solicitude.

saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek)—rather, "pursue." Knowing nothing definitely beyond the present life to kindle their aspirations and engage their supreme attention, the heathen naturally pursue present objects as their chief, their only good. To what an elevation above these does Jesus here lift His disciples!

for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things—How precious this word! Food and raiment are pronounced needful to God's children; and He who could say, "No man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him" (Mt 11:27), says with an authority which none but Himself could claim, "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." Will not that suffice you, O ye needy ones of the household of faith?

33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you—This is the great summing up. Strictly speaking, it has to do only with the subject of the present section—the right state of the heart with reference to heavenly and earthly things; but being couched in the form of a brief general directory, it is so comprehensive in its grasp as to embrace the whole subject of this discourse. And, as if to make this the more evident, the two keynotes of this great sermon seem purposely struck in it—"the KINGDOM" and "the RIGHTEOUSNESS" of the kingdom—as the grand objects, in the supreme pursuit of which all things needful for the present life will be added to us. The precise sense of every word in this golden verse should be carefully weighed. "The kingdom of God" is the primary subject of the Sermon on the Mount—that kingdom which the God of heaven is erecting in this fallen world, within which are all the spiritually recovered and inwardly subject portion of the family of Adam, under Messiah as its Divine Head and King. "The righteousness thereof" is the character of all such, so amply described and variously illustrated in the foregoing portions of this discourse. The "seeking" of these is the making them the object of supreme choice and pursuit; and the seeking of them "first" is the seeking of them before and above all else. The "all these things" which shall in that case be added to us are just the "all these things" which the last words of Mt 6:32 assured us "our heavenly Father knoweth that we have need of"; that is, all we require for the present life. And when our Lord says they shall be "added," it is implied, as a matter of course, that the seekers of the kingdom and its righteousness shall have these as their proper and primary portion: the rest being their gracious reward for not seeking them. (See an illustration of the principle of this in 2Ch 1:11, 12). What follows is but a reduction of this great general direction into a practical and ready form for daily use.

34. Take therefore no thought—anxious care.

for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself—(or, according to other authorities, "for itself")—shall have its own causes of anxiety.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof—An admirable practical maxim, and better rendered in our version than in almost any other, not excepting the preceding English ones. Every day brings its own cares; and to anticipate is only to double them.




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