Who is Your Master? – Matthew 6:22-24

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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
September 14, 2014

 Who is Your Master?
Matthew 6:22-24


Don Richardson is a name that some of you may recognize. He & his wife, Carol, were missionaries to Irian Jaya in the 1960’s. He told the story of their work in the book and short film, “Peace Child.” Some of you are familiar with that story. But Don Richardson wrote more on missions that just the story of his own work. He also wrote Eternity in their Hearts about missions strategy and another book entitled, “Lords of the Earth,” which tells about missionaries Stan & Pat Dale who worked among the Yali tribe in the Heluk Valley of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. The following is a summary along with some excerpts from Richard’s book

The Yali people were deeply imbedded in a religion of demon worship called Kembu. It was a religion based on fear. They lived in terror of what the spirits would do if they were not pleased. It was also a religion of hatred and revenge, murderous raids on enemy villages, and cannibalism of those they could catch and kill.

Stanley Dale was an Australian that first visited New Guinea while in the army during WWII. It was then that he first saw the high mountain ranges of the interior and set his mind that some day he would return to bring the message of God’s love to the people who lived in those remote areas. After the war he completed his Bible education, got married and began his training for his goal of reaching the unknown tribes in the highlands. From 1947 to 1960 he worked with tribes in the lowlands. Finally in 1961 he & Bruno Leeuw made their trek into the Heluk Valley and made contact with the Yali tribe. Stan Dale believed that even the most violent Yali cannibal had a soul worth saving because it was made in the image of God.

The work went well the first year as the team built their homes and air strip, learned the language and moved their families in. As Stan began to translate sections of Scripture and tell it to the Yali people, tensions began to mount in the tribe. The older men saw it in direct contradiction with the religion of their ancestors, but some of the young men were interested and few began to understand the message of Christ. The next year, Stan and Bruno began explorations into neighboring valleys to start bringing the message of God’s love to them as well. A small band of tribal Christians had formed by the time the Dale family went on furlough.

The following year the Dales returned. The band of tribal Christians had grown and the work seemed to be blossoming. But as the gospel was blossoming in the upper end of the valley, those in the lower end of the valley were still in darkness. Two of the young Yali Christians, Kekwara & Bengwok, went down the valley and were attacked while preaching. Neither returned. At the news of their deaths, Stan Dale went to the villages himself, and there suffered five arrow wounds. He was helped back to camp, then flown to a mission hospital. It would be a week before they knew that Stan would survive the injuries. Two months later, Stan Dale returned to his work among the Yali. He was determined that the work of God must continue. He strengthened the church in the upper Heluk valley and the new believers spread the gospel east into the next valley where it was warmly received. This angered the shamans in the lower valley and to the west and they made threats against Stan Dale should he enter their area again.

After two years, the burden for the salvation of the people in the lower valley prompted Stan Dale to try once again to reach them. On Wednesday, September 18, 1968, Stan Dale, Phil Masters and four tribal helpers began their trek into the Seng Valley. They were greeted by armed warriors when they reached the first village. The immediate crises was avoided and the next day they decided to return, but already the neighboring villages had been told and their warriors had agreed that these bearers of a strange religion would have to be killed.

The warriors were following them. Stan was at the rear. He stopped and faced them. Stan called to his Yali friend, Yemu, “Leave me,” and he raised his staff, not in anger, but as a barrier to the advancing tide of warriors. A priest of Kembu (the demonic religion) named Bereway slipped around behind Stan and at point blank range shot an arrow in under his upraised right arm. Another priest, Bunu, shot a bamboo bladed shaft into Stan’s back, just below his right shoulder.

Yemu was crying now and shouting at them to stop. As the arrows entered Stan’s flesh, he pulled them out, one by one, broke them and cast them away. Dozens of arrows were coming at him from all directions. He kept pulling them out, breaking them and dropping them at his feet until he could not keep ahead of them. Nalimo, the village chief, reached the scene after some 30 arrows had found their mark in Stan’s body.

“How can he stand there so long?” Nalimo gasped. “Why doesn’t he fall? any one of us would have fallen long ago!” A different kind of shaft pierced Nalimo’s own flesh – fear! “Perhaps he is immortal!” Nalimo’s normally impassive face melted with sudden emotion. Because of that emotion, Nalimo said later, he did not shoot an arrow into Stan’s body.

Stan faced his enemies, steady and unwavering except for the jolt of each new strike. Yemu ran to where Phil stood alone. Together they watched in anguish at Stan’s agony. As some 50 or more warriors detached from the main force and came toward them, Phil pushed Yemu behind him and gestured speechlessly, run! Phil seemed hardly to notice the warriors encircling him. His eyes were fixed upon Stan.

Fifty arrows – sixty! Red ribbons of blood trailed from the many wounds, but still Stan stood his ground. Nalimo saw that he was not alone in his fear. The attack had begun with hilarity, but now the warriors shot their arrows with desperation bordering on panic because Stand refused to fall. “Perhaps Kusaho was right!” Perhaps they were committing a monstrous crime against the supernatural world instead of defending it, as they intended. “Fall!” they screamed at Stan. “Die!” It was almost a plea – please die!

Yemu did not hear Phil say anything to the warriors as they aimed their arrows at him. Phil made no attempt to flee or struggle. He had faced danger many times but never certain death. But Stan had shown him how to face it, if he needed an example. That example could hardly have been followed with greater courage.

One again, it was Bereway who shot the first arrow. And it took almost as many arrows to down Phil as it had Stan.

Yemu and the three other helpers stayed only until they knew that Phil could not survive, then they turned and ran for their lives. One thought burned in Yemu’s mind, “if they kill us too, there’ll be no one left to tell their widows what happened, or where they fell.” Yemu made it back safely to tell what happened.

Only a year later these same people were reached with the gospel of Christ by missionaries that replaced Stan Dale and Phil Masters.

What enabled men like Stan Dale, Phil Masters and the two Yali Christians, Kekwara & Bengwok, to risk and lose their lives in trying to take the gospel to a violent and hostile people? How were and are so many others able to spend their lives in similar tasks, forsaking the comforts of their homes to go live in foreign places with foreign people in a foreign culture?

The answer is that they saw clearly who their master was, and they served Him.

Review – Matthew 6:19-21

Last week we began our study of the first of three prohibitions – negative commands – found in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:19-34 Jesus teaches that we are not to be seeking after the things of this world, but seeking after God’s kingdom and His righteousness trusting that He will provide for us the things that we will need.

Last week we focused on the first part of this section in Matthew 6: 19-21. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon 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 or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Jesus’ point is very practical. If you value the things of this earth, regardless if that be fame, fortune, power or pleasure, you will find that they will eventually be either destroyed, corroded or stolen, so do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth. Instead, put your time, energy and finances into storing up treasures in heaven where they will not be eaten, they will not corrode, and they cannot be stolen.

How do you lay up treasures in heaven? By having a change of heart to value heavenly things more than earthly things. It is living by Jesus’ in Matthew 6:33 to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. This change of heart place greater importance on living for God than living for self, and on desiring and working toward the expansion of God’s kingdom more than your own.

Think again about Stan Dale. Where was his heart? It is easy to point out because his life, his time, his energy, his finances, and his blood, all went into reaching people for Christ. We know Stan Dale’s heart because we know what he treasured.

Did you take a look at your check book after the last week’s sermon to see where your finances went? Did you look at your calendar to see where your time was spent? If you did, then you know what you value the most in life and that reflects your heart. I hope last week’s message motivated you to think seriously through these issues and repent as needed.

Last week I also briefly went over verses 22-24, but this week I want to concentrate on them because they are at the center of this issue. Do you see clearly? Who is you master? In the preceding verses Jesus gives us a command about where you are lay up your treasure, but that command will mean nothing if Jesus is not your master. In the verses following Jesus commands us to seek God’s kingdom and righteous trusting that He will provide, but that command and promise will be of little comfort to you if God is not your master.

Matthew 6:22-24, “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, 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 the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

How Well Do You See? Matthew 6:22-23

Your eyes are your only means to detect light and therefore your only source of vision. If you have a clear eye, you will see everything properly. You will be able to see what is around you and respond properly. However, if your eye is bad, then there is no means for light to enter the body and it is full of darkness. You will stumble around not knowing your way. If your eye is unclear, then the perception given is false. What you see will be distorted and that will result in a worse problem of believing the distortion to be the true reality. That is a more dangerous darkness than blindness.

Is Jesus giving a lesson in physiology here? No. The idea of the eye being used in a moral sense was quite prominent in Jewish writings. The usage here is in that sense giving reference to the spiritual eye through which spiritual light enters and illuminates the whole personality. The word aJplou:V / haplous, translated here as “clear” or “single,” is set in opposition to the word ponhro;V / ponēros translated as “bad” or “evil.” Both are words that speak of morality rather than physical health. In fact, aJplou:V / haplous is simply not a word that would be used to refer to physical health. Jesus is contrasting the person who sees things from a clear, godly perspective as opposed to the person who sees things from an evil perspective.

We find a similar analogy to this in 2 Corinthians 4:4 when Paul says that the gospel is “veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The person does not understand because they cannot see. Some in this position are totally given over to evil and revel in that darkness. Satanists would be an example of this. Others are blind, and they know they are blind, but they are seeking help to find their way. They may yet come to see the light because Christ is the great physician and will cure the spiritual blindness of those that seek Him and call on Him. But what about those whose “light is darkness.”

This may very well be a reference to the Scribes and Pharisees. Worse than being blind and knowing it is being blind and denying it. These are those that claim to know the truth, but they are either ignorant of it or their understanding is perverted so that they do not follow it. They claim to be righteous, but their actual practices are unrighteousness. Jesus said of the Pharisees in Matthew 15:14, “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” They claimed to know God and show the way to Him, but were in fact leading the people away from God, and because of their distorted view of reality, they refused to listen to the truth.

Such was the case of the priests and followers of the kembu religion that killed Stan Dale and Phil Masters. They claimed they knew the truth about the world and morality and they lead their followers into the brutal murders of two righteous men believing that what they were doing what was right.

Let me add that until a person with distorted vision is willing to acknowledge the problem, they cannot be helped and will continue in their foolishness.

My eyesight started deteriorating in Jr High, but I never recognized my need for glasses until a math teacher kept me after class to ask me why I was copying from my neighbor’s paper. I said I couldn’t read the blackboard even though I sat in the front row. He said I should have my vision checked and called my parents to let them know. Until then, I did not know I had a problem seeing. Glasses corrected my vision and my perception of the world changed radically. I could read the blackboard and see the individual leaves on trees. The same is true spiritually. People may think they are doing well even though their morals are all twisted. They have to be told the truth by someone who does see properly, but until they believe the report, they will not be willing to have their moral vision fixed by the corrective lens of Scripture.

How well do you see? Do you value the things of God, or are you still blinded by the things of this world and pursuing them? Do you see clearly through the corrective lenses of Scripture, or are you still using your distorted vision to continue to pursue your own will in your own way for your own benefit? If you are, then you will find that you are a slave of the wrong master.

Incompatible Masters – Matthew 6:22-23

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had an eye problem. They also thought they could serve two masters. They thought that they could serve God and keep their eyes on the world’s goods at the same time. Jesus states plainly in verse 24 that this is an impossible task. The two masters are incompatible with each other. They are opposites. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The word douleuvw / douleuō here is translated as “serve” by nearly all English translations, but “serve” does not bring out the strength of the word it represents, for the actual idea here is “to slave for.” A closer translation would be, “No one is able to slave for two masters.” A slave is owned and controlled by his master. Paul states this plainly in Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are a slave of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” The very nature of the slave / master relationship precludes it from being anything but singular for the slave. A master can have many slaves, but a slave can only do the will of one master.

If you value the things of this world and are pursuing after them, then you cannot pursue after God, and if you are pursing after God and value the things of heaven, then the things of this world will hold little value to you. You cannot love both God and the world. The Apostle John brings out this point in 1 John 2:15-17. “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.”

The verse puts it plainly, if you love the world or the things in it, then the love of God is not in you, and what you love is going to pass away. But if you love God, then you will not love the world and you will abide forever. And remember, according to Jesus in John 14:21, the evidence of loving God is keeping His commandments.

The religious leaders loved money (Luke 16:14) and the approval of men (John 12:43), so they hated God and crucified His Son, Jesus Christ, because He disrupted their lucrative temple trade business when He cleared the money changers and sellers from it. Jesus detracted from their popularity both because others were following Jesus (jealousy) and because Jesus exposed their true nature before the people (embarrassment). They held to their pride and efforts to gain materially and despised God come in human flesh.

Jesus is not opposed to the righteous owning the things of this world. In fact, Scripture consistently associates material prosperity as one of the blessings that result from righteous living. The Bible does not say that money leads to evil as so many are prone to misquote it. 1 Timothy 6:10 actually states, “for the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.” It is not the possession of wealth that Jesus is against, but it is being a slave to mammon.

The Greek word here is mamwna:V / mamōnas which was taken from an Aramaic word and most likely derived from a word that means, “that in which one trusts.” It refers to material wealth or possessions with a strongly negative connotation. Jesus uses it here to refer to “earthly goods” with the derogatory sense of being materialistic, anti-godly and sinful. It is what a person trusts in and values more highly than God and trusting in Him. This word was transliterated into the English word “mammon.” Medieval writers used the word as the name of the devil of covetousness. It is an impossible task to be a slave to both God and mammon.

Slave to God vs Slave to Mammon

There are countless examples of both those who were slaves of God and of those who were slaves to mammon, but none of those who were slaves to both at the same time. Lets look at a few of these.

Moses was a slave to God. Hebrews 11:24 states that “when he had grown up, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach or Christ greater than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.”

Demas was a slave to Mammon. Paul says of him in 2 Timothy 4: 9-10, “Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”

Daniel was a slave to God. Scripture records several instances in which Daniel’s decision to serve God was in direct opposition to the easy choice of serving mammon. Most well know was his refusal to obey the king’s edict and cease from his daily practice of praying three times a day. For this he was thrown into a den of lions, but was protected by God.

The rich young ruler in Matthew 19 was a slave to mammon. Jesus offered him the way to heaven and called him to follow Him, but verse 22 records, “But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.”

The churches of Macedonia were marked by their sacrificial giving for the kingdom of God. They were slaves of God. Paul remarks about them in 2 Corinthians 8:2, “in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.” Though they were impoverished, they gave sacrificially and abundantly for the cause of Christ.

Judas was a slave of mammon. This is clearly seen in John 12:3-4 when he protested about Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume. John commented about this in verse 6, “Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.” A worse example is in Matthew 26:14-16. Though he had been with Jesus for three years, his love for money was greater, and he betrayed the Lord for 30 pieces of silver.

All the rest of the Apostles were slaves of God. They gave up their jobs and positions to follow Jesus and spread the gospel. Some of those careers were simple such as Peter, Andrew, James and John who were fishermen, but Matthew had a lucrative career as a tax collector, and Paul had a position of high esteem in the religious community. All counted those things as worthless and followed Jesus.

Ananias and Saphira were slaves of mammon and it cost them their lives. The conspired together to lie about what they were giving to the Church. They were free to give or withhold anything they wanted, but they lied trying to seek more acclaim among the brethren. They wanted the praise of men for being generous and godly, but they also wanted to keep their money.

There are many more examples from recent history as well. Tragically, there are many examples of those who found out that you cannot serve both God and mammon, and they choose mammon. There are the Bob Dylan types who have their “fling” with God and return to the same debauched life as before. The Jim Jones types that twist their theology over the years so that they can satisfy their craving for money, possessions, power, and pleasure. There are those like Jeff Levy and Lisa Dunn, two people Diane and I knew from Bible Studies years ago that gave an initial appearance of being on fire for the Lord, but the years revealed their hearts. Lisa turned her back on God and was on her third marriage last we heard. Jeff went apostate before the end of college saying that living the Christian life was too hard. The Christian life is impossible without the Holy Spirit. There are the tragic cases like the young man I counseled with some years ago that was in near continual depression partly because he would not say no to his twisted sexual passion and partly because he would compromise his convictions in order to get ahead in his career. Each of these are people who chose to be slaves to mammon and sin rather than God.

But there are also thousands of others who have chosen to serve God rather than gain for themselves mammon. There are examples such as Eric Liddel of Chariots of Fire fame, who refused to run in his favored Olympic track event because it was to be run on a Sunday. He eventually won an Olympic Gold Medal in another event. He rejected job offers in England and went to China as a missionary, eventually dying in a Japanese prison during WWII. Christian professionals who forgo a relatively easy and well-paying career to serve as barely paid missionaries in foreign lands. That is true of several of the missionaries we support. There are the many, many unknown Christians, who like Stanley Dale, do see clearly right from wrong and good from bad. They know that they are slaves to God, so they deny themselves and obey the Lord. They sacrifice of themselves and remain faithful. They seek God’s kingdom, not their own.

Are you a slave of God or mammon? Who is your master?


Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count the references to sight and slave in the sermon. 2) Talk with your parents about what is important to you and why it is important.


Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Have you read any books by Don Richardson? What do you think of the story of Stanley Dale? What other missionary stories do you know that are similar? How do such stories affect you personally? What is the danger of laying up for yourself treasures on earth? Why is it better to lay up treasures in heaven? How do you lay up treasures in heaven? What does the location of your treasure reveal about your heart? What does a review of the use of your finances and time reveal about your heart? How do we know that Jesus’ statements in Matthew 6:22-23 are concerning spiritual awareness and not physical sight? Why is it more dangerous to have distorted vision and think you see clearly than to be blind? Why can’t a person have two masters? What is the evidence of who is your master? Is God against material wealth? Explain. What is the difference between having money and loving money? What is mammon? Give three Biblical examples of people that were slaves of mammon. Give three Biblical examples of people that were slaves of God. Give three modern examples of people that are / were slaves of mammon. Give three modern examples of people that are slaves of God. Who is your master? If it is not God, what needs to change?

Sermon Notes: Who is Your Master?

Matthew 6:22-24


Stanley Dale ____________________________________________________________________________


Review – Matthew 6:19-21

The things of this earth can be destroyed, corrode or stolen therefore it is better to lay up treasure in _______

You lay up treasure in heaven by seeking first God’s ____________________and His kingdom

What do your finances and calendar _______________about your heart?

How Well Do You See? Matthew 6:22-23

A clear eye receives _____________and so sees clearly. A bad eye leaves the body in darkness

Clear / single (aJplou:V / haplous) – is contrasted with bad / evil (ponhro;V / pon ros) = ____________health

2 Corinthians 4:4 – use of light, sight, blindness in reference to ____________________perceptions

Matthew 15:14 – the Pharisees claimed to be spiritual leaders, but were actually spiritually _____________

A blind person can be helped, but a person with _________vision that claims to see clearly cannot be helped

Incompatible Masters – Matthew 6:24

“Serve” is douleuvw / douleu which means “to _____________for”

Romans 6:16 – you are a slave of the master you ________________

You cannot love ____________God and the world – 1 John 2:15-17 (see John 14:21)

The Scribes and Pharisees _______money (Luke 16:14) and the praise of men (John 12:43) and hated Jesus

Material prosperity is not the problem – it is the _______________of it. See 1 Timothy 6:10

Mammon refers to material ____________with a strongly negative connotation of trusting it instead of God

Slave of God verses Slave to Mammon – Examples

Moses: Hebrews 11:24 ____________________________________________________________________

Demas: 2 Timothy 4:9-10 _________________________________________________________________

Daniel _________________________________________________________________________________

The Rich Young Ruler: Matthew 19 _________________________________________________________

The churches of Macedonia: 2 Corinthians 8:2 _________________________________________________

Judas: John 12:3-4; Matthew 26:14-16 _______________________________________________________

The rest of the Apostles ___________________________________________________________________

Ananias & Saphira: Acts 5 _________________________________________________________________

Other examples of slaves to mammon: _______________________________________________________

Other examples of slaves to God: ___________________________________________________________


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