Sermon

Singleness of Heart

Michael Beck

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We can care so much about pleasing people that we abandon a single focus of pleasing God.

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. (Ephesians 6:5-7)

We care too much what people think of us when our fear of displeasing them prevents us from obeying God.

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

What people think of us is not the only thing we can care too much about. Jesus had much to say about the various obsessions of the heart that can consume and control us.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)

The Greek noun “care” (merimna) comes from the verb merizo which means “to divide.”

The Greek verb merimnao is translated in the KJV as “take thought” (11 times), “care” (5), “be careful” (2), and “have care” (1.)

To have “care” is to be mindful, focused, preoccupied or distracted with something (either in a good or bad way.)

In the face of legitimate and often pressing needs, Jesus calls us to practice a holy apathy.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: 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? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Matthew 6:25-30)

Unlike those of the world who trust in themselves, and/or others; God’s children have Him to depend upon to richly provide. Instead of being consumed and controlled by fears of going without, they are to focus on what He wants them to be focused on.

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:31-33)

“At any time,” but especially in the last days, our hearts can be so “overcharged” with the “cares of this life” (i.e., what we need to survive) that we can turn from God to another “god” to save us.

And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:34-36)

Where is our heart? Our treasure determines the focus of our heart. Whatever we highly value, and place great importance upon, is our treasure. When what matters most to God, matters most to us, our eye and heart is single, and our whole body is “full of light.”

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve 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. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:21-24)

The Lord knows what our true treasure is. He knows our holding on to our treasure prevents us from gaining His treasure.

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:21,22)

Our desire to gain earthly possessions, or our fear of losing them, creates idols we bow down to.

And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. (Mark 4:19)

The “pleasures of this life” can also become a consuming focus of our heart.

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. (Luke 8:14)

Why is an eye focused on earthly things so dangerous? What consumes us controls us. Obsession always turns into compulsion. The images that we erect in our heart and entertain in our imagination “drive” us to worship them.

Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven … (Deuteronomy 4:15-19)

God is a jealous God who wants to be the only consuming fire and controlling force in our life.

Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:23,24)

Our idols are the product of our desires. The idols of the heart that we set up bring separation between us and a jealous God.

Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. (Ezekiel 14:3-5)

In order not to be consumed, we must pray (Php.4:6,) and cast all our cares upon the Lord, knowing He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7); but we must also cast down our idols, and turn our face from looking at them. Our eye must become single.

Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 14:6-8)

The only way to end compulsion is to end obsession. We do that by having a holy apathy toward the “other things” which would enter, consume, and control our heart. Compared to God, and the things to gain in Him, we conclude that they don’t really matter.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. (Psalm 73:25-28)


Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.