by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
The tyranny of things
Jesus warns us of ... the awful grip and power of these earthly things upon us.... He says, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.The heart! Then in [Matthew 6] verse 24 He talks about the mind. "No man can serve two masters"mdash;and we should notice the word "serve." These are the expressive terms He uses in order to impress upon us the terrible control that these things tend to exercise over us. Are we not all aware of them the moment we stop to think&mdashthe tyranny of persons, the tyranny of the world? ... We are all involved in this; we are all in the grip of this awful power of worldliness which really will master us unless we are aware of it.
But it is not only powerful; it is very subtle. It is the thing that really controls most men's lives. Have you seen the change, the subtle change, that tends to take place in men's lives as they succeed and prosper in this world? It does not happen to those who are truly spiritual men; but if they are not, it invariably happens. Why is it that idealism is generally associated with youth and not with middle age and old age? Why do men tend to become cynical as they get older? Why does the noble outlook upon life tend to go? It is because we all become victims of "treasures on earth," and if you watch you can see it in the lives of men.
Read the biographies. Many a young man starts out with a bright vision, but ... he becomes influenced, perhaps when he is at college, by an outlook that is essentially worldly.... He is still a very nice man and, moreover, just and wise; but he is not the man he was when he began. Something has been lost. Yes; this is a familiar phenomenon: "Shades of the prison house begin to close upon the growing boy." Do we not all know something about it? It is there; it is a prison house, and it fastens itself upon us unless we are aware of it.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, ii, pp. 91-2
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