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Trinity 15 – Matthew 6:24-34

by pastorjuhl ~ September 17th, 2009

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

“Good morning, this is God! I will be handling all your problems today. I will not need your help — so have a good day. I love you!” That’s the little sign my mother has on her refrigerator. I know others have this sign at home or at their workplace. It’s an excellent reminder of Who is in control of every situation.

The Lord knows we need a reminder because we have two gods. Jesus tells His disciples no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. The Greek text says he will be attached to one and will despise the other. That’s a better way to describe the tension between the only true God and the false god of mammon.

Mammon is not storing up what you might need for a later date. Canning fruits and vegetables is not necessarily a love affair with mammon, unless you love canned food so much, that you won’t give one away to someone who needs it. You might have another 20 cans of it in the pantry but if you give one away, you’ll be down to 19 cans.

Mammon is a love affair with numbers. We love to keep track of people in church and how much money they gave. When those numbers go down, we fear the worst. When those numbers go up, we take a deep breath and have no fear. We love to keep track of the stock market, watching our future go up and down with every tick of the clock. We love to keep track of every little thing as if it were the most important thing in the world. When that most important thing is taken from us, we feel empty inside. Nothing else can replace that thing, even if another thing just like it comes our way.

Love of mammon leads to conceit and envy, two things that do not come from the Holy Spirit as Saint Paul writes in today’s Epistle. Paul would have us walk in the same Spirit that we live. Having two gods that compete with each other means there are two spirits competing for attention. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. What we see, what we own, and what we can touch is not our god.

Jesus illustrates the foolish of our anxious worrying by learning a lesson from birds of the air and lilies of the field. Birds neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? The answer to our Lord’s rhetorical question is yes, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made. So are birds. Yet birds spend no time worrying about their next meal. They find their meal because they know there will be food for them.

Lilies of the field neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not clothe you, O you of little faith? No plants in nature spend hours fretting about their appearance. They don’t have stores to find proper seasonal wear. They don’t have make-up and perfume counters. They bloom where they are planted. They don’t worry about their beauty. God made them that way, as he made you and me beautiful in our own way.

Do not worry…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. A loving and merciful heavenly Father provides food, clothing, shelter, and all the things we grow anxious, What comes first is God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. Worrying remains because we don’t know where to find God’s kingdom and His righteousness. We sit among both things we seek right now.

The kingdom of God is nothing else but hearing and believing God’s Word. It sounds too good to be true. What comes hardest to us are hearing and believing God’s Word. Saint Paul tells the Romans faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. God’s kingdom is where God’s Word is heard. God’s Word is normally heard in God’s House. It’s possible that someone may believe in God through reading, but Bible drops from airplanes in Third World countries don’t happen. Someone must go among those who know not the Lord Jesus and preach His Word so they may hear His Word and believe what He has done for them.

God rules within us when we do not despair of Him, but trust Him wholeheartedly and esteem Him as our God and Father. All of us can name many times when other helpers fail and comforts flee. The only thing left to do is trust in the Lord to provide in the hour of need. That’s precisely how it should be. Mammon will fade away over time. God’s kingdom and righteousness never fades away. Where God’s kingdom is, there is His righteousness. God’s righteousness is not an abstract thing. God’s righteousness takes on flesh and is obedient to His Father’s will. God’s righteousness preaches today’s Gospel to the disciples. When Jesus says, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness He tells the disciples to look to Him for all they need. Jesus will never fail them. Where faith in God exists, there God dwells, and righteousness immediately follows, that is, forgiveness of sins.

All our days in this earthly pilgrimage, we seek God’s kingdom and righteousness everywhere except where these things are found. Our Lord lets us seek in futility only to bring us back to Him in order that we trust Him for forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The food we seek with the confidence of the birds of the air is the preached Word put in the ear through preaching and in the mouth in the Lord’s Supper. The clothes we seek with the confidence of the lilies of the field are the robe of righteousness put upon us in our Baptism. The Holy Spirit clothes us with Jesus’ atoning blood through water and the Word of God. We stand before our Father in heaven as restored children of God.

God takes the burdens that plague us every day and gives us a new burden that is light and sweet. The new burden is His Son Jesus Christ, Who bore the burden of our sin upon the cross to death and rose from death to life. The kingdom of God and His righteousness is no longer out of our grasp. These holy things are dropped in our lap and received with joy and thanksgiving to our Father in heaven, our only Master.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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