Sunday, September 8, 2013

Trinity 15 Sermon

Trinity 15 – Matthew 6:24-34 – September 8th, 2013

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost +
          Last week, with the healing of the ten lepers, we were reminded of how Satan can use even blessings to try to twist us away from God.  The 9, overwhelmed with joy at what had been given to them, forget to return and praise God.  But this week, we are shifting to the other side of the spectrum – not of the dangers of forgetting God in the midst of blessing, but rather of forgetting God when we think we are not blessed enough.  Today our Lord will deal with two other tools in Satan’s arsenal – Greed and Anxiety.  So, let us listen to our Lord.

          “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.”  Here Jesus is just simply stating fact.  Serving God does not mesh well with greed.  It simply doesn’t, because our service to God is not abstract, it’s not just a mental thing where we think about God for an hour on Sunday and then go about our own business the rest of the week ignoring Him.  No, if you are to serve God, if you are to demonstrate your love for God dear Christian, you do this by loving your neighbor.  And you know what that means?  It means you give of yourself.  Come stewardship Sundays we will talk of giving the Church your time, talent, and treasure.  Do you not realize that this is what you also give your neighbor when you show them love?  Think on this past week, and how often were you required to give of your time to another?  Or to help and aid them using some skill you have, the wisdom and knowledge you have acquired?  Or even just had to fork over some cash for something?  As a Christian, we see these all as serving God by serving the neighbor, we know that we are doing good, or perhaps rather that God is doing good through us in these things.

          But here is the danger.  Greed and selfishness often hound us, don’t they?  We can want to horde our time, we can want to use our talents to serve primarily ourselves, and as for money, I won’t say that we can be moneygrubbers, but our fingers can clench those pennies pretty tightly, can’t they?  All these hinder our ability to love, all these would prevent us from showing care, and we need to be aware of them.

          Of course, there is one problem.  “Greedy” is a dirty word.  Same with selfishness.  We know these are bad, and we’ve trained ourselves to simply assume that we aren’t.  Ah, but Pastor… surely, I’m not greedy.  Pastor, I’m not selfish, I’m a good little Christian!  So Jesus shifts gears here – “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”  Do you see how Jesus shifts gears here?  He had been talking about loving money, serving stuff, selfishness and greed.  Things we know are bad, things we pretend we don’t have… but then on to anxiety.  Why?  Because anxiety and worry is how greed and selfishness get their foot in the door.  Because it is when you are anxious, when you are worried about stuff, about things, about what you will get, that suddenly the blessings you have received from God no longer are about serving your neighbor, but rather they become something you must horde and keep to yourself in order to fend off anxiety and worry.

          The simple fact is, you don’t need to worry.  You don’t need to be anxious.  “Look 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?”  With these words Jesus teaches us of the first truth taught in the Bible – that God is the Creator, and more than that, He is our Creator.  Indeed, He is the One who cares for us – caring for us in His job.  He cares for all of His creation – indeed, even though we now live in a sinful, fallen world, He still cares for it.  Even the little birds get cared for – if that is true, then of course we know that God will care for you.  When you are anxious, do not look at your stuff, but remember God and His goodness.

          Because, well, your worry won’t help.  “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”  This touches to something that hits close to home.  We aren’t in control of our lives, how long we live.  That is the purview of God – we will live as long as He gives us breath, and we will rise again on the last day when He calls us forth.  That’s on Him, not on us.  But we like to think we are in control, and so we will fret and be anxious and stress ourselves out, which ironically probably doesn’t do anything good for us in terms of how long we live.  But again, our old sinful flesh wants to think it is in control, wants to think everything hinges upon what it does, rather than seeing and knowing that God is in control, and indeed, that this is good for you.

          “And consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith.”  Again, there is another image here.  God cares for the fields, which come and go – how much more will He care for you, whom He created for eternal life?  But we tend to forget this, we begin to fear the world more than we fear God, and we are pushed away from trusting Him.  Christ calls us away from this?  And how?  “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”  When you run after the things of the world, you are thinking like the rest of the world, like the unbelievers.  No, you have no need to worry about these things, for you are in the care of the heavenly Father.  You belong to Him.

          I’m going to back track a bit, because this puts perspective on things.  “You cannot serve God and money.  Therefore I tell you…”  Christ is speaking to you, and He is telling you how things are going to be.  Do you see what this means?  This means that *He* is your master, not money.  Christ Jesus has purchased and won you from all sins with His suffering and death upon the Cross, He claimed you as His own in the waters of Holy Baptism, He tells you that God is your Father now.  You belong to God.  And God is in charge.  All the rantings and ravings of the Devil, all the trials and hardships in the world, all the fears that your sinful flesh whip up cannot change the fact that Christ Jesus has died for you and has risen for you.  No worry, no concern changes the fact that you are baptized.  No sin, no failing ever changes the fact that God is your Heavenly Father who will give you this day your daily bread.  This is the truth.  The world stands over to the side jumping up and down – look here, look at fear, look at worry, look at greed, look at selfishness… but over and against this Christ Jesus calls out to you Himself and says to you, “I am your Savior, and I am here for you.”

          And this is why He says to you, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”  Now, don’t mishear or misunderstand that “and”.  This is not a “scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” sort of deal.  This is not Jesus saying, “If you pay more attention to me, I’ll give you more stuff.”  That would sort of contradict that whole “you cannot serve God and mammon” and that whole “do not be anxious” speech that He’s just given.  The point this – the things you need for life, they will be given to you.  God will provide.  Period.  Simple as that.  But what you need, where your focus should be – your focus shouldn’t be upon the stuff of this life, but rather upon the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness.

In other words, don’t worry about stuff, but be where Christ is.  Think about this – what is a Kingdom?  It’s not a chunk of land, it’s not lines on a map.  A Kingdom is wherever the King rules.  So, what does Christ say to you – be focused on seeing Me, Christ Jesus, your King, and seeing and knowing the fact that truth that I rule for you.  Be those who pray “Thy Kingdom Come”, remembering that Christ’s King has the victory over sin and death and the devil.  Be those who come to hear their King speak His Word of Life to them here, in His Church.  Remember that He has given you your daily bread as you pray and ask Him to “Come, Lord Jesus.”  Remember who Christ is, and who you are.  He is God, He is King.  You, you are a sinner, and your every thought and word and deed are corrupted by sin – but Jesus hasn’t told you to “prove your worth” Him.  Instead, He has said, seek the righteousness of God.  That is seek Christ Jesus Himself, search and look for Christ, who in His word of forgiveness and life gives you all of His own righteousness and all that He is.  Once again, Christ is calling us to His House, where He Himself is present for us, giving us things that last well beyond our time in this fallen world.  This is where He forgives us our sin and ensures that we will rise to life everlasting because of Him.  This is the truth and reality that all the sin and suffering and misery you see cannot overcome. This is His Kingdom for you, this is His righteousness for you, and it is true no matter what you see all your days.

          No, dear friends, no servant can serve two masters, and so, Christ Jesus came down from heaven and became man, and with His death and resurrection He won you from sin, death, and the devil, and claimed you as His own.  Jesus is Lord.  That is true.  And now our Lord Jesus Christ reminds you that you are His, that the Father will care for you now, and that because of Christ you will rise to life everlasting.  This is true, all thanks be to God who gives us all good things in Christ.  In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost +

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