Saturday, May 24, 2008

Proper 3 - May 25, 2008

Matthew 6:24-34
Contentment – it’s such a difficult thing!

Let us pray to the Lord:

Fear not I am with thee, Oh, be not dismayed; For I am thy God and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by My righteous omnipotent hand.”[1]

In His Sermon on the Mount; from Matthew 6:19-34, Jesus' central theme is the single eye concept. This is like a game of ball. If you take your eye off the ball, you will lose the game. When you are crossing a stream on a log, you will fall into the water if you look down at the water flowing beneath you, but if you center your eye on some distant object, and steadily move toward it, you don't see what is below your feet, and you can cross safely.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the one object on which our eye must be centered. The single eye concept means we have our eye fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ. If we take our eye off from Christ, we start to look at ourselves, the flesh, and things of the world, and we will fall.

The verses directly preceding our text talk about the love of money. In Verses19-20 we read, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." Our mind must be centered on this concept.

Matthew 6:22-23 explains what we might refer to as the single eye concept. "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye is single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye is evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" Jesus is speaking of this principle when He says we cannot serve two masters.

Says the Savior in our text, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.” Jesus tells us not to worry or at least about anything long term. That all sounds very pious one could say, and yet, reality seems so different. It’s all very well, for us to be told to be like the lilies of the field or even the birds of the air.

But we live in today’s world. It’s as if there is so much to be concerned about these days - paying the mortgage, college tuition, affording gas for the fleet of cars in our driveway, dealing with illness, the trials of being young or old. Are these not enough? Don’t we go to church to get comfort? If the pressures and cares of daily life are not enough, today’s readings bluntly inform us that the Kingdom of God is our first concern.

And if we don’t have enough to worry about all by ourselves, our television sets daily, even hourly, suggest other worries and stresses. If a person from outer space sought to evaluate human life by watching television advertisements, the impression would be that we are chronically ill and completely dysfunctional.

That is exactly what Jesus is saying. Man left to himself is chronically ill and completely dysfunctional. Thanks be to God who doesn’t bargain with us. Jesus starts this section by telling His hearers to get their priorities right. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Thus the Savior encourages us to rely completely upon Him.
1. God demands our complete allegiance (v.24) “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. You cannot serve God and mammon”.

A. God the Owner of everything.

1. He claims us in order to benefit not Himself but us.

2. He demands our complete allegiance. We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

B. Mammon is a false god, which also demands our exclusive loyalty.

1. Mammon is wealth personified. The goods entrusted to us by God become the god in whom we trust.

2. When mammon holds sway, our primary concern becomes the accumulation of earthly possessions.

C. Divided allegiance is impossible. “No one can serve two masters”

1. We will have to serve one over and against the other.

2. Which takes the top priority in your life?

Transition: God demands our first allegiance. When we worry we give way to the power of wealth.

2. Worry gives evidence of mammon’s sway (Vv. 25-30) 25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

A. Mammon says, “Get more!”

1. We worry that we will not have enough.

2. That is so unlike the birds; they work but never worry about accumulating for the future.

3. It is also pointless; worry cannot prolong our lives a moment.

B. Mammon replaces God, who has already given us “more”

1. He has given us life and body, which is “more than” foot and clothing.

2. He has given us His Son that we might live with Him forever, body, and soul.

3. Should we not trust Him for the food (we are of more value than the birds) and clothing (we are more important than flowers) and anything else we need?

C. Worry, therefore, is evidence that we do not always trust God above all things;
it points to the littleness of our faith.

1. We need to confess our sins of worry, and a lack of dependence upon the Lord.

2. Our prayer needs to be that of the disciple who prayed, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”[2]

Transition: God demands our first love. Worry gives evidence of its influence in our lives. Yet God still demands to remain first.

3. God is to hold sway in our lives (Vv.31-34) 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

A. We live as children of a heavenly Father.

1. The primary concern with material goods is a pagan trait.

2. We trust the heavenly Father, who provides for all our needs. Consider the 4th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. The Fourth Petition Give us this day our daily bread.

3. What does this mean? God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

4. What is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.[3]

B. We seek God’s rule and righteousness.

1. Our primary concern is for these spiritual needs.

2. We trust God to provide them.

C. We live one day at a time.

1. We experience God’s help to meet today’s problems.

2. We trust Him for tomorrow’s needs.

Conclusion: Trust the Savior who has said: Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.[4] Take Peter’s advice when he said Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.[5] These are not pious and lofty thoughts. This must be your reality.
[1] How Firm a Foundation stanza 3 from The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
[2] Mark 9:24
[3] 4th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer Lutheran Service Book pg. 324
[4] Luke 12:32
[5] 1 Peter 5:7

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