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Jesus preaches to us about worry, and why we shouldn’t.
Download Audio: http://www.hope-aurora.org/podcast/?name=2016-09-04_trinity152016.mp3

Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller
from Hope Lutheran Church, Aurora CO, Podcast

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Here is the text of the sermon:

 

INJ

Matthew 6:24-34 | “His Righteousness”
Sunday of Trinity 15 | 4 September 2016

Dear Friend,

God be praised for your baptism, that the kingdom of God has sought you and found you, and forgiven all your sins. Life and salvation are your in Christ, by His death and resurrection, by His water and word. You have a heavenly Father who loves you, which means that you don’t have to worry about eternal life, and, in fact, you don’t have to worry about this earthly life either.

This is what Jesus is preaching to you and to all of us today. We have a Father in heaven who loves us, who cares for us, who did not even spare His only begotten Son, but gave Him up for us, so that we can live in confidence and not in worry.

We’ll walk through the text, and say a few things about each verse.

“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.”

Jesus begins with the teaching of worship, which is really a sermon on the first commandment. For the pagans it was always okay to worship a lot of gods, but not for the Christians. Worship was exclusive. The first commandment is not, “I will be your God,” it is “You shall have no other gods.”

The worship of the true God requires the forsaking of all other gods. And Jesus gets right to the point with what is the most common false god in all the world: money. For whatever reason, we fallen sinful creatures are always tempted to worship money, to trust in money, to be afraid of not having money, to think that having enough will make us happy, or safe, or whatever. And it doesn’t matter if you have lots or none, either way we believe the life that there is safety or security or happiness in money.

Jesus is always bringing this up, and making fun of us and our trust in money. Mocking us. It is God who keeps us safe, who gives us what we need, who holds our life in His hand. It is by His will that we have a bite to eat, a place to sleep, a beating heart.

So the service of God and of money are contrasted, and now Jesus is going to tell us what the service and worship of money looks like: worry, anxiety.

25 “Therefore I tell you, 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?

Worry is money worship, and here is this think that I would like you to consider this morning. Whenever we participate in false worship we think we are doing something right. We, then (and you all can correct me if you think I’ve got this wrong) think that it is right and good to worry. We see someone who worries and frets and we think, “I know that they care, that they are a serious and responsible person.” You know what I’m talking about? Worry and maturity go hand-in-hand in our minds.

When you turn on the 24-hour news channels it seems like this is their goal, to get you to worry, and if you are worrying you are doing your part.

And Jesus is getting after a specific type of worry: food and clothing. We worry about the things of this life. We know that God has given us our life and our body, but now we think that it is up to us to keep ourselves alive.

No, says Jesus. The same heavenly Father who gave you life keeps your life.

26 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?

The birds will be our teachers. They don’t even know who to farm, but God feeds them. And you are of much more value than they!

I never noticed this until this year, Jesus doesn’t say about the birds, “their heavenly Father,” but “your heavenly Father.” Our heavenly Father feeds the birds, but He has not baptized the birds, He has not sent His Son to die for the birds. We sinful human beings as the particular object of our heavenly Father’s love and affection. And this confidence should sweep out worry.

26 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?

Jesus, by the way, is not saying here that we should not sow or reap, that we should quit farming and working and expect food to fall out of the sky. If you neither sow nor reap then you’ll eat like the birds eat. We work, we have bodies and minds that know how to provide food, thinks that birds could never do, we can sow and reap but still we worry!

Jesus points to the silliness of our worry.

27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Jesus wants us to see that worry accomplishes nothing. If we sit in a corner and worry, does anything change? Do we live an hour longer? Do we grow an inch taller? If we worry enough does food show up on the table? No. Worry is useless, or it makes things worse, and yet the idol of money demands this worship, this sacrifice of worry.

28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 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, we can toil and spin, things which the flowers of the field can never do, and still we worry. God clothes the grass of the field, and He will take care of us.

Here I think Jesus is getting at our normal way of thinking. We have a very tight thought about cause and effect. We plant the seed, and the seed grows, mechanically. We work and we get paid automatically. We put money in the bank and it stays there. We have a mechanical, cause and effect view of this world, and Jesus is teaching us that God is there working in all of these things. The birds have food because God feeds them. The flowers are adorned with beauty because God clothes them. You have house and clothing and food and drink and all the things you need for this life because God has provided them for you.

31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

God knows what we need, and He has promised to take care of us. This is why, instead of worry, the Scriptures teach us to pray. Can worry add an hour to your life? No. Can prayer? Sure, if the Lord wills. We see it in the Scriptures, the Lord hears and answers our prayers.

There are two Scriptures specifically about this, replacing our worries with prayer.

Philippians 4:4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 5:6-7: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

We should engrave these texts in our heart, and in that way our worry might serve us. When we worry, and we get that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach, or whatever happens to you when you are assaulted by worry, we should say, “That is a reminder to pray.” And our prayers can be like this, “Lord, you told me not to worry because You love and take care of me. Well, I’m worried about this, and now I’m asking You to take care of it. Help me. Protect me…” and so forth.

In this way we take the temptation to worship money through worry and turn it into true service to God.

And this is what Jesus wants to talk about next:

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The children of the world seek a kingdom of this world, but you are not of this world. You are children of the heavenly Father, and His kingdom you seek, His righteousness you desire. And where do you find His kingdom and His righteousness, in His Word and promises, in the preaching of the Gospel, in baptism and His Supper. There you find His righteousness, not the righteousness of keeping the Law, but the righteousness of Christ given to you in His promise.

And this is better. Better that clothes for the body is the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Better than food and drink is the body and blood of Jesus. Better than a full bank account is the kingdom of heaven. Better than life on this world is the eternal life in the resurrection. This is what your heavenly Father has provided for you in the death of Jesus, and if He has given you such great treasures, will He not also take care of you while you live on this earth?

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Amen. The peace of God which passes all understanding guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller
Hope Lutheran Church | Aurora, CO