25. September 2022
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things, the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
In Name of the + Jesus. Amen.
Don’t be distracted by lunch or the hole in your sock. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t be anxious about your life. So, why are you so concerned with church budgets and school enrollment? Why do you fret over church attendance and statistics? Or, why do we worry about politicians and elections? Why do we look attentively to the stock market, consumer price index, or gas prices? Why do we bother? Why are we anxious all the time?
Our fear, love, and trust are misplaced. We fear what can only destroy the body. We love what only gives us short-term pleasure. We trust in ourselves and our resources. Rather than look up to God or out towards our neighbor, we turn inward and are captivated by ourselves. The only that matter to us is what we want, what we need, or what makes us afraid.
In one sense, we are right. Our first responsibility is for ourselves. We cannot rely upon others to feed, clothe, house, and provide everything needed for our bodies and life. Our work is by the sweat of our brow to provide for ourselves and those we’ve accepted responsibility for—like wife and children. According to flesh and blood, our wants, fears, and worries are our responsibility. Work hard, be frugal and wise, and learn to defend ourselves. Set aside an emergency fund, reserve some income for the inevitable day when you can no longer work, and maybe store some food for when things get tight.
In another sense, we are entirely wrong. We have allowed our fears and worries to enslave us into submission. We are held captive by what tomorrow might bring. We are bound to the curse of there must be more, constantly striving to build bigger barns, store up more and more, and latch onto anything that might maintain enough value for the inevitable crash. All our fears, worries, and anxieties about the body’s needs have distracted and blinded us from what matters. Jesus calls this idolatry, and the idol has a name: Mammon.
Stop serving Mammon, praying its liturgy of constant anxiety and worry about physical stuff, and making offerings by Mammon’s ministers within the banks, treasuries, and markets. This false god, along with our service and offerings, only leads to worry, fear, anxiety, and ultimately death. Build as many barns as we like. Fill them with as much fool’s gold as we think we’ll need. No promise will ever be enough, and it won’t. Mammon will keep demanding more and more.
“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.” Our fear, love, and trust are misplaced. Our fear ought to be of the one who can send both body and soul into hell. Our love ought to be treasures that neither moth nor rust can destroy. Our trust ought to be in gifts outside us who are reliable, dependable, and trustworthy. So, Jesus has words to speak to us today, which change our hearts and set us free from the idolatrous worship of Mammon.
Jesus says, “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?” And He says, “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?” He says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Jesus gives us tangible examples to change our minds about the body’s needs. He says the birds and the lilies of the field are testimony that God the Creator sees our every need and well provides for them. God makes sure that everything we need is provided for us. We are fed and clothed, just like the birds and the grass. So stop worrying. Don’t be anxious. Give up the relentless pursuit of stuff because it’s altogether vain, like grasping at the wind. We’re free to enjoy this life with whatever God gives us.
Satisfied? Content? Peaceful? Maybe. But how long will it last? In less than an hour, the same fears, worries, and anxieties that we had before will come bubbling back up to the surface as we consider the fiscal year past and the days to come. We still live in the flesh, and we can’t help but struggle with the needs of the flesh. There has never been a day since the original rebellion in the Garden when we haven’t worked to make ends meet. We have always been worried about our future, anxious about tomorrow, and afraid of death. No earthly food, garments of leaves or skin, or any riches can ever answer the deep-seated fears of the soul.
To this, nestled amid the excerpt from Jesus’ sermon is the Word we need: “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” There is a greater need than anything your body wants. There is a pang of hunger that no quick bread can satisfy. There is a covering for your naked shame and guilt that won’t decay and wear out. What you need and what Jesus gives you today, tomorrow, and always is His righteousness.
In Jesus, you have the only one who has ever feared, loved, and trusted in God above all things. In Jesus, you have the one who never doubted God’s providence of food, even when fasting for forty days. In Jesus, you have the one who never worried about clothing, being clothed by His mother at birth but allowed the soldiers to strip Him bare in His shameful death. In Jesus alone, you have the one whose anxiety about tomorrow drove him not to despair but prayer in the Garden, trusting that what the Father gave Him to do was for the world’s salvation.
Jesus fulfilled all righteousness for you. The Law, the Commands, and every demand He fulfilled. And He gives you His perfect obedience AND His suffering and death as His gift. His Spirit puts this righteousness on you and into you. His righteousness is wrapped around you in your Baptism. Jesus is your royal robe covering all shame and guilt—yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His righteousness is your food and drink in His Word of Absolution proclaimed and put into your mouths in His Supper. His body and blood forgive you for all your unbelieving worry, anxiety, and fear. His body and blood give you confidence, hope, and trust.
Because where Jesus forgives sin, He is giving you life and salvation after that. Thus, His righteousness sets aside the fear of God’s wrath, the fake love of material life, the false trust in anything you could do to prepare, and anyone else’s vain promises of a better tomorrow. In faith, you can go about this life in the confidence, contentment, and peace that only Jesus’ righteous forgiveness gives. Be fed by your heavenly Father with Jesus, bread from heaven. Be clothed by God with the righteousness of Christ, bold and encouraged for today and tomorrow. Do not worry because you are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin