Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity
God provides us with everything that we need to support this body and life. We confess this in the Small Catechism: I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.
When we confess that God created us, we also confess that God takes care of us. In our society we like to pretend that everyone is equal, so we’ve lost touch with the idea of having a lord. But in the old days, when a man was lord of a castle or realm, he was expected to protect and care for his people. In return it was the duty of the people to serve and obey their lord. Today, we don’t like the idea of serving or obeying, so we’ve gotten rid of lords. Instead we have employers. Of course, when you have a boss, you still have to serve and obey. But he’s no longer required to protect and care for you. Is this arrangement better than before? I wonder.
The truth is, everyone, whether they know it or not, has a lord, a master. As Bob Dylan said, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody.” In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to his disciples, “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” (Mt 6:24). When Jesus said “you can’t serve two masters” he wasn’t talking to unbelievers or pagans. He was talking to Christians. Of course, we know that a Christian serves God, right? Well, that’s the trouble. Many Christians want to serve God but they also want to serve money.
Now how does someone serve money? Money can’t talk. It doesn’t tell you want to do, does it? Serving money is a matter of trust. Remember that the job of a lord is to protect and provide for his people. When you trust in money to protect and provide for you, you have made money your lord and god. Instead of trusting your heavenly Father to provide for all your needs, you are trusting money. And Jesus says you can’t serve both God and money. If you are devoted to getting money, you will despise God. If you love money you will hate God. Now I’ve never met anyone who said, “I love money, money, money…” But you don’t have to say those words to make money your idol. And it’s not the paper bills and coins that we would tend to love, it’s the security that money gives us and the stuff it can buy. That’s what we are tempted to love.
But Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and money. 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? (Mt 6:25). This is what loving money looks like: worrying about food and clothes and stuff – worrying about your job, your house, your car. When you worry about these things, you are not trusting in God to provide for your needs. Instead you are trusting in money. When you worry about your stuff you make it your lord and idol. Worrying is idolatry. Wait, what? Let me say it again: Worrying is idolatry. “Ah, Pastor, come on! Idolatry is a really bad sin – everybody knows that. But worrying is a mostly harmless little sin. Everyone does it. It’s not idolatry, is it?”
Let’s consider the First Commandment. You shall have no other gods before me. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things. Jesus says, “Don’t worry about your life, your food, your clothes, your stuff.” Trust in God. He is your heavenly Father. He provides and cares for you. What would you think if your daughter or granddaughter cried herself to sleep at night worrying about whether she would have food to eat or clothes to wear in the morning? It would break your heart. You’d say, “Child, don’t you know that your parents love you? Don’t you know that we will provide everything you need?” How much more will your Father in heaven give you every good thing? Jesus said, “Look at the birds. Look at the flowers. They don’t worry. They don’t toil or labor, and yet God feeds them and clothes them. Are you not worth far more than they?” To the birds and flowers, God is Creator. And he is your Creator too, but he is far more. You are made in the image of God, and God has joined himself to mankind in a special way – God became one of us; he became a man. So you have a relationship with God that far surpasses that of creature to Creator. God is your heavenly Father, and you are his dear child. What do you need that he will not provide?
So then, why do you worry? Why do you take thought for tomorrow? Why do you wear yourself out worrying about the future or chasing after stuff when your Lord and Master has already promised to protect and care for you? Repent and trust in God. Fear, love, and trust in him above all things. Don’t worry about food and clothes and cars and iPads and careers. God knows that you need these things and he will provide. Instead of worrying, take all your concerns to God in prayer. This is why Jesus tells us to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven… give us this day our daily bread.” When you pray the Lord’s Prayer, you are asking God to give you not just bread, but everything that you need to support this body and life. And God answers this prayer. He gives you clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, all the things that you need.
But you know what, there’s something even more important that God gives you. Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Mt 6:33). Yes, you gotta have clothes and food, but what you need even more is the righteousness of God. Why? Because you’re a sinner. Because you’re quick to put your trust in other things. Because your sinful nature is a natural-born worrier and idolater. You don’t have the righteousness of God and you desperately need it. Jesus tells you that instead of worrying about stuff you should seek first the righteousness of God. And where do you find this? In the perfect life and obedient death of Jesus. Here is the righteousness of God. We pray, “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,” and your heavenly Father answers. You need forgiveness? Well, Jesus has all the forgiveness you need and more. Your Lord is extravagant. He doesn’t measure out forgiveness by the teaspoon. He gives it by the ocean full. He gives you a veritable flood of forgiveness that drowns the old idolatrous Adam and raises you to new life in Christ. Where should you look to find the kingdom of God and his righteousness? You don’t need to look any further than your baptism, where you entered the kingdom of God and were clothed with the righteousness of Christ. And everything else you need, your Lord and Master will add unto you. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (Ro 8:32). Amen.