Monday, September 9, 2013
Seek First the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness
24 “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.
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? 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? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  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? 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. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:23-34 (ESV)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. It’s easier said than done. Jesus begins to sum up his lesson on the Lord’s prayer. His lesson on prayer with this. It is in Matthew 6 that he teaches his disciples to pray. It is one way of seeking first the kingdom of God. But it doesn’t always alleviate worry and anxiety concerning clothing, or food and drink, or the mortgage, or even consideration of the IRS. Yet daily we come to the realization that we can’t serve two masters, we can’t serve God and Mammon.
Mammon is the word Jesus uses that is translated money. It means wealth, and all that is used to figure into wealth. Cadillacs in your dreams, diamonds on your timepiece, and a tiger on a gold leash, Mammon. And yet your life is more than food and drink. Man does not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
So it has to be said. Wealth, it is evil when it pulls you away from God. It is evil when it is your master. And this is the way of the world. You can serve mammon, or you can serve God, and you can serve God with your mammon, but then we only give back to him what has come from his hand.
I mean I could say it is silly to serve mammon. But it is a compelling silliness, isn’t it? God is the source isn’t he? He is the one who made the world and everything in it that we enjoy: our house and home, our spouse our children, our neighbors, the jobs we have, the food we eat and the drink we drink. And we enjoy it all to the glory of God. And yet, we often fail to remember that, often fail to be thankful for what we have, and get bitter over what we don’t have, or at least feel a tinge of jealousy for what our neighbor has.
Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. Oh, there is a temptation there too. Our old Adam is not above twisting the word of God for its own purposes. A whole industry has been created to sell the dream using God. Tithe, give ten percent so you can become richer! Pray the prayer, send money to me and God will bless you with wealth beyond your dreams. And you really have to wonder what god it is that is being served there. Is God being served? Or is God being used to serve Mammon?
This is really a matter, where is your heart? God clothes the field in lilies, the mountain side with Indian Paint Brush. Just look at nature, can man come close to producing the beauty that God creates? He feeds the birds, and you are worth more that birds. And yet the flowers of the field fade. The grass withers. Bird’s fall from the sky, and the Lord know each and every one that does, even as he knows the hairs that fall from your head. He knows them. The flowers fade, the grass withers but the word of the Lord remains forever. So seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Otherwise, what happens when the flower fades and the grass withers? Well then you begin to realize that you do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. The word by which this world was created and your life sustained. And serving mammon, you wither and fade with the flowers of the field.
So what is the kingdom of God and his righteousness? It is Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins, the flower that faded to bloom again and give us life eternal. The very word of God become flesh that we might live in him in his resurrection, to walk in the newness of life. God who has served you with his very life, to prepare you for an eternal weight of glory beyond all compare. I mean you think this world is great. Isn’t it? And we live in one of its more majestic corners. I’ve seen a good portion of it too, and I can tell you that in all seriousness. And eternal weight of glory beyond all compare. Take anything in this world, and it doesn’t come close. All those things a man delights in, the beauty of a woman, the majesty of an elephant, the delicateness of a humming bird, the beauty of a sunrise in Bryce Canyon, or the sunset in the Okavango Delta, a bowl of Spaghetti Carbonara in an Italian café nestled in the alps, a beer at Octoberfest. It doesn’t matter, none of that even compares to the glory God has prepared you for with his baptism. All the things you work so hard for here? Doesn’t compare to the mansion God has for you. The eternal weight of glory he has prepared for you. And he did it all by dying on a cross that your sins would be forgiven. By picking you up and pouring water over your head in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And he sustains you in it week after week with his body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. He’s done it for you.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.