Our text begins with Jesus exhorting us with the fact that we cannot serve two masters, verse twenty-four, “24No 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” (v. 24). In the New Testament Jesus tells us that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10), and “where your treasure is, there your heart is also” (Matt. 6:21). Notice how Jesus speaks quite frankly and openly about money and how He equates money as one of our masters. Truly money is simply a means of barter, a way to purchase goods and services, but when the desire for money moves beyond being a means of barter it indeed becomes a master. We are slaves to money, to mammon, to the things of this world, first and foremost when we deny or fail to acknowledge that all things come from God. Remember, what we are born with and what we take with us when we die is what is truly ours, meaning that nothing in this world is truly ours. The rest, everything, is on loan from God while we live in this world. So, are we acknowledging that God is the Giver by first returning a portion to Him, or do we believe it is ours to do with as we please and simply give some back to Him?
On the other hand, we are slaves to God if we are content with the gifts and blessings God gives and if we acknowledge those blessings from Him through our giving of our first fruits and tithes, trusting that as He has giving us all that we need to this point in our lives, He will continue to do give to us as we need. Our giving is not because God needs us to give, but because of our need to respond to all that the Lord has first given to us. Thus, we acknowledge that a lack of giving is a reflection of a lack of faith. But Jesus is not finished.
Jesus goes on to talk about anxiety. Anxiety is that overwhelming sense of concern for something over which we have no control. Jesus warns us against anxiety especially concerning physical things, food, drink, clothing, verse twenty-five, “25Therefore 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?” (v. 25). Here Jesus throws open the door to our sin, because how often do we find ourselves concerned and anxious about how we look and what others think about how we look? And this does not mean that we are not to take care of ourselves and want to look our best, but it does mean that instead of being concerned about out outward appearance and what the world thinks, we are to be more concerned about our inward appearance and what God thinks.
God shows His care by pointing us to look at the birds, verse twenty-six, “26Look 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?” (v. 26). Again, Jesus opens the door to our sins, and this would be our sin of omission, omitting to see how God cares for the world and for us and how we are of more value to Him that all the other creatures of the world.
But Jesus is not through piling it on. He continues to warn us against anxiety reminding us that anxiety cannot add an hour to one’s life, although it might take an hour away, verse twenty-seven, “27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (v. 27). Really, have we ever added anything to our lives by being anxious and worried. If anything, anxiety and worry causes us to have high blood pressure, which could lead to have a stroke or a heart attack and even now by simply talking about it, we may be getting all worried inside raising our blood pressure even more.
So Jesus moves back to reassure us reminding us how God shows His care by pointing us to look at the flowers, verse twenty-eight, “28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But 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?” (v. 28-30). Here we are chastised by Jesus again. Jesus knows us. Jesus can and does look into our hearts. Jesus knows we are conceived and born in sin and that every inclination of our heart is evil all the time. Jesus knows that we have a difficult time trusting in Him alone above all else and He knows that even though He continues to point out how He continues to care for this world and that we are of more value than all the things of this world as the crown of His creation, we still suffer from the sin of anxiety.
And so Jesus exhorts us one more time to not be anxious, verse thirty-one, “31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (v. 31-32). God knows what we need and not only has He promised to provide for all that we need, He does provide for all that we need.
Our main priority then is to seek first God’s kingdom, verse thirty-three, “33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (v. 33). Here again as we were reminded last week, and week before, we continually fail, instead we go running after other, more important priorities and then wonder why we are anxious.
Finally, Jesus reminds us, that tomorrow will take care of itself, verse thirty-four, “34Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (v. 34). The other day someone mentioned that I had stepped on their toes in the sermon. Today, Jesus continues to step on all our toes, because the fact of the matter is, no matter how much Jesus encourages us and exhorts us to not worry, to not be anxious, we do worry and we are anxious, because that is our nature, yet that does not excuse our sin.
So, what does this mean? How do you know who is your master? Actually, we can have only one of two masters. Either God is our master, or He is not and if He is not, then anything and everything else is, which is idolatry. Now, the hard part, admitting that in and of ourselves, because we are conceived and born in sin and because every inclination of our heart is evil all the time, our tendency is to be mastered by anything and everything other than God. I say this, not as an excuse, but so that we realize our great and constant need to cling to Jesus for our salvation, our faith, forgiveness and life.
In particular, this morning Jesus reminds us concerning our sin of anxiety. Anxiety is sin because it shows our lack of faith. Anxiety is faith in self rather than faith in God. And we are anxious because we are not in control of our lives as we would believe ourselves to be and as we often wish ourselves to be. Now you might be better able to understand why I keep telling you to look outsider yourself. The world says to look inside yourself and yet we see that inside ourselves we are anxious and not in control, but outside ourselves is our Lord who is in control and who can and who does do for us what He knows is best for us. When we look outside ourselves, when Jesus has His way with us, then we move from a state of anxiety to a state of contentment.
What does contentment mean? Contentment means that we rejoice and give thanks to the Lord for all His good gifts and blessings. Contentment means we rejoice and give thanks to the Lord knowing that He loves us, that we are of more value to Him than anything else in the world, because we are, after all, the crown of His creation. We rejoice because the Lord gives us all that we need, not necessarily want, but all that we need.
How do we reach contentment? We cannot reach contentment by ourselves. It is only as the Lord has His way with us that we can become content. God’s desire is that we worship Him above all gods. God’s desire is to love us and show His love for us, after all, the reason He created us is to love us. And He does love us and He does show His great love for us. It is God who comes to us from outside of us, who first comes to us and loves us, who sent Jesus to live perfectly for us in our place. And did you ever notice that Jesus never owned anything except the clothes on His back. He never owned a house or a donkey or a plot of land, and yet He was never concerned about His needs being met? It is God who loves us and sent Jesus to do for us what we are unable to do for ourselves. It is God who sends the Holy Spirit, working through the means of grace, His Word, Holy Baptism, Confession and absolution, and the Lord’s Supper to give, strengthen and keep us in faith.
Who is running the show? Our discontent and anxiety remain when we try running the show as we are often tempted to attempt to do. It is only as our Lord runs the show, runs our life, that He dissolves our discontent and anxiety and stirs in us to trust in Him above all things so that He might indeed continue to shower us abundantly with all His good gifts and blessings.
Truly, discontentment and anxiety flow from self. Contentment and joy flow from the Lord. As we make regular and diligent use of our Lord’s means of grace, He has more and more opportunities to give to us and do for us and love us as is His will for us. And when we are done to and given to we rejoice and say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.