month ago, our dishwasher died. It had a
good really good run – after, all we had it for fourteen years. So we accepted the fact that we needed to get
a new one. The problem was that in the
fourteen years since the old one had been installed, the expected practices for
installing a dishwasher had changed.
Before it could be installed, we had to have an electrician install a
separate electrical outlet for the dishwasher. We also had to have a plumber
change out the soldered copper fittings for ones that allowed the use of the
new dishwasher water feed that screwed on.
arrangements took some time, and so we were without a dishwasher for two weeks.
For the rest of the family, this concept came as a bit of a shock. They had
never known life without dishwasher. Amy
and I had experienced it – we didn’t have a dishwasher in the settings we lived
during vicarage and seminary – but it had been a long time since we had lived
that way. I was reminded of how the
conveniences of life become something that we then consider to be
“normal.” We think of them as something
that is a necessity in life. And so when
they must be repaired or replaced, the unplanned expense becomes something that
bothers and stresses us.
you don’t have a dishwasher, and so at this point you aren’t feeling all that
much sympathy for the Surburgs. So let
me add this: Wednesday we learned that our washing machine has died and needs
to be replaced. Clothes do have to be
washed, and I doubt that there is anyone out there who washes their clothes by
hand. We all use washing machines. And so you can probably understand that we
viewed this as an essential but unplanned purchase. Needless to say, Amy and I were not happy
about a second large expense in the course of a month.
Gospel lesson this morning, Jesus tells us not to worry because our heavenly
Father will provide us with the things we need to live. He teaches us that our worry regarding the
things of life reveals a deeper spiritual problem about whether God is truly
God in our life, or whether wealth is a false god. And Jesus doesn’t say anything about
dishwashers and washing machines – a point to which we will return.
Our text is
part of a new section in the Sermon on the Mount. And while our reading begins
at verse twenty four, the start of this topic really goes back to verse
nineteen, and so we will pick things up there as Jesus says: "Do not lay up
for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and
where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures
in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break
in and steal.”
Our Lord warns against viewing the
things of this world as our treasure. After all, they are things that do not
last and can be lost. Instead we are to
live in ways that lay up treasures in heaven – ways that are guided by God’s
will and the eternal outcome of life with him. And then Jesus provides the
reason for this as he says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will
be also.” That which we consider to be
our treasure – that which we view a being really important – is where our heart
is. It is the thing to which we are
Next our Lord says, “The eye is the
lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of
light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of
darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” This statement is based on the ancient idea
that light and sight came out of the eye.
The way we live shows what is in us. It reflects our true spiritual
Then, in the first verse of our text,
Jesus drives home the point he has been making as he says, “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.” When it comes to wealth and money, there is
no middle ground. Either God is your
Lord, or wealth is your lord. Either wealth and money drive the priorities and
decisions of our life, or God does.
Jesus says that God must be our Lord, because, of course,
he is the only true God. Since God is our true Lord, Jesus then proceeds to set
forth in very practical terms what this means for our life. He says, “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?”
Our Lord says because God is our God, don’t worry about
what you will eat and drink, and what you will wear. He says don’t worry
because God will provide you with this.
He uses two examples to illustrate this.
First he states, “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?” God provides food for
even his smallest creatures. If he does that for them, how much more will he do
that for us, the ones who have been created in his own image?
Next Jesus speaks about clothing as he
why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they
grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all
his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 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?” God arrays the flowers of the field in beauty
– flowers that soon perish and are gone. If God does that for them, how much
more will provide clothing for us, his highest creation?
After illustrating his point with
these two examples, Jesus returns to his main thought as he says, “Therefore do not be anxious,
saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” Of course, the reality is that we are not anxious
about any of these things. What we are
worried about is whether we are going to be able to have enough money to take
that vacation. We are worried about those credit card bills that arose as we
bought all that stuff we had to have and did all those things that just had to
do. We are worried about whether we will
have enough money to retire so that we will be able to live the kind of life we
want to live.
Our worry reveals again and again, that
wealth is our false god. We allow wealth to be our lord. And here’s the thing about wealth – it’s a
relentless lord. Wealth rules us with
the constant pressure of diminishing returns.
As I mentioned earlier, Jesus doesn’t say anything in our text about
dishwashers and washing machines. He
also doesn’t say anything about cars, computers, smart phones, big screen tv’s,
surround sound systems, or streaming video services.
What these all have in common is that they are
exciting when we first get them. But once we have them they become
“normal.” They become things that we
consider to be necessary. And
they become sources of stress because they all cost money. We have to maintain them, upgrade them, and
Our Lord says, “Therefore do not be
anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall
we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your
heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the
kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added
The first thing Jesus’ words in our text do is that they cause
us to confess. We know that we focus on the wrong treasure. We know that we allow wealth to be a false
god that rules our life. We must confess
this sin. It is something that we must confess daily, because we live lives in
which the old Adam is constantly drawing us back to the wrong treasure; to the
lordship of this false god.
The second thing his words do is that
they give us a true understanding of what God has actually promised us. Remember, Jesus was speaking to people in
first century Palestine. He was speaking
to people who knew none of the conveniences that we take for granted in our
lives. God has only promised to give you
food and clothing. He has only promised
you daily bread -the things that are necessary to support life itself. He may
bless you with far more than that. But
when those things aren’t there, or he takes them away, he is still being
absolutely true to his word.
And finally, Jesus points us to what must be out true focus.
This is the one thing that provides forgiveness for our sin of having wealth as
a false god. It is the one thing that
promises eternal and lasting treasure.
He says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his
righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
With these words, our Lord points us to himself and his saving
work for us. Matthew tells us that Jesus
began his ministry by saying, “Repent, for
the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus
announced that in his person the kingdom of heaven – which is just a more Jewish
way of saying “kingdom of God” – was present.
Shortly after this Matthew adds, “And he went throughout all
Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of
the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the
The Son of
God entered into our world as he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of
the virgin Mary. He came to bring God’s
kingdom – his reign – as he reversed all that Satan, sin and death have caused. He came to bring God’s righteousness, which
we learn in the prophets and the Psalms is God saving action to put all things
Jesus’ ministry pointed toward the single great action by which he accomplished
this – his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Our Lord came to defeat sin and win
forgiveness by dying as the sacrifice in our place. He came to drink the cup of God’s wrath
against our sin – our every sin by which we treat wealth as a god. Jesus said, “the Son of Man came not to be
served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus did this as he died on the cross of
incarnate Son of God had also been sent to defeat what sin brings to all people
– death. On the third day – on Easter –
God the Father raised him from the dead.
Jesus’ resurrection has defeated death.
In Jesus’ resurrection, God has begun the resurrection of the Last Day.
He will bring its consummation when Christ returns, and raises and transforms
our bodies to be like his.
We seek the kingdom of God and
his righteousness by believing and trusting in Jesus Christ. We seek it by returning daily to our baptism
in faith for there we were baptized into his death. There we were buried with
Christ. Through baptism we receive the forgiveness Jesus has won.
But baptism does more than that.
In baptism the Spirit has given us rebirth and renewal. The Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead –
the same Spirit by whom God will raise us from the dead – is already now at
work in us. He gives us strength to put
to resist and put to death the old Adam. There are many different ways he does
this as we reject the false god of wealth.
One very obvious way this takes place is in the offering we
return to God. God blesses us with daily
bread – and so much beyond that. The
question then becomes how much of that we return to him in thanksgiving for his
gift. The false god of wealth says that we need to hang on to all that we
can. The new man in Christ responds by
always looking to return more – especially as that offering keeps pace with
blessings God gives.
In our text today, Jesus tells us, “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.” Our Lord warns us about the false God of
wealth, and assures us that there is no need to worry. God who provides for the birds and the
flowers will certainly give us what we need to live. Jesus promises, “But seek first the
kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added
to you.” Yes all these things will be added. But in seeking first the
kingdom of God and his righteousness as it is present in Jesus Christ and his
Means of Grace, we know that we have forgiveness, salvation and resurrection –
the treasure that will never be taken from us.