Trinity 15 (Mt 6, 24–34)

Photo by Bruno on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

Jesus said, “Are you not worth more than these?”

᛭ INI ᛭

((5. Oops!: We’re ὀλιγόπιστοι))

The Lord says it twice. Do you listen? Clear as day. Right there in the 10 Commandments—twice! “You shall not covet.” Don’t desire, want, or crave. Or to put it another way, “Be content.”

That’s what the 9th and 10th Commandments are all about: being content. Content with what the Lord gives you. Not craving, wanting, “coveting” what others have. Or maybe it’s not exactly that. It’s not coveting someone else’s “house,” or “money, goods, our spouse.” We’re just not content. We want more. We think we need more.

Worry and fear abound! The widow at Zarephath was afraid. Why else would Elijah say, “Don’t be afraid”? And Jesus says, “Don’t worry.” “Don’t worry about food.” “Don’t worry about clothes.” “Don’t worry about life.”

But we are worried. We’re afraid! And not just stuff out in the world, stuff in our world, our daily lives. Will there be enough rain? The yields good enough? Will grain prices go down? Will the crops fail? How high will prices go for everything else I need to buy?

All that translates into: How will the bills get paid? How will we take care of our kids? How can we afford it? Not just at home, but here at church, and at the school. “We’re spending too much.” Fear and worry make us ungenerous, tight fisted. Fear and worry at home make us not give at church.

We know and believe the Lord will take care of us. “It’s in the Lord’s hands.” “He’s gotta plan.” Platitudes we tell ourselves to make us feel better. And they may be true, they may even be good things to believe, but we’re just not too sure. We believe the Lord will take care of us, but, in the midst of our worry and fear, we’re not too confident about it. We’re also, like Jesus says today, “of little faith.” We’re “little faith ones.”

((4. Ugh!: We doubt, despair, and even make deals!))

Because we’re “of little faith,” “little faith ones,” we doubt. That’s where it comes from. Our hearts turn away from the Lord, and there is endless anxiety. Eyes on the statements. Eyes on the receipts. Eyes on every dollar, every penny! Endless anxiety.

It lands us in despair. Well, it can. Doesn’t have to. The widow at Zarephath was there. Her anxiety went to fear. Her fear went to despair. “I’m gathering two sticks so I can cook what’s left for my son and I and then die.” She was hopeless.

But it doesn’t have to go there. When we’re worried and scared, we often go another route first. It’s where our platitudes come from. We make deals. And that goes something like this:

Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these will be added unto you.” So if I do that, He’ll give me everything I need. If I pray hard enough, try hard enough, believe hard enough, God will bless me. Then my bills, my taxes, all my hopes and desires for myself and my family will all be taken care of. As long as I find the right words, the right motivation, the right kind of faith, then it’ll be okay. “Dear Lord, if you do this for me, then I will finally do that thing.” (You know that thing. The carrot you always offer God…)

This is just the prelude to despair. Because if your prayers, your tears aren’t answered, then it was your fault. Or maybe God just doesn’t care well enough about you to be bothered. Doubt. Despair. Deals.

((3. YOU’RE WORTH MUCH TO YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER.))

Now, we should repent of this. It’s true: “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Can’t have eyes on your worries and eyes on Jesus at the same time. And the Lord wants to gift repentance to you today. (His Gift for you.)

He’s freely giving out repentance today, not by beating you upside the head, though He certainly could. (Does lots of times elsewhere in Scripture.) In Matthew 6, He’s actually doing what He inspired Paul to write: “If anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore them in a spirit of gentleness.” Or “don’t you know that God’s goodness leads you to repentance,” as Paul says in Romans.

Jesus is comforting us today. He’s dealing tenderly with us. He is “gentle and lowly in heart.” Sure, it’s translated for us in the ESV as “You of little faith.” It’s one word in Greek: ὀλιγόπιστοι, “little faith ones.”

So, Jesus here isn’t reading you the riot act. He’s not giving you the nth degree here. Not even raising His voice. “A bruised reed He will not break.” This isn’t the “Where is your faith?” of Luke 8, or the “don’t you get it yet? Are your hearts hardened?” of Mark 8.

Jesus looks at us, we who believe our Heavenly Father takes care of us, and yet we’re sometimes not too confident about it. Jesus looks at you and says, “O little ones, little faith ones, there’s no reason to be afraid.” Today Jesus is in effect telling you:

YOU’RE WORTH MUCH TO YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER.

((2. The 1st Article confesses it.))

He doesn’t hold up the rod. There’s no shaming your small faith, your doubt. There’s no: “Well, if you were just like the widow at Zarephath.” There’s no false hope of Him working a harvest or financial miracle. He points you to the 1st Article.

He points your eyes off your bills and statements and receipts and says, “Look at the birds. They don’t work. They don’t plant. They don’t harvest. They don’t gather into barns. Your Heavenly Father feeds them.” He’s not the Heavenly Father of those birds. He’s your Heavenly Father. Even though those birds aren’t his children, He takes care of them. “Consider how the birds above Feed day by day with care-free ease—Does God not keep them in His love? Are we not worth much more than these?”

He takes your mind and says, “Consider, let your mind dwell on wildflowers.” Don’t think about the next due date, the next bill, then next piece of clothing, or whatever other thing unbelievers seek after. Jesus says, “Those flowers—God clothes each of them more richly than Solomon. He clothes those flowers—aren’t they beautiful?—and some are literally here today, gone tomorrow. Those flowers (they don’t have faith at all), and He clothes them. He’ll clothe you, yes you, little faith one.

YOU’RE WORTH MUCH TO YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER.

((1. The 2nd Article is the ultimate proof of your worth.))

But the Lord doesn’t just place before you birds and flowers. He doesn’t just hold up examples from the 1st Article of the Creed.

Not just birds and flowers. His Son! “Are you not worth much more than these,” Jesus asks. You’re worth what He paid for you. Not worth every penny, because “you were purchased not with worldly things like gold and silver.”

YOU’RE WORTH MUCH TO YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER.

Every drop’s worth. The Heavenly Father gave up His Son for you! The Son shed His blood for you. To buy you back from your sins, your coveting, your worry and fear. He bought you back and gave you the adoption of sons in Holy Baptism. Through Holy Baptism God the Father is your Heavenly Father.

All this is “the Kingdom and righteousness” that He gives you. These things are eternally precious. They cost the life of the Son of God. He gives you all of Himself. “Hearts up with the Lord” and not on whatever other worldly things. He lifts them up for us.

“He who did not spare His own Son, how will not also with Him graciously give us all things?” You’re worth that much. He’ll take care of your needs. And if this life ends up being more red than black, more debt than wealth, more death than life, well, Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians fit. He may be talking about persecution for the faith, but it also has some application, I think, for any situation of despair:

“We received the judgment of death in ourselves, so that we would not be confident in ourselves, but on God who raises the dead.”

((Conclusion.))

God does raise the dead, raised His Son from the dead for you. You’re baptized. You’ll rise, too. In the mean time, He’ll care for you, too. Has to. He cares for the birds—they aren’t His kids. He clothes the flowers—they don’t have any faith in Him. He sent His Son for you, who died for you, was raised by His Father for you. He’ll care for you every day, on the last day, forever. That’s how much your worth to Him. “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”

᛭ INI ᛭

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