1 Luther 15. Sunday after Trinity Sunday
15. Sunday after Trinity
24 No man is able to be a servant to two masters: for he will have hate for the one and love for the other, or he will keep to one and have no respect for the other. You may not be servants of God and of wealth. 25 So I say to you, Take no thought for your life, about food or drink, or about clothing for your body. Is not life more than food, and the body more than it’s clothing? 26 See the birds of heaven; they do not put seeds in the earth, they do not get in grain, or put it in storehouses; and your Father in heaven gives them food. Are you not of much more value than they? 27 And which of you by taking thought is able to make himself a cubit taller? 28 And why are you troubled about clothing? See the flowers of the field, how they come up; they do no work, they make no thread: 29 But I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God gives such clothing to the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is put into the oven, will he not much more give you clothing, O you of little faith? 31 Then do not be full of care, saying, What are we to have for food or drink? or, With what may we be clothed? 32 Because the Gentiles go in search of all these things: for your Father in heaven has knowledge that you have need of all these things: 33 But let your first care be for his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these other things will be given to you in addition. 34 Then have no care for tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Take the trouble of the day as it comes. (Matthew 6:24-34 BBE)
1.Today we are going to look at a very rich gospel text, which is directly aimed at stinginess. The Lord is particularly at enmity with stinginess because nothing harms the Gospel, and Christians in general, more than the harm that is done by stinginess. Day and night everyone worries about how he can get food for the next day. Miserliness is advanced greatly by this kind of worry; no one ever gets enough, everyone wants more, no one is satisfied with what God gives. The one to whom God has given a nice house wants a palace; if God gave him a palace, he would like to have a whole village, and so on. No one is ever satisfied with what he has; everyone wants to rise in status and wants more and more. If miserliness and pride wouldn’t reign, everyone would have enough and there wouldn't be such worrying and scratching among the people. The Lord warns us with this sermon against the display of such an unchristian attitude. He says, “No one can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will love the one and despise the other.” With this we see that the lord knows that the love of mammon hinders service to Him.
2. That’s why this gospel text is not meant for the young people, because God be praised, they would rather eat cherries than count money. A nice apple is more important to them than a coin, they also don't ask for the price of grain. Deep down in their hearts they are absolutely sure that they will always have enough to eat.
03. This gospel text is mainly directed to the house fathers and the officials, and most of all, it's directed to the preachers who are not very well taken care of by the world and who are hard pressed to know how to have enough food on the table to feed their wives and children. To them the Lord says, “Look at the birds, see how the Lord God takes care of them, they don't go hungry!”
4. So you see, this is a text today, which is not of interest to the youth. They don’t have a second thought about where the food comes from; they think the kitchen and root cellar will always be full. However, we old fools are so concerned for our bellies that we always fear that we will have to go hungry.
5. Since the Lord Christ speaks so seriously about serving God or mammon, we need to take a close look at what He means.
6. The world uses the word ‘serve’ in the context of doing what someone has told you to do. When someone says, “I serve my Lord” it means, “I do what my Lord has ordered me to do.” That means service is directed not only at a person but also at his word, his direct order. The master or the mistress of the house doesn’t have to order their servants to eat and drink; they might want to do this, but they don’t have to. What the master and mistress have to do is to see that their servants and employees do the work that they were asked to do. For a servant or farm hand not to do what his master has told him, but rather to do what others tell him, is the same thing as being disobedient to the Lord God.
7. The same holds true for the true worship of God: Worshipping and serving God doesn’t mean anything other than listening to what God says and practicing it. What does this mean: listening to God? It means first of all to listen to Christ’s words in the gospel and receiving Him. This is the true and God-pleasing worship of God. This is His explicit order!
8. After this, the Lord God orders the children to honor father and mother, the parents to raise their children, feed them and teach them. He orders the wife to love her husband and the husband to provide and protect his wife. By being obedient to their parents the children serve God because this is God’s order. The same is true for the farm hands and the servant girls: if they busily do what they have been ordered to do, they not only serve their masters, but they also God in heaven, because that's what it says in His Word.
9. The same holds true for all walks of life. Everyone could be serving God if they would learn what it means to serve God. True worship is not living a segregated life doing good deeds, but rather, it is doing God's will and following His Word. It looks very great to the world when a monk abstains from everything, enters a monastery, and lives a severe life; fasts from food and sleep, and performs his prayer rites. It's not a lack of deeds, but it is the lack of God’s order, and because of this lack, what he does is not true worship. If a servant girl in the house cooks, cleans, and does her other chores willingly and busily, it is pleasing to God, because the servant girl is doing this according to God’s order; therefore, her service is pleasing to God, and is worth far more than the good deeds of the monks and nuns in the monastery.
10. So you see, serving God means doing what He has ordered and abstaining from what God has forbidden us to do. This way the whole world could be full of worship service: not only would there be worship in church, but also in the home, in the kitchen, in the root cellar, and at the work bench, in the fields, in the offices of the officials, among the citizens, and among the peasants. God not only gave the church government and the political government orders, but he gave orders for the regiment of the home. Whoever serves in the home, first of all the mother and father, then the children and the servants, serves God because this is His Will and His explicit order.
11. A servant girl could happily say: “Now I cook, later I will make the beds, then I'll clean the house. Who has called me to do so? My master. Who gave him such power over me? God did. If God did, then it must be true that I’m not only serving my master by doing these things, but I’m also serving God in heaven and pleasing Him by being a good worker. Can I become more blessed? No, because what I’m doing right now is just the same as if I were in heaven at God's side cooking for Him.
12. You see, everyone could be happily doing his or her work, and not turning sour, if he would say yes to the calling of God. Alas, the devil comes and says, “No, no that’s not a reason for being happy.” He makes them unhappy doing their chores; he takes all the love away so that they don’t love doing what they are called to do.
13. Some spend all they have just to make sure that they are serving God. Just look at these crazy folks, the monks and the nuns; what all they do, because they hope that by doing these things, they serve God. They lack one thing, however, the order from God to do these things. God didn't call them to do as they do. If one would ask them who called them to enter a monastery, they wouldn’t be able to say, ‘God did.’ If they wanted to stick to the truth, they would need to confess that they have done this because they thought by doing so, they could serve God. The evil one, the devil says, “Thank you for doing so!“ This kind of behavior is the same as telling your servant girl to light a fire in the eating room, but she instead sweeps the floor. She wouldn't please you with such behavior. If you scolded her for that and she defended herself by saying, “I don't like building fires.” You might even get angry with her and you would tell her to stop sweeping the floor and go build a fire so that the room gets warm.
14. As this servant girl behaves, so the monks and nuns behave, they practice a life of service, which the Lord God hasn’t called them to live. And so, if you want to serve God in a way that pleases Him, do as He has told you to do. Stay in your profession and position, as insignificant as it may be. Listen first to the Word of God as it is preached in the church, then listen to your government, your employer, your parents, and do what they tell you to do.
15. Everyone in all walks of life should busily learn from the Word of God, and do what God, through our pastor, our father and mother, the master and mistress of the house, tells us to do. If you do that, you are on the safe side with God, and your work won’t make you sour because you know that God is happy with what you are doing; you’re actually serving Him. Whatever you do in your master’s house is like doing it for God in heaven.
16. This is the most beautiful and the very best jewelry with which one can adorn oneself, obedience to God's Word. We see that all other creatures are obedient to God’s order; they all do what God has called them to do. The sun gives its light to everyone on earth, the moon during the night, and every year the ground grows a large variety of fruit. Even the water fulfills its duty. What order does the water have? It’s supposed to bring forth fish, God says in Genesis. It does so everywhere where people don’t hinder God’s blessing through sin. You see everything displays its brightest adornment by being obedient to God's call. Christ says that even Solomon was not more richly adorned in all his glory than the flowers in the fields. What is God’s order for the flowers? It’s nothing other than to grow where their seeds have fallen to the ground, look pretty, smell nice, and be ready to be used. Now, if God praises the flowers, don’t you think he will praise the person found in obedient service?
17. A servant girl who adorns herself for going to a dance: That’s called worldly adornment. Whoever judges this correctly must say that this is just dirt compared to the adornment she puts on if she does her job right; takes care of the children, works in the kitchen, and just does what she is asked. In Psalm 45:9: Kings' daughters were among thy honorable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. Since Christians here on earth are often poor, despised, and lacking, what kind of jewelry could the author of the Psalm have meant? It is a spiritual adornment and it doesn’t consist of silver, pearls, velvet, and gold. It is made up of obedience to God’s commands. And so you see, whoever walks in obedience to God, walks in the Lord God’s own jewelry.
18. If I would wear the jewelry of the emperor, or a beautiful young woman would be dressed in the jewelry of the queen of France, that would be a glorious and great thing, and people would stare open mouthed. But in reality this is nothing compared to the spiritual jewelry a woman puts on if she spends her days in obedience to God, loves and honors her husband, takes good care of her children, and is diligent in her housework. Compared to these virtues, velvet, pearls, and gold are just old, torn beggar’s rags; but it’s putting on precious jewelry to be obedient to God’s orders.
19. A true and beautiful crown is what Solomon talks about in Proverbs 1:8-9, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.”
20. Here on earth this obedience doesn’t seem to be something special. However, in the other life it will gloriously shine. God will say, “My child, come to Me, you have been an obedient child, a faithful servant girl, a pious farm hand.” Then we will see that obedience to God and His Word is a much greater adornment than all the jewelry of the world!
21. This was part one of today’s sermon: A lesson in what it means to serve God instead mammon, and how not to let ourselves be kept from serving God. Now in our second part, we want to look at the help and comfort we receive from the Lord God for fighting miserliness.
22. First of all the Lord says, “No one can serve two masters.” See, He talks about two masters. One of them is the true Lord God, our true God. The other master is called mammon; that is not the true Lord, that’s why Christ doesn’t want us to serve mammon.
23. What it means to serve mammon the Lord explained to us with the parable: Worry for our life, worry about food and drink, and worry about clothing and housing. He tells us in His parable not to worry for life’s necessities, because through worrying we don't change anything, it but hinders our service to God. So, beware of this, serve God in your daily walk, and get used to the fact that God knows what we need and that He loves to give it to us, if only we will ask Him.
24. We can trust God! Just think: he has already given us a body and soul! And isn’t it true: If all the food of the world were laid out on a table, each one of us would still be much more important. Your life is also of more value than clothing. Aren't we all unholy, unthankful people; shouldn’t God be angry with us for being such unsatisfied people? If we are honest, we have to confess that God has already given us the best -- our lives. If we agree to this, we could also agree that we can trust Him with the lesser details of our lives. Just imagine: A rich man has given you a fortune. Don't you think that since he has done this, he won't also present you with a new pair of shoes? So you see, the same holds true for God: He has given you His best already; we don’t have to worry about food and drink. We don’t do right when we don’t trust God to provide us with the necessities of our lives.
25. When we look at ourselves and see our bodies, our eyes, ears, hands, and feet, we must confess that He has already dealt very graciously with us, and has given us much to be absolutely thankful for. In our text for today, the Lord Christ gives us an example of not worrying.
26. Just look at the birds: they fly in front of our eyes, and it’s so wonderful the way they so graciously fly. We want to lift our hats in honor to them and say, “Your Honors, I must confess, I’m not able to do the same as you do: At night you sleep in your nests without any worry; the next morning you get up again cheerily and happily greeting the new day. You sit down by a flower or on a tree. You sing, praise, and thank God; afterwards, you look for food and you find it. What an old fool I am that I don't do the same; I have so many reasons to live the same way: Cheerily and happily praising God and not worrying.” These birds can’t stop praising God, just like real saints of God; they don’t worry in the least, in spite of not having a root cellar or a hay barn. They just sing along, praise God, and are cheery and good spirited because they know there is Someone in heaven who cares for them -- and that's our Father in Heaven. Why don't we live as these little birds? We even have the advantage of being able to work, grow crops, and harvest fruit trees. Still we seem to be unable to let go of this shameful act -or should I say- “art” of worrying.
27. That’s why we shouldn’t forget this example of the birds. They are without a worry, happy and cheery. Why should they worry? They have a good chef and a rich waiter, who is called Father in Heaven, who has a kitchen as large as the whole world. They fly wherever they want and find a full table. The Heavenly Father, Christ, says in our passage that He wants to be our chef and waiter, if we only will believe in Him.
28. I’m very sorry to have to admit that the whole world is a bunch of misers, who don't trust God and who don't serve God, but rather mammon. Their only concern is how to collect as much money as possible. As long as they are successful with this, they are happy. If they are unsuccessful with this -- they are sad and troubled, and worry all day and night. However, isn’t it true: Even if your house were made of gold and were filled to the top with money, and if the Rhine River and the Elbe River were rivers of gold and were yours -- what would it help if you didn’t have any food, not even grain to make bread, no beer, no wine, no water? You would starve to death because you can’t eat gold.
29. The heathen know a story of a miser: A very wealthy king was such a miser that he wished that everything what he touched would turn into gold. The wish was granted to him: everything he touched turned into gold: his clothes, his chair, his eating table, and his bed -- everything turned into gold. You guessed right: even his bread and his drink turned into gold, and finally, not long after his wish was granted to him, he died from starvation. However, the world is blind and crazy. Even though they have food and drink, they also want gold. It’s as if they don’t want what God gives them, but do want what they don’t have.
30. Christians should think twice about this and not be overcome by miserliness. A Christian needs to learn to trust in God, who has proven to us before that we can trust Him with our daily needs. He cares for us and doesn't want us to experience lack of the things we need. In the book of Psalms we read about the little ravens, that God feeds them even when the old ones leave the nest, leaving the young ones on their own. God gave life, and He sees to it that we have what we need to live. He does so in the animal kingdom, (remember the example of the ravens and the birds), and that's His standing order with mankind, and particularly with Christians. To mankind He not only gives body and soul, but He even gave His One and Only Son so that man not only lives temporally, but also can live in all eternity.
31. What good is it to worry ourselves to death? It would be very foolish to do; it would be the same as if a very small man sat all day in a corner of his house, worrying about being so small, and worrying about how to become taller. Don't you think that the entire world would laugh about him, mock him, and tell him what a great fool he is? Christ says it’s the same way with the world: people want to become rich and important, and they spend their time worrying about how to become that way. Nobody, though, worries himself rich. It’s only a matter of the blessing of the Lord God. If the Lord blesses you with riches -- you have them; if He doesn’t bless you with riches -- you don’t have them. It’s as simple as that! And even if you do have riches, without the blessing of the Lord you can’t enjoy them, and that is what we see all too often.
32. This alone should be reason and a challenge for us to have faith in Christ, to accept the fact that worry hinders faith and is an act of opposition to God. On top of that, we hurt ourselves by worrying because we can’t change anything anyway. By worrying, we promote miserliness and false belief; if we would use our minds, we would stay away from such habits, beware of them.
33. The Lord wants us to change our attitudes, and tells us that if we would only open our eyes while out in the garden or the fields and look at the pretty flowers, we would find the honorable master Teacher who wants to teach the highest of all arts: To trust in God and believe that He knows best and means well with us. Outside in nature we see the flowers in their colorful adornment and their beauty; they look so much more beautiful than the emperor in all his jewelry. His adornment is dead. A flower, though, is a natural, living thing. There is not even a good reason for it to be growing so beautifully out there.
34. As I said earlier: there’s a reason that the birds find their food: the Father in heaven gives it to them, and sees to it that each one of these little creatures finds nourishment. As we see, the same holds true for the flowers. If it wouldn’t be for God and His good order, it would not be possible that one flower looks so much like the other: The same color, the same amount and shape of the leaves, etc. So you see: God even takes care of how the grass grows -- it only grows that one can look at it, and for the cattle for food. Contemplating this, wouldn’t you say, too, that it is a sin and a shame to doubt that God will give us clothing?
35. And we even have an advantage over the birds: We can grow fields of grain and harvest them; we’re able to fill our barns and root cellars and store up for another day The birds can’t do that; still they don’t go hungry. We also have an advantage in clothing. We grow linen, flax, and hemp; we keep sheep, etc. Everyone is stocked up: how can anyone worry and be without faith that he too will always have enough -- particularly if he doesn’t stop working?
36. One point we need to make here: We’re commanded to work with all diligence, and not be lazy and un-attentive. On the other hand, we’re not allowed to worry for food, drink, clothing, and other things. Such worrying is a sign that we don’t trust God with our lives. Therefore, worrying is the same as blaspheming God!
37. So you see: we need to look at the two sides of the coin. One side is that we have to work with all diligence. That was already God’s command in Paradise: if man wants to eat, he has to work. The other side is to be a believing Christian. Believing God means trusting that He is our loving Father who knows what we need, and who likes to give us what we need. Such faith and worry don’t go well together. As soon as someone starts worrying, faith starts to sway; yes, it might even be the end of faith.
38. And so the Lord forbids us to worry. He simply says, “Don’t worry. You shall work. That's an order. You work and let me care of you. It is my mandate to be your Father. I help you by caring for you, but you can’t do or change anything by worrying. So let it be, if you don’t, you are not my servants anymore, but you are servants of mammon. If you worry, you love mammon, but hate me. You hang on to mammon, but you despise me.” The world is an example of this. If somebody were able to earn ten or twenty dollars this very hour -- do you think he would still come to church? Probably earning this money would be more important to him. Remember, whatever you do to the Word of God, you do to God. Whoever despises the Word of God despises God. There is no excuse for those who despise the Word of God. It is clear to us what it means to despise the Word of God.
39. It’s not Christian thinking to worry about food and drink and our other daily needs. The heathen seek these things because they don’t know of a Father in heaven. However, you have a Father in heaven. He gave you body and soul and He even gave you His Son. His Son knows very well what you need. How can you think of Him as being such a merciless and hard God that He would let you starve to death instead of giving you what you need? Do as your children do: They lie down at night and fall asleep without a worry. When they get up in the morning, they don’t start worrying where the food for breakfast will come from. They just trust mom or dad, knowing they will provide. “Do the same,” Christ seems to say here, “and you won’t be in a state of emergency. Don’t worry; if you do worry, it is only a sign that you don't appreciate the concern our Father in heaven has for you, otherwise you would throw all your worry onto Him and hope for the best.
40. And so the Lord closes His sermon with these Words, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” This is a necessary lesson and a good promise. The world asks for a kingdom, too, but it is a kingdom where one needs money and goods, and these are uncertain and unreliable. On the other hand, God has a different kingdom, an eternal kingdom -- we Christians should go and seek that kingdom instead. This kingdom shall be in us, Christ explains. And that doesn’t mean anything other than to listen to the Word of God and believe, which means to trust God and see Him as our heavenly Father. Where such faith resides, God resides and the righteousness of God follows, which is the forgiveness of sins. Concern for the forgiveness of our sins should be our first concern, and not the worry for food, etc. Stick to the Word of God, listen to it attentively, put His Word into practice in your lives, and trust in it, as Christ says.
41. So be content and make the first priority in your lives to seek God and His righteousness. Work diligently, because Christians shouldn't be lazy, but work busily: God will take of the rest. Do you really think God lets evil ones who show nothing but contempt for His Word and even persecute His Word off the hook? No. On the other hand, He won't let you go hungry, the ones who love His Word, like listening to it, and who trust in Him. The Lord teaches that if we only sick to His Word, believe in it, are pious, and don’t worry -- He will give us enough.
42. What happens, though? Most people don’t care for God’s Word -- they would rather get drunk, play with decks of cards, and go dancing instead of coming to church to listen to the preacher. Such habits bring sin into lives. That we live like that and are blessed is not possible; no, God punishes with bad luck, illness, and other things. Also, most people don't want to work diligently, they are lazy and un-attentive, or if they work they constantly complain about it. There is no limit to their debauchery, card playing, drinking, etc. On one Sunday they spend all they have earned during the week. God forbids such behavior; He does not want us to be lazy people or wasteful, extravagant people, but rather be concerned about making the best use of the money we have earned.
43. This is why the Lord says, “The birds don’t harvest and don’t stock their barns.” It seems like He was going to say, “Both of these you do: you work and you keep the profit you have made for emergencies. It would be better if you, who are such unchristian, lazy, and wasteful people would wag your accusing fingers at yourselves instead of pointing your fingers at God and accusing Him of not providing for you. God would give you enough if you would only care for His Word, believe in Him, let go of your worries, and start working. Christ tells you that evil behavior brings about evil results. But you don’t care. Instead of going to the church and listening to the sermon, you idly lie in bed, or go for a walk, or get drunk, and instead of going to work the next day, you do the same foolish things again. But look: Even a bird has to work to catch his prey. Our Lord feeds the bird, but doesn’t throw the food into its nest. So my dears, do the same as the little birds do: fear God, work diligently, and let God take care of the rest. Don’t be a miser, but be content with what God gives you.
44. This was the lesson of today’s Gospel text. May God grant through His Son and the Holy Spirit that we learn from it and straighten up. Amen