Trinity 15, 2016

 

The Epistle. Galatians 6:11-18

The Gospel.  St. Matthew 6:24-34

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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This morning one of the main themes is frailty; the frailty of man to be precise.  And this frailty of ours is set against the power and mercy of God.

 

We ask God today, that He would keep us….keep His Church…protect and preserve His Church to the end through and by His mercy.

 

Why?

 

Because without God, none of these things can happen.

The Church would struggle, fail and die were it not for the preserving mercy and love of God sustaining us at every turn.

 

His mercy is perpetual.  God never changes.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He does not change.  His steadfast love and mercy endure forever.

 

But again, because we are frail and finite creatures as our Collect both states and implies, we are prone to fall.  The Church will fall if God does not uphold it.

 

There are things all around that hurt us…hurt the body of the Church.  We hear of all sorts of attacks on the Body of Christ.  Though we know Christ has conquered even death and we have nothing to fear, there are still things hurtful that we must deal with from time to time.

 

 

 

And finally we asked God that through that same mercy, He would lead us, the Church to all things that are profitable to our salvation.

 

And this image of our frailty is brought home to us in both lessons we heard read this morning.

 

In the Gospel, here is Jesus preaching His famous Sermon on the Mount.  He is teaching His Disciples certain truths about the Kingdom of God.

 

He says, “No one can serve two masters.”  There are two choices we face every day.  Because of our frailty, the choice is sometimes difficult or even painful. 

 

The two masters or the two choices are God or money.  We cannot be a servant or a slave to both.  Interestingly, these are opposed to one another.

 

 

It is either God or money. God or Mammon as the Bible says.

 

So our frailty is first shown to us in that we have choices to make and that there are certain things that pull us…pull our attention away from God.  We allow them to create a false choice between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world.

 

The concept behind this first part is that of being drawn in different directions. 

God in one direction.

Money or riches in the other. 

 

This speaks to our frailty in that we have this choice in the first place.  If we were not fallen, and living as we should, there would be no choice.  The balance would be rightly made at all times.

 

 

 

God would come first in all of our choices and decisions and all other things would be secondary.  All other things would be seen as coming from God and for our good.

 

Or we could say that all of the choices we have would be rightly ordered by our minds and desires and we would choose rightly at all times.

 

This, however, is not how things are for us.  As was pointed out recently in the Newsletter, there are things we want to do (or choose) which we don't and there are other things that we do not want (or choose) and we run headlong into those….

 

…Thus illustrating our frailty…and our need for the Spirit of God to guide us at all times…in thought, word and deed.

 

Then Jesus comes to the greater part of the lesson for today. Anxiousness; another symptom of our frailty.

He says, “I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.”  He then lists the things that we concern ourselves with.

 

Food, drink, clothing.

Now, all three of these are necessary for life.  Maybe the clothing is less necessary, but some sort of covering is definitely needed for not only decency but also warmth and protection.

 

So we can rightly say that all three are necessary.  But why is Jesus telling us not to be anxious about them?

 

Well, if we look closely, He is not saying don't think about them.  He is saying don't be overly worried or obsessed over them.

 

One commentator phrases it this way.  When Jesus saysIs not the life of more value than food [or the body more than clothing]? He argues from the greater to the less.

 

He forbids us to be excessively anxious about the way in which life is supported; and he now assigns the reason. The Lord, who has given life itself, will not suffer us to want what is necessary for its support.

 

In short, will not God, who gave us life, not also give what is necessary for life?

 

He goes on…And certainly we do no small dishonor to God, when we fail to trust that he will give us necessary food or clothing; as if he had thrown us on the earth at random. The person who is fully convinced that God, who is the Author of our very lives has a full and intimate knowledge of our condition at all times will not even entertain a doubt.  He will never doubt that God will make abundant provision for our every need and want.

 

 

 

 

Whenever we are seized by any fear or anxiety about food or clothing, let us remember, that God will take care of the life that he gave us.[1]

 

If God has given us life in the first place, will He not at the same time take care of it and govern it and oversee it and make all of the provisions for it? 

 

That is why we need not be anxious.  But our frailty leads us to think otherwise.

Or it causes us to lose heart quickly. 

Or it causes us to search out and work to take care of our needs without first consulting Him…or at least looking to Him and reminding ourselves that it is He who supplies our every need.

 

He says that life is more than food and the body is more than the clothing.  True. 

 

Though food and clothing are necessary, our entire body and soul are ultimately in the hands of God.

 

Jesus then moves to the example we are to ponder and observe to understand and take patiently this call to be satisfied with His provisions.

 

He gives us the remedy here, to teach us to rely on His providence.  Within the category of frailty we have unbelief…distrust…fear and many other things like this.

 

Look at the birds of the air. They don’t sow seed,

they don't reap,

they don't gather and collect and store their provisions in barns.  They rather go about their business and God feeds them.  Are we not of more value than birds?

 

 

And the answer to this rhetorical question is, YES.  We are of more value.  We, as human beings, are the crown of God’s creation.

 

Everything He created is said to be “very good.”  We were created….man was created and God gave man a special place in His creation.

 

He made us first of all in His image.  He did not bestow this blessing on the birds of the air or the fish of the sea or the lilies of the field.

 

Man is unique in God’s creation.  He is the steward of all that God created and all things are under him and subject to him.

 

If we have been given such a great charge and title and role in creation, the question again is, will God not take care of and provide for us?

 

He will never leave us. 

He will never forsake us.

 

We are of greater value than all of the rest of creation.  We bear His image.

 

We live in much different times than those of Jesus day however.  It is very difficult to hear and tolerate those who would disparage the great abundance God has blessed us with.

 

But with the great abundance we enjoy comes different anxieties and different responsibilities.  Even the poorest in our day have the bare necessities of food and clothing.  Yet we still find ways to be anxious.

 

We don't have the fear of waking up to empty pantries and empty drawers.

Our anxieties are of a different kind.  We have found new ways to be anxious. 

 

Our anxieties revolve around the newest clothing.  The newest device.

 

 

We become anxious over always trying to find the newest and most exciting or most recognized or trendy place to eat.

 

We are anxious over getting to the newest thing before our neighbor does so we may boast about it.

 

Our anxieties could be said to be a greater offence to God because we run to make them our gods.

 

Strangely those who have little can fall into the temptation to unXXXXX crave more.

And we who have so very much fall into the same trap of desiring more.

 

Those of Jesus’ day and of His audience were for the most part living on very little in the way of food and clothing.  We, on the other hand, are drowning in a sea of abundance and we still complain and worry and are anxious.

 

We have become so accustomed to variety and choice and abundance that we forget the source of our variety, choice and abundance.

 

And this too is frailty.

The difference is, our frailty is a fear of either losing it all, or falling behind in the newest thing, or having to give something up and live with less….or to be less connected.

 

There does not need to be a guilt over the accomplishments we make or the abundance we produce, because even these things are given to us by God.

 

So to decry or to feel guilty about these things is to say to God that He does not know what He is doing.  If all things come from God as we say as our alms come forward, then even what we have at this very moment is from God and we have no right to say to God that what we have is bad or too much or not fair or whatever is said these days by those with guilty consciences.

If we are to be consistent and acknowledge that all things come from God, then our abundance has its source in God as well.  Where does this strange self-flagellation come from if what we have is from God?

 

We are obviously being given a different set of trials and tests by God to bring about the same end as those who have very little….our salvation.

 

What are we doing with our wealth?

What are we doing with our abundance?

 

Are we anxious for more or are we freely and cheerfully enjoying it, being thankful for it, and sharing it with others?

 

Jesus even points to Solomon.  Even Solomon, who was very wealthy and had many wives and many possessions and much wealth is not said to be a bad guy because he has much.

 

Jesus says, Even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these…pointing to the lilies of the field.

 

Solomon had it all, some would have said.  Yet Jesus says that his glory fades and is over shadowed by the glory of inanimate objects like a field of flowers.

 

The kindness of God is displayed in the flowers around us….and in all of creation.

“The kindness of God exceeds all that we can accomplish by our wealth or power or any other way.” [2]

 

The bottom line of Jesus’ teaching is, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all the things we need in this life will be supplied and added to us.

 

 

 

 

keEP, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Many persons, accordingly, who in great prosperity appear to possess faith, or at least to have a tolerable share of it, tremble when any danger of poverty presents itself.[3]

This morning one of the main themes is frailty; the frailty of man to be precise.  And this frailty of ours is set against the power and mercy of God.

 

 

 

                       

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In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

 



[1] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 1, p. 340). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 1, p. 342). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 1, p. 342). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.