TEXT: MATTHEW 6:24-34
THE DURATION OF YOUR LIFE IS UP TO GOD!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To the church at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center called as saints, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is a mountain of a sermon!  You are the salt of the earth!  You are the light of the world!  Therefore - no sinful anger - no lust - and put to death your propensity to overstate and your tendency to retaliate!  In addition, “Love your enemies.”  “Pray for those who persecute you.”  Pray and fast and give to the needy – without tooting your horn.  The sermon ends with warnings about judging others and with exhortations to follow the Golden Rule and to build your house on the rock.  Just prior to that, come words from our Gospel today.  






TEXT: MATTHEW 6:24-34
THE DURATION OF YOUR LIFE IS UP TO GOD!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To the church at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center called as saints, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is a mountain of a sermon!  You are the salt of the earth!  You are the light of the world!  Therefore - no sinful anger - no lust - and put to death your propensity to overstate and your tendency to retaliate!  In addition, “Love your enemies.”  “Pray for those who persecute you.”  Pray and fast and give to the needy – without tooting your horn.  The sermon ends with warnings about judging others and with exhortations to follow the Golden Rule and to build your house on the rock.  Just prior to that, come words from our Gospel today.  

Serving two masters doesn’t work!  The second master of mammon – the things of this life – our possessions – our money - just causes anxiety.  Anxiety doesn’t work either.  Worry is worthless and wearying and way too common.  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. 

Jesus isn’t ruling out forethought and responsible living.  He isn’t encouraging laziness and freeloading.  Scripture also states, If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.  For we hear that some of you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.  (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).  Efforts to feed those who refuse work that sustains their life is harmful, rather than helpful.

Just as the Bible is clear that we are to help those in genuine need, it is also clear that we are to earn our own living.  Jesus’ commands “not to be anxious” are not against gainful employment and hard work.  Before He was a Preacher on this mountain, Jesus was a carpenter by trade (Mark 6:3).  In a village like Nazareth, that was hard physical work with little financial gain.  Scripture is quite clear that Jesus didn’t enter the public ministry with an endowment.  Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). 

Consider also those birds and the lilies He uses as examples.  They were anything but lazy.  They aren’t anxious, but they are very industrious in carrying out the assignments God has given them!  Birds fly and find food and build nests and add beauty to life through their singing.  Busy, busy, busy they are, but they aren’t anxious about how many years they will live.  Lilies grow and burst forth in color adding luster and pleasing aroma to life.  Busy. busy, busy they are doing what God created them to do, but they aren’t anxious about how many weeks or months they will live.

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  There have always been anxieties since sin came into the world.  No person can avoid anxiety.  You sometimes worry as do I, and that is sinful.  It proceeds from a lack of fear, love, and trust in God above all things! 

Lurking underneath all of our human anxieties is the curse of death.  From the wages of our sin come hard labor and sweat and thorns and thistles and pain and lack of food and shelter and sickness and suffering.  Our Lord not returning before that day, death is lurking ahead for each one of us, young and old.  Death is no respecter of persons and plans!  Among my extended family of uncles and aunts and cousins and such – death has come at six weeks of age and 11 years of age and 14 years of age and 16 years of age and 29 years of age and 42 years of age and 51 years of age at almost every age over 65 including 106 years of age. 

So, whether a child or a university student or middle-aged or a senior, let’s put our heads and hearts together and worry about it and be anxious about it – right?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  

Dear Christians, our text is truly a sweet preaching of the Gospel based upon the whole Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus is gently guiding us not to make daily bread the prime reason for our existence.  The rule He brings to us does not promise us more things and more earthly security!  To serve mammon – to serve ones’ position and possessions - is to remain anxious about one’s livelihood.  If we don’t believe God will clothe the body and fill the stomach – how can we commend our souls to His keeping in death?  The hard-working birds put us to shame.  The flowers are our master teachers!

O you of little faith?  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 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 to you. 

Jesus’ statement of “little faith” is not a rebuke of the disciples to have more faith – as if that were possible.  Rather His words exhort them to be anchored in what is already there – in the faith in Christ God has already given them.  For faith as small as a mustard seed, is still able to move a mountain (Matthew 17:20).  The faith God gave you in your baptism – the faith He is here to feed today is reason for you to have no anxieties about having enough to survive. 

Jesus doesn’t offer seven steps to help you stop worrying!  Nor does he catalogue a list of real needs versus greedy wants.  Rather He calls on you to orient your life completely toward Him as He has oriented His life completely toward you!  His use of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field doesn’t offer you unending life on this troubled earth!  Good heavens, birds are pursued and threatened by famine and by predators aplenty.  The lilies burst forth for a season but they quickly whither and fade away. 

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.   Jesus is not teaching use that after seeking the kingdom of God we are then allowed to seek after a bigger pile of earthly things!  Whatever God gives while we live and move and have our being in Christ are incidentals – not guarantees!  Religion to further the goal of acquiring more – more stuff – more earthly security – is not the religion Jesus preached on this mountain.

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  Beloved, is this not a comforting and freedom-giving and worry-reducing question from our Lord?  The Lord already knows the day and the manner of my death and of your death.  Think about that!  You don’t know.  I don’t know.  But God already knows.  He holds that day in His hand just like He holds you in His hand right now. 

He holds that day in His hand just like He held the day of Jesus’ death in His hand!  Sufficient for the day was the trouble of that day!  On that day, the Son of God engraved you on the palms of His hands!  That engraving wasn’t a surface job – like a tattoo!  That engraving went deep – piercing His hands!  The engraving on His hands was carried into the garden tomb and buried in the house of death!  Yet that engraving burst forth on the third day – giving you the victory even over our last enemy!  “Peace be with you” the risen Christ said that first Easter morning!  “The peace of the Lord be with you always” He says to you today!

Are you feeling a little light on faith – and a little heavy on anxiety?  Does your conscience suggest that you are a poor specimen and that you fall short of the birds and the lilies as they daily do their work for God?  Blessed are you then!  For, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven! 

Are you feeling that you faith is on the small side – not seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness as you should?  Do you long for more steadiness and calmness in your daily walk until Christ calls you home?  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied!

Don’t worry – God’s reconciling righteousness is revealed in Christ Jesus.  He is the righteousness of God and the chief content of this whole sermon.  He is both kingdom and righteousness and this morning He is preaching to you and feeding you and forgiving you!  His righteousness is given to you now and becomes your righteousness. 

O, you of little faith…You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.  The Duration of your life is up to God!  Your worry and mine won’t add a day to it here on this earth!  But the death and resurrection of Christ adds eternity to it in heaven. 

In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a