May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, my Lord and my Redeemer.
I have been reading the Bible for more than fifty years. Yet sometimes I feel like I am reading it for the very first time. These words of Jesus that we heard from the Gospel took on new meaning for me this time.
Jesus’ wisdom is very simple but also profound. Perhaps this is why his words have lingered for over 2000 years.
What I believe Jesus was trying to say was that anxiety and concern about physical and material needs are not the key to the a happy life. Jesus said:
- Is not life more than food, and the body more than raiment? (Matthew 6:25)
God knows what we need. His shoulders are broad enough to carry our burdens. He is fully capable for working out our problems and satisfying our needs. We are his children, and like a good parent, he will see to our needs.
There are people today who believe that God will save their soul, but they have a hard time believing that God will provide for their needs or resolve their problems or answer their prayers. They believe in Jesus for salvation, but they have a hard time believing Him for other things. When a challenge or a test comes their way, they are bowled over by it. They just don’t have the faith stated in this Gospel reading to allay their fears and anxiety.
Our worrying and anxiety about our needs will not add one hour, even one more minute, to our life. In fact, it may do just the opposite – how many people do you know that make themselves ill worrying? Did all that worrying do them any good?
Greed, envy and selfishness are the cause of most wars and human conflicts, and are rooted in an underlying anxiety about material things. We are afraid that the other guy will have more of what we think we need and so we resolve to get ours first and horde even more for the future. It’s a “I’ve got mine, now, you get yours.”
This is a philosophy based on a theory of scarcity: that there is not enough to go around. So I’m going to hold on to what I have and get more if I can. Unfortunately, this attitude of ‘getting mine’ is much too prevalent today.
I prefer to think in terms of the theory of equal distribution. There is plenty to go around if we could just let go of our greed. If we take care of our brothers, even the least of these, there will be enough to go around for everyone. We need to use those things given to us to make the world a better place, not to hoard for ourselves. In doing so, we can create the Kingdom of God on earth.
It isn’t that God doesn’t want us to be rewarded for hard work; but acquiring things in and of themselves very soon translates to greed. Wealth cannot become an object of worship, making use a slave to the almighty dollar. Wealth and material things can never take the place of God in our lives. We are told by Jesus in many ways to care for others as ourselves -needs that may surpass our own of love, friendship, laughter, compassion, sharing helping, healing, comforting, nurturing, giving – all facets of the Spirit of God.
Jesus’ instructions are simple and to the point.
- Seek first the kingdom of God and (its) righteousness and all these things will be given as well. (Matthew 6:33)
What is the kingdom of God?
It is a world where everyone lives in peace, harmony, love and justice with God and one another, with themselves. With love and justice present, abundance naturally flows out to everyone.
- Do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough. (Matthew 6:34)
So stop worrying about today or tomorrow. . . God is enough for today’s concerns . . . And he will take care of tomorrow too. We learn this over and over again.
My grandmother was not one of the better singers in the world, in fact, you say she belonged in the group that can’t carry a tune in a bucket. But you could often hear her singing, “One day at a time, dear Lord, one day at a time.” This was her litany for almost 100 years. When things get rough I often pray:
- Oh God, help me not worry about tomorrow. Help me stay with today’s troubles. Just help me make it through one day at a time.
Grandma knew God was big enough for all our problems. Jesus knew it – Let us all come to know and believe it in our hearts and in our actions.
Let us pray:
Dear God, please help us to rein in our envious and covetous heart. Help us to keep our eyes focused on your Kingdom, our heart centered on you, our mind illuminated by your Word, and our spirit empowered by your Spirit. Remind us of the joys of your Kingdom so we can use your blessings to help others. Give us patience, to strive toward the Heavenly kingdom. Help us put aside our search for significance in what we can acquire, possess, control, or invest. Teach us to trust you and rely on your gracious provision. Almighty and sustaining God, we believe tomorrow is in your hands, so we will rest ourselves in your grace today as we seek to live for you. Please open our eyes to see the opportunities you provide today so that we can serve you and do your Kingdom work with focus, courage, and clarity. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Delivered at Saint Phillip Episcopal Church, Circleville, OH 27 February 2011