Kingdom Finances

This sermon discusses Jesus’ teachings on money and materialism in Matthew 6, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing heavenly treasures over earthly ones. It encourages examining one’s heart to determine what is truly valued and treasured. The sermon addresses both the dangers of desiring too much and fearing too little and encourages trusting in God as our Heavenly Father who cares for our needs. Listeners are challenged to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness in all aspects of life, including finances.


The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.

Good morning church. You can go ahead and grab your Bibles open up to Matthew chapter six. We’ll be covering the second half today. Matthew six starting in verse 19. Paul tells his protege, Timothy, that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And a few centuries later, Mark Twain updated that to say it’s actually the lack of money is the root of all evil. Or another wit, Oscar Wilde said this, he said, When I was young, I thought that money was the most important thing. Now that I’m old I know it is. On the other side, though, a more skeptical approach to money you got guys like John Wooden, who said, Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life, or the satirist Jonathan Swift, who said, a wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart. Or Ben Franklin. Money has never made man happy, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness, the more of it one has, the more one wants. Or one more for us, Christopher Marlowe, who famously said Money can’t buy you love. But it improves your bargaining position.

Why do I mention all these quotes? It’s because the world has a lot to say about money. And I imagine they have a lot to say about money. Because the world thinks about money, a lot probably thinks about money as much as it thinks about any other subject. And so it’s no exaggeration, I don’t think to say that what you think and feel and believe about money will go a long way to determining what sort of person you are and what your character is. And so it’s no surprise that Jesus tackles the subject in his big talk, the Sermon on the Mount, because you can’t address character and not talk about our relationship to the goods of this world. The greater righteousness that Jesus is calling us to necessarily includes a righteous Kingdom approach to money. So where are we if you’re joining us for the first time or just lost track of where we are in the Sermon on the Mount? Let me give you a brief overview here again, so the thesis statement of the whole sermon Jesus gives us way back in Matthew 517, to 20. And there he says, especially that our righteousness needs to exceed – surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, so we’re being called to a greater standard of living even than the teachers of the law at that time. And then he goes on to show what that looks like. Exactly. And so first we looked at the rest of chapter five, greater righteousness with regards to the law, and it was a righteousness not based on outward conformity to the letter of the law but inward conformity to the spirit of the law. We then looked last week at greater righteousness as it relates to our personal piety, our prayer lives, our fasting, our giving of alms. And now, in this last main section, Jesus is going to talk about greater righteousness in relation to the world, kind of two big places, the goods of the world and the people of the world. We’re looking at the goods this week. And then the next two weeks, Kyle will take us through the people of the world. And looking at our relationship to stuff the things of the world, Jesus tackles twin dangers. Now temptations common to us all, really, they are ambition and anxiety. So a desire for too much stuff. But then a fear of too little stuff at the same time, both of these driven by the world’s priorities rather than the kingdoms. And so, no surprise, Jesus is going to offer us a better way. And that’s what we’ll look at as we keep going. But let’s tackle these two dangers, one at a time, the first being the desire for too much, and we will fill in the blank as we go to figure out the better way that Jesus suggests the desire for too much from verses 19 to 24 Let me read it for us. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moths and vermin destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal For where your treasure is there your heart will be also the eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness? No one can serve two masters either you will hate the one and love the other or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Verses 19 to 21, that first paragraph, there, these are a hinge versus think of a doorway door on its hinges you know it kind of is that door at the end. The first room is at the start of the second room. And it is both, of course. And so this is a transition passage in many ways. We spent all of last week talking about the Father’s reward. Your Father, who is unseen, sees what is done in secret and will reward you, and that’s the reward. We’re talking about the treasures in heaven. But it also kind of gets us going on this next section dealing with finances like actual treasure, silver and gold and precious things, specifically. And Jesus offers us a series of choices in these three paragraphs. What will you treasure? Where will you look? And whom will you follow? These are diagnostic questions to help us see what our relationship to money really is. Now, every word is important in this opening phrase, do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth. Every word is important because it’s it’s very easy to miss here in this verse. There are a couple things Jesus says. He’s not saying – Jesus did not say – do not store stuff for yourselves. That is Jesus is not here for bidding a savings account, or retirement or insurance or something like that. In fact, Proverbs even commends, the ant tells us look to the ant, you sluggard was one of the ants, he stores for the lean season. W we might want to do the same. Jesus does not say here do not store up yourselves money on Earth, because treasures is a broader category isn’t. So you may be sitting there going, I’m fine. I live paycheck to paycheck because I have a nicer car than I can afford, a bigger house than I can afford, and more things than I can afford. Those would still be treasures, wouldn’t they? Jesus does not here forbid private property or even accumulation. Because the issue is for yourself, do not store up for yourself. So it is selfish accumulation. That Jesus is forbidding hoarding. self-indulgence, we might say. And Jesus also does not say do not store up for yourselves treasures. Because he actually goes on in the very next verse to say, store up for yourselves treasures. But the question is, where. On earth or in heaven? The question there really is. Make sure you’re storing up the right stuff. What are you treasuring storing up? The big question is the nature of the treasure itself, not so much where it is on earth or in heaven, but what that says about the nature of treasure as he goes on to explain the problem with treasure on earth is that it doesn’t last it fades away. You know, the stock market can wipe out your retirement quite quickly. Your cars are going to break down, your tools are going to rust, your favorite shirt will go threadbare. Stuff here doesn’t last. Proverbs tells us cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. That’s the idea. Exactly. So Jesus is saying, by all means, store up treasure, just make sure it’s not the kind that flies away on you make sure it’s real treasure, true and eternal treasure, not imitation and fleeting treasure. This is important because I think this corrects a fundamental misunderstanding that many people have about Christianity, and maybe you have as well. God wants us to have more joy than we want for ourselves. God is not a killjoy. I got I’m not saying make sure you don’t get those fun things that your neighbors have. God is saying, I want better for you than you want for yourself. I mentioned that, of course, the quote that springs to mind is the famous one from C. S. Lewis, where he says we are half-hearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. That is often how it feels right there we are playing the dirt road in front of our house because we don’t know what the French Riviera is and what these free tickets will mean for us. So think about what that does to not just to our understanding of the joy God wants for us. But the pain Sometimes God allows for us, if you are there making your, you know, mud pie shop and a pedestrian who’s not paying attention walks right through it and ruins everything you have done. That actually might be the best thing for you. Because then you might go, well I might as well head to the French Riviera now, and you go, okay, that was actually a good choice. I’m glad I got pushed in that direction. That is so often what God is doing for us right is prying our fingers open from the meaningless baubles of the world that we so tightly clean to. Why is this so important? Because what Jesus says in verse 21, where your treasure is there your heart is. So this treasure thing seems to matter, doesn’t it? Because that’s where our heart is going, you know what this looks like? Doesn’t it, you know that your heart follows your money? So if I were to tell you, after the service, we’re hanging out in the lobby and tell you, I put $1,000 on the Cubs guardians game this afternoon, in your name. And if the Cubs win, you’re making whatever it is $2,500? Do you think you’ll watch that game differently? You’ll watch that game, first of all, otherwise, you’re probably not watching spring training, and you’re not gonna care. Like, why are you pulling the pitcher he’s doing leave him in there. Well, it’s spring training. That’s why he’s supposed to throw somebody, but it doesn’t matter. Your whole approach has changed because you got money riding on it now. And our heart follows our treasure. We quote Augustine a lot here when he says my Wait Is my love. Wherever I am carried, my love is carrying me. So the love about the heart has this gravitational pull in the direction of what it loves. And Jesus is saying your treasure is going to determine a lot about what you love. So what treasure Are you seeking? You got treasure in heaven. You got treasure on Earth, treasure on Earth, it’s weighing you down pulling you towards Earth, that you have treasure that is lifting you up towards heaven, and the kingdom of God. It’s a great question for parents, by the way, too, as we think about our kids. Because, on the one hand, we’re teaching our kids Jesus is better. We’re going to sing it in just a few moments more than all riches, Jesus is better. And we got, you know, almost picture, you know, a child who’s, you know, under the water struggling for breath, you can see the sunlight above, you know, the top of the ocean swimming for the surface. And we’re going Yes, exactly. Go to Jesus. Breathe deeply and have a grace that He offers all the while we’re hanging treasures around their neck. So they’re sinking deeper. Actually, we’d be so careful. But how what we give to our kids, we just put it as simply as that. Of course, that’s true for all of us, not just for parents, because we do the same thing to ourselves, also. So think with me for a moment, have you ever asked God to change your heart? Probably most of us have, right? Based on what Jesus is saying here, then that means you’re asking God to change where your treasure is. And that might be a little bit easier to do, actually easier to do, not easy, but easier to do. Like, do you wish you cared more about missions? I wish I had a greater concern for the loss to the world over well, you could invest in missions sacrificially. And where your treasure is, your heart is bound to follow. You’ll start tracking what’s going on and those parts of work. For example, Owen railing in Japan right now. And I know a number of us supported him in that endeavor. And I’m guessing those of you who were able to financially support Owen probably are thinking differently about Japan right now. Reading his newsletter in a way that maybe you don’t read the newsletters for some the other missionaries even why? Because your treasure is there. And so your heart has gone there as well. Do you wish you cared more about the eternal than Divest yourself of the temporary and invest in the eternal and watch your heart move? And then we come to verse 22. And it feels like an abrupt transition to the eye is the lamp of the body. I thought we were talking about finances. What just happened here? Feels like we’re off-topic, but actually, Jesus is continuing his thought exactly. He’s talking about how we get our heart in the right place. But what makes this passage so challenging is that it involves a lot of wordplay and metaphor and wordplay is notoriously difficult to translate, of course. So Jesus says the eye is the lamp of the body that shows us how important our vision is what we’re looking at. To state the blindingly obvious, we only see what we look at. But that then matters, what we look at. So Christ is forcing us to consider where we gaze because that’s what will illuminate the heart, our loves. You know, when do you throw open the window shades basically to let the light in because that’s the light that will flood your heart? Now the word for healthy is actually a word single, as opposed to divided. So single. Jesus is talking about a fixed gaze on a single object. And that singular gaze will really affect your behavior. So let’s take An example of a husband, who is we would even say it only has eyes for his wife. So it could be in a crowded room, lots of attractive women dressed well, and it doesn’t matter. This husband, you know, you can look at him at any point, and he’s just staring at his wife, smiling pleasantly. Now compare that to another husband in the room, whose eyes are going everywhere, roving. Following women as they pass by things like that, do you think that different gays will affect the husband’s love, of course, the one’s love will probably increase while the other’s love will be divided and probably diminishing. So not surprisingly, then the word single starts to mean generous. Because if your eyes are fixed on the eternal, you can give away the temporary quite easily you can give away the earthly. So it shows up in Romans 12. For example, Paul is talking about different gifts. And he’s kind of saying if you got these gifts, use it. So if your gift is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously. And guess what the word generously is there singly. Right. So there’s the idea single becomes generous at the same time, unhealthy, literally wicked, unhealthy or wicked. It has to do with stinginess. I can’t part with my obsession, the stuff I keep lusting after looking at. So let’s look at Proverbs 2822. We’ll look at it in two translations. So you can see the words being used here. Here’s the NIV. The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them. The NASB, which is a more woodenly literal translation, says a man with an evil eye, a wicked eye and unhealthy eye hastens after wealth and does not know that want will come upon him. So there’s your idea. The last part of this paragraph, last part of verse 23 is ironic and terrifying as well. Because Jesus says if your light is actually darkness, well, that’s bad, right? It’s all the worst, in fact, because you don’t even realize that you are in darkness, and so you will perish in your ignorance. In other words, this matters. We need to be very careful. We need to avert our gaze when competing loves would enter our vision and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who is our one desire have to keep our eyes fixed on him because there’s always competition for our affection for him. There, other masters walk into our field of vision. And as Jesus says in the last verse 24, we cannot serve two masters. So if you’ve got double vision, you’re going back and forth between two things you want, it’s not going to end well. The weight of your love will eventually pull you in one direction. And you may well sync with those earthly weights. The danger here is that we don’t always realize that we’re serving two masters. We can fool ourselves because sometimes it looks the same. Jeremiah Burroughs, Puritan pastor, gives us an illustration back in the days when there were things like lords and servants. And so he says, you know, you imagine you’re a humble shopkeeper in London or something, and you see two gentlemen walking by and all their finery with a servant behind them. You would not know whose servant he is. In fact, he probably would happily serve both of them. If either one of them turned around and said, Fetch me some water, he would scurry off and fetch the water. So we can fool ourselves. I’m following G. He’s right there in front of me, there’s a guy next to him, but I’m gonna be right there. And that would work right up until they reached the corner, shake hands and go their separate ways. And now you’re going to know which master you’re following. To see how this would work, you might be in a situation, for example, right now where you’re like, you want me to worry about loving riches too much like I’m rationing my ramen noodles. So like, clearly, I don’t have a too much problem. Right now, I am walking behind Jesus, but you might actually be walking behind two masters. And at a certain point, disposable income is a real thing for you. And all of a sudden, the Masters go off in different directions. And then we’ll see whom we’re actually following. You’re going to hate the one and love the other is and you’ll have a preference, in other words, for one of them. So the question we ask is, which Do you obey? Which master Do you obey when they give contrary commands? That’s what we have to look at.
Now, you’ve probably heard sermons on money before if you’ve been here for any length of time. we’ve done quite a few of them. In fact, you may even want to be more generous. But it doesn’t always stick. And you might have seen this even if you’ve been here at this church, you know, we had our Citynew campaign, and a lot of us stepped up. Like, I just want to commend you for all of that. Right. The generosity outpouring of generosity was immense. And commendable. Absolutely. But then it can fade, it can, of course, we can kind of just all of a sudden, you know, I was stretching of a sacrificial it was, it was good. And now it’s just kind of, you know, I kept my giving level the same. And, slowly, the things of the world have crept back up in financial importance, so why doesn’t it stick? When we seek to become more generous? The answer is why generally, our changes don’t stick when we try to make them because we put the actions before the heart. So if your heart is still weighed down, those actions are not going to persist. That’s why we got to ask these diagnostic questions that Jesus gives us here. What do I treasure? Where am I looking? Whom do I follow? It has to start with heart. We have to see the surpassing worth of Jesus, that he actually is better. And again, Jesus says your treasure will be in heaven, not your poverty will be in heaven. Know your treasure. Like there’s more joy there. So what does that do for us? We want to overcome the desire for too much. What do we need to do? I think it’s quite clear from this passage, we need to love our master. Alright, love your master. Key word, right? I did not say follow your master. Although that’ll happen. Of course, this is more than just big grudging obedience. No, this is delight in who Jesus is. Because we know that he wants better for us than we want for ourselves. So Tie your heart to Him, and let gravity pull you towards him. That will give you a holy ambition, the desire for the right sort of too much, which is Jesus. You can never have too much Jesus. But there is another danger. There’s the desire for too much. But there’s also the fear of too little and that is where Jesus takes us.

Next, let’s look at the rest of the chapter, verses 25 to 34. Therefore, I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes, Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by wearing at a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes, see how the flowers of the field grew? They do not labor or spin? Did I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these, if that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow, is thrown into the fire? Will he not much more clothe you, you have little faith? So do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? The pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom, His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Note that this section begins with the word, therefore, meaning it is directly following from what came before. That’s one problem with having little divisions in your Bible is that you start to think in concrete, discreet little sections. But no, this is all part and parcel of the same talk. It follows from what Jesus just said about the desire for too much. Why? Why does he have to make this transition? Well, first of all, it’s because of what he said in verse 19. The world really does eat your stuff, rust and mice and all the rest. But second, I think Jesus is just approaching finances and money possessions from a different angle. We looked at it from the perspective of wealth, but what about the perspective of poverty? Because it’s very easy to say verses 19 to 24 to rich people, which is, and we have to say this, most all of us in this room- you think about who Jesus was talking to at this time. Like we live better than kings back then. Because we have things like indoor plumbing, electricity, air- conditioning, like these are good things, right? So we live better lives than kings. Jesus is clearly speaking to us in those verses, but you can understand. You can say it’s easy for you to say all that, but what if I can’t feed my family? Am I allowed to be concerned about possessions, then? And so we’ve got that shift from the desire for too much to the fear of too little his main point when it comes to this fear is really simple says it three times you can’t miss it. Do not worry, says in verse 25 says it again in verse 31, says it again at the end and in verse 34. And that word worry actually shows up three other times, six times in these paragraphs. He’s talking about worrying about the necessities of life. Because he says, you don’t need to worry about the necessities of life because life is more than all that there’s a deeper life that is more important that we need to focus on. And he offers then two illustrations to help us overcome our worry, our anxiety, two illustrations from nature. And these two illustrations follow the exact same pattern where Jesus gives us the example. Then He offers us a reminder and then he gives us a little rebuke as well. So let’s look at them, but we’ll kind of look at them together since they’re saying the same thing. Jesus, first of all, says, Look at the birds. Some of us are delighted by this verse in Scripture. So John Stott, a great pastor in England last century, was an avid birder much like myself, and he kind of says, like, I get it, I know that some of you think this is a weird, eccentric hobby, but hey, Jesus told us to do it. Okay, we got a biblical warrant for it. All of you should be birders. But Jesus’ point there is that there are lessons to be learned from nature, from looking at creation. In fact, the Reformers referred to creation as the second book. So the first book is the Bible. This is the most important revelation. There’s a revelation that we will not get anywhere else except here. But there’s a lot of revelation in nature. Also, Paul talks about it in Romans 1, Psalm 19, and we could go on and on. So Jesus is saying, Get out in creation, which is good advice for us anyway, in a sterile technological, inhuman environment, get out in creation, but get on creation, and then pay attention. Pay attention because there is so much of God’s goodness and power and wisdom on display. And that is the point. Jesus is not talking about nature. Here. He’s talking about God’s character. Look at how he feeds the birds – who don’t even bother farming – lazy birds, and yet they eat. Or he says, Look at the flowers too, okay, how we clothe them, they don’t toil or spin, they’re not sewing their own clothes. And yet they are dressed even better than Solomon, who was famous for his clues. And, of course, we could multiply examples. You really could just kind of look at creation and see this all over the place. We just watched a National Geographic documentary about animal migrations recently, and I was struck over and over again by the perfect order of God’s creation, that all these animals, I, the fact that they even get back to where they were, isn’t remarkable in its own right, of course, some like the monarch butterfly, they don’t even go back to where they were. And if they still know, like, where their ancestors went, they get partway there, and then their kids pick it up from there, like it’s crazy. They all get to exactly where they need to be, like the salmon don’t get back to the rivers in Alaska, and the bears don’t eat me, Eagles don’t eat and just everything breaks down. There’s so much order in creation. God is in charge. And he’s, he’s good at it. Like he’s taking care of the animals. And so then comes the reminder. Verse 26, are you not much more valuable? Or the reminder in the second part – same phrase much more there in verse 30, will he not much more clothe you? Is an argument from the lesser to the greater if he does that, for the birds? And for the meadows. What is he going to do for you? How much more valuable are they than are you? Then they
may look, he clothed the meadow with wildflowers, even though it could get gone the next day and tossed into the fire. It’s ephemeral, but you are immortal. And that’s a big difference. So there are clearly echoes of Isaiah chapter 40 in here so Isaiah 40, verses six to eight, where the prophet says all people are like grass. All their faithfulness is like the flowers in the field, The grass withers and the flowers fall because the breath of the Lord blows on them. I didn’t write this one in my notes. So have a look at the slides. Surely the people are grass, the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. So echoes of this passage, but it’s interesting because there Isaiah is saying, You’re like the grass here today and gone tomorrow. It’s the word of the Lord that endures forever. But it’s interesting as Peter reminds us, he quotes Isaiah 40 He says, Yeah, okay, so the word of God and dearest forever, and that is the word that was preached to you. And he goes on to say, you have been born again, by that living an enduring word, so that all of a sudden, we moved from ephemeral to immortal in Christ. And so we should have faith, then we should not be people of little faith any longer. Even what Peter says there is so important. We have to believe that the God who redeemed us not with, you know, gold and silver and precious jewels that would be as nothing the God who redeemed us by the precious blood of the unblemished lamb, His own Son, Jesus, that God will care for you. That is what makes anxiety and worry so wrong. Because it makes a wildly false claim about who God is. When we worry, when we’re anxious, we’re saying implicitly either God doesn’t know or doesn’t see. Or if he does know and see, he doesn’t care. But we know that’s not true. Because we have the cross of Christ and the empty tomb, we never have a reason to doubt God’s stance toward us. The proof is there already that Caitlin read it for us earlier, he who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will we not also, along with him, graciously give us all things, all things? And so that leads to this rebuke, then it’s slightly different in the two sections. When he talks about the birds, Jesus says, You can’t change a thing by worrying. You can’t even add an hour to your life by worrying. You can’t change what really matters. And so your worry is pointless. Because what Jesus is saying here, and then he says, when he’s talking about the flowers, verse 32, he says, everything while you’re worrying, that’s what pagans do. So those who are outside the kingdom are marked by anxiety, and driven by materialism, deep concern about the stuff of this world, shouldn’t we be different? And we talked about this two weeks ago, Martyn Lloyd Jones was asking us like, was there anything different about you? Well, this is one of those areas where we could certainly be different because those inside the kingdom should have very different concerns. But concerns which, by the way, is the same word as worry, isn’t it? At least in Greek, it is, in fact, the exact same word, which means there is a good sort of worry that we could talk about. There are concerns we shouldn’t we should be concerned about plenty of things in this world. There is a kingdom worry if we could put it that way. Think of Paul, for example, 2  Corinthians 11. He’s talking about all the trials he’s experienced trying to propagate the gospel. And then he says, besides everything else, forget the shipwrecks. Forget the stonings, and the getting whipped and all that stuff, you know what’s really difficult. Besides everything else I’ve faced daily, the pressure of my concern, exact same word, is worried. I feel faced at the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Are they, are they sticking to the truth? Are they remaining in the faith? Are they growing in grace? Martin Luther said we shouldn’t be worried – concerned – for the spiritual well-being of our neighbors. Of course, we should be like, What parent isn’t concerned about their children’s flourishing, physically and spiritually, of course. And we should be deeply concerned about our own sin. And have something keep you up at night? That’s something to have keeps you up at night. Why am I not different? yet? So Jesus has, then it’s not just rebuking surface worry, necessarily, does anything ever keep you up at night? But what is the cause of your worry? What is the cause of your concern? There’s a deeper issue here when you’re lying awake at night? Are you concerned for the things of God? Or are you lacking confidence in God? That’s the question. And if it’s the latter, but the lack of confidence in God, you need to stop and trust instead, which is easier said than done. I understand why this is hard. Of course. I mean, you look around even at the world, you think people are starving? Is this promise even true? That God will feed and clothe us? And it certainly is. Multiply examples from church history, George Miller comes to mind immediately Of course, this person with a whole orphanage will just run out of food, and he would go okay, children, we need to pray because we know that God feeds the birds. So if you’d asked to and then like bread truck breaks down out front of the orphanage, and they’re like, well, this breads gonna go bad once you guys have this. These are true stories of what happened. So yes, of course, this promise is true. It’s not all that stuff. I’m sure has to say about this. A God does allow persecution. And Christians may die as a result of persecution. Jesus did. So yeah, that will happen. Certainly, God will send famines and things like that because God has purposes beyond what we can see. That’s all true. And so I mean, that’s just a good reminder that this is hard. It also reminds me that people are going to hear this passage and this sermon differently, depending on where you are and where you’ve been. And Don Carson, and his commentary on this, he kind of mentions, like, three types of people who maybe would be listening to this. The first would be that happy-go-lucky, not a care-in-the-world kind of person. The second would be the type a perfectionist, every care in the world sort of person, constant worry. And the third (and is the one we spend the most time, of course, it’d be somebody who is actively suffering. You know, who’s just gotten a diagnosis that his wife has stage four cancer, and he’s watching her decay before his very eyes. Think of how those three people would hear this passage. The first would go told you I knew I wasn’t supposed to be so worried you all should have my happy-go-lucky attitude. You know, why get a 92 in the class when 71 is still a passing grade? It gets you the degree at the end. Jacob said Amen. Right. That’s the first time Jake has ever amened. Okay. The second person is going to feel the weight of everything that I am saying right now. Like, you’re like, I know, this is me, all I do is worry. And so, in a bit of irony, you’re actually gonna go home and start worrying about how much you worry. Yeah, the third person whose wife is dying, and again, I don’t think there’s anyone here, but there may be people who are experiencing suffering like this; at this moment, the most likely response is to sneer at me, understandably, and to say, you know, maybe you should watch your own wife die before you lecture me on topics you know nothing about. And so what we see is there’s a pastoral precision that’s required for each person. What is the one drawback to sermons of course, because I have to speak in general truths. But as individuals, you’re going to need to take from it what you need to hear. What that first person needs to hear is the value of discipline and hard work, go to the ant, you sluggard. Now, there is a reason for our hard work, we should be concerned about some of the things in this world. The second person needs a reminder about God’s provision, the power and intimacy of prayer. And probably both of them need to hear about how self-centered that whole approach is, worrying or not worrying if it’s driven by self, and that third person, only to talk about worrying at all. They just need someone to come alongside and weep with them, of course, but what all three need here’s the general truth that I can give to all of you what we all need is the keyword we saw last week, and it’s here again this week. It’s the word Father, Father, both illustrations, dad is there. Your father feeds the birds, verse 26, your Father knows what you need. Verse 32. Here is a charming little children’s poem from the 19th century by Elizabeth Cine. It says this is based on this passage, of course, called Overheard in an Orchard. So the Robin to the sparrow, I should really like to know why these anxious human beings rush and worry so said the sparrow, to the robin friend, I think that it must be that they have no Heavenly Father, such as cares for you and me. That’s the rebuke of this passage. That’s what the birds think of us. Why wouldn’t you trust the one who feeds us all? But that’s the point, right? How do we respond to the fear of too little? We must learn to trust our father, trust your father. And those two words go together? Of course, they don’t always in this life. Some of you might have bad dads, we think why would I ever trust the guy who abandoned or abused us, okay, but when it comes to your heavenly Father, who was welcomed us as His children because of the costly blood of Christ, of course, we can trust him trust your father. And that idea kind of takes us to the climax of this whole passage, which is in verse 33, the response we need, Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Every one of those words is important. So seek, this has given in the present tense, by the way, which in the Greek language means it’s an ongoing command, not a one-time and ongoing. You could translate this keep on seeking His kingdom and His righteousness, Seek first. First has nothing to do with time and everything to do with priority. Right? He’s first in your heart, first in your loves. That’s the wholeheartedness, the purity of heart that we can be talking about in this whole sermon on the mount, it’s verse 24. You can’t serve two masters put Him first. He’s your first master seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. And this brings together to the twin themes of the Sermon on the Mount. Of course, this whole thing is about life in the kingdom. What does it mean to enter? What are kingdom people like, and then, of course, the thesis statement in verse 20, we need to have a greater righteousness in the scribes and Pharisees, so they’re together now life in the kingdom is marked by this greater righteousness to which Jesus calls us. Life in the kingdom is, is dedicated to his current and coming reign. And then verse 34 feels almost like an afterthought, like, Oops, I’m gonna just say it again, I guess I got an extra time here. So maybe it’s not, though. It’s the concluding agitation to all of 19 to 34, this whole section, it’s a reminder that anxiety reveals the heart. And so you got to put the two together. Verse 34 is not just saying, Stop worrying again. But again, 33 and 34. Together means get your heart right. Love your master, trust your father. And that will lead to this sort of daily bread approach that Jesus gives us in verse 34. is worried about today. Tomorrow’s got enough worries, okay? You can’t add him. I look, I know that this is where I struggle. I’m not a an anxious person by nature. But I can think about finances, and it is when I look down the road. So I look at the fact that I got five or six college tuitions coming. And for weddings coming. And I’m in ministry. You want to understand why I’ve got these concerns. I’m human. But I guess it’s not for today. But why would God give me that money now I don’t need it now. I will need it then. And I will trust in His provision will probably look different than I expect as well. I love the honesty of this verse, too, though. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. The Bible is not lying to you, your allies will not be free of trouble, but they can be free of worry. And that is the difference. So we get caught up in the world’s priorities. We’ve become functionally pagan in our approach, so often our unholy ambition and our unholy anxiety. But what’s our response? Been up for a little while right there from verse 33. Seek him first. Right? That’s the takeaway. Seek him first. Remember who he is in nature. And then what he’s done, feeding the birds clothing, tomatoes, and of course, Christ’s life and death and resurrection, chiefly, remembering that reorients our hearts and that Romans 832 sort of way so that we delight in his worth, He did not spare His own Son, give them up for us all how we not also along with him graciously give us all things you can see the question, if he did that for us, why wouldn’t he do this for us? Takes care of our anxiety. Or if he’s giving me this, all the riches of glory, why would I greedily want that, which is just going to rust in a few years anyway? And so you see, we seek Him first. All these things will be given to us. And here, I think that all things is so much more than just money. It’s more than food and clothes. Yes, that’s there, too. But all that we’re seeking underneath the food and clothes, love and joy. The big one when it comes to financial security. And really, the one that I think it’s underneath all of them is the one that kind of slices me open, might slice you open to is control, control. That’s what ambition and anxiety are all about control of our own lives. And he gives that to us. Not that he gives us control of our own lives, which is what we want. But we shouldn’t get to have control of our own lives because we’re not smart enough or mature enough to handle that. You don’t put your eight-year-old in charge of the finances and their own diet. Right where they’re like, I’m doing the reverse Atkins. It’s just sugar actually. It’s really good. It’s gonna work out for me feel great. But we have to remind her that he is in control of our lives. So some questions consider as we close just some diagnostic questions, running tests on our hearts to kind of see where’s the greed? Where’s the anxiety? Where’s that desire for control? First, what do you think about most or even daydream about most? Another way to put it: What do you want most in this life that one day worry like if I had that, or I could keep that, I know, I would be happy. Because clearly, that’s where your treasure is. Second one. And this is an interesting one, but I think it’ll help us out. What do you measure others by? We meet other people, and we size them up immediately. So what’s your standard of evaluation when you size other people up? Because that’s going to give you a good sense of your vision and values. And are these kingdom values? Or are these world values? The third one related to our Master. What good commands and all of God’s commands are good? What good commands do you struggle to keep? The reality is we are all following a master. You may think you’re following yourself. You’re not. There’s somebody in front of you. We’re all following a master. So which are you following for? What do you fret about or dread losing? And I think part of that, too, is, is it a today question, or is it a tomorrow question, reminded of what George MacDonald said, No man ever sank under the burden of today. It’s only when the burden of tomorrow is added to the burden of today that our knees collapse. Now, we might struggle to answer some of these questions. We don’t always know our own hearts. That was kind of the whole point of last week’s sermon, wasn’t it? So I think one way we can accurately diagnose what’s going on in our hearts is to pay attention to what we say out of the overflow of your heart. You know, a person speaks, Jesus tells us, so pay attention to your speech. Maybe even ask others to help you, you know, listen if I say these sorts of things. Like what if that’s a big one, right? What if this happens, that happens, the other thing happens, because what ifs are tomorrow questions and are anxiety-laden, of course. So, therefore, we’re looking, there’s a backward-looking speech. So and that’s if only, if only we hadn’t blown our money there, we would be in such a different spot. So that’s about regret, but it’s also about our treasure, certainly, but the main one I want you to listen to, and this one draws out that control piece that’s so strong enough, It’s really where anxiety meets ambition. It’s the phrase, I just need to… Hear me. Shocked at how often you say this? I just need to finish these emails. And then I can help with the kids. I just need to, you know, take care of this part of the house, and then we can get going on the next part of the house, whatever it is, I just need to, and that last one just captures the heart. We keep saying I just need to because we’ve fallen prey to our cultural addiction to more. And it might be more stuff just as easily might be more self improvement. And that’s what fuels the anxiety and the ambition. And here’s the good news. And this is such good news. When you hear yourself say I just need to, you know what you just need to do? Seek Him first. That’s it. Love your master, trust your father. That’s what you need to do. Why? Because he who did not spare His own Son gave him up for us all, how will we not also, along with him, graciously give us everything we need? Let’s pray to him now.
Father, we rest secure in your loving embrace. As we look around at creation and we see your sovereign rule, its goodness and wisdom and power, we know that we have no cause to fear or to worry. And remarkably, you consider us more valuable than the birds of the field and the flowers of the meadows. Because we and we alone are crafted in your image. And for that reason, Lord, you have redeemed us at the cost of your son’s precious blood. That’s how valuable we were to you. How that should stir love and trust in our hearts may do so even now. Lord, we pray for your namesake. Amen.


© 2020 Cityview Community Church