Stop Shaking The Piggy Bank, You Are Not A Flower Or A Bird

Text: Matthew 6:23-34

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

You either live by the pattern and rhythm of faith or you serve money and material possessions with the pattern and rhythm of worry.  In other words, dear friends, there are two ways of living that are outlined in our reading from the Gospel of Matthew: the way of worry and the way of faith.

The way of worry or we could say the rhythm of worry, always checks one’s wallet and it is always going to look at the check register.  Worry will cause you to look at that ATM balance two or three times to see if there is enough money.  Worry will shake the piggy bank, it will count money on the balance sheet, and it will grab ahold of stocks and bonds with clinching white knuckles.  This worry is always agonizing that the financial portfolio is never making enough to live securely.  This worry, panics when the stock market goes down and greedily wants more when the market goes up.  The life consumed with worry never has enough money or resources for a person to make it and it never has enough to share with others.  This worry will lead a person to compare themselves with others and will cause them try to keep up with the Joneses.  

Worry like this is not something innocent and harmless that we do to pass the time though.  It is not a virtue.  But rather, this worry actually doubts that God will do for us what He has promised to do, that is to say, take care of us by giving us our daily bread.  Indeed, worry doubts that that the Lord will give us everything that we need for the support of our lives. 

You see, frankly stated, worrying is calling God a liar and that is a sin against Him, His goodness, and His mercy. 

In fact, when we worry, we are essentially committing the sin of idolatry.  We end up treating our worries as though they are some kind of god.  We think that by worrying about our problems somehow we will feel more at peace and find a refuge in our time of need.  Our anxieties are the prayers we offer to the god of worry.

And make no mistake, those fretful prayers are heard.  There is a god named Worry, but his other name is Satan.  The devil knows that if he can keep us praying to him—if he can keep us preoccupied and filled with doubt, worrying about God’s promise to provide for us—well then he can keep us from looking to our Heavenly Father for our salvation and eternal life as well.
And isn’t that what worry really does?  If we are constantly concerned about what we will eat or drink or wear, that means we are constantly doubting that God will give us all that we need to sustain our life in this world as He has promised.
Ultimately, if that worrisome doubting is left unchecked, the devil continues to make it grow until we decide to give up on God and take matters into our own hands. 

The devil even gives us pious sounding words to justify why we’ve turned our backs on the Heavenly Father.  Words like “God only helps those who help themselves.”

Even so, these little statements capture the spirit of worry.  In the end we give up on God and decide to help ourselves, taking things into our own hands, and getting the job done no matter what the consequences or sin.  But that’s only a symptom, the disease of worry is even worse.

You see, if we doubt God for the good things in this life it is only because we doubt Him for the true and eternal blessings He has given us by faith in His Son. 

Consider this, if we doubt that God will take care of our temporary daily needs as we pray for them in the Lord’s Prayer, and as He has taught us and promised us, then how can we trust Him for the infinite forgiveness of our sins and the Life Eternal?  We can’t.  Indeed, this is life in the deceptive rhythm and ensnaring way of worry. 

. . .

Dear friends, it does not have to be this way; actually it really is not this way.  The Lord does not sow worry and anxiety into your hearts, but sows faith by the Gospel. 

Consider this, in our Gospel reading Jesus points to the birds of the air.  They freely flow through the air, sing songs of glory, and eat what is given to them.    The flowers too!  The flowers and the lilies of the field are scattered and display a majestic radiance.  They are here today, gone tomorrow.  They sprout up and clothe the grass.  They are taken care of by the Lord and live without worry and without fear.

And you—are you not of more value than birds and flowers?  Yes you are!  How do we know this to be true?  The Heavenly Father considers you of great worth.  You are like a lost treasure that is dug up out of the ground.  You are like a lost coin that is searched for.  You are like a lost sheep that is sought.  The Heavenly Father thought you were worth more than the birds and the flowers altogether.  The value He placed upon you is shown in the Father’s sending of the Son—for you.  It is shown in your baptism, when the Lord placed His very name upon you taking you from darkness to life.  Indeed, you are of value to the Heavenly Father, which is precisely why Jesus was sent in the flesh to forgive you and me of our silly worries and to rescue us from our never-ending anxiety.   Christ came because you are cherished; He came to be your Lord; He came to grant you not fear, but faith. 

Dear friends, you have been baked together as one loaf in Christ.  Faith is a like a marriage ring that cements you to Christ so that there is complete unity.  Thus, being cemented to Christ by faith—by your baptisms—means that what is Christ’s is yours. 

This faith you are given is a gift worked by the Holy Spirit through the Word and Sacraments.  This faith it unbends you; it kills the old Adam.  It places you in its ways, in its rhythm of looking outward and receiving God’s good gifts. 

Furthermore, this gift of faith does not look to the piggy bank to see how much is in it or not in it, leading to worry. Faith will not lead to worry, but rest in the goodness of the giving Lord. 

The Lord comes; anxieties and worry are enveloped. 

The Lord comes and gives you faith and trust in the Father. 

The Lord comes and you are freed to love your neighbor and see how the bird and lilies live in the joy of a giving Lord.    

With that stated, there will be days when the lilies get whacked down by the lawn mower and the birds are swallowed as cat food.  In other words, we all have those days where life is upside down, crazy, and out of control.  However, do not fear when those dark days come to you, for they will.  Yes, do not fear and do not worry, the Lord is with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  The darkness may or may not be removed, the lilies may or may not grow back, and the bird may or may not be coughed up by the cat, but you shall not worry for the Lord is with you in the valleys that are overshadowed by sin and death.  His grace, His mercy, and His peace are with you—with you today, tomorrow, and the next.  Do not worry.

Today, He again shows you and gives to you His goodness—His body and blood—so that your faith may be strengthened and that you may know that the greatest gift of forgiveness of sins is with you and for you, when fear and worry spring forth. 
In the name of Jesus,  Amen.

This sermon is indebted to Rev. Joshua Reimche of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Bottineau, ND. (Trinity 15 Sermon, September 13, 2015). 

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