How would you answer the question that Jesus puts to His disciples on the night when He was betrayed? When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything? The disciples answered Him, Nothing. Would that be your answer? Chances are it would not be your answer. You might give the correct answer to keep on God’s good side and keep up appearances with your neighbor. However, in your heart of hearts, you know that you would more than likely answer with a long list of things you lack.
God cannot forget His many promises He gives to those who fear and trust Him. Psalm 34 says, The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. You have never lacked. Yet you think you lack so much. Even the most faithful of God’s children are tempted with many worries. Jesus says there is one thing that should concern us: seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Jesus does not say to seek first food and clothing and the kingdom of God will come along behind them. You can’t prove that in the hearts of mankind. Jesus says, 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. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? We have our daily callings in life. Saint Paul reminds us in Romans chapter 12, having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.
Within those offices, those vocations, however, there are worries that don’t belong there. There are worries of greed and worshiping our excess of abundance. You wouldn’t be foolish to set up a kneeling bench to pray before your attic, your basement, your junk drawer, or your storage barn, or would you? You have more than you need, yet you are dissatisfied with it all. You wish you could do away with it all, but you know that you will miss your stuff when you give them away or sell them. You are like Aaron in the wilderness with the gold of the Israelites. Aaron received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
If mammon, the excess of abundance, possesses your heart, then all your desires are focused there. You have many idols instead of one God. You are a slave to possessions. That slavery leads to death. God has given you what you need in order that you do not worry about what you have. If that weren’t enough, He would give you more. So why worry? You worry because enough is never enough.
Jesus continues, And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? God has determined the span of your life. When it’s your time to die, it’s the perfect time because God set apart that time before you were a glimmer in your parents’ eyes. Then there are the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. If God takes care of them, and they don’t worry about it, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Those last five words say it all. You don’t believe the promises God gives you in His holy Word. You blaze your own trail. You have to find your own money and possessions. You have to have that backstop, that ol’ reliable something or other to fall back on when God takes a nap or stops listening to your prayers. You need your idols, but your idols don’t need you.
Repent. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Find your joy and your stability in the kingdom of God, a kingdom of gracious and forgiving love for a sinner like you. Jesus Christ, your only Mediator and Redeemer, instituted this kingdom by His blood. He established this kingdom in your heart by the Gospel, as He gives you His Holy Spirit Who works, strengthens, and sustains faith in Jesus Christ when and where He wills through the Word. We are partakers of His redemption from sin, death, and the devil through His Word. We are His members who remain with Him and grow into blessed perfection in eternal life. This growth happens in daily dying to sin and rising to new life in Jesus Christ.
Seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness does not mean an active campaign to try to find something that is hidden. His kingdom and righteousness finds you. God lets His Gospel be preached to you. He works faith and makes you His child in Holy Baptism. The gift of faith also means the gift of struggle and temptation. It is easy to let faith fall asleep by not having a care for sin and unbelief. There will be struggles as a Christian. The devil wants you. The struggles and temptations find relief in the Gifts of Jesus Christ. Here is Christ’s true Body and true Blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Your sins are forgiven in Holy Absolution. You are baptized into Christ. You are given to good works for your neighbor. You have a good conscience before your Father in heaven for Jesus’ sake.
The greatest concern in your life is not to strive after those things that bring slavery to death. Do not worry about tomorrow. Do not worry about having more than your neighbor has. Let these all be gone. Your enemies have won nothing. You have the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. You have the gift of believing in Jesus Christ as your only hope for eternal life. He promises to give you His kingdom and His righteousness. He also promises to give you all that you need to support your body and your life. He will do it. Believe it for Jesus’ sake.