Midweek Lenten Worship
March 3, 2021
“Do Not Worry”
Rev. John R. Larson
Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
I’ve got a big question for you. Is God trustworthy? Can you take Him at His word?
There are some amazingly strong claims in this passage from Jesus. Listen, “But seek first his (the Father’s) kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) Wow. That is quite a big promise.
Or, how about the requirements Jesus puts on us? “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” (Matthew 6:25) “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matthew 6:34) Those claims and those requirements only mean anything if we can trust the speaker and the words that are given. So, do you trust them? Do you trust Him?
Trust is huge. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” It says that I was a fool to trust you, to let you in, to believe your word. But I did – once too many times.
How many marriages have ended, or are in a miserable state, because one, or the other, or both, betrayed trust? Their words were phony, they lied and every promise from their mouth from that day forward became suspect. How many friendships were wrecked in that way? How many folks lost their jobs because they could not be trusted anymore?
Do you know what the worst job in Colorado is right now? It is working for the Unemployment Division of Labor and Employment. Undoubtedly, they are overworked. Right now 150,000 folks are receiving benefits. Each case has to be checked and verified and processed. But that is not their biggest job. The department has received over 1 million fraudulent requests for unemployment compensation – 7 times the number of folks who are receiving it justly. I guess the State of Colorado is made up of a bunch of thieves and crooks and liars. Every application is probably viewed with mistrust.
Do we apply the same type of caution with the words of Jesus? Can we, do we, believe them – or should we temper what He says with a good dose of doubt?
Jesus lived with a mistrust of certain individuals. He hated hypocrisy – lying, putting on an act, living in deceit. In the seven woes of Matthew 23, the sixth goes like this, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28) That same group got this from Jesus, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’” (Matthew 15:7-8)
Jesus distained the false heart. But He loves the truth. When He says, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”, He is speaking truth. That really happens. When He tells us that we should not worry, He is telling us the truth. When He tells us that our heavenly Father knows what we need – what we need to eat and drink and wear – He is speaking truth.
You can trust the words of Jesus. John introduces Jesus to us in this way, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Later in the same chapter, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Later in the same book Jesus says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
The truth is that God, through His good hand, takes care of us and gives us everything we need in life. In this account on the Sermon on the Mount Jesus uses a beautiful lesser to greater argument. It runs as follows: If God the Creator cares for the birds and the lilies and the grass He has created, how much more will God, our heavenly Father, care for us, His children?
Some of you know Martin Luther’s Small Catechism (1529) and his explanation to the question, “What is meant by daily bread?” He says, “Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”
Look at what God gives us!! He is not miserly. Don’t you stand amazed at how God gives people the abilities to make their living. He has allowed some people the brilliance so that rovers can land on Mars!! He has given some the skills to create a vaccine that can save lives. He has given the heart in others to watch and teach and guide our children. He allows others the ability to fix an automobile so that life can keep on going. Look at what you do, how you earn your living, what services you offer to others – this all comes from God who tells you not to worry.
Trust is a hard thing to give to another. We are fearful that they are not trustworthy. But that is not true with God. Our trust goes from the small to the large. If God can take care of what you eat or drink or wear – all things that are important – the daily bread that Luther describes – then He can take care of that which is greater. If He can take care of the daily needs He most certainly can take care of the eternal needs.
Our God takes care of the need we have to have peace in our soul. Jesus goes to the cross so that our souls would be healed. In Luke Jesus says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (5:31) He earned our trust by calling us to His side, receiving our sins and giving us complete cleansing.
Trust is confidence that God will do what He says He’ll do. It is a confident reliance in His promises. You know Psalm 46:10, this word of trust in God’s salvation, “Be still, and know that I am God.” In about a month, when we read the last words of Jesus from the cross we hear the confidence and trust that He had in His heavenly Father as well, “Jesus called out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)
When my plumber or my mechanic looks at me and says, “Don’t worry, we can take care of this – you do have a Visa gold or platinum card, right?” – that’s when I begin to worry. But when Jesus tells us that we don’t have to worry I can trust His words. When Pastor Mathis told me a little about himself so I could introduce him on our video recording, he said that his favorite verse in the whole Bible is Revelation 21:5, “The one that was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
What Jesus says is trustworthy and true. Trust His promises. Trust His guidance. Trust Him. Your heart and your soul and your life will be better for it. Amen!!
(Some of the thoughts or words came from the series on “The Sermon on the Mount” from Creative Communications for the Parish)