Pastor Aaron Steinbrenner delivers a sermon entitled “Jesus Has Something to Say” based on Matthew 6:25-34 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, July 15, 2018
Have you heard the one about the mouse and the magician? A mouse has this great fear of cats. A magician took pity on this poor, little mouse and turned it into a cat. Before long, that cat developed a crippling fear of dogs…so the magician turned the cat into a dog. The dog soon became afraid of panthers…the magician turned the dog into a panther. And in short order, the panther was deathly afraid of hunters. He begged the magician to turn him into a hunter. He magician replied… “I will not. You may look like a panther on the outside, but you still have the heart of a mouse.”
This may be a silly fable, but it does reveal something about you and me. We may try to look tough on the outside…we may try to look like we’re ready to conquer the world…we may want to look like panthers to all who see us…but so often on the inside, we’re just a little mouse…frightened and worried about many of the things around us.
What is it that occupies your thoughts at this stage of your life? What worries you? I’m guessing all of you, if given enough time, could come up with a list of a handful of real-life issues that stress you out. I’m also guessing, that somewhere on that list you’d have something that has to do with finances or money.
Will we have enough? Have you ever asked that question when it comes to finances?
- Will we have enough once we get out of college?
- Will we have enough to start a family?
- Will we have enough to take care of our kids and put groceries on the table and put gas in the car…without putting thousands and thousands on credit cards?
- Or maybe we already have thousands and thousands on credit cards…will we ever be able to dig ourselves out of debt?
- Will we have enough to pay for school or pay for medical bills?
- Will we have enough to retire? How much will I need?
Finances are important. Because we live in a world where so many of our decisions have to do with money, it’s important that we think about and talk about and plan and spend wisely. But it’s also very easy for us to become consumed. And it’s easy for us to worry and be afraid. That can lead to poor decisions like failing to hear and listen to the voice of Jesus. Jesus has something to say.
First of all, worrying doesn’t work. Just like it doesn’t work or help when I yell at the TV when my favorite wide receiver drops the ball or the running back fumbles at a crucial time during the game. My telling doesn’t change the outcome. So also, my worrying and stressing won’t pay any bills or shrink my credit card debt or put the kids through college. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? So why do it? Because there are so many unknowns. Weren’t you listening before when we wondered if we’d have enough? Haven’t we all been conditioned, in this economy-minded world, to think that the more we have in the bank…the more equity we have in our home…the more stocks and bonds in our portfolio the safer and more secure we will be? That’s why I worry! Even if it doesn’t do any good, it’s natural for us to worry, right?
Wrong! Worrying – listening to what the world has to say and NOT listening to what Jesus says…that’s not natural; that’s sinful. So yes, Jesus has something to say. And he uses two unlikely preachers: a bird and a flower.
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. See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin…yet, your heavenly Father clothes them. It’s a little embarrassing that birds, possessing no soul and no reason, know how to instinctively trust the Creator more than we do. While we’re fretting over whether or not we’ll have enough, the birds take God’s blessings, day by day. While we’re losing sleep over whether or not we can afford a new home or wondering about how we’ll retire, the beautiful flowers of the field stand as a testament of God’s ability to wrap wonderful clothing around his creation. What are you worried about? To worry is to miss the valuable lesson Jesus wants to teach you: you are valuable!
- For Jesus did not humble himself and take on the flesh and form of a bird or a lily…he took on the flesh and blood of a human being – that’s because you are more valuable.
- Jesus wasn’t punished for the transgressions of the animal or plant kingdom – he paid for the sins of the world…a world of sinful human beings.
- In your baptism, Jesus put the sign of the cross on your head and your heart…not the sparrow’s…and your baptism stands as a testament of God’s ability to wrap wonderful clothing around the crown of his creation…a garment of righteousness more beautiful and pure than anything worn by Solomon or anything seen in the fields.
- And it’s true, the Bible says the Lord is so caring and so invested in the whole of his creation that even a sparrow will not fall to the ground without his knowing and caring, yet when Jesus looks at the palm of his hand he doesn’t see the names of sparrows engraved there…but he does see your name. Are you not much more valuable than they are?
You can give your ears to what the world has to say about finances and money. You can follow their advice: Greedily grab as much as you can and stock up as much as you can for the future. You can put your trust in the economy and the size of your savings, which can disappear as fast as you can say Great Depression or Great Recession or Stock Market Crash.
Or you can give your ears to Jesus and put your trust in him. He has something to say. So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
- He won’t promise to drown you in worldly wealth, which can rot and rust – he’s already given you an inheritance which can never perish, spoil, or fade…he’ll make sure you also have bread and water and house and home.
- He won’t promise to be a magician who waves his wand and removes any and every circumstance that seems big and scary – instead he’ll stand by you and invite you to cast your cares on him.
So don’t worry. Why not? Because worrying doesn’t help. Worrying replaces the promises of Jesus with stress about the future. Worrying is unnecessary – for you already have eternity in your hands…you have Jesus!