Toorak Uniting Church

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Jesus – Which Master

Rev. Ken Gilson
Matthew 6: 24 – 34   Psalm 131
27 February 2011

Matthew 6:24-34

24-29 "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

33-34 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today."

The young woman in the play was anxious about her party.
She planned everything carefully and yet nothing worked out the way she had planned.
This is often the way it is with us too.
We say, "the best laid plans of mice and men go astray."
There are plenty of things in our daily lives that can cause us to be anxious.
And yet again the result of the party was a good one because people of good will stepped in to help.
The question the gospel reading raises for me is,
How does our faith help us to confront this reality.

I carefully underline Jesus words: Let today’s trouble be enough for you.

Jesus does not promise a carefree existence. He does not say that those who believe in him shall never have anxiety. Each day will bring its obstacles, and with those obstacles comes the question of how to best deal with them: surmount them, go around them, or remove them.
We are familiar with the contemporary wisdom that says that anxiety is rooted in our primitive reaction to threat: "flight or fight."
The indecision about which is the best option, creates anxiety.
What does Jesus have to say about anxiety.

Jesus knew that anxiety takes over when we serve the wrong masters or too many masters.
"You cannot serve both God and Mammon," he declared. Mammon, the god of possessions, stands for all the things than money can buy.

Too many of us either put our trust in Mammon, or try to have a bet each way:
a big wager on Mammon and a fall-back bet on God.
That will not work. Divided loyalty breeds more anxiety.

Jesus pointed to the birds of the air. They can only use their wits and rely on God’s providence. He pointed to the lilies of the field. Wild flowers can only rely on God’s rain and sunshine and soil. Anxiety is pointless for a tiny donkey orchid in the bush or a dandelion.

Then came his strong affirmation:
First of all seek the realm of God and its right living, and all you want will come to you. Therefore, do not keep worrying about tomorrow,
tomorrow must look after itself. Let today’s troubles be enough for you.

Jesus word is, Fix your first loyalty. With God as our ultimate security, we can forget gloomy predictions of what might happen, and concentrate on living each day to the full.
The realm of God is stronger than all evil threats. It is indestructible, and as a citizen of the realm, so will the essential you, your eternal soul.
Remember that Jesus was a Jew. His spiritual heritage was long and deep.
It was grounded in the faithful God of Sarah and Abraham, Moses, Ruth and David, and enriched by the prophets and the Psalm writers.
He would have breathed-in the same words of Psalm 131.

"People of God, put your hope in God, today and for evermore.

I will calm down, quieten my soul,
like a child resting at its mother’s breast,
like a child, my soul will be at peace."

Jesus word to us is clear for they came from his own experience.
He placed his trust in God, to guide him even through the valley of the shadow of death.
He tells us stop worrying about tomorrow by dealing with what today brings,
do the best you can, that will be sufficient!
Then go to bed and sleep within the everlasting arms of God.
Peace comes when we know that, even if our world is falling down around us,
we are in the hands of the God who seeks the best for us and all people and who is able to bring good things out of disaster. This may simply be the strength to cope with the disaster that has befallen us or those we love.

Hear again the words of the psalmist

"Calm down, quieten your soul,
like a child resting at its mother’s breast,
like a child, your soul will be at peace."

© Rev. Ken Gilson, 2011

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