9th Sunday After Pentecost – Vicar Ferguson
In the Name of The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:
Jesus in today’s Gospel reading continues chiding people about their love of money and earthly possessions. This text immediately follows last week’s text where Jesus was asked to serve as judge in an inheritance case. Instead of doing what he is asked, Our Lord rebukes the man for being concerned about his earthly inheritance rather than heavenly inheritance. Imagine going to Jesus and not asking about salvation, but inheritance. The parable told ends with a rich man saying to himself, “relax, eat, drink, and be merry. I have ample goods; I have even built bigger barns to hold my goods.” God laughs in heaven saying, “You fool, this night your very soul is required of you.” This is the man who cares most about the things of this world. Jesus in today’s Gospel discusses the implications of such a teaching. Our Lord teaches us how we ought to manage our schtuff.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” Here our Lord summarizes his rebuke to the man who wanted his inheritance. “Don’t worry about it”. That is the summary of the rebuke. We are distracted by much serving (as Martha was not to long ago) when we forget that all of these worldly things are left behind. Vanities of vanities is the toiling under the sun. Our lives are filled to the brim with work. The 9-5 grind is a direct consequence of the fall. So why do we obsess over our work? At some point we will have to leave to the one who comes after us, and who knows if he will be wise or a fool.
At the end of our lives, it only matters what we ourselves have done. It only matters if we have been wise unto salvation or foolish. When our very soul is required of us where do we turn for help? Do we turn to the living God who never sleeps on the job or do we turn to our money whose faces are those of dead and cold men? That is the question. That is what our Lord wants us to think about.
“But Jesus”, we might say, “How can I buy food for my family without money? How can I pay rent, keep the AC on, and all the rest if I have no money?” Obviously if you have no money paying for food and housing will be tricky. Your Father in heaven knows that you need these things. But He is less concerned about this life as to the next life. He is less concerned about the temporary rather than the permanent.
Picture this with me. You’re on a desolate road in a hot desert. There are no cars, and likely there will be no one for quite some time. You have enough water to get you where you’re going, a bag of jerky, and oddly enough a bucket of ice cream. What do you do? You enjoy the ice cream while you have it, but when you have had your fill, you leave the rest and take the jerky with you. The point of this is that you can, and should enjoy the things of this life as they come, but don’t forget that you are not home yet. You have not reached the eternal mansions prepared for you. You need food for the road, and the ice cream does not travel well. The jerky will be of much more use on the road than the ice cream. So is it with Faith! The things of this world are meant to be nice, they are enjoyable, but they don’t travel well. Choose those things that travel well, the one thing needful.
Not only do the things of this world not travel well, but also our Lord gives them to us. As I look out today, I see that we have at least one thing in common. The Lord has kept us going thus far. We have all had food enough not to die, we have all had enough water and everything else. We have not died from exposure, nor have we died from any other thing. It is true that unless Jesus comes again, death will find us, but until we leave this world and attain eternal glory the Lord gives us what we need on our way.
Consider the pigeons. they neither plant corn nor do they harvest it. They have neither storehouses nor silos. But the Lord feeds them. The Lord God Almighty who made heaven and earth feeds those we know as Rats-of-the-sky. If the Lord feeds those birds who make a mess of everything, how much more will he take care of you? Consider the lilies. They neither toil nor spin, yet Solomon in all of his glorious apparel did not hold a candle to one of these. If the Lord so dresses the grass of the road ditch which is there today and tomorrow dies, how much more will he take care of you?
You see how foolish it is to worry. Worry is the enemy of faith. God will take care of you through the means that he has established. That means that the job you work will provide. That means that if you need a different job, there will be one. That means that at the end of the day you can be at peace knowing that the Lord guides your path and guards your sleep. So that while you are working you know that God is with you, and that you don’t have to lose sleep over anything, but can rest in peace.
A professional colleague of mine, who is preaching about this text, (Not me) is preaching about stewardship. Stewardship is a fancy way of saying give away your money to the poor and the church. I am not preaching a stewardship sermon, because the text is not primarily about giving money to the poor. Giving money to the poor is a practical application of the text, but it is not the main point. The main point is that God provides you with what you need.
What if your money gets in the way? What are you to do when you checkbook is squeaky-clean, but your Bible has dust on it? That is when you should give money to the poor. Idolatry is best resolved by sacrifice. Take that which you idolize, in this case money, and get rid of it. Offer it to God by giving it to your neighbor who needs it and don’t look back. You might turn into a pillar of salt.
Think of it this way. You are in a boat carrying gold bullion. Then the boat capsizes and you are sinking. Obviously, you have to let go of the gold, otherwise you’re dead. You find your way to the surface and live. So too is it with treasure. If you find it weighing on you too much get rid of some it and relieve yourself of that burden. That which burdens you will bless someone else. Don’t let your stuff be your master. Let the Lord who loves you be your master and let him provide you with what you need. Let Him who gave you that treasure, and gives you everything even now, be your concern.
Don’t waste your lives striving after earthly treasure. For its value has an expiration date. It is entirely worthless in the next life. Rather spend your time wisely seeking after the heavenly. Build that; a treasure in heaven where neither thief nor moth destroy. Take Jesus to be your treasure. Jesus the Eternal Son of God never losses value, faith in him is a good investment.
The Gospel reading ends with a profound statement, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Do not fret over the things of this world. The cash in your hand loses its worth, the clothes on your back fade, and the food in the fridge will spoil. There is one thing that does not grow old. There is one treasure immune from decay. That is Jesus. Your true treasure is Jesus, let your heart be with him.
In the Name of Jesus.