–By Elizabeth Ahlman
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
“Therefore I tell you, 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? 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 which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious 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 arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:24-34 ESV).
Do not be anxious?” Well, thanks, Jesus. I’ll work on that. “Do not be anxious.” That’s certainly easier said than done. The reality is, sometimes, it’s hard not to be anxious. It’s hard not to trust in money. The paycheck is spreading thin. You just discovered a major issue with the house which needs to be repaired, and it requires way more money than you have tucked away. Maybe you’ve lost your job. Maybe you’re being asked to follow a job that requires that you give up many, many items, and strike out with a few suitcases to your name, and that’s scary! The student loan payments are raised every year, and you fantasize about winning the lottery and getting rid of the whole lot, because with those payments looming, it’s hard to budget for the family’s groceries sometimes. Your kids keep putting huge holes in their jeans, and you don’t have the extra money to buy new. You keep patching them, but pretty soon, it will be impossible. What will they wear then? If you could just make a little more money or if they would just lower prices at the grocery story, or if you had some distant rich uncle you never knew about who suddenly left you a few thousand dollars…then everything would be alright. The bills would be paid, the children clothed, there would be food on the table with money to spare.
Ahh, but it is so hard not to think this way sometimes. Not to reveal our deepest level of trust is not in God, but in money (mammon), and what it can buy us to make us feel safe, secure and at peace. But Jesus bids us to be anxious no more. Because mammon is not our god, not really. He is speaking to us, His disciples, whom He has called out of slavery and bondage to mammon. And He…tells us what we should do? Gives us a new law? “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” No, no new law here because the kingdom of God is standing right in front of the disciples. The righteousness of God is standing right in front of them. Jesus is the kingdom and the righteousness of God. Jesus brings the kingdom and the righteousness of God to us, right before our faces. He seeks us so that we need not really seek. He brings to bear in our lives all that we need for this body and life: daily bread, life, salvation. All of it.
Yes, sometimes there will be struggles. Yes, sometimes we will be down to our last bit of flour and the last bit of oil in the jar, like the widow in the Old Testament reading paired with this reading (1 Kings 17:8-16), but God brings Himself and His kingdom to us, to provide and to sustain, just as He filled the jars for the widow of Zarephath. And so He brings His kingdom and His righteousness to us once again, over and over, in the Church. There we find body and blood for us. There we find sustaining words of life. There we find Jesus. And there, among all of our brothers and sisters who have likewise been sought and found, we find strength as we bear one another’s burdens in love (Galatians 6:2). So look and see that the kingdom and the righteousness of God have found you, and take comfort and be at peace.
Let us Pray: Heavenly Father, You are the source of all our daily bread, grant us to trust in You above all things, so that we may rest in Your care and seek You, through Your Son, where You have promised to be found; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.