Bible Text: Matthew 6:24-34 | Preacher: Pastor Christian Preus | Series: Trinity 2022 | When Jesus tells you not to worry about your life, he doesn’t point you to Elijah or Moses or other great and holy men in the Old Testament. He doesn’t say, Look at Elijah, how my Father cared for him, fed him with food brought by ravens, multiplied the widow’s flour and oil to keep him alive. He doesn’t point to the manna that His Father made fall from heaven in the time of Moses or the water he made flow from a rock. He doesn’t point to any miracle at all or any holy man at all. He directs you to the most common and lowly things, to the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. Because you could doubt whether you match up to Elijah and Moses. You could say, Yes, God cared for them, but they were holy men, will He care for me? But you cannot doubt that you are more valuable than the birds of the air and the grass of the field. And God cares for them. Of how much more worth are you than they? More than this, they are constantly in front of you. You don’t go a day without seeing and hearing the birds of the air. Every morning when I wake up and sit down to read my Bible, there they are, flying and chirping, a constant sign from God that if He cares for them He will care much more for me. Jesus points to the birds because He wants you to have a daily reminder, a daily sign from your Creator, that He will care for your body, that you are far more precious to Him than the birds. The birds serve no greater function than this, it’s why they exist, to remind you of your Creator’s care.
You are more precious, more valuable. God didn’t make man for the beasts but beasts for man. Even the heathen know this. I’m afraid our pampered society has forgotten it, forgotten the worth of man. Julius Caesar once saw some visitors in Rome and saw how they coddled and held and dressed and combed their little dogs and their little monkeys, and he looked at them curiously and asked them whether the women in their country were not used to bearing children. His point was that nature teaches us to value children, human beings, far more than animals. Our day needs to learn the same lesson over again. You can get sentenced to a year in jail for neglect of a pet in California, but there is no penalty at all for killing your unborn child, and soon there will be no penalty for letting your child die within the first month of birth. Jesus tells us to look at the birds and see that they are precious to God, that God does care for the animals – and we should too, it’s what it means to have dominion over them – but God’s care for the animals is His constant reminder of how much more He cares for you.
The value of man is beyond words. God made you in His image, in His likeness. He made you to talk with Him. To know Him. To rule with Him. You are by nature precious to Him. And you can object, but I’m a sinner. And that’s true, and your sin deserves God’s punishment and His anger. But that’s precisely because your sin, your lack of love, your doubt of God, your worry about life, goes against your nature, goes against what God made you for, and so denies your worth, the worth God puts on you. But God still puts that worth on you. And His Son is the guarantee of this. He became a man. How can you doubt what you mean to God, how valuable you are to Him, when He became one of your race, when even now the Son of God who reigns over heaven and earth is one nature with you, a man, your Brother? He cares for the birds and clothes the meadows with flowers, but look how He cares for you, o you of little faith. He suffers for you, He bears your sin and faces its vanity and emptiness, He bleeds the blood of God for you and swallows up your punishment in His passion, to clothe you with His righteousness, with a beauty that far surpasses the beauty of the flowers of the fields, a beauty that will not fade like the flower and will not die like the grass, because Jesus lives and He lives that those who trust in Him will live with Him forever.
That’s your worth. So don’t worry about your body. Jesus doesn’t tell you not to worry at all now, not to care at all. He tells you to care, to be anxious for, to seek the things that are worthy of your care and worthy of your attention as a human being, made in the image of God. Because when you do that, God will take care of both your body and your soul. If you like to be lazy, your sinful flesh will take Jesus’ words, Don’t worry, as an excuse not to put your ambition into anything, not to work hard, not to do your job well, because Jesus said don’t worry, look at the birds, they don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, so why should I. And if you like to work hard, your sinful flesh will take offense at Jesus’ words. What do you mean, don’t worry? How do you get anything done without worrying, caring about it? Isn’t that what’s wrong with this world, that people are lazy and would rather play video games in their parents’ basement than get a job?
Those are the two extremes. Your sinful flesh is very good at abusing Jesus’ words. So don’t let it. Lock your eyes on these words, because they are the key to everything: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. This is no call to laziness. It’s no call to indifference and apathy. Remember the Lord’s words to the Church of Laodicea, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Jesus has no patience for apathy and indifference and laziness. The servant who buries his talent in the ground He throws out of His kingdom. He says, Seek. And this seeking is a living and active thing, the constant pursuit of the Christian. Here I’m going to teach you a little Greek. The word is zhteite. We translate it as “Seek,” and that’s as it should be. But the Greek command is in the present tense, which means that it is an ongoing command. There’s another tense, the aorist, that would mean a onetime command. This is constant, it means, Seek constantly, Keep seeking, Continue to seek, Don’t stop seeking. It’s as far from a call to laziness or lack of care as you can get. It is to say, care about this, seek this, all the time, every day, always.
And what is this that you should be constantly seeking? The Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Jesus Christ and His Word. Seek it every single day, seek it constantly, and you will find constantly that His righteousness blots out all your sin and makes you a child of God, so that you are as dear to your Father in heaven as if you were His own child, because you are. That’s what Jesus does for you, that’s what happens in His kingdom, under His rule. Seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness. This obviously means, be in church – rid yourself permanently of the thought that you would ever want to miss church. Remember the Greek lesson – seek constantly, keep seeking, continue to seek, don’t stop seeking, and see what you seek here – Jesus speaking to you through the man he called to give His own words of forgiveness bought by His blood on the cross, Jesus giving you His own body and blood: hasten as a bride to meet Him and with loving reverence greet Him. Seek Him and He will not fail to give you what all the wealth on earth could never buy.
This is the seeking of faith and it is not lazy. And it extends beyond this church, beyond even your reading your Bible at home, beyond praying. It’s not as if Jesus is saying, Believe in me, come to church and read your Bible and pray, and then a meal will appear on your table like manna from heaven and somehow your mortgage will be paid and your children clothed and educated. Don’t worry. This is not the call to monkery, to do nothing but pray and then let other people work.
No, seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness means also to do in faith what God called you to do. Care about this, and everything else will come. The great example of this is Jesus’ sending out his twelve disciples. He says go and don’t bring a wallet, don’t bring an extra tunic, don’t bring an extra pair of sandals, go with nothing and do what I tell you to do, preach, tell the people about Me, about their Savior, and everything else will be provided for you. And that’s exactly what happens. People invite them into their homes and feed them and clothe them. They do what Jesus calls them to do and everything else is added to them.
Jesus promises the same to you. And you see Him fulfilling His promise. I do. He called me to be your pastor, to preach God’s Word faithfully to you, to love you, to pray for you, to counsel you and teach you how to live like Christians, and when I care about this, when I seek it and pursue it, I don’t have to worry about money or food, because God gives it – that’s what we heard in our epistle lesson, let the one who is taught the word share in all good things with the one who teaches. That’s what’s literally happening and Jesus’ words are fulfilled.
Apply this to yourself. Care about the things God has actually called you to do, and everything else will be added. You don’t need to worry and fret. It only causes harm. Simply do in faith what God called you to do and then wait God’s blessing. Are you a mother? God made you a mother and He tells you exactly what to do in His Kingdom – love your children, discipline them, teach them to respect authority, read them God’s Word, feed them, clothe them, pray for them, seek it constantly and God will add all the rest. What a liberating message! Are you a father or a husband? God called you to it. Lead your home in love, love your wife and be patient with her, work hard to provide for your family, lead devotions at home, make sure your family is in church, and God will add the rest. Are you a son, a daughter, God made you that and He tells you what your duties are, to obey your parents, work hard at school and at home, respect authority and be kind to your siblings. Do it and God will add everything. You’ll see. He will. Are you a worker, do your work well, care about doing a good job, respect your boss, be kind to your fellow workers, and God will add everything else. Are you an American? God made you a citizen of this country. Pray for good leaders, vote for righteous leaders who will uphold God’s Law and God will add everything else. Apply this to yourself, whether you are a wife, a husband, a father, a mother, a teacher, a son or daughter, a citizen, a church member, a bachelor, a bachelorette. Live out your calling as a Christian, seek it, care about it, and God will add everything else. You will not only have bread and clothing, you will have a good conscience and you will know that you are worth far more than the birds of the air, that God has called you to far greater things.
And when you fail, when you measure your life up and see that despite all your seeking and all your striving, you have not been the perfect father or mother, husband or wife, son or daughter, worker or citizen or Christian, then keep seeking your Lord’s righteousness, because it is perfect, and it does cover your every fault, and His blood does wash every stain from your conscience, and His innocence does clothe you with unsurpassable beauty, and His Word does send you out again refreshed, knowing you are a child of God and excited to keep seeking to live like it, until you live it perfectly in the resurrection. What a wonderful God we have. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all else will be added to you. Amen.