Trinity 15 - the Sunday of the Lilies of the Field
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
September 13, 2015
Central Passage
Matthew 6:24-34

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness is not a moral prescript. You don’t seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness by being good moral people. Surely Christians should be good moral people, but then so should everyone be good and moral. But you’re not. Some of us hide it better than others, but none of us are good. The Bible says so. We are the Priest and Levite that walk by our battered brothers and sisters and do nothing. We don’t even generally want to do anything for them. Why? Because it’s going to cost us something: time, money, our reputation. So we do the bidding of the god called “Mammon”.

Mammon is a demanding god. He demands an inordinate amount of our time – 40, 50, 60 hours of our week. And that’s just clocked hours. He also demands all the other hours we spend worrying about bills and payments and so forth. Bills and payments that are usually born from our desire to serve Mammon and not of necessity. Let’s face it: all but maybe 1% of our money problems are caused by our own lust and greed. He demands an inordinate amount of money – thousands spent on houses and cars and toys. He demands that we give nothing to the poor, at least not so much that will hurt us, not so much that we will not have enough then to sacrifice to him with our cable bill or smart phones or all our little useless pamper-me purchases. The wrath of Mammon is greatly kindled when we withhold some pleasure from ourselves for the sake of another and he comes at us with his fiery darts saying, “You deserve this,” and “Be care full not to give it all away, or else they’ll be nothing left for retirement or for Christmas.”

And what happens? We become worried that we won’t have enough. Not because we’re starving from real hunger or cold because of real nakedness. We become worried because we’re afraid of what others will say of us when they find out we’ve overspent? What will others say when they find out we can’t afford what everyone else seems to be able to afford? We worry about tomorrow because of our reputation. And that that’s the real name of the god called Mammon: our reputation.

We’ll do anything to protect our reputation, how we think others see us. We lie about ourselves and about other people to keep our reputation in tact or looking good. We’re glad that we think our Sunday morning is anonymous because then we can pretend we give a lot or give at all. After all, who’s going to call us out on it? So we steal from the Church to spend it on ourselves. That’s what the Bible says about those who don’t give an offering. For isn’t our offering not for ourselves but for the poor and needy? But we don’t trust that God will provide.

 But it’s not just money we steal. We steal time from the Church too. We don’t go to Bible classes or Sunday school or midweek services. Why? To serve Mammon. But then our reputation is on the line because we know we should do these things both for us and our children, but also for one another. For your faith feeds one another’s faith. But plain and simple: we don’t want to and Mammon says we don’t have to; it’s a waste of time. So we come up with some reputation-saving excuse as to why we don’t. As a result we suffer. But not only us but our children and grandchildren, too. Serving the self always kills our neighbor.

We steal and curse others and slander our neighbors and everyone to protect our reputation, to serve Mammon – from politicians to our kids’ school teacher to our boss to our husband or wife and even our children. Anything, no matter how petty and small, just so that our reputation looks good. Most of us are doing it right now. Instead of considering the ways we’ve done this and the evil we’ve perpetrated to protect ourselves – which should bring us to tears of contrition and repentance – we’re rejecting this thinking that pastor just trying to make us feel guilty and get at our money. We’re wondering if we’ve been exposed. Tears and repentance would prove us liars so we refuse to repent. But I’m not your judge. I don’t care if you feel guilty or if you confess to me. And I don’t care to expose you to others, only to hold up the mirror of the law so that we see who we really are, what we sinners are really like so that we would utterly despair of ourselves and so truly seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. The truth is, everyone already knows what you’re like because we’re all the same. But we lie and say we’re not and get angry at the messenger instead of listening to the message. And sadly, many of us believe our own lies just as the Pharisees who were lovers of money believed their own lies about themselves. We lie in service to Mammon, our reputation.

But know we shouldn’t be this way. We should be better than this. We’ll try harder. But for most of us that only means that we try to put on a more morally upright front. Which really just means we’re careful to only gossip to the right people about the right people. We’re careful about what lies we tell so that none will be the wiser. And then, our crowning achievement for Mammon, when we think our reputation is well enough secured, that others think us descent human beings, when we’ve done some measure of good, we say that we’re seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Repent and believe the gospel. Your anger doesn’t produce the kind of righteousness that the Lord requires.

The kingdom of God comes without our prayers. It comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit so that by His grace we believe His holy word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity. Seeking the kingdom of God isn’t about serving our reputation. The kingdom of God isn’t a moral prescript. The rule of God, the kingdom of God, is wherever His word is preached and His sacraments administered. The kingdom of God is wherever Jesus promises to be: in His gathering, His congregation, His Body. And righteousness of God isn’t found in our moral goodness. The Lord Jesus is the righteousness of God and we are righteous according do His promise that all who believe and are baptized shall be saved. Our faith is our righteousness. But it’s a particular faith. A faith that we have a loving, merciful heavenly Father who reconciled us to Himself by the blood of His eternally begotten Son who took on our flesh and became our sin so that we would become the righteousness of God. A Father who gives us His eternal Spirit so that we would be called His children and live under Him in purity and grace.

To seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness is to seek Jesus who promises to reveal to us the Father. When you pray, do not pray for things as if they are the substance of your life, pray for faith to believe that you have a heavenly Father who gives you all things in heaven and on earth and who is preparing for you a place in and by His Son, Jesus who does all things well. When Mammon calls you call out to your heavenly Father who promises to hear you and give to you whatever you ask in the name of His Son. The reason this gospel falls so flat on our ears is because we don’t believe it. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, which is Christ our Lord, and you won’t have to worry about all these things.

For your heavenly Father has sought you. He sends His Son to you to breathe on you the breath of life and raise you from the dead world ruled by Mammon. And in turn you serve your God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – by giving thanks to Him for all His benefits to you. And behold, you are clothed with greater splendor than Solomon or the lilies of the field. For you are clothed with Christ and wisdom that comes down from above.

+ In Nomine Iesu +