Tonight we are gathering to discuss Matthew 6:5-34. The first part of the reading (vv.5-18) warns against public displays of piety. The second part of the reading (vv.19-34) concerns getting our priorities right. When we read vv.19-34, Jesus tells us not to worry about the material things in life. He is not telling not to think about any of these things. We need food, shelter, clothing, and the means by which to obtain these. Jesus’ teaching concerns not allowing these matters to take priority in our lives and have control over our lives. In Romans 6:25-23, Paul has a wonderful discourse that “you are slaves of the one who you obey” (v.16). Jesus is calling us to self-reflection on “who do we obey.” Do we obey the trappings of this life and become obedient to acquiring things or do we seek the Kingdom? The promise is that if we seek the Kingdom first, then everything else will fall into place (v.33).
In his book Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Oswald Chambers writes that this teaching reiterates the biblical doctrine of detachment. One of the great themes of the New Testament is to be detached from the cares and the relationships of this world. Our calling to always to place God first. Jesus teaches that not only wealth and possessions must be secondary to discipleship (v.24) but so must even our most personal relationships with others (Luke 14:25-33). As Chambers put it: “There should be one consideration only – to stand right with God, to see that that relationship is never dimmed, then all other things will right themselves” (p.63)
In his third meditation on The Lily of the Field and The Bird of the Air, Soren Kierkegaard looks at vv.25-34 and tells us that this passage can be reduced to two words: joy and present. He says see what joy is there when the day is dawning and the bird awakens to first sing or when the dew falls and refreshes the lily which is soon dried by the first rays of light. Joy is the anthesis of anxiousness. As Paul languishes in a Roman prison he writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!” Phil. 4:4 The Lily and the Bird teach us to rejoice. But how? Kierkegaard writes: “What is joy or what is it to be joyful? It is truly to be present to oneself; but truly to present to oneself in this “today”, this to be today, truly to be today. . . Joy is the present time, with the entire emphasis falling on the present time.” To be present is to be joyful, for anxiousness lives only in the morrow (v.34).
Dinner at 6. The menu is chili. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.Matthew 6:34