God vs. Mammon: Fear, Love, and Trust - The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity
[Matthew 6:24-34] “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.
God vs. Mammon: Fear, Love, and Trust
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.
In the older translations, you might remember this as “You cannot serve God and Mammon.” Elsewhere, Jesus calls it “the mammon of unrighteousness” [Luke 16:9]. And today Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness – and all these things will be added to you.”
What does God provide? As our Father, our Giver of daily bread, our Creator – what does God provide that is added to us? God gives me “my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. God richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.” [Small Catechism, First Article of the Creed]
On the other hand, what is Mammon? Mammon is “my body and soul, my eyes, ears, and all my members; my reason and all my senses; Mammon is my clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have”- without God.
Mammon is “all that I need to support this body and life” – not as an unearned gift from God, but as my god itself.
When all that I need – not to mention all that I want – for this body and life becomes my god, I have Mammon. The Mammon of unrighteousness.
How does something become your god? What is it to have a god? The trust of the heart makes god and an idol [Large Catechism, First Commandment]. Think about the First Commandment and what it commands us about the true God. How do we explain it?
What is the First Commandment? You Shall Have No Other Gods. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
Whatever gets the fear, love, and trust of my heart has become my God to me. When “all that I need to support this body and life” gets the fear, love, and trust of my heart, it has become my god – the God Mammon.
God the Father, as the Creator of heaven and earth, has created and given all things. But Scripture says that fallen man has begun to serve and worship the creature – the things created and given – rather than the Creator who makes and gives it all. [Romans 1:18-32]
When all that I need to support this body and life becomes Mammon to me – when goods of life themselves get my fear, love, and trust – what is the result? Anxiety. Anxiety and/or discontentment. Either anxious about the goods I don’t yet have, or never content with the goods I do have. This means that Mammon has gotten the trust of my heart.
When I’m living in anxiety about it all – about all the things of life and body – Or, when I’m never satisfied with it all – all I have – but am always thinking about the next thing – I have to consider that I’ve made it all an idol – That, indeed, I’m not loving God with all my heart nor am I trusting Him to be my Father.
When the good things of life become our god, the true God who gives those good things ceases to be God in our heart. He’ll still provide, but we may fail to attain those greater things of His Kingdom and His Righteousness with which our heart ought to have been occupied most of all.
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.”
“What will we eat?” “What will we drink?” “With what will we be clothed?” All the nations seek after these things. Their Creator already knows they need them. But today Jesus reminds us that there is a food and a drink and a clothing which the nation’s do not have – and which we are to seek and receive in the Kingdom of His Father.
Eat, drink, and dress warm – and we still die. We need, daily, as a matter of first importance, those provisions which give us eternal life.
Which are these provisions? Jesus said of Himself, “I am the bread of life; I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst; he will live forever.” [John 6:35,41,51]
And “ Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” And “the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” [John 6:27,51]
Jesus gave His flesh to be crucified on the cross for the life of the world – for eternal life. What Jesus did for you on the cross – His death for your sins; His atoning sacrifice for you – this is your food and your drink and your clothing for God’s Kingdom which is daily of first importance.
The cross of Christ feeds you what you need for eternal life – the forgiveness of sins: “My body given; my blood shed for the forgiveness of sins”, Jesus said [Matthew 26:28].
The cross of Christ is what clothes you in clothing fit for His kingdom – not a righteousness of your own, but you are clothed in God’s own righteousness which covers all your sins. “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” [Romans 4:7].
The food and drink and clothing of eternal life is the death and resurrection of Jesus which comes to you and works for you through certain means: By Baptism you are clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness; By His Word preached and listened to your faith in Christ is created and formed by the Holy Spirit continually; by Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper – true food and drink – you are nourished spiritually to endure unto eternal life.
These things – especially the cross of Christ – ought to have first place in occupying the thoughts of our minds and the trust and love of our hearts. With these, we have peace.
Bothers and sisters, you need not be anxious about anything. Renounce that false god, Mammon who never makes you happy. Do not let the needs or desires of life hold your heart captive.
Instead, let the fear, love, and trust of your heart be in your God and Savior alone. Give God Himself, not the earthly provisions He provides, the first attention of your heart. Give your attention continually to the provisions of eternal life which He has so freely bestowed.
“Do not be anxious about your life”. God who feeds the birds and clothes the grass, and who so freely has provided for all your needs of eternal life, will not fail to provide for the lesser needs as well. Amen.