When it comes to living out your faith, which are you? Do you see life, work, other people, situations in our country, and experiences around the world as half-full or half-empty? Do you see mistakes, mishaps, shortcomings, faults, and missteps as failure or as a design opportunity? Knowing the answer to that question says a great deal, I think, about how you approach your walk with God and in turn how you understand or approach your giving and service to God.
What you seek is what you find, and what you look for is what you see. What is it you want or expect out of your life with God? What is it you seek in your relationship with God, and how does your giving or acts of service reflect your answer?
In Matthew chapter six, after twenty-four verses of instruction, we read a big “therefore.” Anytime you read “so that,” or “therefore” in the bible, it’s time to pay attention. That is the signal that what follows is the crux of all that came before. It’s the heart of what is being said. The heart of this chapter is Jesus telling those early followers to seek God first and not worry about petty, frivolous, or shallow things.
Every day we make choices and decisions about how we live our lives; how we interact with others, and engage with the world around us. Every day there is another reason, cause, or problem with the potential to divide and fracture us more than we already are.
Every day many of us spend minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day worrying. Let’s be honest, we all worry. We worry about what is, what was, and what is not. We worry about what has happened, what will happen, or what won’t happen. We worry about what ifs, what abouts, and if onlys. We worry about what we know and what we don’t know. We worry about being right or being wrong, being smart or being a fool. Whether it is about the clothes on our backs, the money in our pockets, or what others are doing or thinking about us or anything else, we worry.
It is in the midst of all that, that Jesus says, if you are earnestly seeking God and following my example, then stop worrying about such frivolous things! Trust me. Stop being pulled in every direction and worrying about things that really don’t matter. “There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, or the clothes on your back.” In other words, there are way more important things you could spend your time, energy, resources, ideas, and talents on than the little things you allow yourself to get caught up in or bogged down by.
Notice Jesus doesn’t say, “don’t worry about the homeless, those with no family, those with no food, the strangers, or your neighbor.” He doesn’t say, “don’t worry about injustices against the marginalized and against one another, don’t worry about brokenness you can no longer bear, tragedy of the heart, or cruelty to those with no voice.” Jesus didn’t say that.
So it’s not that Jesus is telling us don’t worry about anything or don’t feel bad, beat yourself up, or think you have less faith if you do worry. He is saying, don’t worry about such shallow, frivolous, insignificant things because there is far more to life. God has far more for your life.
The crux of it all, church, is to seek God first in all things. Seek God with your head; study God’s word, learn what the Bible says and what it means to be a disciple / follower of Jesus, ask questions, be curious about God. Seek God with your heart - through meditation, journaling, music, emotional health and connections, nature, art, and sharing experiences with others. Seek to serve God with who you are - you don’t have to be anyone but who God made you. Seek God with what you have, and where you are at any given moment. Let God use who you are and what you have.
When we do these things, church, we will discover that our wallets - what we give, has unlimited possibilities. When we let go of fear, shame, doubt, and the worry that holds us back, keeps us stuck...we are freed up to see, do, give, experience, and receive so much more - far more than we know.
Life is found in pursuit of the One who gives life, NOT in the pursuit of that which steals life. So seek God who is life giving, not life stealing. Seek God, who is life preserving, not life defeating. Look for what is good, beautiful, and true and trust that God is in the midst of what is not.
There are unlimited possibilities waiting for all of us in our relationship with God and one another...let’s not be afraid (or worried) to give of ourselves and what we have. God will provide in ways you can’t even imagine. Amen
Pastor Jenothy Irvine