Here we are again at another Harvest Thanksgiving Service. It’s different from other years, because the display at the front is much more modest; and we don’t have the choir at the front to sing anthems to God; and there are fewer people here; and we’re all spread out; and we’ve got face masks on. Things are different; but still we want to give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love and faithfulness and for providing us with what we need. The Lord Jesus said in today’s passage: your heavenly Father knows what you need. He knows what you need; and day by day he gives you what you need. And so, we want to give thanks to him for that.
And perhaps that’s what you need to hear today. Perhaps, in the midst of this coronavirus crisis, you need to be reminded that God is your heavenly Father who cares for you and he knows what you need. Whatever it is you need right now, he knows all about it. And you can trust your heavenly Father to take care of you always. He’s done it in the past; and he’ll always do it for you. Perhaps you need to hear that today and to be reminded that your heavenly Father knows what you need.
The Lord Jesus said those words as he preached what has become known as the Sermon on the Mount. And if you have your Bible open in front of you, turn briefly to chapter 4 and verses 23 to 25 where it tells us that the Lord Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom. And perhaps you read those words and you wonder to yourself:
What did he say?
When he preached the good news of the kingdom, what did he say? Well, the Sermon on the Mount is a sample of the kind of thing he said when he went through Galilee, teaching and preaching about the kingdom of God.
And, of course, the Lord Jesus was able to teach and preach about the kingdom of God, because he’s the King. We’ve be studying 1 Samuel on Sunday mornings; and we’ve been reading about King Saul and about David who will become the king of God’s people. And I’ve said repeatedly that all those Old Testament kings were to make do until the true King arrived. And the true King is the Lord Jesus Christ, who came into the world to establish his kingdom on the earth; and through the reading and preaching of his word he calls his people into his kingdom, which is a heavenly or spiritual kingdom which will be consummated or completed when he comes again in glory and with power to destroy all his enemies once and for all and to bring his people into the new heavens and earth where we will live with him and where we will reign with him forever and forever. So, his kingdom has already been established; and right now, in this life, we become members of it. We become members of it by turning from our sins in repentance and by trusting in Christ the King for salvation. That’s how we enter his kingdom; and right now he’s extending his kingdom through the earth. And his kingdom will consummated and will become more glorious when he comes again in glory and with power to gather his people into the new heavens and earth.
So, his kingdom is both present and future. And the present and future of the kingdom is alluded to in the opening part of the Sermon on the Mount in what is known as the Beatitudes. Christ the King is addressing his people, the citizens of his kingdom. And he begins by pronouncing these blessings on his people, who are described as being poor in spirit and those who mourn and those who are meek and those who hunger and thirst after righteousness and so on. These are his people. And he pronounces these blessings on them. And some of the blessings are for the future. So, they will be comforted and they will inherit the earth and they will be filled and so on. They will receive these blessings from God in the future when the Lord Jesus Christ comes again. But then, the first and the last beatitude refer to something in the present: blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is — right now — the kingdom of heaven. And blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is — right now — the kingdom of heaven. Most of the blessings lie in the future and we must wait for them. But we don’t have to wait to possess the kingdom, because God’s people belong to the kingdom already in this life. As we read elsewhere in the New Testament, in this life, we’re raised with Christ to the heavenly realms. In this life, we become citizens of heaven above. In this life, we become members of Christ’s heavenly kingdom. And from his throne in heaven, Jesus Christ our King sends us his Spirit to enable us to live the heavenly life now. He enables us to live a life on earth which reflects the glory of his heavenly kingdom.
And what does that life look like? Well, that’s what the Sermon on the Mount is about. The Lord Jesus is describing for us how we live the heavenly life now. For instance, in heaven, there is no murder or adultery or any lies, but there is only perfect love. And so, that how we’re to live here and now; and the Lord Jesus gives us his Spirit to help us to live a life of love.
Now, we don’t have time to go through the whole of the Sermon on the Mount, so let’s jump forward to today’s passage, which begins at verse 19 of chapter 6. And today’s passage can be divided into two parts: verses 19 to 24 and verses 25 to 34.
Verses 19 to 24
I want to deal with verses 19 to 24 briefly. The Lord Jesus refers to two treasures: on earth and in heaven. And he refers to two eyes: good and bad. And he refers to two masters: God and Money. And all three of these pairs are to do with generosity. And the point is that God’s people, the citizens of Christ’s heavenly kingdom, should be generous. No one will be greedy or selfish in heaven; and so, we shouldn’t be greedy or selfish here on earth, but willing to share what we have with others.
So, the person who is greedy thinks only of storing up wealth for himself or herself here on earth, whereas the citizens of Christ’s heavenly kingdom should be generous. And their generosity here on earth will result in treasures in heaven. Now, perhaps you’re scratching your head and you’re wondering where it says in the text that we should be generous. But listen to what we read in Proverbs 19:
He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord;
and he will reward him for what he has done.
And then in the gospels, the Lord Jesus said to the rich young ruler that he would receive treasures in heaven if he gave away his wealth to the poor. And so, according to the book of Proverbs, and according to the words of the Lord Jesus, his people — the members of his kingdom — who are generous in this life and who share what they have with the poor can expect a reward from the Lord in the life to come. It’s not a reward we deserve or can earn, but it’s one that Christ our King gives to his people, because he himself is generous.
Having a good eye conveys the idea of looking at someone with kindness and generosity, whereas having a bad eye means turning a blind eye to the needs of others.
And the greedy person loves Money and is enslaved by it and is controlled by it, because the greedy person is continually thinking about how to get more of it. But the citizens of Christ’s heavenly kingdom love God more than all other things and they want to do his will here on earth, which means using their money for the good of others and for the glory of God.
And so, think of those early believers we read about in the book of Acts who shared what they had with one another. We’re told there were no needy persons among them, not because they were all rich, but because those who had much shared with those who had little. Some of them were able to sell some of their property and give the proceeds to those who were in need. And the early church provided food each day to needy widows. Christ our King commands his people, the citizens of his heavenly kingdom, to be generous towards one another. And he gives us his Spirit to enable us to do so. The Spirit reminds us of God’s will and teaches us to be generous with what we have. And that’s what Christ the King is saying to you today: Be generous with what you have. Here you are in church on this Thanksgiving Sunday to give thanks to the Lord for what he has given to you and for all the ways he provides for you. And he has been good to you. And he now wants you to do good to others and to be kind and generous. No one will be greedy or selfish in heaven; and the citizens of Christ’s heavenly kingdom here on earth should be generous too.
Verses 25 to 34
And that takes us to the second part of today’s passage, because one thing that is sure to keep us from being generous is worry. If we’re worried about our own daily necessities, then we’ll hold on to what we have instead of sharing it with others. And so, in verses 25 to 34 Christ our King commands us three times not to worry. Verse 25:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry….
So do not worry….
Therefore do not worry….
And, of course, here’s the thing, if Christ our King commands us not to worry, then we need to understand that worry is a sin. When we worry, we’re sinning against the Lord. And so, we must confess it; and we must ask for his forgiveness every time we do worry; and we must pray for the help of his Spirit not to worry.
And you see, there’s no reason to worry, is there? That’s what the Lord is teaching us here. Verse 25 again:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.
Why shouldn’t we worry about these things? Well, what does the Lord say? He says we shouldn’t worry because isn’t life more important than food and isn’t the body more important than clothes? In other words, there’s more to life than what we eat and drink. There are more important things than these to think about. Furthermore, look at the way your heavenly Father takes care of the birds of the air. God supplies them with what they need; he provides for them day by day. And if your heavenly Father is prepared to look after them, then you can count on him to look after you, because you’re much more valuable to him that any bird. And then, there’s no point worrying, because worrying does’t accomplish anything and you’re not able to extend your life by worrying. In fact, the experts tell us that worrying will only shorten our life. So, since it doesn’t accomplish anything, why worry? And the Lord Jesus goes on to refer to the flowers in the field. Think about how God takes care of them and he makes sure that they’re beautiful, even though they do not last very long. And so, if he takes care of the flowers, which are here today and gone tomorrow, you can count on your heavenly Father to take care of you, because you’re worth more to him than any flower.
So that’s in verses 25 to 30. Then in verse 31, Christ our King says to us again:
Do not worry about what to eat or drink or wear.
Why not? Because the pagans — those who don’t believe; those who don’t belong to Christ’s heavenly kingdom — they run after these things. They’re always anxious about these things, whereas God’s people, the citizens of Christ’s heavenly kingdom, know that God is our loving heavenly Father. And our loving heavenly Father knows all about us and he knows what we need. He knows what you need. And day by day, he provides for us, because every good thing we enjoy here on earth has come to us from him. He’s the one who causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall so that the crops grow. And he’s the one who sends the farmer out into the fields to look after the crops. And he’s the one who provides us with the means to buy what we need. And even when he sends trouble into our lives, we know that he’s still our loving heavenly Father and he’s able to use this trouble for our good and for his glory and that nothing will ever separate us from his love, because our heavenly Father’s love is from everlasting to everlasting.
And then in verse 35, Christ our King says to us again:
Do not worry about tomorrow.
Why not? Because tomorrow will worry about itself and each day has enough trouble of its own. In other words, don’t worry about what might happen tomorrow, because there are things you need to deal with today. And, of course, by these words the Lord Jesus is acknowledging that our life here on earth is a troubled life and every day we will face problems. That’s because, while we’re citizens of Christ’s heavenly kingdom, and while we belong to the new world to come, we still live in this fallen world which is full or sorrow and suffering and trouble and tears and persecution. But in all our troubles, we’re still able to look to our loving heavenly Father for the help and strength we need.
So, do not worry. That is God’s will for you.
Now the Lord doesn’t forbid his people from preparing for the future. After all, in 2 Corinthians 12 and 1 Timothy 5 the Apostle Paul writes about believers saving up for and providing for members of their family. And so, we’re to give thought to the future and we’re to make provision for the future.
And, of course, the Lord did not say these things to encourage idleness. The Bible forbids laziness.
But when Christ our King tells us not to worry he means we’re not to be anxious or afraid, especially when it prevents us from being generous with what we have.
And instead of worrying about what to eat or drink or wear, instead of giving all our attention to these things, you should seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. In other words, you should seek each day to obey Christ the King and to do what is right in his sight, loving and serving the people around you. Make that your aim in life. Make that your goal each day, because, if you’re a believer, you have been raised with Christ to the heavenly realms; and you have become a citizen of heaven above, a citizen of Christ’s heavenly kingdom. And since that is true, then your life here on earth should reflect the glory of heaven above where Christ your King is now seated and from where he will one day come. And he gives you his Spirit, sent from heaven, to renew you inwardly so that more and more you’re able to do God’s will and to obey Christ your King.
And his will for you is that you should not worry. Don’t worry about what to eat or drink or wear. Don’t be anxious about those things. Don’t stay up at night, worrying about them. And today we can also say: Don’t worry about the coronavirus crisis. Again, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care and comply with all the regulations and restrictions which the government imposes on us for our good. However, while you should take precautions and while you should comply with all restrictions, you shouldn’t worry, because you can trust in your heavenly Father who knows all about your circumstances and who knows what you need. And he’s taken care of you in the past; and you can trust in him to take care of you in the future. So, do not worry. And give thanks to your Heavenly Father who helps us every day while we wait for Christ our King to come again.