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 Mammon. Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.
A lot of us who say we believe in Jesus Christ and who really think we're living by faith are carrying around in our hearts a symptom of unbelief that we just can't deny.
- We're anxious about tomorrow.
- We've got this fear that any day now something might go wrong that will cause our world to fall apart.
Some of us lie awake nights worried because we said the wrong thing, anxious about our jobs,
troubled about our children,
afraid about that pain we've been having. Some of us jump every time the phone rings for fear we're going to get the tragic news we've been having nightmares about for months.
When some of us come to fellowship and people seem cold we think, "What are they saying about me behind my back?"
We worry about our cars. "What's going to go wrong with it this week?" We worry about our furnaces, our dryers, our T.V.s, and just about anything else we can find an excuse to get upset over.
And all the while we come into the fellowship praising God and exhorting each other to live a day at a time.
We have the problem human beings have had since Adam and Eve were driven from the security of the Garden. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow – and we're afraid.
We can get dizzy thinking about the possibilities for personal trouble like sickness,
an automobile accident,
tragedy in our family,
a ruined reputation.
Or, worldwide trouble like war, depression, famine, pandemics.
And, our temptation is to reach for the same thing men have reached for since Adam's day – to brace ourselves against uncertainty by grabbing hold of mammon: money, and the things that money can buy.
Satan has encouraged in the human race this naive belief that no matter what goes wrong somehow money will take care of it.
- If they slander you and ruin your reputation, get a lawyer and sue for money.
- If you lose your arm in an accident at work, go to court and get a settlement.
If we have enough money, we're safe. Nothing can touch us. Poor people believe that,
rich people believe it – and it's a lie!
Now money has a purpose. Of course we need money to buy groceries and pay rent. Our Lord and His disciples had a bag in which money was kept to pay expenses. They didn't get along without money any more than we do.
Not only that, but it's very important to God how we handle money. The way we handle money shows pretty much where we're at with God – whether we're stingy, careless, dishonest, greedy, etc. But money was never meant to make us secure against the future. The minute we turn to money to be our buffer against the uncertainties of tomorrow, we become slaves of money. Instead of money serving us as it was meant to, we begin serving money and the demonic principle of mammon behind it. We're like a man floundering at sea, reaching out to straws. "If I can get hold of that money, I'm safe!"
Suppose you have money – lots of it. You make that money your security, and you'll still sink. And the richer you are, the more anxieties you're going to have. Money can't give you peace about the future.
Now all this reliance on money for insurance against the future is understandable in the Gentiles. Naturally they're going to trust money. What else do they have?
But men and women who have come to know Jesus Christ as Lord, still hanging on to mammon? Worried and troubled about tomorrow?
- When are we going to learn to trust our Lord for tomorrow?
- When are we going to learn to rest the whole weight of our unknown future on Him?
When you rest the weight of your future on the Lord, you're not sure of your future – but you are sure of Him. Tomorrow may bring some terrible surprises. All the things you ever had nightmares about might indeed happen tomorrow. But, if the Lord is there, you're going to be all right.
- The fact that we have all these anxieties,
- the fact that our hearts are so unsettled so much of the time,
- the fact that our fuses are so short and we're so quick to judge,
- the fact that we don't have God's peace, means we're not really holding on to God as we
Beneath our mouthed words of faith, our hands are still holding on to mammon. Then the minute things go wrong, not just financially, but in any way,
- family problems,
- health problems,
- mental hassles,
- trouble at work,
the cry goes up, "Where is God?"
"Why is He letting this happen to me?"
"Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?"
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 mammon. Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious.......
Do not be anxious about your life.
Do not be anxious about your body.
Do not be anxious about tomorrow.
Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all the things that the Gentiles worry about will be yours as well.
You'll have what you need. Maybe not what you think you need, but what your Heavenly Father knows you need.
And for those of us who have come to know Jesus Christ, seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness involves one thing: keeping our relationship with Jesus Himself clear and alive.
- We lose our vision of the Kingdom,
- we lose our grip on God,
- we start getting anxious,
when we allow our relationship with Jesus Christ to become stale.
There are three things we have to constantly keep in mind as we face those uncertain tomorrows, those crippling fears that Satan has saddled us with:
l. We need to know that Jesus is with us.
Didn't He promise it?
Hasn't He given us evidence of it again and again?
"Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
And Jesus isn't with us to give us goose bumps and spiritual feelings.
- Jesus is with us to take us through these storms and deserts and shadowy valleys.
- Jesus is with us to teach us to keep going through times of fatness and times of leanness.
"For I have learned", says Paul, "in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased and how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
He's all we need. To live is Christ. To die is gain.
If we have the whole world without Jesus Christ, what do we have? And, if we have Jesus, we're rich with a crust of bread and a cup of cold water.
2. We need to know, as we face these uncertainties, that Jesus isn't making any mistakes.
"Through Samaria, Lord? Why don't we walk around it. These Samaritans are hateful and dangerous!"
"To Jerusalem, Lord? After all those threats? You're making a mistake Lord. We should be heading North!"
"The poor and the maimed and the halt and the blind, Lord? Why must it always be the poor and the maimed and the halt and the blind!"
"Lord, this fellowship? You want me to fit into this fellowship? You've got to be kidding!"
"Don't you think I've been in Detroit long enough Lord? I hear they need missionaries in the upper peninsula."
How we worry that our Lord is making a mistake, or that He's out-of-touch with today's world, or that He fails to realize we can only bear so much, or how real our fears are.
Then God answered Job out of the whirlwind,
"Gird up your loins like a man. I will question you, and you declare to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified?"
"I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
"....he who follows me. Not he who stops and doubts at every turn. Not he who goes to pieces every time the wind blows. But he who trusts me enough to believe that I know what I'm doing and keeps following even when nothing makes sense."
3. Finally, we need to know, as we face uncertainties, that if we abide in Jesus Christ and His words abide in us the door of prayer is continuously open.
"If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you."
Instead of sitting around in a state of shock, we remember who we belong to, and we pray.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
Then, instead of anxiety,
"the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
When we start getting hassled with anxieties, the temptation is to not pray.
"I can't pray."
"I'm in no shape to pray."
"What good would prayer do?"
And we put ourselves right out of fellowship with the Son of God.
Instead of this,
- turn toward Him,
- let His words come to life in your memory and heart,
and no matter how stupid, or silly, or ashamed, or depressed you feel, start praying, and the Heavenly Father will refresh you with more than you could ask or think.
There's not one of us reading these words who is without anxieties. In some of us they lurk like a bad mood way in the back of our minds. With some of us they're right up-front – we're troubled half out of our wits.
To all of us Jesus says, "Do not be anxious. Seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness by drawing near to me.
Fix your heart on me.
I am with you,
I won't make any mistakes.
If you abide in me and my words abide in you,
ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you."
May the Lord help us to take the things we've been anxious about and lay them before Him right now....... in prayer.