Devoted to God

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

Who or what is the master of your life?

What in your life demands greatest devotion? What demands your devoted time, thought, and efforts?

Unfortunately, worry has been my master at many times. I have devoted far too much time and thought to worries. The weight of worry is heavy.

Sermon Matthew 6:24-34

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

Who or what is the master of your life?

What in your life demands greatest devotion? What demands your devoted time, thought, and efforts?

Unfortunately, worry has been my master at many times. I have devoted far too much time and thought to worries. The weight of worry is heavy.

The worries have spanned through all things. I have worried about finding employment. I have worried about whether or not I closed the garage door. I have been worried about how my words are received. I have worried whether or not we’d have enough money for emergencies. I have worried about getting the house clean as the boys reorganize every square inch as they play. Worries are plentiful, but worrying doesn’t do a thing to change the actual circumstances.

“No one can serve two masters.” Worry easily becomes a master. It is a terrible master.

Those of you who struggle with anxiety or worries know how much time and thought is taken by it. I also want to encourage all who take steps to control anxiety with exercise, medication, and prayer to continue to do so. You are taking wonderful steps to combat the master of worry. These words from the book of Matthew are not meant to bring us any shame in worry, they are meant to bring hope and direction toward the good master.

The weight of worry can fill our hearts; this includes the worry of wealth. “You cannot serve God and wealth.” Wealth is certainly excessive money, but is really the excessive acquiring of any resource. These excessive resources become our system of trust to see us through any unknown time of need. It is worry directed into physical resources.

All of these worries fill our hearts and don’t leave room for what truly belongs at the core of our devotion of time, energy, and thought.

We need this weight and worry removed from us to be freed to be devoted to God.

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

Which master does our devotion belong to?

We are called to be devoted to God, striving for God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness.

Here’s some bad news, when we talk about ‘serving’ a master in these verses it could be well-translated from the original Greek to say we can only ‘be a slave to’ one master.

I know none of us want to be a slave to anything, but we are. We confess this each Sunday in our liturgy. “We confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.” We are slaves to sin. So many things command our attention and devotion that are not God.

How do we escape these other masters that command our attention and devotion? How do we exit slavery? We can’t. God breaks those chains and calls us beloved children.

God’s rescues us fully from our slavery to all other things. As beloved children of God, we have already been named and claimed by the one who created us and loves us. God has redeemed us on the cross, in defeat of the sinful masters that rule over us, saying ‘You never had ownership in the first place.’ We are claimed by our good master who formed us in the very image of God.

As beloved children of God, we still face struggles on this earth. In our last several weeks looking at what it means to be a beloved child of God, we first heard that God loves us so we can love others. We heard that as beloved children of God, God enters and defeats evil and temptation on our behalf. Last week we heard that as beloved children of God, we are blessed in the very unexpected things so we can be a blessing to others. This week, we hear that we are beloved children of God and have God as our master who provides for us and continuously reclaims us from the other masters of this world as God’s own beloved children.

Our God is devoted to us. We are freed as servants and beloved children of God to serve the one good master who provides for us and calls us to serve.

This calls us to serving in a way that does not look to self-security first and worry for tomorrow, but rather looks first to God’s kingdom and righteousness.

We are called in our freedom to be devoted to God and God’s ways. What does that look like?

Jesus points to the birds of the air. Some animals store up food, but most birds don’t. That is the type of removal from reliance on wealth and worry Jesus challenges us to think of. That is really a tough thought. Most of us know where the next meal is coming from. Many of us have plans for what might be done if we need a new roof, have car repairs, encounter medical emergencies, or have a loss of work. Those are good things and are a wise use of resources, but they should not become gods or masters in themselves.

The closest I have come to living like the birds of the air was living happily paycheck to paycheck.  I never wondered if I would eat, but did have to crunch the numbers on what could and could not be purchased at the grocery store. Friends would ask me how I lived unstressed by a checking account with $7 in it until the next paycheck. It really was quite simple. That wasn’t what I put my trust in. Money was used wisely and gradually put aside as well, but it remained a tool and nothing more.

It easily could have been quite different. I know that is not the usual paycheck to paycheck experience. What if there were medical bills? What if I needed to replace my vehicle? This has, in fact, been greatly challenged in my time as a parent. Medical bills have wiped out our savings before. Others are relying on me now. I have more physical resources than I did then, but that hasn’t helped my mentality at all. I am challenged in this new stage to continue to provide while I look to God for security and provision. How do I release worry about these physical needs?

The needs we have are real. The worry doesn’t have to be.

The Lord knows everything my family needs. The Lord knows everything your family needs. In the midst of our struggles and even our times of hunger, the Lord is devoted to us and does provide.

The Lord provides for us and calls us to trust and use what we have been given in our devotion to serving God alone.

There is a story of the Methodist pastor and founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth. He felt called to serve those in society that were regularly passed over. He served addicts, prostitutes, and the poor. He lost his vision for a time and then had it recovered a bit before he lost his vision again. His son came to him to share the diagnosis from the doctor that his vision would not return this time. William responded, “God must know best. I have done what I could for God and the people with my eyes. Now I shall do what I can for God and the people without my eyes.”

That is how we are called to use what we have. We still have more to offer as devoted servants of God because our God remains devoted to us even when we might not feel that way. I cannot tell you the number of home-bound people I have been with who have wondered aloud about what they have left to offer to God at their later stage in life. Many of them are serving, sharing, and teaching the faith in every conversation they have. In their devotion, they point to a God who is devoted to us. That’s what it is really about.

God, our master, has already provided for us and will continue to provide for us what we truly need. Our master gives us salvation that we cannot attain and sends us out in freedom to keep serving, not for ourselves, but for all of God’s beloved children that surround us. Go out and devotedly serve the Lord in freedom, for our master is devoted to us as beloved children. Thanks be to God. Amen

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