In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus continues His sermon (known to readers today as “The Sermon on the Mount”) by commenting on the potential of anxiety and worry that the believer could very well face once he/she stepped out in a life that clearly served God alone, and not wealth and other worldly pursuits (see verse 24). He teaches that the believer should not live a life of worry and anxiety over needs—wondering if his/her heavenly Father will care about meeting those needs, but instead, confident of God’s fatherly love and concern for His children, the believer can step out in life pursing a life of obeying God’s commands, extending His kingdom, and seeking to demonstrate His righteous ethical standards in all relationships.
In addressing the challenges of living an un-materialistic life in the midst of a pathologically materialistic world, Jesus alludes to three lies that the prevailing materialistic culture will whisper in the ear of a believer:
For sake of clarity, let’s define materialism as the inclination to live life chiefly in the pursuit of the wealth and possessions that one may seek to gain in order to better organize life in a way that brings about the experience and state of living that one assumes will bring happiness and satisfaction. It’s basically a life of living for oneself, to get, gain, spend, and save only for the purpose of serving one’s one, here-and-now goals…
1. Materialism’s First Lie: “There is nothing more to life than what you see in front of you, right now.” 25
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Jesus counters this first lie of materialism with the simple, rhetorical question, “Isn’t it obvious that your life itself is of more value than the things (in this instance, food, drink, and clothing) that are required to sustain that life? He points out the obvious—a car is of more value than the gasoline required to run that car, although gasoline is certainly required—it is not of greater value. Therefore, Christ’s followers should invest or sustain worry over the basic needs of life as if those needed things were in and of themselves more important than life itself. His answer to materialism’s first lie: “Wrong! There is MUCH more to life than what a person eats, drinks, and wears!”
2. Materialism’s Second Lie: “There is no one out there who gives a rip about what happens to you.” 26-30
This lie suggests that we really are all alone—and that the surrounding world of order and intricate function that we observe in nature has nothing to teach us, or demonstrate to us of a Creator who tends to what He has created with meticulous consistency and care.
Jesus reply to this lie is to point to the birds that were doubtlessly flying overhead as He preached on the hills of Galilee that day:
26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
The point? If God the Creator feeds the birds, you need not be anxious that God your Father will feed you. Then, the Lord directs His listeners to consider the wildflowers growing on the hillside around them:
28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
The point? If God the Creator is able to consistently “clothe” the hills in such matchless beauty, God your Father is certainly able to care for the needs of His own children!
3. The Third Lie of Materialism: In this world, it’s each man for himself!” 31-32
It’s logical, but tragic and unnecessary. If there is nothing else to life but what we see in front of our noses, and no divine Person who gives a hoot over what happens to you and I, then it really does end up being a battle of the species, a survival of the fittest, and, to repeat part of a well-worn phrase, “Each man to himself!!”
31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But there is an alternative to such an existence that mirrors the law of the jungle. Some have gained a “heavenly Father” who knows of their needs, and therefore negates the need to continuously seek after and worry about gaining them!
APPLICATION: How can we actively resist whispered lies of materialism in our day-to-day lives? 33-34
1. We resist the lie of materialism by living the life of faith. 33
33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Kingdom = rule, reign = obedience, witnessing, etc.
Righteousness = an ethical dimension to our faith = relating to God and others in a way that is pleasing and honoring to God and to others.
Such a life of faith calls for decisions to live according to the rules of another Kingdom, and to treat others according to the ethical standards of love and grace demonstrated to us by the King of that kingdom!
2. We resist materialism by refusing to live life according to the demands of tomorrow’s fears. 34
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
What does it look like for a person to live life today according to the fears that threaten concerning tomorrow? For starters, let’s evaluate the choices we make that are based in an expectation, concern, (or fear) of what might come to pass tomorrow. There such a thing as realistically, responsibly saving and preparing for what will most likely come tomorrow (such as the need for housing, food, employment, transportation, education, etc.), and compromising the obedience, joyful, generous choice of life that we should make today, because of the wonderful gift that today actually is from God!
I’m sorry these notes are a bit thin and sketchy! If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to write! Blessings, Pastor Ken