In a previous post we look at four questions that Jesus poses from Matthew 6:19-34. Here I want to identify three practical steps for breaking the vicious circles of greed …
1. Let your heart follow your money (21)
Your heart will follow your money. Where your treasure is there your heart will be also. So use giving to re-train your desires and interests.
Spend money on things and those things will matter to you. Imagine you bought a new mobile phone. It matters to you. ‘Careful with my new phone!’ I remember seeing a beautiful, new car parked on our street and thinking wouldn’t it be lovely to have a car like that. And then I thought, No! I’d only worry all the time about it getting scratched.
So use money to re-train your desires and interests by giving it away. Spend money on mission and other people, and mission and other people will matter to you.
2. Look at the birds and flowers more than adverts (22-30)
Verse 25 is an (implied) argument from the greater to the lesser:
– if God can produce life then he can produce food and drink
– if God can create bodies then he can produce clothes
In effect Jesus is saying: ‘That is why I tell you not to worry about [the] life [your Father has given you] -whether you have enough food and drink, or [the body your Father has given you – whether you have] enough clothes to wear. Isn’t [it harder to produce] life [as your Father has already done] than [to produce] food, and [isn’t it harder to make] your body [as your Father has already done] than [to make] clothing?’
Verses 26-30 are an argument from the lesser to the greater:
– if God feeds the birds then he will look after you (who are more important)
– if God clothes the lilies then he will look after you (who are more important)
We have a heavenly Father who is active the world (caring for birds, clothing flowers). Think of a flower. When God clothes the lilies there is a super-abundance of beauty and creativity. This is disposable art of the highest order! Imagine a sculptor creating something so beautiful only to be thrown away.
3. Live in today (34)
Worry is living in tomorrow.
We worry about what might happen. Jesus tells us to act on what is happening.
So make the needs of today a priority over the possible needs of tomorrow.
I have a friend who lives entirely in the moment. He never thinks of consequences. It has wreaked havoc in his life. He has lost jobs and homes because he did what brought him pleasure in the moment even if it meant skipping work or skipping rent. But I am also aware that a defining characteristic of middle-class people like me is that we plan for the future. We live in tomorrow. As a result we are not free to seek first God’s kingdom. We are not free to be generous with our time or money or work.
What makes it possible to break the vicious cycles of greed is the knowledge that we have a Father in heaven. Verses 31-33:
So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things te the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek his Kingdom above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? (Romans 8:31-32)