362. Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity. I.
Lord, speak to us, and help us to hear thy word. Amen.
Gospel Lesson, Matthew 6, 24-34. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he no: much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Our Lord Jesus speaks thus to us, dear brethren, in order to strengthen our hearts to resist the temptations of covetousness and worldly cares, that whatever our earthly lot and portion, we may be happy and praise God. Covetousness and worldly cares vex, torture, and kill the inner life, if we give them room. God does not want this to be our fate. He cares for us with most tender and mighty love. Therefore he says: “Take no thought” for these things! Alas, why will you worry? Do not borrow trouble! And he repeats the instruction: “Therefore take no thought” for your life, nor yet for your body! With the strongest reasons he demonstrates to us. in the first place, that all our worry is unnecessary; and in the next place, that it also is unprofitable.
We have no cause to feel concern in regard to that which is necessary for the support of this life; for the life itself is the Lord’s, and shall he not. then, sustain it as long as he deems it expedient? Life itself is more than meat; shall he, then, who gave the greater, not give the lesser also? Here we are reminded of that which Paul says: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Then again, shall he who feeds the fowls and clothes the lilies forget us? Do you think that he will care for the least of his creatures, and not for the greatest? for the fowls so far beneath us in the scale, and for the grass which withers in a day or two; but not for us, whom he has created and redeemed to live forever? Shall the fowls and the grass praise him, and we be consumed by the cares of this life? Furthermore, he is our Father; and we are his children; and he has taught us to pray: “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Shall not the heavenly Father care for his children? An earthly father considers what his children need, knows that it is his duty to provide it, and does not forget any of them. Shall not he, of whom all fatherly kindness is, remember all his children, and provide them with all things needful? There is strength and comfort unspeakable in these words: “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” Your Father, your Father in heaven knows what you need, knows it well; knows your wants, and does not forget you; knows that you have such need of all these things that you cannot be without them. If you were heathens, you might with some reason feel anxiety; but you are the own children of the heavenly Father, the sons and daughters of the Father in heaven.
However, if you stubbornly disobey the Lord, and insist on taking thought for these things, what does your worry accomplish? Are you not troubling yourself to no purpose? Do you by this means add one cubit to your stature, or prolong your life? Is your heart enlarged or your life made more rich by your cares? No; but your trouble is increased, and may become so heavy as to crush you entirely. Every day will bring us labor and trials; and it were well for us to learn this truth; — and sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. He who adds to this evil the cares of riches, or the fears of future poverty, will have a load so heavy that it will crush him. He takes a cubit from his stature.
Lord God, heavenly Father, help me to seek first thy kingdom, and thy righteousness. Give me a childlike trust in thee; give me a contented mind; and prosper me in my vocation. Give me neither poverty nor riches; but feed me with food convenient for me. Lord, thou knowest our hearts and our temptations; have pity, and satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Amen.
Thou on the Lord rely,
So safe shalt thou go on;
Fix on his work thy steadfast eye,
So shall thy work be done.
No profit canst thou gain
By self consuming care;
To him commend thy cause; his ear
Attends the softest prayer.
363. Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity. II.
Lord, give by thy word the power of the Spirit. Amen.
Epistle Lesson, Galatians 5, 2, 5-6, 10. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work. and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap For he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
They that ‘‘live in the Spirit” shall “walk in the Spirit.” The life must of necessity come into view, and the fruit of the Spirit appear. The spiritual freedmen are constrained by love to serve one another. “Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all.” All that I have is the Lord’s for the edifying of the church. — Let us give heed to the admonition of the holy apostle to bear one another’s burdens! There is great need of it.
Each of us needs indulgence and the assistance of the brethren to wash his feet. We all admit this; but forget it in real life, when others are overtaken in a fault. Why is this? The reason appears when you note how the apostle speaks of “vainglory” in connection with “envying,” and how in encouraging charity and patience he warns against “thinking one’s self to be something.” He who is desirous of vain glory, and thinks himself to be something, is not like the meek Savior, and can not bear the burdens of others. Such a one flatters himself that he is humble and loving and zealous for the brethren; and does not understand that he is merely looking with complacency on his own picture of himself. He sees the faults of others, and thinks: “That is something which I neither do, nor could do.” And he excludes the erring one from the kingdom of God. What would have been the fate of Peter after his offense in the court of Caiaphas, and afterward in Antioch, had you been his judge? You forget that Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery: “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.” You forget the parable of the mote and the beam. You do not understand what it means to feel the weight of the sins of others, and to remove it; which you can do, not by making atonement, but by making intercession for them. You are able to pronounce others wanting in the godly life, but are unable to live this life yourself. Verily, God has the greatest abhorrence of such spiritual bloodthirstiness; he does not recognize as his children such executioners of other people’s souls. You think yourself to be something, and call yourself spiritual; but you are carnal, and deceive yourself. Do prove your own work; this every man should do, says the apostle; but he does not instruct you to prove the work of others. If you must see their sin, take it upon yourself, as Daniel and Nehemiah took upon themselves the sins of their people; and confess it to the Lord as your own sin. Bear with your weak brother, and endure the suffering of love on account of his sin. Then Jesus endures you and him; the blood of Jesus cleanses you both, and you practice the blessed art which only love understands, that of “hiding a multitude of sins.” Brethren, ponder this epistle lesson, and follow its golden precepts.
Help us, O God, to go the way of humility and charity. Help us to bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Help us. O God, to sow to the Spirit, and of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Amen.
The law of God is good and wise,
And sets his will before our eyes;
Shows us the way of righteousness,
And dooms to death when we transgress.
To those who help in Christ have found
And would in works of love abound,
It shows what deeds are his delight,
And should be done as good and right.