Thursday, July 23, 2009

Matthew 6:25 Don’t Worry, Be Happy

People commit frauds in the workplace for a variety of reasons. Some people enjoy the thrill of doing something wrong and not getting caught—beating the system. For some people, they live beyond their means and use fraud to support their lifestyle. However, I read a letter one time by a lady who had been entrusted with the “Flower Fund” at her workplace. Employees would donate money at the beginning of a year and when someone died, was sick, or had a birth/death in the family, the office would send flowers. This lady began to steal to help make ends meet when her husband was hospitalized and subsequently lost his job. She said, in a letter she wrote, that she was so ashamed and intended to pay back what she had taken. She claimed that concern over being able to pay her bills led her to commit the theft. I can imagine how worried she must have felt. I’ve been there. The fact is while we live on this earth we’re going to have to pay bills, buy groceries, and put clothes on our backs and to do that we’re going to have to have money. However, as Christians our priorities should not be to make sure we take care of ourselves first because we know that we have a heavenly Father who takes care of us. Because of that, we should have a different mindset about money than the rest of the world.

First of all, Jesus reminds us why we should have a different perspective than the rest of the world. He says in verse 25 “For this reason, I say to you”. The “reason” He’s talking about is the ideas expressed in the proceeding verses—that we are to serve God as our number one priority. We’re not supposed to try to climb the ladder of success and serve God as His slaves. We can’t do that. We have to choose to not have a dual set of motives but rather our motive for service to God should be singular and pure. As Christians, we should use our possessions to invest in the kingdom of God rather than our own personal kingdom. It is on these previous verses that Jesus bases His next command.

The command is a simple one—“Do not be worried”. It is a present imperative with a negative which indicates that Jesus meant for them to stop doing something that they were already doing. In other words, “Stop worrying”. This divine cease and desist order makes perfect sense given the context. Why would someone have conflicting motives regarding money—trying to serve God and get all the stuff they can get? Well, I would suggest just like the lady I spoke about earlier that they are worried about being able to take care of things. Someone might cut ethical corners if they felt pressure to make sure they had the money to cover the bills. I can remember a time where I was doing payroll for a company as a staff accountant in an accounting practice. My boss probably didn’t pay me as much as she could have but I took the job knowing what she would pay me. I had a wife, a child, stacks of bills and I was in school full time doing a degree in accounting. I had access to the client’s bank account and could have created a ghost employee and sent myself money by direct deposit. I didn’t do it because the Holy Spirit convicted me of how evil that would be and the consequences of it. My point is this; worry over money can lead to making bad choices. Therefore, we should not be worried but must trust in the Lord. In fact, since Jesus commands us not to worry we need to be cognizant of the fact that worry is sin. There are no two ways around it.

Jesus says we should not worry about the things we need to sustain our lives, food and drink, or even the clothing we will wear. He tells us that our life is “more than food” and our body is “more than clothing”. Our life is not just this shell that we live in, feed, and clothe. Our life is eternal and God has promised us a home in heaven with Him forever. In comparison with that, any problems we have here on this earth related to procuring food or clothing is pretty inconsequential. Further, if God is going to take us to heaven because He loved us before the foundation of the world and sent His Son to die for our sins, would He not also take care of us while we are here on this earth?

We have a loving, kind, and gracious heavenly Father who we can trust with our very lives. Because of that, we can serve Him wholeheartedly knowing that we don’t have to look out for our own best interests. He’s already taking care of that and He never slumbers nor sleeps.

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