Lectionary Reflection: Matthew 6: 24-34: Don’t Miss the Roses

You have to stop to smell the roses.  Sound simplistic?  It is, but I believe it is something in the ballpark of what God had in mind here.

This is not a rant against money, as I have so often heard.  It is also not a suggestion that we should go around hungry and naked expecting God to clothe and feed us.  Some mistaken people call that faith.  It is also not a condemnation against worry – nor exactly an encouragement to trust God in the process rather than worry.  Instead, this whole passage is in fact best summed up with this question:  What do you value? 

I know a man, an ordinary working stiff, a dairy manager of a local supermarket.  He has a daughter who is in remission from uterine cancer.  He has a son who is on the list to receive a heart transplant.  Not long ago, his son got rushed to the hospital with pneumonia.  He went immediately to be with his son.  When he arrived, the store called him.  They wanted to know if he was going to put in a milk order over the phone.  He hung up on them, good for him.

This man showed what he values: his son and daughter.  The store personnel also showed what they value: the business and making money.  Obviously the store people did not value the virtues of sensitivity or compassion.

You know, the people in Jesus’ day were not all that different from people today.  They ran after money.  They had their rich and poor, like the rich man and Lazarus, like the rich young ruler who would not give up his riches to give to the poor, like Zacceaus, the Mister Potter or Scrooge kind of “richest man in town” who had a change of heart and promised to refund whatever he had taken illegally.  There were rich and poor back then, too. 

And the poor were really poor back then, they were seriously poor.  They worried, as some of us are presently worrying under these hardship economic conditions, what shall we eat (when the money runs out) or what shall we wear (to the next interview, and we really need the job) or where shall we sleep (when the bank forecloses and we lose our home)? 

Jesus’ response was not so much don’t worry about such things as it was don’t focus on such things.  Don’t value such things.  Sometimes it is wise to take it day by day or one step at a time.  He was NOT saying don’t plan for the future, don’t save for retirement, don’t set goals.  He was NOT saying any of those things.  He WAS saying they should not be your focus.  Money (and things) should not be your reason for living.  Money and things have no ultimate value.  Focus your heart, mind and soul on God instead.  If you are going to place value in something, value God.

So, how many of us seek after money?  How many would call in that milk order for fear of losing our jobs?  How many of us place value on those things that are transient instead of those things that are eternal?  Understand:  God is not against external things or unwilling to bless in external things, but that is not where he places the emphasis.  God is concerned first with the internal things.  What do you value?  What matters and is important to you?  Is it really God first?

Jesus said seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness and the external things will work out.  He said take care of today’s problem today.  Don’t worry about tomorrow yet.  He said you can’t value both God and money.  He said, get your eyes off the things, get your eyes off the problems and put your eyes on God…and keep them there.

People say you have to stop and smell the roses, but I tell you that you have to keep your eyes on God every day, day by day, or you will never catch the roses in bloom.

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