Your Heavenly Father Knows What You Need
Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity
September 9, 2018
You know what’s best for you. You know what you need. Especially when you have a family, you need to take care of them. Your little children, your elderly parents. You have responsibility to provide for those entrusted to you. You need to make sure you have enough in order to live. You need food and clothing. You need the basic necessities of life, otherwise, where will you end up?
It’s plain that some people don’t even have these basic needs met. We see them on street corners, they’re gathered in tents in areas of downtown. Sometimes they stop by the church asking for food or money. When you lose your job or you don’t earn enough to make a living you worry about tomorrow. You worry about your children. You worry if you will make it another day.
You most certainly know what you need and what is best for you. People will tell you to trust God. But does that pay the bills? People will tell you that you need to change your habits. But if the cost of living goes up and unexpected expenses pop up, is cutting out some things here and there really going to get you by?
People will give you advice. They’ll tell you to have more faith. They’ll encourage you to take a course in money management. They’ll criticize your spending habits. All the while, you are worrying and anxious. You know what you need. Regardless of spiritual advice or criticism, you do need food and clothing. You need the basic necessities of life.
Your Lord gives you perspective on those things. Do not worry. Do not be anxious. Do not get caught up in the things of this life, the very things you need to survive.
You know what living things are provided for by the Heavenly Father? The birds. The flowers. Birds don’t worry. They live. They do what comes naturally for them and their basic needs are given to them by God. The flowers simply grow. They are arrayed in splendor that exceeds King Solomon in all his glory. The flowers don’t give thought to what they need but they have what they need.
The birds and the flowers, however, will not live forever. They live for a short time and then are gone. But while they live they are provided for by God. Jesus says, how much more valuable are you than the birds and the flowers? If God takes care of them and they don’t worry or labor for their needs, how much more will He provide for you?
So He says, do not worry about what you will eat or drink or how you will be clothed. Then listen to this, the people who seek after these things are the ones who don’t believe in the Triune God. Have you ever heard someone say, “This is all there is to existence, you live, you die, and then you cease to exist”? How many people have you known who are constantly working toward bigger and better things, even though they already have what they need? It’s not hard to notice all the people in our society who devote themselves to the things of this world. Even those who have so little that they are barely surviving, what is their preoccupation but the basic things they need to survive?
Worrying about the things you need is the occupation of unbelievers. It is not even the remotest thought of the children of their Heavenly Father. So Jesus says, “Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things.” Here is the contrast. You know what you need and you focus on that. Jesus is telling you not to do that. Your Father in heaven will do that for you, He knows what you need.
And the thing is, He knows better than you do. You think you know what you need. You think you know what’s best for you. But you don’t. Your Father does. If you are preoccupied with the things you need you are living as an unbeliever. You are not living as a child of God, of your Heavenly Father who loves you and takes care of you. If He so provides for the birds and so clothes the flowers, how much more will He provide for you in all your needs?
Jesus says then, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” You know what’s best for you? Then why are you not seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? You know what you need? Then why are you worrying about what you need instead of seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? You know the answer. Or at least you ought to believe the answer. You trust in your sinful nature that you don’t have fully what you need. You believe as the world does that more is better. You listen to the lies of the devil that God does not fully provide for you.
Jesus is calling you to repentance, there’s no question about that. You cannot serve two masters. Either your Father in heaven is your master or the things of this world is. You must serve God alone. And that is in all things, even the basic things you need to live on.
But He doesn’t wish to condemn you just get you to trust more. He wants you to know above all else that your Father knows what you need and will provide for what you need. This is no matter what. It is in all things and it is in all circumstances. You might wonder how this can be if you in fact do become homeless. Or if you are in fact barely scraping by. If you’re caught unprepared for a tragedy that hits, or medical expenses that overwhelm you, or any number of trials that overcome you. If you are so struggling, is it really true that your Father who loves you more than anything and knows what you need does actually provide for you in what you need?
The answer is yes. But it’s yes in a way you might not like. That is, that your sinful nature might not like. But your new self, the new creation you have been made into by the Holy Sprit in your Baptism, will rest in contentment with all that God provides for you. When you see that you don’t have enough, in your new self you will see that all your Father has given you so far outweighs anything you don’t have that you will entrust all that you don’t have to Him.
You will see something that you are not able to see through the eyes of your sinful flesh: that your brothers and sisters in Christ are here to help you in your needs. The apostle Paul in the Epistle reading speaks of one of the ways your Father provides for you when he says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” You will not always be able to provide for everything you need, but your brothers and sisters ought to be fulfilling the law of Christ and bearing your burdens. When you see the blessing of this from your Father you will see the blessing also that even though you have needs and burdens that you are there for your brothers and sisters in Christ to bear their burdens.
And just because Jesus says your Father gives you what you need doesn’t mean that you won’t face trials and be in need. Scripture has plenty of exhortation to the children of God to pray to Him. The words we prayed in the Introit express the prayer of faith of God’s children:
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious;
turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant.
Do not worry, do not be anxious. Pray to your Heavenly Father in the faith you have been given in Baptism. As Paul says in Romans 8, “If He did not spare His own Son, how will He not also give us everything else?” He has given you His Son, He will give you what you need. He gives you blessings far greater than food and clothing, as He says, “Is not life more than food and clothing?” He gives you His Son often to strengthen you when you face burdens and are in need. Your Lord gives you His body and His blood to strengthen and keep you in body and soul, both now and especially to life everlasting. Amen.