First Things First
Reading the Word with Luther
Scripture Text: Matthew 6:25–33
Series: Reading the Word with Luther
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
Matthew 6:25–33, RSV
This is the chief passage in this sermon, and states the manner in which we are to proceed to obtain the divine or eternal gift, and what we need for this life. Would you rightly look to that of which it behooves you to take care, then let this be the first, aye, your only care, that you strive according to God’s Word to do your duty, to serve him in his kingdom as his Word teaches you—for in this consists the righteousness belonging to this kingdom—and to prize his Word more highly than all pertaining to this temporal life.
If you have done this you have done well and provided well, and you need not take any further burdens upon you, nor cherish any cares in your heart; indeed, it should be much too small a thing for you to care for so slight a matter as the wants of your daily bread, and thus to aggrieve yourselves. Rather do this for the honor of God and for your own benefit, that you strive after the great and eternal good; if you attain and keep this, the rest will surely take care of itself. Neither can you obtain it from God in any better way than by first seeking and asking of him great things.
It is to his liking that we ask great things of him, and he is pleased to give them. Since he gladly gives great things, he will not stint the small things, but will throw them into the bargain. God has often caused many pious people, who have helped in building up God’s kingdom, have served the Church and furthered God’s Word, to experience this. God has richly blessed them with goods and honor. This is evidenced not only by the examples of the Scriptures, but also by the history of some of our pious kings and princes, who, having liberally given for the ministry and for schools, have not become poorer, but were more richly blessed of God and have reigned in peace, in victory and good fortune. God would gladly do this still, if the world would happily follow the well-meant advice which is given here, and not with unbelief, greed and unchristian scheming rage against his Word to its own harm and ruin.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 331–32.
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