This past Sunday morning, Dad and I continued in the series “on earth as it is in Heaven” – a study of Matthew 5 to 7. Here are the notes and the bottom line. Remember to read ahead for next Sunday if you can. Hearing Christ’s teachings on Sunday mornings only isn’t anywhere near as meaningful as if they are saturating your heart and mind because you are diving into them all week. Look at the bottom for the Scripture text and question for next week. Meantime, here’s the just from Sunday:
This morning, let’s think through this question:
are you so worried with the stuff of earth and with your own stuff that it consumes you and disables you from living “on earth as it is in heaven?”
Jesus said in Matthew 6:25–34:
25 If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. 26 Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. 27 Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? 28 All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, 29 but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. 30 If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 31 What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. 32 People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. 34 Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Defining worry, Dad suggested “forgetting God.” Powerful thought. He clarified that Jesus’ teachings here are not condemning our hearts having concern relationally and for other people. Relationships and people are the concerns of God’s heart. This is a rebuke of worrying over the stuff of earth. When we do, we forget God, and we are distracted from being able to listen to and respond to Him and live out “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Then, I posed this question:
am I so self-absorbed that I have turned this into a self-help formula focused on “my life looking heavenly” rather than living beyond-self to love others “on earth as it is in heaven?”
I am afraid that, much like the “spiritual performers” that Jesus warned us not to be like earlier in chapter 6, we have focused our spiritual energy on self-help and self-adornment. Jesus did not come and die to give us a self-help book. He doesn’t want us to just get better or to be good. And He certainly did not come and die to give us instructions on how to adorn ourselves so that we look like we have it all together. That is a selfish pursuit rooted in selfish ambition. God does not want us to live FOR Him. He wants us to live WITH Him. He wants us to be concerned with what concerns Him, not worried with what we have or don’t have, how people think of us or don’t think of us.
You might say:
but i want to live this out! HOW do i not let the concerns of my heart turn into an all-consuming worry?
All I know is that Jesus taught us to pray with a concern for who God is and what He does, not a concern for who I am and what I do. So, we need to beg God, like someone poor in spirit, to let the concerns of His heart become the concerns of our heart. Then, we will live “on earth as it is in heaven.”
What does that look like? Go back and read Matthew 5. Jesus describes it. Selfless living. Not forgetting God, but relying fully on Him. Not thinking of what is fair or what I deserve or what He owes me. Rather, living our of His perfect love, perfect loving everyone I encounter, whether a friend or an enemy, whether they have something I want or require something of me, whether they ask for little for ask for much. Instead of being concerned about what I get and how others view my life, being concerned about what I give and how I view others.
Simply stated, I cannot live “on earth as it is in heaven” when I am distracted by worrying about the stuff of earth. Therefore, I cannot live as God intended me to live, and I will not know life as He died for me to know it.
HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE:
Worry is the evidence of a self-focused, self-absorbed, self-righteous life.
Lord, I surrender my efforts of being in control and my self-help improvements. They only leave me distracted from Your heart, disabled from your mission, and weary from doing it alone.
I am crying out to You. Please make the concerns of Your heart the concerns of my heart. Please open my eyes to see Your desires rather than my own. Please help me to focus on Your Kingdom right now rather than living like a King right now. Please help me to live out Your righteous purpose rather than being absorbed with my self-righteousness.
May my life be a landscape of “on earth as it is in heaven,” even more so than the flowers of the field and the birds of the air. Less of me. More of You.
33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
FOR NEXT WEEK, be reading Matthew 7:1–5. Consider this:
don’t get this “seek God 1st” stuff down and then start going around pointing out how much you have it down but others don’t. that’s a huge sign that you don’t have it down.