Serving Two Masters
“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Do Not Worry
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 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? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”– Jesus
This week’s passage was an excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount, which is one of my favorites of Jesus teachings. This specific part of the discourse (verses 24 – 34) is where He paints a vivid illustration about our need to not worry. Keep in mind, the Sermon on the Mount, which begins in chapter 5 is a big deal to those who originally listened to this text. Jesus is announcing a right and new way for His followers to live and dwell with Him. Jesus is explaining what a right way to participate and live in the kingdom life looks like. I believe that if Jesus were preaching this passage today, He would say something like,
“Everyone, chill out!! Lay down your phone for a minute and look around. I take care of everything you’re looking at, and that includes YOU. Get a grip, because I totally have your life under control.”
Over the many times that I have read this passage, I remember Jesus speaking these specific verses to me on January 25, 2018, the day my second daughter, Madisen, was born. Right after Madisen was delivered she began to struggle to breathe and she turned blue. What had started as a routinely scheduled cesarean delivery had transitioned into Madisen being admitted to the NICU. I quickly gave my wife, Joanna, a kiss and hug and then headed to the NICU with Madisen while Joanna was ushered to the recovery room.
This was much different than the experience with our first daughter, Emery. As I followed the NICU staff over to another wing in the hospital, I remember being very confused and fearful of not knowing what was going on around me. In those moments, there were no answers to why Madisen was struggling the way that she was. Today, as I look back on how this story unfolded, I am astounded at how powerful our mind can be when we are in a moment of worry, fear, sadness, or confusion. Without discipline, our mind can overpower us and we begin to believe the worst is upon us. Without discipline, our mind is dangerous.
I believe that Jesus spoke these words to His first-century crowd that day to remind them that it is important to not worry. Most of the biblical scholars believe that Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was an audience made up of some of the most socially disturbed outcasts and misfits of the first century. Most of the original audience was made up of people who were in other words, “barely getting by.” And, Jesus is telling these people to follow and learn from Him in His kingdom, and they no longer have any reasons to be worried.
After Joanna was settled in her room and Madisen was stable, I went over to sit with her in the NICU. I remember everything feeling so strange that day and deep in my heart I wanted to be happy that Madisen was here, but I was also very deeply afraid of what tomorrow looked like. I remember seeing all of the equipment hooked up to her and I remember praying,
“Okay, God. If I can’t trade places with my daughter, can I just crawl under this chair until you fix all of this.”
That moment as I stood at Madisen’s bed, her NICU nurse, Jan, walked in and asked if there’s anything she could do for me, and I asked her if she would just pray. Now, I don’t remember every conversation that we had on Madisen’s birthday, but I do remember Jan’s response to my question,
“Of course! And, I know you’re in shock, but I want you to remember that God is taking great care of Madisen. She is breathing better, and her color is looking better, too. We will do our part as a medical team to continue to take care of her, and your job as Madisen’s dad is to take this one day at a time. Let’s try not to worry about how things will progress tomorrow, but let’s be excited that she is breathing better right now.”
In that moment and at that time on January 25, 2018, I believe that Jesus found a way to speak to me amid the confusion and fear that I was experiencing. Jesus walked right up to me and spoke to me through, Jan. Madisen continued to improve, and Joanna and I are very blessed that she is a very healthy and happy little girl. In the passing days, Jan’s words made more and more sense as I began to settle into the reality that God is at work all around me.
I think Madisen’s birthday will always be a subtle reminder to me of just how little worry does for our physical and mental health. It’s a day-by-day choice that we make to discipline our mind and center ourselves on the teaching of Jesus.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the reminders that you are closer than the air we breathe. You truly are the smartest person in the world and know what is best for our life. Help us to slow down and look around. Help us to lay down the phone and talk to you. Help us to reach out to each other and to have listening ears so that we can receive your words of comfort and care in those moments of fear, confusion, and desperation. Amen.
Written by Matt Clay
Matt and his wife Joanna have two young daughters, Emery and Madisen. The Clay’s have been members of the Sheridan community since 2014.
Matt’s spiritual growth has been influenced by the teaching of the late Dallas Willard, which led Matt to pursue an M.A. in Spiritual Formation from Spring Arbor University.
Matt works full-time in the financial industry and believes that God has called him to be a steward of His grace and presence in the marketplace.