Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Enough is Enough

Matthew 6:31, 32, and 34:  Do not he anxious then, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “With what shall we clothe ourselves?  For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Enough is enough!  That is our theme this evening.  Enough is enough!  This old saying, a proverb really, is usually shouted out in frustration.  Enough is enough!  And then the hero goes on to set things finally to right.

As a saying, it is a tautology – saying that ends where it began, or begins with its own conclusion.  It is something like circular reasoning, except there is no reasoning here, just a declaration.  This is an identity statement, both sides of the equation are identical.  Picture it as math, and the “is” as an equal sign.  It says, “enough equals enough,” logically – and mathematically – identity.

The theme this evening is a truism - a statement so self-evidently correct that there needs to be no debate.  It would seem difficult to imagine building an entire sermon on the theme of a truism, but this is our theme.  It is our theme because it captures the truth of the Fourth Petition.  So this evening I invite you to consider the Fourth petition of the Lord’s prayer with me under the theme, Enough is Enough!  The Fourth petition is “Give us this day our daily bread.”

What does this mean?  God gives daily bread even without our prayer, even to all the wicked; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

This is the single petition in this prayer for worldly, physical blessings.  So it makes sense to ask what we are asking for.  We have six petitions for spiritual gifts and only one for the things in life that we often value and notice most.  So, logically, we would next ask, what do we mean by daily bread?  What is it that this single petition seeks?

Luther answered:
Everything which belongs to the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, cattle, money, possessions, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful rulers, good government, beneficial weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

What belongs to daily bread?  Everything.  Everything in this world which connects to our having or using our daily bread to our advantage and benefit.  What could we exclude?  We need health to earn the money to buy our daily bread.  The nation must be secure to guarantee it to us.  The economy needs to be healthy for employment to exist and provide a decent income.  Crime must be controlled or our daily bread will be taken away by force.

Merely examining the concept of food, we can see that we require so much in order to have just that.  The farmer needs good weather.  He needs strength and health.  The market needs to be functioning, the food-processors working, the stores open.  We need to be able to get to the store, to afford the products, and to be able to safely return home.  All sorts and every kind of worldly blessing is included in the fourth petition.  Not only may we say that enough is enough, but enough, in this case, is everything!

We pray in this petition for everything we need for life in this world.  We haven’t left out a thing.  And we do it all in just one petition.  This petition says “Give me today what I need today – anything I need and everything I need.”  Give me today what today requires.  Enough . . . is enough.  More would be nice.  Riches seem attractive.  Abundance seems desirable.  But enough is enough.  All I need . . . is all I need.  Anything more is extra - however pleasant the thought of it, or the enjoyment of it, may be.

In this brief petition we express and we teach a profound and yet simple trust in God. We say, just give me what I need today.  It is too late for yesterday and if I have tomorrow̓s stuff, I will just have to carry it around or store it somewhere.  Give me what I need today, God, and I will trust you for tomorrow’s stuff tomorrow.

In this petition, we express our confidence in His love.  He demonstrated that love for us in Jesus Christ.  He sent His Son for us.  He gave Him up to death for our sins.  And then God chose us to be His people.  He called us by the gospel with the sweet promise of forgiveness earned by Jesus but completely undeserved by us.  He enlightened us with the gift of the Holy Spirit, with faith, and through Baptism and the preaching of the Word.  He made us holy by forgiveness and keeps us holy through faith by means of the Word proclaimed and the Sacrament of the Altar, and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

His love demonstrated in sending Jesus, His love at work in Him choosing us out of all of humanity, His love experienced in keeping us and blessing us - all these evidences of His love have taught us that we can trust His love.  This is the same thing St. Paul tells us in Romans 8:32; He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

We know that He provides everything, and we here express our trust in His providing.  In effect, we say in this petition, “God, we know you can provide.   We know that you have provided whatever we have.  We are confident that You will continue to provide for us what we need to live in this world.”

We confess, in this petition, that we trust in God’s faithfulness.  He can be trusted.  He will not fail.  Enough is enough!

By praying this petition we place ourselves humbly under the mighty hand of God, just as Scripture instructs us.  We say here, in effect, “Thy will be done, not mine.  You take me and use me as You wish, for Your way is always best.”  We say, “If You don’t see fit to give it to me, Lord, I don’t need it.  If you don’t give it to me, Lord, I am not going to have it.  I don’t even want what You will not give.  Whatever you give me, I will be content . . . for enough is enough.”

If we pray this petition thoughtfully and seriously, we restrict greed and worry in our lives.  Our flesh, of course, wants more and more, bigger and better.  But this petition counsels our soul that today’s stuff is sufficient for today.  Nothing extra is needed.  Greed is fenced in and cut out and we seek only what we need from our God, who we are confident will supply it.

Worry is eradicated because we only need to deal with the present.  We can set all of our anxieties in His hands, casting all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us.  Jesus said, “Do not he anxious for tomorrow .  .  .  each day has enough trouble of its own.” God doesn’t want us to do anything but live today in His presence.  He will take care of tomorrow until it gets here  .  .  .  and then help us through it.  Tomorrow we can deal with tomorrow.  So, in the sense of Christian faith, this petition says to us, “Don̓t worry.  Be happy!”

This petition, short and simple, actually focuses us on the chief thing.  It sets aside the worry and the greed and the fears and the needs by turning them all over to God, and invites us to see the most important thing, our treasure in heaven.  Jesus said, in verse 20 of the same chapter of Matthew in which He teaches us the Lord’s Prayer, But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

This petition reminds us that these things around us are not the real treasures.  If they are, in our mind, then we do not have that most important, one good thing Jesus chided Martha about and praised Mary for finding.  This petition puts everything in perspective.  It says, as the Scriptures say in another place, “If we have food and clothing, let us be content.”

This world is just a way-station.  I’m but a stranger here .  .  heaven is my home.  This world is not permanent.  It is not the end, it is the means, the road.  It is like a hotel, we use it for our main purpose, which is His purpose.  Heaven is our goal.  Heaven is the point of all that we do or have here.  Heaven is the meaning of this, not earth, not life on this earth, not possessions.

So, enough is enough.  We pray, give us this day our daily bread, and teach us to know that it came from You, and give us hearts filled with thanksgiving.

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