Fill in the blank.

“Whatever is worth doing is worth doing _______.”

Well.

But it was an 18th century British statesman who wrote that, in a letter to his son on the art of becoming a man. And as good citizens of these United States, we should immediately be skeptical of anything an 18th century British statesman says.

So—is it true? “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.” Is that true?

Of course it is.

It’s practical wisdom everybody knows.

You don’t trust the man who sets out to perform a task poorly?

You don’t teach your kids to eat their vegetables poorly, clean their rooms poorly, or brush their teeth poorly.

Because whatever’s worth doing is worth doing well.

Today, Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

He also says, “Do not be anxious” (Matthew 6:25).

And finally, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

Those are worth doing.

And worth doing well.

But do you do them well?

Practical wisdom and theology often overlap—but not always. Here, practical wisdom would have us do all things well, but we can’t. We don’t.

We often serve two masters.

We’re often anxious.

And we seek the kingdom of God second or third, in the off-season, when we get back, or oh-if-I-have-to-I-guess.

God commands these things—that we fear, love, and trust in God above all else. That we be not anxious. And that we seek—first—His kingdom.

We all agree that a thing worth doing is worth doing well, but what does it say about us that we don’t follow through?

Certainly we try, but we’re honest about our efforts.

Jesus says, “You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

We’re honest about our efforts.

Practical wisdom destroys us, and if we listen to it, in terms of salvation, we’ll abandon all hope.

So—what if we said it this way:

Whatever is worth doing is worth doing poorly.

That’s true.

That’s practical wisdom, too.

You don’t trust the man who sets out to perform a task poorly, that’s true.

But when you’re learning, by experience, if you perform a task poorly enough times, you get better at it.

Sometimes, whatever’s worth doing is worth doing poorly over and over again.

Like kids eating vegetables or brushing their teeth.

You should eat your vegetables poorly—rather than not at all.

You should brush your teeth poorly—rather than not at all.

With both of these, of course there is a better way, but sometimes, whatever is worth doing is worth doing poorly.

Doesn’t that make you feel better about the required perfection of God’s Law?

Just try.

Try long enough, and you’ll get there.

But does Jesus allow that interpretation?

That’s not what He says.

He says, “You cannot serve God and…”

It doesn’t matter what comes after the and, you cannot serve God and.

“You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

He doesn’t say, “Do not be anxious on Tuesdays” or “Seek the kingdom of God when convenient, after your chores, if nothing comes up.”

This is what practical wisdom does: it leads you to abandon hope—requiring perfection—that you do all things well—when you can’t and don’t.

Or—practical wisdom teaches you to redefine your way out of trouble. Call a thing what it’s not so you don’t have to worry.

Serving money is what’s happening when a couple is too rich to have kids. All the money from all the income but nothing that matters, nothing that’s real, nothing that lasts.

They’re waiting for their false god to tell them they have enough—and are enough—that it’s okay.

But he never does and never will.

Anxiety, next, takes all forms, but it’s a lack of faith.

Did God not purchase you with His blood?

Did Jesus not take into Himself the due penalty for your sin?

What remains?

For you, a Christian, what end could occur that is not either earthly peace or heavenly glory?

Look at the birds of the air. A bird will fall frozen dead from a bough without having felt sorry for itself.

“Are you [who will be raised to life imperishable] not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

That’s a rhetorical question, but more and more it needs to be explained. You are certainly of more value than a bird or a dog.

And when Jesus says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33), He gives us what it looks like when we don’t.

It’s when we try to add all these things to our life, first, by our own faculties. Not only are our attempts fleeting—not only do we fail—but we forget the kingdom of God.

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Practical wisdom’s great. If anything’s worth doing, it’s worth doing both well and poorly, but that has nothing to do with how a Christian perseveres.

The Christian perseveres by faith in the Lord Jesus.

“You cannot serve God and money,” Jesus says.

With more money, every problem is less of a problem, right?

“Imagine what I could do with…”

One more shift. One more paycheck. One more year. One more long sit in the finance department.

If it’s always one more, with never any contentment, that’s your god, your false god.

Behold, rather, the one, true God who gives you plenty of reasons not to be anxious.

Life is more than food.

God gives both.

The body is more than clothing.

God gives both.

You are more valuable than the birds of the air who neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns and yet are fed by God.

Consider the parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44).

You are the treasure—the “very good” of God’s creation, and our Father in heaven seeks and finds and goes and sells all that He has to purchase you with the blood of Christ.

Consider the parable: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great [price], went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46).

You are the fine pearl, found by God, worth buying back, worth redeeming, worth dying for.

For God, whatever was worth doing was worth doing Himself—and He has.

So don’t be anxious. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Rather, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

To seek, first, the kingdom of God and His righteousness is to believe, first, that God has sought you and found you and made you His own.

That He has purchased you, redeemed you in Christ, won you away from sin, death, and satan.

That you are His. And He is thine.

Forever.

Sometimes, you’ll believe and do this well.

Rejoice. God has not abandoned you but proven by His Son that you’re worth it.

And sometimes, you’ll believe and do this poorly.

Rejoice. God has not abandoned you but proven by His Son that you’re worth it.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Trinity 15, 2021
Matthew 6:24-34
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt