Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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EPIPHANY 6 – February 17, 2019 – Jeremiah 17:5-8 “CYNICISM AND FAITH”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Old Testament Lesson just read, from Jeremiah 17.  We begin with prayer. 

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • Jesus, after He had literally been “mobbed” by a great crowd seeking miraculous healing from Him, turned to His disciples and revealed to them a huge distinction between people. He spoke blessing upon His disciples, but woes upon those who are people of the world.
  • Paul wrestles with the same distinction in the Epistle Lesson when he references some among the Corinthian congregation who were saying “There is no resurrection of the dead,” even denying thereby that Christ has been raised.”
  • This distinction is commonly observed and described in sections of the Old Testament, as it is in our text for this morning. It is the difference between people stuck in “cynicism” and people of faith.”  The Lord notes the distinction, and the consequences.  His warnings are given so that “we fear His wrath” and not go against His will – that we trust in Him and His Word.  His promises are pronounced so that we “love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands.”
  • In that what is warned against seems utterly reasonable and normal to us, it is well for us to hear this Word of God and to contemplate it carefully. Especially since the vast majority of our fellow human beings suffer the same compulsion to cynicism.  We see in our text that:


I.  Cynicism Follows The Common Sense Of This World


A.  It Trusts In Man, Ourselves, Our Intelligence, Our Abilities, And Other People – What We Can See And Figure Out And Do


Text:  “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.  He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness in an uninhabited salt land.”


B.  Cynicism Rejects Jesus’ Description Of The “Blessed,” And Embraces Conditions Of Woe


1.  Cynicism despises those who are poor, those who are hungry now, those who weep, those who are hated and excluded and reviled as evil – because of their relationship of faith and trust in Jesus and God’s Word


2.  Cynicism embraces all the conditions that Jesus pronounces woe upon – being rich, being filled, being full of joy and laughter, being respected because you are in agreement with the false prophets of cynicism


Statement:  Of course, people who trust in man, in cynicism, see their wealth and comfort and happiness as being blessed; this is only because they don’t realize that despising God is actually a “parched” human condition.  It is devoid of humility, godliness, and love toward others.  And of course, we can all easily understand the lure and appeal of this cynicism. 


Application:  So Jesus is also calling to us to confess our sins, to abandon human wisdom and cynicism, and to return to the Lord’s mercy, forgiveness, love, and salvation.  He bids us trust in Him – embracing humility and generosity, knowing His promises that good things are coming to us, including “the kingdom of God.” 


Transition: Though we understand the lure of cynicism and unbelief, we must hear what Jesus pronounces:


II.  Blessed Are Those Who Are Of Faith


A.  They Trust In The Lord


Text:  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.”


B.  The Lord Actually Becomes Their Trust


Text:  “Blessed is the man whose trust is the Lord.”


C.  They Are Blessed With Good Things, And Are At Peace, Even In Drought


Text:  “He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out it roots by the stream, and does fear when heat come, for it leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit”


Statement:  This is what Jesus is saying about being blessed even when we are living in difficulties, shortages, sorrow, and persecution.  When the Lord is our trust, the only real resource we have, we are greatly blessed.  When we follow the cynical and worldly ways of unbelief, we may cling to comforts, riches, and luxuries, but we are poor toward God – and don’t even realize the misery of godlessness. 


Application:  So let us hear the warning, and the promises, and pay heed to them.  Cynicism and unbelief is always appealing and tempting.  Let us beware, lest we also lose the blessings of the kingdom of God. 


Conclusion:  There are many aspects of our life here and now, wherein we may be tempted toward cynicism.  Common sense about life, wealth accumulation, what our earthly ambitions should be, as well as intellectual and political issues and moral issues – such as creation, the truthfulness of God’s Word, the Bible, abortion, homosexuality, heterosexual immorality, the realities and blessedness of the church, the true nature of humanity and human sin, and many other things.  All around us friends and acquaintances and neighbors have succumbed to dark and dismal cynicism.


Our poor colleges and universities are filled with people who have only hope in themselves and in other humans – and who are bereft of joy, peace, genuine goodness and generosity, and the depth of meaning in life that comes from knowing God.  They are in many cases also without hope and optimism for the future.  We must protect ourselves from this, but we must also revel in God’s goodness and find ways to teach and bear witness to others, especially our own children.  We do not want them to be “successful” cynics, saddled with God’s woe.


Thanks be to God that His mercy and forgiveness is the chief thing He urges us to trust in, and take refuge in.  Hence our sins, which are many, are fully forgiven, and we can be freed to the joy of love.  God grant it to each of us, Amen.


Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.