There is a great story that comes out of Greece in the 5th century B.C. During the war between two city-states, a spy was captured and sentenced to death. Before the execution he demanded an audience with the Ruler of that city. When the interview was granted, he stood before the Ruler and pled “O great king, if you do not execute me, but instead allow me to live a mere two years longer, I will teach your favorite horse to sing.”
The king thought about it, and finally decided, “What’s two years? I can always kill him at the end of it.” So he agreed, and the spy was led away.
Several weeks later, while the spy was in the stables playing the harp in front of the king’s horse, two of his friends who smuggled themselves into the city in disguise found him and asked what happened. After telling them the story they said, “You’re crazy! You can’t teach a horse to sing! The king will kill you!”
The spy then said very wisely, “In two years, anything can happen. The king may die; I may die: or, who knows maybe the horse will learn to sing!” And he went on playing the harp.
There is a good moral to this story. How often do we worry about things that may never happen and miss out on enjoying today? In Jesus’ Mountain Message, He warns against worry (Matt 6:25-34). However, his admonition is based on ordering our priorities correctly. When we do, worry is diminished (6:19-24).
When my values are right, I won’t worry about the unimportant things in life. Three common sources of wealth in Palestine were expensive garments, grain, and gold or silver. However, moths can destroy clothes, rats and mice can get into the granary and eat away the grain, and thieves can steal precious treasurers. Jesus is saying we ought to value that which is permanent. Spiritual. Eternal.
When my vision is clear, I won’t worry about the distractions of life. Jesus contrasts a blind person and sighted person. In the metaphor he equates the eye to the heart. As we fix our eyes (heart) on worldly ambition it impacts the whole of our life. The gospel opens our eyes to what’s really important. The “god of this world” tries to distract our vision with jealousy, prejudice and pride.
When my master is God, I won’t worry about who’s in control of my life. There are only two choices. Jehovah God or worldly wealth. These two choices involve whether we will walk by faith or walk by sight? Be poor in spirit or haughty in heart? Fix our affections on heaven or earth? Focus on the eternal or look at the visible? Share with others or hoard for self? Place our citizenship in heaven or on earth?
Values and vision determines who I will serve. When I realize that all things belong to God, that people are more important than things and that wealth is to be a subordinate good, then I can know my values are solid and my vision is clear. When I really believe that, embrace it and live it, then why worry?
Psychologist, Michael Mandtell, says “Don’t sweat the stuff small.” Then he adds “P.S. It’s all small stuff.” That’s why Jesus concludes by saying. “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself” (Matt 6:34). So excuse me while I go back to playing my harp!