“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. 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 which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious 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 arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)
Over the past two days Jesus has instructed His followers to not be tied to material wealth on this earth. Doing so is selfish. We are called upon to be generous. When our hearts are tied to the things of this earth we tend to worry (be anxious).
Jesus never worried about His life on this earth even though He had no home to call His own [Luke 9:58]. He was well taken care of by God, His Father. Life is more than food and clothing. That is, we have more than material needs. We have spiritual needs.
As an example, Jesus points to another of God’s creation – the birds of the air. They are well taken care of by God. They work, to be sure. But they do not worry. They have all they need. And since we, human beings, are of more value than they we can be sure that God will make sure we have food as well.
Critics point to impoverished nations like Ethiopia as proof that God either doesn’t exist or doesn’t keep His promises. But that is not a valid argument. There is enough food on this planet to feed everyone. The problem isn’t the quantity of food. The problem is the distribution of food, which God has tasked to us. The reason people are starving in famines around the world is because those of us with too much food would rather watch a Seinfeld rerun for the 99th time than unselfishly help others. We can eliminate famine if we are willing to change our hearts and stop being so lazy and selfish.
Likewise, the lilies of the field are more beautiful than any royal robe worn by Solomon. There is nothing man-made that is as beautiful as what God has made. And since God has been so generous to these flowers which live but a short time and are then used as fuel (thrown in the oven) we can be certain that God will be generous to us as well.
The point being is that worry accomplishes nothing. It cannot add a single hour to our life. Rather, it demonstrates a lack of faith in God (you of little faith). Therefore, worry is sin.
God does not want His children to worry. Those who don’t belong to God (referred to as the Gentiles in this passage) worry. They worry about global warming. They worry about ISIS. They worry about a stock market collapse, or losing their jobs or any number of worldly things. God does not want His children to live like this.
Our heavenly Father knows [what we] need. He will take care of us. It is not for us to worry about our earthly lives. Just like an earthly parent, God does not want His children to worry. He wants us to know that He can and will take care of us. Having said that, this does not mean that we don’t have responsibilities. We do. The birds still have to gather food. We have to work. Lack of worry does not imply laziness.
Instead of worrying our focus should be on the kingdom of God and righteousness. When we pursue righteousness and a relationship with God we are sending a message to the unbelieving world around us what is important.
We do this by living in the present and not being anxious about tomorrow. Obviously planning for the future is good – God even tells us to do it [Proverbs 6:6-8]. But there is a difference between sensible planning and worry. Every day has its own trouble. There’s no reason to make things worse by worrying about tomorrow.
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