Don’t Worry About It!
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)
When Jesus was here on earth, He showed us clearly how this whole concept of God providing for our daily needs is supposed to work. First of all, He modeled the prayer that asked every day for our daily bread. This is most likely a reference to the manna that God provided for His people while they were in the desert on the way to the Promised Land. The people were moving the whole time, and had no opportunity to cultivate grain to eat. So God gave them a daily miracle. Every morning when they woke up, there was manna covering the ground all around – all they had to do was to pick it up and prepare it. Each person was able to gather exactly the correct amount for him and his family. The trick was, manna didn’t keep. If you tried to save some until the next day, it would rot and stink and worms would be crawling all over it by morning. (Except for the Sabbath. God provided twice as much on Friday morning, and it miraculously kept just fine for Saturday morning so that the people didn’t have to go out manna gathering on the day of their Sabbath rest.)
I imagine that some people found this really inconvenient – they would rather have had God provide enough for a whole week at a time so that they didn’t have to rely on God every day. But God wanted them to develop the habit of relying on Him each day to provide for that day, only one day at a time. Jesus, in the prayer that He taught us, clearly shows that He looked to the Father to provide for Him each day. Just for today, and tomorrow He asked for what He needed for tomorrow. No stashing away in case God dropped the ball, but simple trust that God would provide tomorrow, just as He provided today.
Secondly, Jesus’ entire life was focused fully on God, constantly and consistently seeking to do the full will of the Father with every thought, word, and deed (Matthew 26:39; John 5:19, 8:28, 17:4); obeying Him instantly and completely every moment of every day. And, as a result, Jesus never lacked a single necessity. In fact, it seems that the only time that He went hungry was when the Father specifically directed Him to fast (for 40 days!). He said that He had no place to call His own, but He never lacked a place to sleep.
Throughout His life on earth, Jesus demonstrated both the honest trust in God to provide, and the seeking first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness (characterized by complete obedience to all of God’s commands). So when He talked about God’s ability to meet our every need for food, and drink, and clothing, He wasn’t just spouting religious theory, but tried and true reality.
So what about us? When we have a need that we don’t see being met in our own lives, do we first examine ourselves to make sure that our top priority is wholehearted seeking after the realization of God’s kingdom and His righteousness? Are we willing to look at ourselves objectively enough to actually see whether that is our number one focus, or if it has slipped down to somewhere in the top ten or twenty?
And when we have someone else approach us with a physical need, like food or clothing, how do we approach that? Do we just help them with their need and wish them well? Or do we ALSO passionately and powerfully teach them from our own life experience that the secret to a life of freedom from want is to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, making the pursuit of those realities in our own lives our number 1 pursuit? And then do we help them to assimilate this truth and come alongside of them to help them begin to live it out in their own lives?
I see these basic rule of the kingdom, seeking God today for TODAY’s necessities, and making God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, missing in the lives of the vast majority of people today who go by the name of Christian. When we plan our days, diligently seeking and fully doing the will of God falls far down our list of considerations, if it is there at all. Asking God how HE wants us to spend our day, whether a workday or a day off, is never seriously considered. Instead, we make our plans and, if God is consulted at all, it is to ask Him to keep us safe or to help us be successful while we are off doing our own thing.
To the vast majority of people, even Christians, the idea of being so thoroughly devoted to God’s will seems outrageous and bizarre – something that might be fine for monks or religious hermits or something, but something that is totally impractical for real people with real bills to pay and real jobs to go to. I think that we might even be a little bit nervous about what God might ask us to do if we were to begin our day by reporting for duty and asking Him how He would like us to spend our day. Would He tell us to skip work and cause us to lose our job? Would He send us someplace that we would find intimidating, or ask us to talk to someone about Jesus? It all seems so risky, so dangerous.
And so we replace seeking God’s kingdom with wistful agreement that it would be nice of God’s kingdom really was a reality in our world. And we replace passionately asking for God’s Holy Spirit to make us pure and holy by totally changing our hearts, or minds, and our very wills with trying to not sin as much. And then, when find that we are lacking some necessary thing, we beg God to meet our need “in accordance with His promise.”
God really does want to meet our every need, just as He did for Jesus and for His disciples (cf., Luke 22:35). But in order for us to even be qualified to receive that help, we have to fully meet the requirements: seeking FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. That means that those things must become our absolute top priority – above family, above jobs, above hobbies and entertainment, above anything. Only then will He provide “all these things” for us.
If we count the cost and decide that it is unreasonable, or just plain too high, or too risky, or too anything else, we will probably end up lacking a lot of things in our lives. But it won’t be God’s fault.