Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap; they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, 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, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (New International Version)
Worry is debilitating. It sucks the life out of us. And Jesus doesn’t want us to live that way. So, he makes it clear that we don’t have to.
Jesus cares about your whole life, not just the spiritual part. Your physical, mental, and emotional needs are also important to God. The Lord wants you and I to thrive and flourish in this life – free from worry.
In our anxiety about the future, Jesus guides us to embodying a non-anxious presence as we move from day to day.
Do Not Worry About Your Life
Worry is that sinking feeling you get whenever you face surgery; or your friend is depressed and suicidal; or someone close to you is diagnosed with major mental illness; or you lose a job, a spouse, a reputation, or a million other things that happen to us in this world.
Jesus is not saying that we should never be concerned about the significant situations we face; what he is saying is that when we worry, we are displaying an inability to see beyond my own little world. We are exhibiting feelings about the future of which we know nothing about. And we are letting those feelings hinder us in our ability to serve God, express faith, love others, and function in well-being on a daily basis.
We are to acknowledge those sinking feelings and face them, rather than ignoring them, wishing they would go away, or stuffing them down. Why acknowledge them?
Because Life Is More Than Food and Clothes
Whenever we experience worry about how the necessities of life are going to be met, let’s back up the truck and take a big picture view of what’s going on.
We must remind ourselves that God cares for life itself, all of it. The Lord knows what it takes to live in this world and make it on this earth. If God cares about life, which is so valuable, he will sustain us with what we need to live that life.
Because God Cares for the Birds In Creation
People are the apex of God’s creation. Since God cares for every other creature on this earth, and sustains their lives, the Lord will certainly care for us, as well.
Worry begins to melt away, and replaced by faith, not when we try and work up feelings of trust, but when we take the time to observe creation – watching the birds and seeing how God takes care of them.
Birds don’t worry; they just enjoy God’s providence.
They work hard, but they aren’t farmers who do the work of planting and harvesting crops. Yet, God sustains them for what they need. So then, if God provides for small creatures that don’t even make plans to avoid starvation, how much more will the Lord sustain you!?
Because Worry Accomplishes Nothing
Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do; but doesn’t get you anywhere – it’s not helpful.
Because God Cares for the Flowers and Grass In Creation
God can dress the flowers better than we ever could dress ourselves (which is what your wife has been telling you for years).
Jesus chooses flowers and grass because they clearly illustrate something that is not here for very long, as well as something that is fragile.
The logic is from the lesser to the greater: If God cares for something as fragile and temporary as flowers and grass, how much more will he care for you, Jesus says, “you of little faith.”
Jesus links our worry with a small faith.
Here’s how it happens: We have expectations in life about how things ought to go. If we have expectations based on God’s promises, then, when adverse circumstances come, we will tend toward responding in peace and with trust.
However, if we expect the future to turn out a certain way in order to be happy, then the worry sets in. As the worry seeps into the soul, we begin to take matters into our own hands.
If the situation ends up not turning out how we want, then we start questioning if God is good, or not. We wonder if God really has our best interests at mind – or is even there, at all.
Tethering ourselves to specific outcomes, instead of specific promises, will come around to bite us in the backside every time. We must bank on God taking care of us, no matter the situation, with outcomes of divine design, and not our shortsighted half-baked human plans.
Do Not Worry About It
Because Your Heavenly Father Knows What You Need
Unlike other deities, who are aloof and do not pay attention to people, God always watches us and knows our every need. Fickle deities may or may not come through for people – which keeps their worshipers forever worrying about whether they’ll get their needs met, or not.
To know God is to be a stranger to worry. Just as my girls used to jump from our stairway steps in a leap of faith – because they knew for sure that Dad was going to catch them – so also your heavenly Father is a trustworthy God.
Because the Necessities of Life Will Be Given To You
God’s business is to provide for our necessities; our business is to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. The verb form of “seek” communicates a continuous action, that is, we are to keep on seeking.
We are to continually seek God’s kingdom by:
- Submitting to Christ’s lordship
- Being obedient to kingdom values
- Praying, “your kingdom come”
- Bringing all of life under the gracious authority of Christ
- Dethroning wealth and possessions as our first pursuits, and instead, seeking heavenly treasure as defined by Jesus
- Pursuing social reform, political reform, church reform, private and public institutional reform
We are to continually seek God’s righteousness by:
- Being peacemakers
- Forgiving others
- Showing mercy, instead of judgment
- Pursuing right relations with family members, co-workers, neighbors, and fellow parishioners
- Providing for the needs of others
- Agitating for justice in every sphere of society
- Proclaiming the gospel to all nations
For the believer, there is to be no room for worry because we are busy with kingdom business. Whenever we are diverted from seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness, worry is sure to set in.
May God’s richest blessings rest upon you, as you seek to value what God values, and as you seek the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.