Matt. 6:25-34, “25 “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? 26 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? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 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? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Worry. Anxiety. We don’t want these emotions, and yet they so often creep into our lives. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of how much the fear of the unknown drives our decisions and emotions until we look back and realize how anxious we were. According to dictionary.com, anxiety is defined as a ‘state of uneasiness and apprehension.’[i] When I consider everything that could go wrong in my life, I can definitely be defined as someone who is uneasy. I jump at shadows, imagine worse case scenarios, and have no joy in the present because of a fear for the ‘what ifs’ in the future.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus devotes a section to remind us we have nothing to be anxious about because our lives are in the hands of our Creator.
In Matthew 6:25 he tells us there is no reason to be anxious about anything; life, food, clothes, body. Why should those concern us? Jesus reminds us that birds do not plant their own food, yet God takes care of them (Matthew 6:26). Is he not also able to provide for us? He then states that worrying does not profit our physical existence (Matthew 6:27). Worry for the future cannot add time to our lives; if anything, it robs us of our ability to glorify God in the here and now.
Jesus then points to another example from nature. Instead of worrying how we will clothe ourselves, we are reminded of the flowers spreading across fields. They do nothing to care for themselves, yet God adorns them with beauty ( Matthew 6:28-30). If God cares so much for those parts of his creation, does he not even more so care for us, who are made in his image? In the next verse, Jesus tells us that God knows what we need ( Matthew 6:32). Our fear and worry is no mystery or a surprise to the Lord, and yet so often we act afraid that our needs won’t be met unless we do such and such to make it happen.
In 2010, I miscarried our first child. My husband was the assistant pastor at our church and I didn’t have a job. Amid all the emotional distress, we had mounting medical bills from the hospital stay and no extra money to take care of them. I worried how we would pay for it all and threw myself into finding a job. I felt like I needed to do something to cover the payment and to keep from dwelling on my loss. About a month later, still with no job but plenty of anxiety, we got a letter from the hospital saying our bill was paid for with hospital financial aid. We owed nothing. While I was grateful beyond words, I was also ashamed of the month I had spent frantically trying to do what I could instead of resting in God and bringing my need before him. We have no need to worry. God knows and he will provide.
This idea of not worrying about tomorrow is repeated several times in Scripture. I Peter 5:7 reminds us, “Casting all our anxieties on him (God) because he cares for you.” Jesus beckons us to come and find rest in him (Matt. 11:28-29). When we are anxious about things that might happen or what may happen, we are unable to rest. Even so, Jesus stands ready to teach us. The Psalmist in Psalm 23 writes, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Ps. 23:1).Because of who God is, he knows what we need, and he will provide it because He truly cares for His people. This is also why have no reason to be fearful because we are not alone for He is with us (Hebrews 13:5).
So if we aren’t supposed to worry, how are we supposed to respond to the ‘what ifs’ of life? If we go back to Matthew 6:33, we see that we are told to seek God and his righteousness. When the focus of our affections are Jesus first, all the issues of life that used to worry and trouble us begin to lose their significance as we see them in light of who God is, and who we are in light of Christ.
Oswald Chambers put it this way, “Get rightly related to God first, maintain that as the great care of your life, and never put the concern of your care on the other things.”[ii] The final verse of chapter six should be framed in every room of my house: “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34) To combat worrying about tomorrow begin to focus on what the Lord has for you today. Worrying about the future will not change a thing, it will only add to our fear and anxiety.
Notice the word, ‘Therefore’ at the beginning of the verse. To spell out this word in another way, “Because of the truth in the previous verses that God provides and that he knows what you need, don’t worry about tomorrow.” What a promise! We have no reason for anxiety to drive us or worry to hinder us for our God not only provides, but He sees, knows, and cares, which is why we can rest in him.
[ii] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Divine Reasonings of Faith, © l935 by Dodd Mead & Co., renewed © 1963 by the Oswald Chambers Publications Assn., Ltd., accessed February 6th, 2019. http://classic.studylight.org/devos/utm/index.cgi?FirstSelectMonth=05&FirstSelectDay=21&half=