Matthew 6: To Plan or Not to Plan
Matthew 6 is another teaching passage, and I want to focus on the end of the chapter. This is a rather common passage that I think we comfort ourselves with when things are tough.
Mat 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
Mat 6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Mat 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
This passage immediately makes me uncomfortable. I like to plan. I like to have some idea of what I’m doing. I know that God provides, but I have this seemingly natural urge to want to take care of my own future.
It seems that this passage is advising not to worry about the future whatsoever at face value. However, I’m not positive that that is true.
Earlier in the chapter, Jesus is talking about the birds. They do not prepare their own food. They do not have fields or harvest. In that sense, they do not plan in the way that we do.
Mat 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
I was thinking about the birds, and God does provide them with food. However, they need to use their natural abilities to hunt for that food. God provides a world that is full of potential food, but if the bird just sat in the nest all day, it would starve.
I then think about this passage where Jesus is telling us not to worry, but he did not tell us to go and tear up all of our crops. We certainly use what God has given us. We are called to be stewards. Sometimes taking care of things does mean that we plant responsibly for a future harvest.
Therefore, maybe it is wise to go back even farther in this passage.
Mat 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
We cannot serve God and stuff. This is really what I think it comes down to. I think that is where all of these other ideas flow from. God cares for the birds. They are stewards of their natural abilities, and they do what God designed them to do. God did not design them to starve after all.
I think there is a reason then that Jesus tells us to not worry about the future but does not condemn farming. We are to use the abilities that God has given us just as the birds do. However, we need to remember who we are ultimately serving. I think that is what we are supposed to get from this passage. We are to seek the kingdom of God. We are to follow the way. We take care of what God has given us, but it is not supposed to become our preoccupation. We have something more important to focus on.