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.
I have to admit that I’m not necessarily an expert on Jewish history, but I have heard of Purim. In Esther 9, we see how that holiday was established.
Even though a letter had gone out with the king’s signature and said that the Jewish people had a full right to defend themselves against anyone who tried to attack them, some people still wanted to follow through with Haman’s original command.
For some reason, there were still people who hated the Jewish people and wanted to see them dead.
After a day of fighting where 75,000 people died, the Jewish people celebrated because they had survived the day that was supposed to annihilate their people.
Est 9:27 The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year;
Est 9:28 And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.
That is how this holiday came to be. They were celebrating the fact that even though humans were planning to destroy them, God was able to put the right people in the right places to arrange for their protection and well-being. If Esther and Mordecai had not been in the position that they had been, it very well could have spelled an end to the Jewish people.
When I think about things like this, it makes me wonder why we worry at all. If God has the power and the knowledge to organize entire nations and make everything work out for them, why do we often times worry that He won’t be able to handle our problems? He is so much greater than any circumstance we might be facing.
I like the way that Joshua operates in chapter 11 of the book named after him. He is told that he needs to conquer all of the other cities in the land. I think that if I was in a similar situation, I would have been a little nervous. However, if Joshua was nervous, we never hear about it.
Jos 11:6 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.
Jos 11:7 So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.
Notice the simplicity. God told him not to be afraid, and he simply wasn’t afraid. In the next verse, he came and went right to work.
I think that this is the attitude that we need to have towards God. If He tells us to do something, we need to do it. No matter how daunting the task may seem, we still need to be willing to do what God tells us to do.
Joshua did that at multiple times throughout his life. However, I think that Jesus is an even better example. After all, He had to face His own death with full knowledge of what it would entail. He knew all of the pain that He would suffer, but He did it because God wanted Him to. I am sure that He was not looking forward to that experience, but He did it nevertheless.
I think that we would all be in a better spot if we had this attitude. Obviously, we do not want to be confident in our own strength, but God has told us that we do not need to be afraid of anything because He is on our side. We can be confident in His strength.
Why then do we need to worry?
I think that it’s sometimes easy to worry. They’re are plenty of reasons for worry after all, and I think that we all are pretty good about finding each and every one of them when we want to.
However, Deuteronomy chapter seven reminds us yet again that worrying is essentially useless.
Deu 7:17 If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them?
Deu 7:18 Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the LORD thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt;
Deu 7:19 The great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the LORD thy God brought thee out: so shall the LORD thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid.
The people of Israel were afraid that they would not be able to claim the Promised Land because there were other people who are already there. Not only that, but the people who were there had at a larger armies than Israel.
Isn’t everyone a little bit afraid when they go into what seems like a losing battle?
The thing is, when the battle is what God wants us to engage in, He’ll also give us the strength to overcome that challenge. That is what Moses is trying to emphasize.
Just for purposes of clarity, I am not just talking about literal battles. There are plenty of different types of battles to fight in life, but I thought that I would throw this disclaimer in here.
I like to think of Jesus in this situation. He essentially took on the entire religious institutions in Israel, but because of strength from God, He was able to persevere and accomplish His God-given mission. At the time, no one would have thought that one man could radically change history, but Jesus did.
When we are in the will of God and are doing what He wants, we will be given the power we need to overcome any obstacles. It might be challenging of course, but with God on our side, there is nothing that we cannot do.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
It is interesting how God controls everything and knows what will happen all the time. In Numbers chapter 21, God makes a promise to Moses and the rest of the Israelites.
Num 21:33 And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he, and all his people, to the battle at Edrei.
Num 21:34 And the LORD said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon.
Num 21:35 So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land.
Apparently, Moses with a little bit nervous about this particular battle because God began the conversation by telling him not to worry.
Then, God told him who was really in charge. God had literally delivered the king of Bashan into the hand of Israel. He knew that this battle was over before it happened.
Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising whatsoever because we know that God is omniscient and lives outside of time, but it is good to remember that trait.
In our lives, the application is not much different. We really do not need to fear anything because we have God by our side.
Psa 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Mat 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
Mat 10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Mat 10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
From these two popular passages, we are reminded that God is always with us as well as the fact that we have value in His eyes. Because we have so much value, He wants to take care of us.
So, remember if you are in a situation where the enemy, whatever it really is, seems pretty intimidating, God will be with you, and He will help you persevere through the difficult time.
He was very concerned about this son that he was supposed to have but hadn’t had yet. Again, he knew that God had promised him a child, but he was wondering how that would happen since his wife, now renamed Sarah, was 90 years old. You don’t hear about many 90 year olds having children.
Gen 17:17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
Gen 17:18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
Gen 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
Gen 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
Gen 17:21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
Even with all the assurances that we have seen through the past few chapters, Abraham was still worried about this issue.
I think that we all run into this quite often. We have all of the various promises that are reported in the Bible, but we still worry about nearly everything far too much.
We don’t need to worry though because Jesus is in control of everything. When He was physically here on earth, His disciples were concerned that He was going to go away from them. They weren’t sure how to react to that news, but here is what Jesus told them.
Joh 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
This verse is still applicable in whatever context any of us find ourselves in. When God promises something, he doesn’t give like the world gives. The world will ultimately let us down at some point, but God never will.
Because of that fact that was established earlier in this verse, we definitely don’t need to worry.
Worrying is a pretty human thing, and I know that everyone has his or her experience with it. However, we don’t need to worry like Abraham did. When we read a promise from God, as hard as it might be sometimes, we need to let go and trust that it will happen just like the Bible says it will.