© 2022 Kate Gooch / Harvest City Church
We don’t have to look far before being confronted with things that we should worry about: Our health. Our finances. Our relationships. Our children. Our education or jobs. Our safety and security. Whilst we can often see in hindsight what God was doing and how He worked things together for our good, in the moment, it can be hard to see how things will work out. So many thoughts enter our minds: How will we pay the bill? Will the medical treatment work? Will I pass the exam? Will I get the job? Will a find a spouse? Will I have children? Will my children be okay? Will God keep His promise?
Yet, in Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus very clearly taught the disciples ‘not to worry about everyday life.’
Jesus reminded them of their value
Jesus asked them: ‘Aren’t you far more valuable than [the birds and flowers] are?’ (Matthew 6:26).
He reminded them that God clothes His creation with His glory and beauty. God is into the details, taking care of every bird and flower. How much more does He care for us, His children? Jesus was reminding them of their infinite value and worth to God, but also of how great the Father’s love is. Oh, how valuable you are to God. Oh, how much He loves you.
Crucially, Jesus reminded the disciples that the birds and flowers didn’t plant, harvest, store, work or make things, yet God still provided everything they need and made them beautiful. When we worry about our finances, we can often think that our answer is in a better job, a second job, a promotion, or in working even harder. But if God truly is our provider, it is to Him we turn and it is Him we trust.
Jesus renewed their strength
Jesus asked them: Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? (Matthew 6:27)
When we worry, it’s often about things we can’t control. Our minds become busy, but it distracts us, absorbs our energy and robs us of peace. Yet, worry can neither change the situation nor ‘add a single moment to our lives.’ We don’t gain more control over the situation, nor more ability to determine or see the outcome. As Corrie Ten Boom once said: ‘Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.’
Jesus reorientated their perspective
Jesus asked: Isn’t life more than food and your body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:26)
How easy it is for us to forget that life is made of something far more than we see before us right now, that God’s purpose is far more than simply getting through life, that we were never meant to simply gather wealth, clothes, rich food, and other belongings. We were made for more, yet our culture traps us into thinking that unless we look a certain way, wear certain brands, drive a certain car, have a certain type of house or use a certain type of gadget, we haven’t quite made it.
What separates unbelievers from believers is their perspective. Jesus made a clear distinction between unbelievers who worry about what they will eat, drink and wear, and those were focused on the Kingdom of God. It’s the difference between the temporary and eternal; the selfish and the selfless; the common and the holy; the God-denying and the God-fearing; a lack of faith and faith in God. When we worry endlessly about our physical needs, we show that we are not believers but unbelievers.
Jesus clarified who or what was sovereign in their lives
It is notable that the injunction ‘not to worry’ begins with the sentence ‘That is why I tell you’ and comes immediately after Jesus told the disciples that they could not serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). They could either serve God or money, but not both. Why was worry linked to sovereignty? If God truly was their master, they wouldn’t need to worry about money and other physical needs because they would trust that God truly is their Jehovah-Jireh (‘God will provide’), that He truly has all things in His control, and that He truly is the miracle working, way-making God who can do the impossible. Jesus wanted to save His disciples from worrying about things that, when viewed through eternity, truly didn’t or wouldn’t matter.
Jesus questioned their faith
Crucially, Jesus asked them: Why do you have so little faith? (Matthew 6:30).
Worry is the antithesis of faith. When we worry, we shift our focus from who God is, what He can do, and what He is already doing. Our worry betrays a lack of confidence in God’s goodness, God’s power, God’s greatness and God’s commitment to keep His promises. Yet in 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul reminds us that we live by faith and not by sight. Sometimes we want God to work the other way around; for God to act or move before we trust Him. But that’s not faith, and we are called to a life of faith. No matter how great our current level of faith, we need to raise our expectation. We need to have faith for more!
When Jesus posed these questions to the disciples, He wasn’t seeking to condemn them. Rather, He wanted them to be relieved of unnecessary burdens and anxieties. He was, after all, the Prince of Peace. He had come that they might experience true rest (Matthew 11:28-30) and His ‘perfect peace’ (Isaiah 26:3-4).
Jesus brought comfort
Amid the questions, Jesus was bringing comfort and an answer. What He wanted the disciples to know was:
- Whatever the troubles of today – and they would certainly face trouble – God already knew what they needed and was able to take care of every single detail. He could certainly care for them. Nothing is too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17). No situation is hopeless. Nothing is impossible. No need is beyond his abundant resources. No detail is too small. No problem too messy for God’s grace and glory.
- God held their future in His hands. They didn’t need to worry about tomorrow because God would design, craft, go ahead and be in their tomorrows, whatever that tomorrow would bring. But when there were no more tomorrows, He was offering them an eternity with Him.
- That if they could trust and surrender their hearts and lives to God, He would take care of the rest. He wanted to change their focus, priorities and heart’s devotion, teaching them: ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need!’ He gave them a clear prevention and antidote for their worry and it was completely God-centred and God focused.
What was true for the disciples is true for us. Worry accomplishes nothing, except sapping us of strength, joy and peace. God knows everything we need and is more than able, but we only receive when we seek God first and put our faith in Him.