“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that 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, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
(Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)
Jesus continues His Sermon on the Mount, focusing in Matthew chapter 6 on practical examples of righteous living. Jesus begins by warning His disciples against hypocrisy in the regular practices of giving to the poor, prayer, and fasting. Jesus then turns to one of the most poignant checks of personal expressions of righteousness – how we use our money, and now turns His attention to the last subject of how we are to live in relation to ourselves and Him.
At first glance, this section of Jesus’ teaching seems pretty straightforward – and the over-used phrase “don’t worry – be happy” comes to mind. It’s easy to treat this section more like a standalone “proverb”, where we see Jesus jumping from subject to subject as He addresses various aspects of living in the new righteousness He proclaimed.
But yet, I felt there was something deeper that Jesus is teaching His disciples (and us) in this overall passage. There is an underlying progression, a pattern, a theme that Jesus has in mind. It took me a few days and a lot of reading to finally see the deeper progression here.
And what is the theme of chapter 6? In a word: Trust.
Jesus is saying, “Trust God when you give to the poor, when you pray, when you fast. No one else needs to see – God sees everything. Just focus on God and God alone.”
Jesus then continues: “Trust God with your money. Live for God, and not for material gain. By putting your treasure in heaven, you are putting your trust in the God of heaven.”
This last section, then, builds on that same theme of trust. Jesus addresses the last major topic of personal living under the new righteousness: how we use our time.
Jesus uses three examples to illustrate His point:
- Birds – the Father feeds them, and we are worth so much more than birds
- Flowers – the Father clothes them in beauty – He will take care of us
- Grass – beautiful and here today, burned tomorrow – unlike God, who lives forever
So what is Jesus’ point? “If you can trust God with your treasure, you can trust God with your time. Put your focus on God, spend time in relationship with Him, and trust Him to take care of your physical needs, like He does for the birds, the flowers, and the grass. You don’t need to be like the Gentiles, who spend all their time and energy striving to meet their basic daily needs. Put God first, and the rest will take care of itself. Trust God – trust Me.”
Jesus’ last point? Live in the moment with God. Jesus reinforces the reality that we live in the greatest love story ever written, set in the fiercest battle ever fought. So fight the battle in the long term, but live in the moment of His love.