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? 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? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 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? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:25-34 ESV).
In Part 1 of this series, we covered verses 25 and 26. Last week in Part 2, we covered 27 through 32. In verse 33, Jesus summarizes his teaching by directing his disciples’ attention on what is to be their focus. To engage them in this focus, he commences with an imperative: Seek! This follows Jesus description of what “the Gentiles” or “the nations” seek: “For the Gentiles seek after all these things…” (6:32). In the Greek the verbs are similar, but not identical. The verb used in verse 33 (zēteō) means “to seek,” but can also mean “to ask” or “to search.” Given its use (present tense, imperative), the connotation is that of a quest. This is not something in the future that we are hoping for. This is a present all-encompassing quest, and it involves the disciples’ active involvement.
What are you seeking? What is your quest? This should be the soul-searching question for every American Christian. Personally, my life is a mosaic of seeking, but not only after the kingdom of God and his righteousness but also after success in business, and money, and professional prestige, and fulfillment as a man and as a family and even in church work. I have sought vigorously after so many idols justified under the auspices of the “American Dream” that I am convicted by the imperative to seek, but to not only seek, but to be defined by this unceasing quest for Gods’ way in God’s world.
How about you? What are you seeking? After examining his life along these same lines, David Platt wrote:
I am convinced that we as Christ followers in American churches have embraced values and ideas that are not only unbiblical but that actually contradict the gospel we claim to believe. And I am convinced we have a choice.
You and I can choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life and in the church as a whole, enjoying success based on the standards defined by the culture around us. Or we can take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed him and really obeyed him.
…if Jesus is who he said he is, and if his promises are as rewarding as the Bible claims they are, then we may discover that satisfaction in our lives and success in the church are not found in what our culture deems most important but in radical abandonment to Jesus (Radical, 3).
Platt captures the intensity in which Jesus’ “seek” should grip us.
Our Savior the Lord Jesus, therefore, commands us, if you know him in this way, to seek “the kingdom of God” and “his righteous.” What does seeking his kingdom mean? It means seeking God’s kingship, his sovereign rule in your life, resolving to live under God’s direction and control. And, when you live under God’s kingship, you are to live life his way, which is righteousness. In fact, in this discourse, Jesus has already defined this as a characteristic of the life of his disciple: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10) and “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). And, not only is it a defining characteristic, but we also are to desire it like hunger and thirst: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). So then, our quest is to be ruled by God and to obey him. Similarly, when all of life was considered, Solomon’s conclusion of life was: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
When we live our lives with this kind of focus, worry is ridiculous. And, the God in whom we trust provides: “all these things will be added to you.” What are “all these things”? Is this some sort of equation that we can use to get what we want? As if to say, “Just do these two things and you’ll get what you want!” Contextually this is an absurd thought. “All these things” is referring to those essentials that we are not be worried about: food, drink, and clothing. These are the necessities of life on earth, but they are not to be our focus. God is.
God knows that we need them, and God provides. In fact, as kingdom citizens, we are not to see this provision in isolation, but rather God uses us to meet these needs of our needy brothers and sisters. It’s easy to read this verse and think of God’s miraculous provision or the fantastical stories of someone like George Mueller, and God can and does provide in this way. However, the New Testament example is that God will use us as Christians as his instruments. We see a beautiful picture of this in Paul’s direction to the Corinthians regarding their assistance of their struggling brothers and sisters in Jerusalem:
For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15).
Verses 25 to 33 of Jesus’ discourse focus on the Father’s care for his children’s needs, but in verse 34 Jesus changes his argument. Verse 34 focuses on the illogic of worry: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” It’s as if Jesus returns to the beginning of verse 25, “Do not be anxious about your life,” and then confronts the reality of life with a proverb. In fact, his statement carries the pragmatism of a proverb: worrying is pointless.
God is sovereign. God provides. If you are his child, don’t worry! This should calm our anxiety and point us to rest in him. What it should not do however is lead us to assume that life is free of trouble: “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” To be clear, this isn’t just the trivial, trouble that causes a hectic day. This is real trouble, or to translate the word (kakia) more literally, “evil.” That’s right. You are living in enemy territory ruled by the evil one, but as a child of God you need not worry about it. He provides.
God provides for his children as we continue to live in this sinful, fallen world. Life has its own set of problems. Trust God. You have needs. Trust God. God is in control…all the time. Trust him with this promise in mind: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).