In the light of the concern about coronavirus this weeks A.S.K seems apposite.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 6:24-34
TEXT: 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 6:33-34)
It’s best to look at this chapter together with chapters 39 and 40. Jesus says do not worry. And we then worry about worrying! That’s the kind of mess we get ourselves into. So let’s think about this carefully.
Note the last word of that last sentence. Is Jesus saying we are not to care about anything? Of course not! We are to be a people who care. But when does care move over into worry and an anxiety that is sinful and wrong? I think the clue is in the context of the passage – remember, as we have seen several times already in this book, we are never to take Bible verses out of context – because then we almost inevitably will misunderstand them.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not saying don’t ever be concerned or anxious about anything. Jesus himself was concerned. For example when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane he agonized over going to the cross “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. “ (Luke 22:44). He didn’t just saunter up to the cross saying ‘no worries’!
What he was concerned with in our text are those who are anxious and worried about the wrong things. They are seeking first the things of this world. They fear losing their income more than they fear losing their God.
In one way what Jesus says is not very encouraging – every day has enough trouble of its own! Every day will have more than enough trouble for us….but what he is saying is that we can trust our heavenly Father to provide for all our needs. He has just taught us to pray ‘give us today our daily bread’. This is what that means practically. God usually won’t give you a big store of things to last well into the future (although it is not wrong to save) but he will provide for you on a daily basis. I think one of the reasons for this is that we learn to come to him on a daily basis.
My mother-in-law was brought up on the Scottish Isle of Lewis where in the 1930s there were really hard times for many ordinary people. She told me once that then when they sat down to pray ‘give us today our daily bread’, they meant it, because they were not sure where their daily food was going to come from. Now we rely on 24/7 supermarkets, freezers and all the mod cons of life that enable us to forget that the food chain is still fragile. One computer attack could do a whole lot more damage in one sense than a nuclear bomb (and that’s not an excuse for you to start worrying about either of those!).
The point is that we are to seek daily provision from a gracious Father. If we believe that that is what he is – then we will not have the kind of anxiety and cares that cripple us. Because we pray – as Paul tells the Philippians “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).
That is how we deal with anxiety and worry. We present our requests to God and we leave them at the throne of grace. One problem I have with this question is that it seems to have a view of God that is harsh, cruel and capricious. It’s as though Jesus is mocking us…’don’t be anxious, because if you are it’s a great sin’, which will then make a naturally anxious person, even more anxious!
It will greatly help us if we learn to stop looking in at ourselves and instead look up to our God. Sometimes there are those in our lives who help take away our anxiety – a loving, strong father holding the hand of their fearful child; a mother bringing comfort through a hug; a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I hope you have people like that in your life.
But the real friend who sticks closer than a brother is of course Jesus. “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer. O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer”
CONSIDER: What is the difference between care and worrying? When do you think worrying might become sinful? If you are a naturally anxious person how do you think that can be helped? Do you think there are times when we don’t worry and we should?
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING: Anxious for Nothing – John Macarthur
PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, when anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy (Psalm 94:19). You are good and the giver of all things good. You tell us when we are weary and heavy laden to come to you and you will give us rest. O Lord I come to you know and ask that the peace of Christ which passes all understanding, will be mine. In Jesus name, Amen
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