Saturday, April 16, 2011

Don't Give It a Thought

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithall shall we be clothed?” (Matthew 6:31) “Take no thought for the morrow…” (Matthew 6:34)

“Don’t give it a thought.” That seems to be what what our Lord is saying in verses twenty-five through thirty-four of Matthew six. Someone has suggested verses nineteen through twenty-four that deal with finances and investments, speak more to men; while the last ten pertain more to women. You and I may question this broad distinction, but, frankly, these ten verses do ring my bell when it comes to things to worry about, which is what these verses are all about. I may not wear my worry out in public very much, but I can carry it around as excess baggage as good as the next one!

Obviously, coming to grips with actual needs and responsibilities is part of a responsible person’s character; and that requires a certain amount of thought. But when these thoughts turn into ghosts of fear and dread, or even just feelings of uncertainty, all joy is strangled and all usefulness to God, others, or ourselves has gone out the window. As I see it, there are three areas of potential worry that God has singled out for us here:

FOOD “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat? or, What ye shall drink?” (v.31)

One of our inherent instincts as living creatures is the drive for self-preservation, and an integral part of that is hunger. Our bodies have a way of telling us it’s time to eat; and if we’re deprived for any length of time, the red flags go up and our minds say, “I’m going to starve!” But, so far, we haven’t, have we? I understand there are some who have, but you and I know these are exceptions. As verse twenty-six says, if God makes it a point to provide food for insignificant creatures like birds (and some of them starve, too, by the way), surely He will make provision for His highest creation: Man.

But before I leave this thought, I’d like to suggest that things like what, when, or even how much we eat should not take up disproportionate time in our thoughts. Hear me out here. I think it is possible to regulate our eating habits to the point of obsession and worry, if there are any deviations. If you’re like me, you’ve spent years counting calories, carbs, and fats, etc., weighing and pondering “religiously.” I’m not saying this is wrong, necessarily; I’m only saying, Jesus said that whatever role food may take in our lives, it can become a worry. What I do find is Biblical exhortation to moderation (Philip.4:5) in all things, which amounts to a way of life, not a set of rules. I’m just sayin’…..

FINERY“Take no thought saying…Wherewithall shall we be clothed?” (v.31)

Here again, Jesus uses nature to show how unreasonable our worry can become. If God can dress up a field with lilies and any other kind of flower He chooses (vv.28-30), surely He can make sure you and I have sufficient to clothe ourselves. I daresay, our worries today run more to having the right outfit for the right occasion than having enough covering to keep us warm. And if you tell me this never applies to you, don’t be surprised if you see me roll my eyes.

As a little aside, I’ll share with you that I never read verse twenty-nine without remembering how that as a teenager my girlfriends and I would march into the choir loft on Easter Sunday morning, turn and look at all the ladies in the congregation with their new dresses, shoes, hats, purses,and gloves, then turn to each other and intone: “Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” J

FUTURE“Take therefore no thought for the morrow…” (v.34)

Finally, Jesus cautioned us against the sin of worry when it comes to the future. The reason for this is simple, He says. We’ve got enough on our plates taking care of today without adding tomorrow’s problems to it. If you think about it, worry over what we’re going to eat or wear both have to do with the future. Look at it this way, if we can manage be thankful for something to eat and something to wear today, without needless fretting about tomorrow’s menu or outfit, we’ll have lots of time left to worry about other things! (I’m being facetious, of course.) But you see what I’m driving at, don’t you? I think George McDonald said it best:

It has been said that no man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.”

Jesus said in verse thirty-three of this chapter, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” But the truth is, we won’t be seeking the Kingdom as long we doubt that the King will keep His promises. Jesus has told us not to worry about food, finery, or the future. He has everything under control. So when we worry, we are saying, in effect, “I’m not so sure.” When you look at it like that, worry becomes an ugly blot on our Christian life, doesn’t it?

Worry: Don’t give it a thought!

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