How come?! Devotional Commentary for December 20-26
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
And Jesus continued:
25Therefore I say to you, do not worry 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?
26Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
So far, Jesus' admonitions have been focusing on two significant elements of the Christian's relationship with God. These are: refraining from seeking to earn public attention in our Christian practices, and, consciously choosing God and rejecting the world and our own carnal ways in everything we do. But in these closing verses of Matthew chapter six, Jesus gets rather deep into the emotional makeup of our temperaments and dispositions, and confronts the soft constitution of our faith. Simply put, He urges us to disallow worry and anxiety from eroding our faith in God and our confidence in His gracious Providence.
We are strongly exhorted to be aware of our identity in Christ, view the world around us in a new godly outlook, and faithfully practice our trust in God in all matters relating to the basic necessities of life and experience, as Christians. In essence, Jesus exhorts us to have a change in perspective, I.E., experiencing perspectival transformation. To be sure, Jesus calls us to grow into a new perspective, the Kingdom perspective.
When our outlook for life is transformed by the Kingdom perspective, basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing become less worrisome and cease to be troubling concerns. Instead, we recognize our privileged favor to receive provisions from the hands of God. Our life is sustained by our Father's Providence and Lovingkindness. Jesus reminds us to be consciously aware that, He Who created life and the body, is also faithful to provide the necessary means of sustenance. After all, life is more valuable than the food and drink it requires, and the body is worthier than clothing.
Jesus bid the crowd to observe the birds and see God's faithfulness in providing even for them. Birds never plant a crop, nor are they concerned about a harvest, much less a barn in which the harvest could be stored. Birds have absolutely no capacity to be concerned for the cares of the next moment. They just don't! They simply live feeding on what God their Creator continues to provide for them. They keep looking for what is available without being anxious how it is provided.
Then Jesus asked the people to consider their own worth in light of the birds which continue to live under the care of God's Providence. The essence of Jesus' message demands a careful thought and an answer in the affirmative, confirming God's care for man, the crown of His creation. Being the only creature created in the image of God, man is infinitely more valuable than the birds of the air or any of the other creatures of God's creation. Therefore, it stands to reason that the Creator Who cares for the lesser would even more graciously provide for the sustenance of the crown of His creation. Then, reasons Jesus, if the birds of lesser worth do not worry, why are God's children anxious for anything?
Jesus asks, can anyone add an instant to his or her life by being anxious or by worrying about it? Can anyone increase his or her stature by worrying about it, or by any means at all? The essence of Jesus' message is that no one can add any unit of measure to one's span of life or stature by worrying, being anxious, or by any means whatsoever! Jesus affirms that such fruitless fretting is pointless.
Everything about us is under the sovereign authority of our Father, God our Creator. We are not left to anyone's mercy including our own. After all, is He not our Father? Worry and anxiety simply expose our inability to rely on the faithfulness of our Father.
And Jesus continued:
28So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;
29and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Jesus continues to drive His point home. Just as he pointed to the birds of the air, Jesus now refers to the flowers which dotted the landscape of the hillside where He was giving His Sermon On the Mount, challenging His listeners to carefully consider God's great work reflected by the beauty adorning creation. By drawing the people's attention to the beautifully adorned flowers, Jesus reminded His audience the greater care that God our Father has for His children.
Jesus' powerful comparison of our Father's greater care for His children, to his care for the birds and His beautifully adorned creation, is undeniable. Jesus told the people that even Solomon, for all of his wealth and for all the glory of his earthly kingdom, was not as beautifully adorned as the flowers of the field. Jesus' obvious conclusion is, if God cares so much for that which we normally consider insignificant, how much more would He care for those he created in his own image? Jesus strongly emphasizes that any other conclusion is ungodly and, in fact, demonstrates a woeful lack of faith.
And Jesus continued:
31Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?' or "What shall we drink?' or "What shall we wear?'
32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
A word of caution may be valuable here. Jesus did not forward a do-nothing theology in which believers sit with folded hands, disregarding their responsibility to live according to the dictates of God's initial instruction and pronouncement at the time of creation. Even though birds do not plant or harvest, they still work very hard at procuring their daily food and feeding their young. They are created to do so and live that way. It is their responsibility to behave according to their created nature. So should it be with man—the crown of God's creation.
And Jesus continued:
33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
After directing the people's attention to creation where god's care is openly displayed, Jesus tells His audience two main things. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and, do not worry.
Jesus never denied the necessity of the fundamental requirements for sustaining life. But He clearly declares that nothing can be acquired or attained through worry or anxiety, especially when it is already provided by our loving and caring Father.
Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things shall be given without worry or anxiety. That is the essence of Jesus' words to us. Did Jesus mean that as long as we focus on God's Kingdom and His righteousness everything else will just come to us? By no means!
The adjective "first" in this text does not signify a position of primacy in the ranking of ordered items. Rather, it delineates a position of supremacy above everything which triggers worry and anxiety in us. When our attention is completely captivated by a passionate commitment to the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we will then understand how God's providence works in our lives, ultimately causing us to dedicate ourselves to living according to the dictates of our Father's Will and His guidance.
It is this single goal, that overriding vision, that should consume the passion and energy of the children of God, not worry or anxiety over anything. So we seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness leaving no room for worry and anxiety in our hearts. We put away all concerns because our passion is surrendered to the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We forget about the worries that keep us awake at night. By God's grace, we rest well at night, for he will be there tomorrow when we awake. We wake up each day with joy, for our Father's blessings are in our favor. Each day has its own tasks and challenges that need to be addressed. Each day the Lord will graciously provide the resources necessary for the day.
Therefore, any worry or anxiety over the future actually disables the ability to accomplish the tasks that need to be done today. It is unnecessary to suffer such a needless pain. God's grace is sufficient for each day. From his limitless supply, God will continue to provide a moment and a task at a time. Worry and anxiety can never replace the sufficiency of Divine Providence!
Being created as the crown of God's creation, being created in the image of God, we are endowed with the ability and the nature to behave responsibly in what we do and how we live. We learn from the past, carry out the tasks of the day, and plan for the future, responsibly, with careful thought and understanding, under the immediate and personal direction of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells us that worry and anxiety have no room in the process of a Christian life lived by faith in God. When we worry, we are suffering from a momentary but powerful wave of disbelief, despair, or helplessness during which we disregard God's providence and attempt to find answers in our own inadequacies. We forget God's promises and His faithfulness in keeping His Word. We come face-to-face with our own inability to provide for ourselves and slip into deep despair unable to recognize God's faithful work in the same situation where we are struggling.
Then, the issue at hand is not the lack of provision, but the lack of faith. The question of the moment is one of perspective. Is it the failed outlook of worry and anxiety? Is it the Kingdom perspective of faith and confidence in God? Do God's children surrender to a life of worry and anxiety like those without the hope of glory in Christ? Or, do we respond to our Father in faith with confidence in His faithfulness?
We are to observe the birds of the air and draw the conclusion that our heavenly Father cares for us, knows what we need, and will provide for our needs. However, this truth illustrated in creation is only a glimpse of what Christ-crucified represents. God gave his all on our behalf to meet our deepest need when he gave-up Jesus his beloved Son to His judgment, in our place. When we consider the birds of the air and the Cross of Calvary, how can we walk away from our loving Father and seek refuge in a world of anxiety and unquenchable worry? He Who did not spare His Son to redeem us, wouldn't He also provide for our needs?
Worry and anxiety can never replace the sufficiency of our God's Grace and His Providence. "Come unto Me and rest, all ye heavy laden," says Jesus our Lord and our Savior.