31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
Remember the popular song by artist Bobby McFerrin from his album Simple Pleasures entitled “Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Released in 1988, it won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year. The Bible many times communicates a similar message to believers which could be summarized this way: “Don’t Worry, Trust God.”
What causes individuals, even Christians, to worry or be anxious? The word anxious, from today’s text, comes from the Greek word μεριμνήσητε (merimnesete) meaning to worry or to be in care about something or someone. It also means to have an apprehension about possible danger or misfortune.
Possible reasons for anxiety or worry could be a new job, the loss of one’s current job, a broken relationship, finances, and the condition of one’s community, county or country. In fact, people can, and do, worry about anything and everything.
Why do people worry? Why do you? Why do I? Some respond by saying “It’s just the way I am” or “It’s just the way God made me” in order to justify this paralyzing behavior. Let’s understand that worry can disable a person so much that they cannot sleep, work, or even engage in basic day to day activities. Some may be so crippled by worry that they sit on their couch, or bed, during the middle of the day and just stare off into space.
Jesus spent a significance amount of time during His so-called Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) addressing the behavior of worry. He spoke about the concern for the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing and shelter. He compared how God takes care of the little flowers and birds. The analogy being that as God provides for these, He will additionally provide for His people.
One commentator explains that, “Most people in antiquity had little beyond basic necessities—food, clothing and shelter. Because their acquisition of these necessities often depended—especially in rural areas—on seasonal rains or (in Egypt) the flooding of the Nile, they had plenty of cause for stress even about food and clothing. The pagan world did indeed seek after such necessities, but Jesus reminds his hearers that they could trust their Father (v. 32) and should seek the kingdom (v. 33).”
The solution to worry is not about just being happy, but rather trusting God by seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. In other words, Jesus stressed to His disciples that submitting to God’s authority and receiving, and emulating, His righteousness should be our first priority. God will ultimately take care of the rest.
The Apostle Paul wrote a similar command in Philippians 4:6-7 which says, “6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The word for anxious in Philippians 4:6 is the same word which we find in Matthew 6:31. In other words, Scripture interprets Scripture.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” The psalmist is saying that instead of panicking when things go wrong, we are to trust in the sovereignty and providence of God.
I recently read Matthew 6:25-33 during a worship service. The Scripture reading was followed by our worship team leading the congregation in the classic hymn His Eye is on the Sparrow. I leave you with these familiar lyrics today.
Why should I feel discouraged?
And why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heavenly home?
When Jesus is my portion?
And my constant friend is He
His eye is on the little sparrow
And I know he cares for me
His eye is on the little sparrow
And I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
For His eye, is on the sparrow
And I know He’s watching me.
Thank you Lord for your watchful eye.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!