Matthew 6 is a chapter FULL of assumptions. By assumptions, I mean that when Jesus is teaching, He is not saying that giving, praying, fasting, spending, and living are optional. Far from it! He is assuming that you will do all of these things, and then He tells you how to do them well.
The fifth, and last, of these assumptions is found in verses 25-34.
“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.”
It’s as if this last section is meant to be a summary of the other 4. Jesus has spoken on giving, praying, fasting, spending, and now He gets to His final point, which is telling us how to live life well. These other things are actions within our lives, but this final piece of instruction comes to be a guide for all of life in general.
Jesus tells us the secret to living life well by giving us one thing we should not do and then one thing we should do. Keep in mind that both of these things are in light of the other 4. We have been told to do everything for God, not for people, and to live a life surrendered to what God would have us do with our time and money. Now we will see in what manner we should live all of our life:
1 THING TO AVOID IN LIFE: ANXIOUSNESS.
Jesus tells us clearly that to live life well we need to “not be anxious about our life.” He goes on to not only correct our anxiousness, but He even gives us valid reasons why anxiousness is useless. He reminds us that the things we are truly anxious about are outside of our control. But rather than leave us there, He gives us sympathy and comfort, reminding us that we are important to God.
Jesus paints a picture of God’s care for the animals and for fields of flowers, then reminds us: God loves us even more. And if God, Who takes care of so many of these things all over the world, loves us even more than they – why should we worry?
He comforts our worry by reminding us of the simplicity of life. God knows we need food, water, clothing, and He will always provide these things for us. Jesus strips away our superficial desires for the newest gadget or popular clothing style, and He reminds us that we shouldn’t even be concerned about those things.
1 MINDSET TO HAVE IN LIFE: THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
To followup His rebuke of anxiousness, Jesus pushes us towards the good and opposite response: Pursuing the Kingdom of God. Here, Jesus is telling us that when you are willing to loose the anxiousness of your own life situations, you are then free to pursue the Kingdom of God. Simply put, the Kingdom of God is anywhere God’s rule and reign are played out in real life. Similar to how ‘home is where the heart is’, the Kingdom of God is found where God is King.
Think of it this way: Jesus said that when He was on earth that the Kingdom of God was drawing near, that God’s perfect rule and reign had come close. What did that look like? It looked like Jesus’ perfect devotion to the love of God and the justice of God. Jesus had a perfect balance of both “grace and truth” (John 1:17). He condemned sin and yet brought grace and redemption to the repentant sinner. He sought the outcast and brought them in. He comforted the mourning and brought hope to the hopeless. This is Jesus’ example to us of living out God’s perfect rule and reign.
So how does putting off anxiousness, and pursuing the Kingdom of God connect? If you are anxious in life over “what will we eat, what will we drink, what will we wear,” then you have two problems:
1) You don’t have the peace of God’s perfect rule and reign in your life.
2) You are too consumed with your anxiousness to be about bringing God’s Kingdom to the rest of the world.
However, when we pursue the Kingdom of God for our lives and the lives of others, we will naturally be putting off anxiousness in our own lives because anxiousness is not part of God’s Kingdom. Furthermore, Jesus makes us a promise: that when we are following the Kingdom of God, we will have food, water, and clothing. He doesn’t promise great wealth, fame, or status, but He does promise things necessary to life so that we may enjoy today as it is.
And this is how He closes His teaching on the Kingdom of God:
“Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
What a life Jesus offers us! One filled with peace and without anxiously wondering what dread tomorrow will bring. No amount of wealth, insurance, or status could ever bring such comfort. So let us ask God to remove our desires for those things that promise so much joy, yet leave us so distraught, and let us hold onto a life that is surrendered to Jesus and pursuing His Kingdom so that we might experience a life well lived.