Monday, May 2, 2011

The Commands of Jesus: Do not worry about your life...

The Commands of Jesus – “Do not worry about your life…” Matt. 6.25-34

In view of Jesus’ words on being a slave to money (verse 24), Jesus says here that if we put trust in God first, God will take care of the rest of life.
Worry is the key word of this entire section: it occurs 6 times (vv. 25, 27-28, 31, 34).
How do we balance planning for the future versus not being anxious?

The need for food: birds do not merely sit back and wait on God to serve them, they work. Yet they are far more dependent on the whims of nature than humans are. God provides for them. If God allows for birds to be provided for (in view also of their ability to work for provision), then won’t he provide for those he created in His image. (This also includes our ability to work for provision).
Also, what really does worry accomplish? Does it motivate us to work for provision? (Maybe). But it is the work that accomplishes the provision, not the worry. Worry doesn’t extend our lives in any way. (In fact, could we say that worry takes away from our quality of life? What does worry do to our emotions and physical state? Does the stress of worry negatively impact us?)
“Do not worry” or “Do not be anxious” here has the sense of being fearful and is associated with sleeplessness. A paralyzing worry can undermine our discipleship.

Clothing: the lilies of the field can be beautiful. More wonderful than the proverbial King Solomon, who had tremendous wealth at his disposal (see 1 Kings 4.20-34 or 1 Kings 3.13). If God gives attention and assigns beauty to such inconsequential things like plants (which have a short life and were often burned for fuel), won’t God provide for our needs. Again, humans were the ones created in God’s image.

Robert Mounce (Bible teacher), basically said that “Worry is practical atheism”. How so?
Anxiety characterized the religions of the day. People were dominated by the fears of a deity who was a despot who had to be appeased constantly. What are the fears of our current society? What do unbelievers (and unfortunately a lot of believers) fear and worry about?

Do we give too much attention to our food and clothing? Those things in and of themselves are important. But perhaps Jesus is saying that we can give too much importance to them and chase after them beyond what we need.
Disciples should not be distracted from their discipleship by an inordinate attention to their ongoing need of what we are going to eat and wear.
If God is the source of our life (and new life), will he not also provide food and clothing? A life dominated by concern for food and clothing (and other things) will lack full commitment to what is really important.

Seek first… When our priorities regarding treasures in heaven (Mt 5.19-20), God will provide for fundamental needs. We seek the Kingdom first when we follow the commands of Jesus.

Problem: hasn’t there been believers who have gone without food and clothing? Isn’t this verse untrue for them? How do we reconcile Jesus’ teaching about our “needs” being met, when there are some who have gone without?
How does this apply? Luke 12.33 – sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

Perhaps when God’s people corporately seek first his priorities, they will by definition take care of the needy in their fellowships. When we considered that a substantial majority of believers in our world live below the “poverty line,” does that challenge us who have “great wealth” in comparison?

Blomberg – “Without a doubt, most individual and church budgets need drastic realignment in terms of what Christians spend on themselves versus what they spend on others.”

The key to avoiding anxiety is to make the kingdom one’s priority. If God takes care of his creation, he will surely take care of those who participate in his kingdom. This passage does not mean that food, drink, clothing and other necessities will come to the disciple automatically without work. It addresses the problem of worrying about these things and perhaps pursuing them over pursuing the Kingdom of God (the commands of Jesus) and its righteousness (the right relationship which follows the spread of the Kingdom).