Bible Passage: Matthew 6:25-24
Through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has been describing the life that he calls his disciples to live, often my contrast with the way others approach things. In these verses, he turns to the topic of worry about material possessions and draws a contrast with the Gentiles (short hand for those who do not know God) who strive after these things with no concept of God as heavenly father and provider.
Do Not Worry: The refrain that Jesus keeps returning to in these verses is ‘do not worry’. This may be easier said than done, but Jesus sees something intrinsic to the life of a disciple that cuts against worry and anxiety. The first use of the phrase occurs in verse 25 where Jesus introduces his point and particularly applies it to money and clothes. These were the basic needs of the original hearers, but the point can be extended to apply to whatever it is that we might worry about. The second mention is in the verse 31, and Jesus goes on to make the comparison with the Gentiles. When we worry about these things then were in the same situation as those who do not know God. The final mention is in verse 34, and adds a reason not to worry – bringing forward tomorrow’s troubles will only have a negative impact on today. Worry about the future robs the present of its joy.
Trust God: The main point of difference that believers have with ‘Gentiles’ is their relationship with God. Earlier in the chapter Jesus has already taught his followers to pray ‘give us this day our daily bread’ and we can trust him to answer that prayer. Jesus uses the examples of birds that are fed by God and flowers that are clothed by him. In both cases our value is greater than their and God knows just what we need. We can have faith in God as both provider and father. He holds our future in his hands and so we can relate to him with faith instead of worry.
Seek the Kingdom: Instead of worrying about our material needs, Jesus shows us where to focus our attention instead – God’s kingdom and righteousness. We are freed up from earthly concerns to focus on heavenly ones, and as we do this the promise is that everything else will be given as well. We shouldn’t misunderstand this to end up with the prosperity the gospel. The promise is not that God will give us everything we want, but rather that as our hearts are set on him and our wants change, he will provide what we need for a life following him.
- Some will be in the midst of current material need. You could pray for God to provide for their needs.
- You could also encourage the congregation to be the means through which God brings this provision (just like the church in Acts 4:34 did). If you have a church hardship fund you could highlight this.
- Worry and anxiety are live issues for many. You could pray that the spirit will bring healing where these things are having a negative impact on people.