This passage is in a part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is challenging the disciples’ attitude towards money (see verse 24). In this section, he particularly speaks into how we think about the future, and challenges us to make the kingdom of heaven our top priority as opposed to worrying about tomorrow.
Anxiety About Tomorrow – Jesus begins with a simple instruction – do not be anxious about tomorrow. The reason he needs to say this is because worry about the future is a live issue for many people. In the passage the examples given are to do with food and clothing, but the principle can apply to lots of the issues we worry about today such as rent, the cost of living crisis, worrying about being able to afford retirement and much more. Jesus acknowledges that such worries are common, and as we let these thoughts dominate our thinking we are no different from those who do not know God.
God’s Sovereign Care – In teaching his followers not to worry, Jesus is not invalidating the needs that they have but is reminding them of a truth that they have forgotten. God already knows what they need and he is their provider. This is shown in the way he operates in nature, feeding the birds and clothing the flowers in splendour. There is a faith in trusting God for tomorrow that frees up our minds from worry and allows us to live with a different focus.
The Priority of the Kingdom – The application that Jesus makes is to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and it is as we do this that all the others things will be added to us. It is as our lives are reoriented with a kingdom priority that provision for tomorrow falls into place. As followers of Jesus, his kingdom should be the number one focus in our lives.
- Cast Aside Anxiety – For many people, anxiety about tomorrow is a live issue and this is a good moment to speak into that, to gently challenge it and to offer prayer for people who are struggling in this area.
- Pray For Provision – This passage contains the promise of provision and it would be good to offer prayer for those who have particular provision needs at this moment.
- Challenge Priorities – This is a call from Jesus to make the kingdom the central priority in our lives, and this will be challenging to many people. You can invite people to make a choice to do what Jesus is saying here and to make the kingdom of God the thing that they seek first.