Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 6:25c “. . .for your life,. . .”
We have noted three facts about worry. First, to worry is to serve mammon. Anxiety betrays an obsession with stuff. Second, worry distracts us spiritually. It divides our mind, keeping us from being able to concentrate on God. Third, worry distrusts God. It is sin, entailing a lack of trust in our God who has condescended to reveal Himself to us as Father. We now look at two other problems with worry.
Fourth, worry distorts reality. It brings us under the sway of wild imagination, making us fear nonexistent phantoms. Zig Ziglar says fear is an acronym for false evidence appearing real. William Inge says, “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due.” The stark truth is, we do not know enough about the future to know which problems to worry about. Things we deem unimportant often prove consequential, and matters we think are monumental often fade into nothingness.
Fifth, worry disables us. “Worry” is based on a German word meaning to choke or strangle. Worry chokes us mentally, strangles us emotionally. It incapacitates, shutting down our systems with overload. “Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles” (William Ward).
God’s will for us is rest. “He giveth His beloved sleep” (PS 127:2). Worry breaks the repose of night, tormenting us with insomnia. Anxiety clouds our thoughts, making us unable to plan or work as well. Worry breaks us down, ages us, undermines health, shortens life. Worry leaves us unhappy, furrows the brow, gives us a downcast look, makes us introspective, less conversational, and hard to be around. Even promising spiritual seed is choked out by the worries of this life (MT 13:22). We cannot pray as well, read the Bible as well, enjoy church as well.
Worry begins small, but becomes a vortex draining all other thoughts, a black hole sucking life out of everything else. One glass of water can be divided into sixty billion droplets and cripple seven city blocks with fog one hundred feet deep. Similarly, little worry yields much trouble. A thin stream of anxiety finally carves a Grand Canyon of despair in a heart. Our Master lovingly pointed us away from this destructive force. He desires something better for us–a life of faith, dependence on a loving Father. Face the future trustingly. Leave it in God’s hands.
Matt. 6:25d “. . .what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your
body, what ye shall put on.”
Food, water, and clothing are life’s basic necessities. If we can focus faith on these essentials, and learn not to worry about them, we will find it easier not to be anxious about trifles, life’s lesser things. If we never learn to trust God in basic matters of life, how shall we trust Him in the trying hour of death, when food and water will no longer be needed, and a shroud will suffice? Our mandate is to concentrate on things required for this life, and to learn to depend on God for them.
Matt. 6:25e “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”
Jesus makes a logical deduction, arguing from the greater to the lesser. We are more important than what we eat and wear. Life and body are more significant than food and clothing. The latter are but means to sustain the former ends. Since God gave the more important gifts (life and body), He can be trusted to supply things of lesser consequence (food and clothes). A bigger gift includes the smaller gift. “He who gives a jewel does not grudge the box in which it is sent” (Glover).
None of us engineered our life. God breathed into our nostrils the breath of life. None of us manufactured our body. God knit them in our mothers’ wombs.
Our lives and bodies were not thrown at random into the world. We are not cosmic accidents, but by-products of order and forethought. Included in this blueprint and foresight was God’s intent to sustain what He began. He who planned a foundation of existence will provide a superstructure of supply. We had to trust God for life and body–we did not create ours. We have to trust Him for all else.
Some think our present text means God will always give us food and clothing. This interpretation is not precisely accurate. It is more correct to say, God will always give us food and clothing, as long as He wants our lives to continue. We are assured of sustenance only as long as God appoints our bodies to go on.
David testified, “My times are in Thy hand” (PS 31:15). God determines the course of our lives. There may be times when God will dictate for us something other than food and clothing. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Sudan are being starved to death by Islamic rulers. Our dear friend Y in the big country tells of a family of four whose food rations were limited as punishment for their belief in Jesus. Starvation drove the father into the woods one day to forage for vegetables and berries. At the end of an exhausting day, he made his way home, only to find the authorities waiting to confiscate what he had found. Heroes in the roll call of faith were mocked, scourged, bound, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, and beheaded. They wandered in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; they wandered in deserts, mountains, dens, and caves (HB 11:36-38). I remember a story Dad told. A Roman battalion was ordered to take 100 Christians up a mountain to perish in the cold. The naked believers were driven higher and higher up the slope. When one of the shivering believers recanted and begged for his life, the Roman commander, having been ordered to kill exactly 100 believers, took off his clothes and put them on the deserter. Confessing he had secretly become a Christian, the commander walked unclothed to his own death in the cold.
In our present text, Jesus is not promising us everything will be peaches and cream. He is rather assuring us that difficult straits can happen to believers only at God’s discretion. Knowing this, Peter said, “Let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him” (1 P 4:19). Believers are never at the whim of fate or chance. We must remove from our minds any concept or notion of luck and accidental events. As long as we have God-ordained purposes to fulfill in life and body, God will preserve and protect. His work in us will not remain unfinished, but when His work in us is finished, we will not remain.
God who rules the Universe is also Sovereign Lord over all our individual lives. He knows, and deals with, us one by one–this is by definition the meaning of a personal relationship. Like it or not, we are totally dependent on God, and our worry cannot change God’s ultimate sovereign will for our existence. He decides how long and strong life will be. Thus, entrust to Him its length and strength.