In a matter of a week, it feels like the world has completely changed. This is one reason I continue to give thanks that our God and his word never change. He’s the same yesterday, today, and for all times. The same is true of his word. So, I can happily assure you that Matthew 6:25–34 is still true (I recommend you read those verses now before you read the rest of this blog).
Many of you are probably quite anxious. Perhaps you’re anxious about you or your loved ones contracting the virus. Perhaps you’re anxious about economic collapse and financial loss. Perhaps you’re anxious about running out of groceries. Perhaps you’re anxious about conspiracies. Perhaps you’re not sure what you are anxious about but have simply caught the widespread panic that is even more contagious than COVID-19. I confess my general stress and anxiety levels have increased with all of the rapid changes. But the Lord Jesus still commands his people, “do not be anxious about your life” (v. 25). He then goes on to give several reasons why you don’t need to be anxious about your life.
1. Your life is more than earthly pleasures and needs.
Jesus tells his disciples not to be anxious about food and clothing because life is more than this (v. 25). Food and clothing represent earthly pleasures and needs, and while these are good and necessary (in one sense), they’re not ultimate. The greatest things of life are pleasure in God and gaining him for all eternity. You were made for more than food or clothing, and so you shouldn’t spend your time worrying about lesser things. It’s like spending your wedding day worrying about the flowers or cake. Your wedding is about much more than that. So Paul commands, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). Lesser earthly things can be lost. Greater heavenly things cannot.
2. If God provides for the birds, he will provide for you.
Jesus next tells the disciples to look at the birds (v. 26). Birds must rely upon the Lord for their needs each day (they cannot go to the grocery store and buy a month’s worth of supplies), and each day the Lord provides for them. Looking at the birds and seeing how God gives them what they need for each day should teach you to trust God for your daily bread. For you’re far more valuable than they are. If he’s faithful to lesser creatures, surely he’ll be faithful the crown of his creation. When you’re anxious, look out your window for some birds and witness God’s provision.
3. Anxiety does absolutely nothing.
It’s astounding how much time we spend on something that is entirely unproductive. The time you spend worrying is always wasted time. It doesn’t change anything. “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (v. 27). Remember Psalm 139. Your days are numbered. No amount of worrying will change what will happen to you. Nothing can add a day to your life, and nothing can steal a day of your life. Trusting, praying, obeying, and seeking to make wise decisions are productive. Worrying is not.
4. God is doing more than giving daily bread.
The lesson from the lilies and grass (vv. 28–30) is the same as the lesson from the birds, but it also shows that God does more than the bare minimum. God loves to make things beautiful, even things that will only last a day. Surely, then, he’ll clothe you. Ultimately, he’ll clothe you with Christ. God will not only provide for your needs (even in the darkest days), but he’ll beautify you, always conforming you to the image of Christ. You may waste away on the outside, but you’ll be renewed on the inside.
5. You are not like the rest of the world.
Unbelievers spend their time worrying (vv. 31–32), but, Christian, you aren’t like them. They don’t know who will take care of them or how they will get what they need, but you do. So, when you worry, you’re practically living as if you’re the same as those outside of Christ. When you worry, then, remind yourself of who you are in Christ; you have been made new. Put off the old self and put on the new.
6. Your Father knows what you need.
Jesus again speaks of God as Father in these verses. He isn’t some detached God; he’s your Father. More than that, he’s a good Father who knows the needs of his children (v. 32). He also knows your needs better than you do. If you don’t have something, perhaps you don’t need it at this time. When you need it, you will have it, because your Father knows and provides. So, keep asking and trust in God’s provision and timing. Your Father already knows. This doesn’t mean you won’t contract the virus. This doesn’t mean you won’t lose your job. This doesn’t mean you won’t die. If life is more than earthly things, then your needs are more than earthly things. God is providing for eternity, not just the here and now.
7. You just need to focus on what you are called to do; the rest is up to God.
Circumstances never change your priority. Your priority is always seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness (v. 33). And as you focus on your God-given priority, you can trust he’ll take care of everything else. Everything else will be added unto you. You don’t need to carry your anxious burdens because God is carrying them for you. This is why Peter says to cast them upon God (1 Pet. 5:7). This doesn’t mean you throw caution to the wind. This doesn’t mean you live foolishly, defy wise orders, and start licking poles or other people. This simply means you follow God’s will of command and leave the will of decree to him.
8. God has ordained life to be lived one day at a time.
Most anxieties are about what will come, but God doesn’t want us to try to live in the future. Yes, we have the future in mind when we make decisions, but we live life one day at a time. God has apportioned trouble for each day (v. 34), and he has apportioned grace for each day (Lam. 3:21). You do not have tomorrow’s grace for today. You will have it when tomorrow comes. His mercies are new every morning. You know you will receive grace each day, but you won’t receive it before its appointed time. Focus on today. Perhaps God is teaching all of us right now to better live by faith one day at a time.
You don’t need to be anxious, but as the Psalmist says, when you are afraid, put your trust in God (Ps. 56:3).
Reverend Neil Quinn is the Senior Pastor (and Church Planter) of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo, MI. He is married to Leandra and has three children – Brielle, Corin, and Talitha. Neil received his M.Div from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.