Do not worry about your life

25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith?31 So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

Cyanocitta cristata blue jay bird by Miles Frank, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Cyanocitta cristata blue jay bird by Miles Frank, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Worrying seems to be a bit of a trait within my family. I remember my dearly loved Granny being something of a worrier – and indeed, she often used to worry about being a worrier. I think I’ve inherited this from her. I often find myself worrying, about all kinds of different things. I worry about small things, like whether my train will arrive on time, whether I’ll drop my wallet whilst out shopping, and if I’ll leave my phone somewhere. I worry about big things such as what will happen if I lose my job, or get arthritis in my fingers, or develop a brain tumour. Of course, ultimately I know it is silly to worry about these things. I have no control over most of these things, and most haven’t happened to me so far. What is even more silly is that I know ultimately, even if these eventualities come about, I’ll probably be okay. I have lost a job through redundancy, and actually, with hindsight it was probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. So the question is, why worry at all?

That’s the lesson that Jesus brings us in today’s passage. ‘Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink,’ he says. Don’t worry ‘about your body, what you will wear’. We are not to worry about these things because our God is faithful and will meet our needs. Jesus talks about the birds, which don’t engage in complicated agricultural practices or stockpile food, yet are diligently provided for by the creator God who brings about the berries and seeds that they need to survive to grow. As for clothes, look at the flowers, Jesus says. They are discarded, thrown into the fire, yet God provides them with magnificent clothing that betters anything that even the richest princes might wear. Jesus also tells his followers to look to the pagans – to those who don’t follow Christ. They have no faith in God as faithful provider, and yet they have food to eat, drink to drink and clothes to wear. God knows that we need these things, and he will provide them for us.

That is not to say that we will not face difficulties during our lives. Birds face predators, harsh winters and the loss of habitats due to human encroachment. Flowers are cut down and easily destroyed. Jesus even says that ‘each day has enough trouble of its own’. Jesus knew when he was teaching this message that every day potentially brings challenges. We are to focus more on these daily occurrences than worrying about the future, the ‘what ifs’ that can so easily plague our idle minds. Most of these will never come to pass, and if they do, God will faithfully help us to cope with all that we might encounter in our lives.

Ultimately, if we worry about what our future might hold, we are questioning God’s faithfulness to us. Rather than emulating non-believers and running after fancy food, extravagant drink and posh clothes, we should run after the kingdom of God and the righteousness that living as citizens of the kingdom of heaven entails. We should make the establishment of God’s kingdom our primary concern. This, of course, means living as Christ as described in the Sermon on the Mount; making our focus loving God and loving our neighbour as ourselves, and striving to spreads Christ’s message of love, hope and forgiveness throughout the world. If we consciously put Christ first in all that we do, then we will have no reason to doubt that God will meet our needs. Furthermore, our humanistic tendency to find food, drink and clothes will become secondary considerations, brought in check by our primary focus on serving God.

Of course, knowing all of this in theory is one thing, but actually living a life that is free from worry is incredibly difficult. In the coming weeks I will be praying to God to help me be more trusting of his provision for me, and to lift all of my worries about future difficulties – that may, and indeed probably will not happen – away from me. I will be praying that God will help me as I strive to ‘seek first his kingdom and his righteousness’. I wonder if you will join me?

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