“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? 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Jesus tells us right off that He is giving a summation to this section, beginning with the word “therefore”. As always, “therefore” is used to indicate that the writer or speaker is drawing a conclusion from what has just been written or spoken; in this case it is the discussion of treasures.
Jesus’ words here are very simple and to the point: worrying is pointless.
“Yes, well that’s all well and good but…”
If you are thinking along those lines, please check the verses once again, and let me know where you found “but” in what Jesus said; I can’t find it.
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 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? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Jesus moves on from food to clothing here, making the same point again: Worrying is pointless. Yet here, He does an interesting thing, He expands the section from the context immediately following His remarks on money into the larger context of 6:1, which you will recall is a Kingdom context, in verse 33, and then restates the point: Don’t worry.
Notice also that in this chapter we began with three illustrations each dealing with spiritual practices (6:2-18), after which Jesus moved into money, possessions and wealth management (6:19-27) and finished on the very practical note of placing our trust in God and putting His Kingdom first. Now comes the hard part: In “real life” what do we actually do?
I can’t answer that question for any of you in particular, but my observation of Christians in general over several decades tells me that what most of us really do is everything Jesus is telling us not to do, especially worrying about things.
We worry about what others think of us, about whether we are the most “righteous” or the most “spiritual”. We worry about money, finances, jobs, paying the bills, retirement, essentials of life… and frills and entertainment; these are even the things we pray about most often, along with health concerns. Yet Jesus is telling the people that in His Kingdom, this is not how His Kingdom people should arrange their priorities.
“But Don, it’s just too hard!”
Please remember that I am also living in this world along with you; I get that this can be difficult, but as is true with most aspects of the Christian life, it is usually not as difficult as we make it, for what it really is, is counter-intuitive more than anything else.
I am a work in progress just like everyone else, and I have a long way to go before I am “just like” Jesus was; a very long way indeed. However, I have discovered that for me at least, a recognition that this is all simply counter-intuitive, rather than hard, simplifies the process quite a bit. The result, at least for me, has been that I have come to see Jesus’ teaching in this area as liberating and empowering, rather than hard and severe, and that most of the cares of this world are a waste of time and energy.
Of course, I might just be crazy…