In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus taught:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
If we put trust in God first, God will take care of the other areas of life. This renders worry unnecessary and totally useless. Worry and anxiety, being anxious are the key words of this entire section, since one of those words occurs six times depending on your Bible version. Christians must plan for the future, but they need not be anxious. Jesus illustrates His point by discussing the basic provisions of food and clothing.
First, He focuses on the need for food. Birds in their wild state provide a good example because they are tirelessly industrious. Jesus is not discouraging hard work to provide for our needs. Yet despite their constant efforts, birds remain far more dependent on the resources of nature than people are. We who have so much more opportunity to use creation for our own ends ought to worry even less than birds.
Two additional rationales for Jesus’ instruction follow. First, we are more valuable in God’s eyes because we are the only creatures made in His image. Second, worry doesn’t accomplish anything anyway, at least not in terms of enabling us to live longer.
To illustrate God’s provision of clothing, Jesus next directs attention to “the lilies of the field.” Uncultivated vegetation does much less to provide for itself than do birds, yet God adorns it with beauty that at times surpasses the greatest splendor of human raiment, and Jesus uses the example of Solomon’s wealth to reiterate that point. Plants don’t work to make themselves beautiful. Yet plants prove even more fragile than birds and much more short-lived than humans. If God lavishes such concern over the rest of His creation, how much more does he love us!
Worry can only result from a lack of genuine belief in God’s goodness and mercy. R. Mounce says, “Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God.” Anxiety characterized pagan religions, which were dominated by fears of a changeable, unpredictable and tyrannical deity who constantly had to be appeased. Today, in its modern day, irreligious garb, pagan anxiety displays a great preoccupation with physical exercise and diet without a corresponding concern for spiritual growth and nutrition.
Continuing on, Jesus further explains that when priorities regarding treasures in heaven and on earth are right, God will provide for fundamental human needs. Seeking first the righteousness of the Kingdom implies obedience to all of Jesus’ commands and shows that the statement He made earlier to the Pharisees continues to be advanced (Matthew 5:20).
The phrase “will be added to you” does not specify when God will provide. To be sure, when the fullness of the Kingdom arrives it will eradicate all suffering for God’s people, however many commentaries seem to interpret verse 33 in the light of Luke 12:33 and Mark 10:30, which both presuppose the sharing of goods within the Christian community. When God’s people corporately seek first his priorities, they will by definition take care of the needy in their fellowships.
For example, when one considers that over 50 percent of all believers now live in the Third World countries and that a substantial majority of those believers live below what we would consider the poverty line, a huge challenge to First-World Christianity emerges. Therefore it appears that God uses His children to also help His children. As He blesses, we are to also bless others, which is in keeping with the Lord’s commandment to love others in actions and deeds and not just in words.
Then in verse 34 Jesus returns full circle to the beginning of his discussion as found in verse 25, encouraging daily dependence on God (see Matthew 6:11). As if to underscore that total daily dependence on Him, He reminds His listeners of the daily “trouble” that persists. But there are enough non-Christian sources of trouble for believers and so Christian self-centeredness should never compound the problems in any way of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.
God does all the supplying on a daily basis. However, when we follow the leading of His Holy Spirit, we can be the vessel that causes Jesus’ words to be fulfilled. What a blessing to be in that position whenever the Lord calls!