SEEK GOD’S PRIORITIES AND TRUST HIS PROVISION RATHER THAN WORRYING
E. Michael Green: The worldliness that we are called to avoid can take a religious or a secular form. And so we differ from those who are not Christians both in our devotional life, which Jesus has dealt with in the first half of the chapter, and also in our ambitions. These are disclosed principally in two ways: ‘What do we really value?’ and ‘What do we worry about?’ It is to these twin areas of money and worry that Jesus now turns, as he seeks to show with embarrassing directness what it means to be a citizen of the kingdom.
Scott Harris: Anxiety, worry, fret, distress, agitation, tension, irritability. Words that describe a feeling of an inner turmoil that result in a feeling of outward uneasiness. The words describe a common feeling among humans as we consider what the future may bring to us personally and to the ones we love.
Jerry Shirley: Be honest: we all worry, don’t we?
- The ignorant worry because they don’t know enough.
- The knowledgeable worry because they know too much.
- The poor worry because they don’t have enough.
- The rich worry because they are afraid of losing what they have.
- The old worry because they are facing death.
- The young worry because they are facing life.
Daniel Doriani: Jesus’ teaching has substantial repetition. But, as he repeats key ideas, he develops them further, so they strengthen the main point: we have good reasons to trust God and stop worrying.
25a COMMAND 1 Do not worry about your life, your food, drink, and clothing.
25b Reason 1 Life is more than food and clothes.
26 Reason 2 God cares for the lower creation—the birds. You are more valuable than they.
27 Reason 3 Worry changes nothing.
28–30 Reason 4 God cares for the lower creation—even lilies and grass, short-lived as they are. We are more valuable, as even men of little faith should know.
31 COMMAND 2 Do not worry about what you will eat, drink, and wear.
32 Reason 5 The pagans (sensibly) chase these things, since they are godless. But your Father knows your needs, so that you need not chase them.
33a COMMAND 3 Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness.
33b–34 Reason 6 All the things the Gentiles chase will be given to you.
34 COMMAND 4 Therefore do not worry.
I. (:25) ANXIETY REGARDING LIFE’S BASIC NECESSITIES REPRESENTS INCONSISTENT THINKING
A. Prohibition against Worry Over Having Enough to Live
“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life,
as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink;
nor for your body, as to what you shall put on.”
Scott Harris: In light of what Jesus has already said about making sure that the master you serve is God, you are now to obey the following command and then take security in promises following. The command Jesus gives in verse 25 is predicated upon the principle given in the verses prior. The command is built on the principle that. We are to serve Him and set our hearts upon heaven rather than on the things of earth God is to be our master. The promises given in the passage are predicated on obedience to the commands.
B. Rationale: God Who Gave Us Life Will Also Sustain Our Life –
Argument from the Greater to the Lesser
“Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?”
William Barclay: He begins by pointing out (verse 25) that God gave us life, and if he gave us life, surely we can trust him for the lesser things. If God gave us life, surely we can trust him to give us food to sustain that life. If God gave us bodies, surely we can trust him for garments to clothe these bodies. If anyone gives us a gift which is beyond price, surely we can be certain that such a giver will not be mean, stingy, niggardly, careless and forgetful about much less costly gifts. So, the first argument is that if God gave us life, we can trust him for the things which are necessary to support life.
II. (:26-30) TWO EXAMPLES REGARDING GOD’S PROVISION OF BASIC NECESSITIES
A. (:26-27) Example of God Feeding the Birds
- (:26) Worry Doesn’t Make Sense Since You Are More Valuable to God than Birds
“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap,
nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not worth much more than they?”
Grant Osborne: Jesus contrasts birds with human effort—they don’t raise crops (“sow/harvest”) or store them away for the future (in barns), yet they always have enough to live on. The point is that they instinctively trust God (his creation) for their needs, while we who have experienced so much more of him fail to do so. If God cares and provides for the “unimportant” birds, how much more will he care for us, his children?
Scott Harris: Remember that they are sitting on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea of Galilee. Jesus is the expert of pointing out something common around Him to explain a spiritual truth, and here Jesus points out the birds that are flying around and uses them to bring home this spiritual truth. . .
Jesus is not saying that we can quit working because God will provide. He is saying that we do not have to be anxious because God will provide. The birds of the field do not sow, reap or gather into barns, but they do work constantly at finding food and eating. They are not anxious about their work for God provides. This is what Jesus is saying to us. Work, but do not be anxious about what the outcome will be. God values you much more than the birds, and He will provide for you needs. Work and plan ahead, but do not fret.
- (:27) Worry Is Not Productive
“And which of you by being anxious
can add a single cubit to his life’s span?”
Matthew McCraw: No Need to Worry
Worry cannot add a single minute to your life. Worry cannot add a single dollar to your bank account. Worry cannot add a single point to your GPA. Worry cannot impress your boss. Worry cannot help your kids behave better. Worry cannot increase your church attendance or help your preaching. Worry cannot strengthen your marriage. Worry cannot help any of us.
However, did you know that worrying can have negative effects in your life?
Worry can damage your health. Worry can damage your relationships. Worry can rob your joy. Worry can rob opportunities. Our worry can affect ourselves. Our worry can affect others. Our worry can affect our relationship with God.
Worry only has negative effects.
Scott Harris: Dr Charles Mayo, of the famous Mayo Clinic, wrote, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands and the whole nervous system. I have never met a man or known a man to die of overwork, but I have known a lot who died of worry.” Worry is foolish because it brings no benefit.
B. (:28-30) Example of God Clothing the Lilies of the Field
- (:28) Lilies Are Incapable of Clothing Themselves
“And why are you anxious about clothing?
Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,”
- (:29) God’s Care Surpasses Whatever the Richest Man Could Provide
“yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory
did not clothe himself like one of these.”
Grant Osborne: Solomon’s incredible wealth is described in 1 Kgs 10:14–29; 2 Chr 9:13–28. His splendid dress was proverbial in Jewish writings (e.g., Josephus, Ant. 8:35–41). Yet it paled into drabness compared to the beauty of any one of the spring flowers, let alone a field of them. In other words, the beauty God creates is incomparably better than what even the wealthiest people can produce, so why not let God take care of your clothing? Again, this does not mean we do not work hard to provide for our family but rather that in doing so, we place our trust in and draw strength from God rather than trust in ourselves and our own profits (cf. Jas 4:13–17).
- (:30) Worry Doesn’t Make Sense Since You Are More Valuable to God than Lilies
“But if God so arrays the grass of the field,
which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace,
will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?”
James Oakley: The birds were an example of survival; God keeps them alive. The flowers are a good example for the opposite reason; they’re so transient. Here today, gone tomorrow. And yet, God clothes each of those flowers with the most exquisite beauty. If he does that, how much more will he make sure his dear children are clothed.
Scott Harris: Your anxiety level is a good indicator of how much you really trust the Lord. It seems incredible, but we seem to have an easier time trusting that God will save our souls from Hell because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross than to trust that He will provide for our daily needs. Part of that is because dealing with what will happen to our souls after death is far removed from our daily lives. That is an intangible item far in the future, or at least we live as if it is far in the future. The truth is that death could come at anytime. When it comes to what we eat and what we wear, those are tangible items we deal with daily on a personal level. They are the real indicators of your trust in the Lord.
III. (:31-34) CONCLUSION – DON’T BE ANXIOUS BUT TRUST GOD TO PROVIDE
A. (:31) Don’t Worry about Present Needs
“Do not be anxious then, saying,
‘What shall we eat?’ or
‘What shall we drink?’ or
‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’”
Yohan Perera: Worry and Anxiety Indicate Disbelief
(A) God is already aware of our needs because he is omniscient. He meets the needs of his people in due time.
(B) Pagans don’t trust God for provision. Hence their obsessions lie with acquiring enough daily commodities.
(C) Therefore worry and anxiety indicate disbelief. Security is the fruit of faith anchored in God.
B. (:32) Trust Your Heavenly Father to Provide – Don’t Like the Unsaved
“For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek;
for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
William Barclay: Jesus goes on to advance a very fundamental argument against worry. Worry, he says, is characteristic of pagans, and not of those who know what God is like (verse 32). Worry is essentially distrust of God. Such a distrust may be understandable in pagans who believe in a jealous, capricious, unpredictable god; but it is beyond comprehension in anyone who has learned to call God by the name of Father. Christians cannot worry because they believe in the love of God.
C. (:33) Seek First God’s Priorities – All Will Be Provided
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness;
and all these things shall be added to you.”
D. A. Carson: Such goals alone are worthy of one’s wholehearted allegiance. For any other concern to dominate one’s mind is to stoop to pagan fretting. “In the end, just as there are only two kinds of piety, the self-centered and the God-centered, so there are only two kinds of ambition: one can be ambitious either for oneself or for God. There is no third alternative” (Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 172). Within such a framework of commitment, Jesus’ disciples are assured that all the necessary things will be given to them by their heavenly Father, who demonstrates his faithfulness by his care even for the birds and his concern even for the grass.
Scott Harris: Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness means that the most important issue in every decision I make and in everything I do is determining God’s perspective. I ask myself,
- What is most pleasing to God?
- What will best further His kingdom?
- What will best reflect His righteousness?
The answer to those questions then determines my actions.
D. (:34) Don’t Worry about Future Needs
“Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
D. A. Carson: Worry over tomorrow’s misfortunes is nonsensical, because today has enough to occupy our attention and because tomorrow’s feared misfortunes may never happen (cf. b. Sanh. 100b; b. Ber. 9a). It is almost as if Jesus, aware that his disciples are still unsettled and immature, ends his argument by setting the highest ideals and motives aside for a moment and, in a whimsical sally, appeals to common sense. At the same time, he is implicitly teaching that, even for his disciples, today’s grace is sufficient only for today and should not be wasted on tomorrow. If tomorrow does bring new trouble, there will be new grace to meet it.
Grant Osborne: The basic message of the section is obvious—earthly concerns must always be superseded by heavenly priorities. That is the only solution for anxiety. There are four stages: realize you have a heavenly Father who loves you; “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet 5:7); refuse to worry about material needs but leave them with him; put his concerns first in your life and live kingdom priorities. These are all related yet separate issues—a loving Father, a solid trust in him, a deliberate refusal to worry, a life centered on him.
R. T. France: In speaking of “tomorrow worrying” and of “troubles” as the likely experience of each day v. 34 strikes a more pessimistic (or at least realistic) note than the preceding verses. By including it along with vv. 25–33 Matthew has perhaps deliberately put a sobering question-mark against an unthinkingly euphoric attitude which vv. 25–33 might evoke in some hearers. God’s care and provision are assured, but that does not mean that the disciple life is to be one long picnic. Each day will still have its “troubles;” the preceding verses simply provide the assurance that by the grace of God they can be survived.