Useless Worry

Jesus continues his argument against worry. “Therefore” points to the reasons He has already given: If God takes care of the bird of the air, and clothes the grass of the field, will He not also provide for human beings created in His own image, who are of far greater value? Of course! He repeats the warning against worrying about food and clothing, adding two more reasons: First, “Gentiles” – that is, those who do not know God – are obsessed with these things. That is certainly true! Around the world, in every culture, the pursuit of physical survival consumes the thought, time, and energy of almost everyone. They are all more or less “seeking’ the things that make life possible. That is, putting food on the table and clothes on our body outranks all other goals in our list of priorities. In some societies, like ours, people have gone beyond focusing on necessities to a passion for pleasure and self-indulgence. Who really needs a luxury car, the latest fashion-designed clothes, or a house filled with more rooms than they can use? But millions even incur debt in order to live like monarchs of old. Jesus’ second reason goes deeper: Our Father in heaven knows that we need food and clothing to survive. Here Jesus assumes the truth of what He said before, that God will take care of His children (7:26,30). If an earthly father knows what his children need, he will do all he can to provide for them. How much more will our Father in heaven take care of us? Jesus rebukes His followers for their “little faith” (6:30). Does that apply to us as well? How much time and energy do we expend on figuring out ways to acquire material possessions? We need to work for a living, of course. That is part of being human. “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat,” warned Paul (2 Thessalonians 3:10). But Jesus is not talking about making legitimate efforts to care for our physical existence. What He warns against is not work, but worry. From my own experience, I know that worry can literally make you sick. By not trusting in God to take care of us, we fall back upon our own limited resources. We think and act as if we are fatherless orphans, who must scrape and fight and scratch for every morsel we can find. That inner fear wears us out, and makes us loveless and joyless. How much better to consider who we are: Not “Gentiles” without God, but beloved children of a gracious and generous heavenly Father, who not only knows what we need but holds in His omnipotent hand all the wealth required to provide for every one of His children.