Matthew 6:25 – 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?
Overall, Jesus is commanding his followers to trust in their loving heavenly Father for their daily needs. What does that really mean? We can best explain it by first examining what he is NOT saying.
Jesus is NOT saying that we can all quit our jobs and sit home waiting for money to magically appear! In fact, the opposite is true – we need to use the skills, talents and opportunities that God gives us to provide for ourselves.
The Holy Scriptures fully support both the idea of work and the principle of providing for our families.
Genesis 2:15 – And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to work it and to keep it.
1 Timothy 5:8 – But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.
So, let’s be clear on this. Jesus never forbids us to work for our daily needs like food and clothing. He never forbids us to prudently plan for the future. If you need training or schooling to make a good living, by all means invest in that. Once you have a job, by all means start a retirement fund or a college fund, pay off your house, give generously to God and make other sound financial decisions.
Likewise, Jesus never forbids us to use common sense. So make a reasonable family budget and stick to it. Use some self control in your spending. Live within your means. Plan so that you can not only take care of your own daily needs, but help others.
Now that we know what Jesus is NOT saying in this verse, what is its true meaning?
What Jesus is forbidding in Matthew 6:25 is anxiety over daily needs. What exactly is anxiety? Webster gives this definition: Concern respecting some event or thing, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps it in a state of painful uneasiness.
If you are working and doing your absolute best to live prudently but you are still so worried about food, shelter and clothing that you can’t think of anything else or you can’t sleep at night, you have the anxiety that Jesus is speaking of.
If you are so worried about a dip or drop in stock market that you can’t enjoy the company of your family and friends, then you have the anxiety that Jesus is speaking of.
If you are glued to the news 24/7 because you are frightened or obsessed about the next economic disaster, then you have clear signs of anxiety!
Why does Jesus forbid anxiety over daily needs? First of all, if your mind is constantly disturbed and troubled you won’t be able to focus on anything other than your problem. This renders you incapable of prayer, praise or faith, which make up the lifeblood of all Christians! You need to recognize that this kind of anxiety is actually a hidden fear that God is not good father and that he is either unwilling or incapable of taking care of you.
Stop and think with me for a moment. Only one of the following two statements can be true in your life. Which one is it?
- God loves me. He gives me the power, strength, ability and opportunity to meet my needs and the needs of my family. He will provide for me when I cannot.
- God claims he loves me, but deep down, I doubt it. I don’t trust him enough to believe that he will make up for any lack that I might experience. Therefore, I must provide for myself strictly through my own strength.
If you have chosen statement number two, then you just made Satan a very happy camper!
He would love nothing more than for you to doubt the love and provision of Father God. Here’s why: that seed of doubt takes the burden of provision off of God and places it on your own shoulders. It makes you solely responsible for your earthly provisions, and the only strength you can tap into is yourself.
That is a very heavy, debilitating burden that you were never meant to carry; it will fill you with anxiety. It will choke your spiritual man and leave you with nothing except the cares of this world. If you submit to that yoke of bondage, it will destroy you very quickly. Wouldn’t Satan just love that?
However, as a Christian, statement number one should be true in your life. When you are wise and diligent with what God has given you, then be still and trust in him. He will make a way. You can live in peace knowing that God is carrying the burden of your daily needs, and he has resources for you to tap into that are beyond your comprehension!
Romans 8:32 – He [God] who did not spare his own Son [Jesus] but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Do you understand what this verse is saying? God sacrificed Jesus so that we could be set free from sin and made joint heirs with Christ. Because of this sacrifice, we share in all that Jesus possesses! If God was willing to give us something as precious as the life of his Son, why would he withhold something as trivial as your daily provision? That wouldn’t make any sense, would it?
We looked at the fact that Jesus does not want us worried about daily necessities because that is a burden we were not meant to carry. So what are we meant to do?
God has created you and I for a much higher purpose than just worrying about food and clothing. We have been created to be in fellowship with God at all times. He has designed us to be kings and priests in his kingdom. We were created to rule over the earth. We are to join Jesus in destroying the works of the devil – and so much more!
Jesus is cautioning his followers not to get caught up in the needs of daily life, because it is easy to get stuck there. If we constantly worry about those things, we will never reach our true calling and destiny in Christ.
So take Jesus advice – don’t sweat the small stuff! Do you part and live in faith; God will take care of the rest.
Matthew 6:26 – 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?
Now Jesus is going to reinforce his point with several practical examples. He calls their attention to the life around them. God’s love and care for the birds is easy to observe. They are well fed and housed, despite the fact that they do not work or store up provisions for the future. They do not experience anxiety regarding their daily needs, even in the cold winter months. Instead, they live lives that fulfill the purposes God has created them for. And they sing joyfully and beautifully while they do it!
Does God love the birds? Of course, but at the same time, God places a higher value on mankind than on fowl.
Luke 12:7 – Fear not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.
Since that is the case, it would be foolish to think that God would provide for the lesser of his creation (birds), while ignoring the needs of his own children (men). Therefore, do not have anxiety over your daily needs!
Matthew 6:27 – And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Picture this: You get up and go to work. At work, they made you dig a hole five feet deep, five feet wide and five feet long. So you spend all day doing your best job on this hole in the ground. You went home tired and muddy, but with a good feeling, because you did a good job.
The next day, your boss told you to fill the hole back in with the earth you just dug up.
And the day after that, the boss told you to dig the hole again. And the next day to fill it up…
Would you be feeling good about work? My guess is no! I know that by the third time I was told to dig the same hole, I would be angry for being forced to perform a back breaking, useless task! No one wants to do a useless job. It is frustrating and demeaning and it makes no sense.
Here is the lesson to be noted: Anxiety is not only needless, it is also useless, just like digging the same hole over and over!
If you can’t add to your lifespan by worry, then why do it? There is no benefit; it will only result in frustration. Instead, why not place your trust in God and spend your energy joyfully praising his good name and enjoying what he has given you? Why not move on to doing useful things like fulfilling the destiny God has already laid out for you? That is where you will find peace and fulfillment.
Matthew 6:28-29 – 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.
Once again, Jesus points his followers to the life around them. Flowers are even lower in the created order than birds, yet God still has his eyes upon them. They do not work or toil, yet they are beautiful in appearance because God has ordained it. How much more will God clothe his own children?
Matthew 6:30 – 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?
The historical context of the verse is this: Back in the day, poor folks used to have clay ovens. They would heat these ovens by burning grass and twigs either inside them or below them. Once the oven was sufficiently hot, thin pieces of dough were spread on the inside of the oven and quickly baked.
Did God know that his beautiful plants were going to be burnt up in the ovens? Of course he did, yet he still chose to ‘clothe them magnificently’ or make them beautiful.
So here is the point: If God gives beauty and glory to disposable things which have very little value, how much more will he take care of his children, who are precious in his eyes, and designed for important services in the world? Are you getting the point yet?
Matthew 6:31-32 – 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.
The heathen nations were anxiously concerned with the basic necessities in life (food, water and clothing). This is not surprising, since they are without a heavenly Father that they can trust to supply their needs.
The Jews, however, were well acquainted with the providence of God. So in these verses, Jesus is giving a slight rebuke to the people of God. The Jews looked down upon the heathen as being ignorant of God and his ways, yet they too were anxious for the very same necessities! How then, were they different than the heathen?
What about you? Are you different than the ‘heathen’ or are you still anxious about your needs?
1 Peter 5:6-7 – Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.
God’s people were carrying a burden of anxiety and worry, when they should have been casting their cares on God and trusting in him to meet their needs.
Let’s not make the same mistake. If you have done all you can do to meet your needs, then trust God to make up any lack that you have. You will be surprised at what he will do!
Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.
As Christians, we have more important things to be seeking after than food and clothing. We need to seek the lost and introduce them to Jesus. We need to seek the filling of the Holy Spirit so we have the power to minister to those who are in bondage to Satan. We need to seek God’s will for our lives.
Here is a guarantee that will set you free to seek God: Jesus promises that if we seek him first, the daily necessities will come.
Matthew Henry puts it this way in his commentary: “O what a blessed change would it make in our hearts and lives, did we but firmly believe this truth, that the best way to be comfortably provided for in this world, is to be most intent upon another world!”
Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Part of the definition of anxiety is concern/fear of something that is future or uncertain. ‘Tomorrow’ clearly fits that category. Satan wants to bait you into spending all your time and energy worrying about things that God already has under control, or worrying about things you cannot change.
Don’t take the bait! Be prudent in your affairs, then trust God. Spend your life seeking God, and he will take care of you!
Let me offer you some encouragement:
God loves you more than you know or realize. Never doubt that! Use the words of Jesus in Matthew 6 to reassure you of his love. Based on the knowledge of that love, start to make some changes. Recognize when you are trusting in yourself, then stop and turn it over to God. Even if the change occurs little by little over time, that is okay. Begin to trust God at whatever level you can, then build on that trust until it is complete.
Let me offer you some relief:
Are you overwhelmed and plagued with anxiety about life? You don’t have to be. Make some prudent plans for the future, then when trouble or problems come, seek God. Let Him make up the difference in what you lack. YOU were NEVER designed to carry around those heavy burdens, so LET THEM GO. Cast those cares upon God, and let him worry about your provision. His supplies are unlimited!
Let me offer you some strength:
Perhaps you are guilty of being anxious (my guess is we are all guilty to some degree), but you don’t have to stay in that mindset. God is bringing it to you attention right now, because the time is right for you to deal with it.
It seems like a scary thing to do, but the rewards are rich and eternal. God would not ask you to do something that you weren’t capable of doing. So start today. Give him your concerns regarding provision, then willfully set your mind on spiritual things. Praise Him. Worship Him. Pray for others. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Mind the things of God, and He will take care of you!
You have the strength to make the change – and Jesus will walk with you every step of the way!