25 “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? 26 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 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? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
If anxiety is an ongoing struggle in your life, you probably have not found the advice, “just don’t worry,” to be very helpful. It may sound overly simplified at best and at worst, lacking in the empathy necessary to fully understand that battle. You may even find yourself tempted to dismiss what Jesus offers here for similar reasons.
I would contend that an all too common false interpretation of this teaching is that what Jesus is trying to communicate here is if you have any anxiety or fear in your life then your faith is not real. Instead, what I want to encourage you to consider is that there is a tension in all of our lives between our faith and our fears...and Jesus wants to challenge all of us in this struggle.
In other words, faith in Jesus is not a magic wand that we should assume immediately eliminates our fears. At the same time, Jesus wants for each of us a life where our anxiety does diminish over the course of time because we grow to see our fears more appropriately in the light of our increasing trust we have in Christ.
And I say all of that in order to say this:
If - out of his great love for you - part of the hope that Christ has for you is for your life to look more and more like what he describes here in Matthew chapter 6, what are the changes that Christ most strongly encourages you to pursue in the year ahead?
For those interested in a little extra credit…
I want to add a personal word for those for whom this is a great struggle. I want you to know that I would describe this as a great area of struggle as well. And because I know how significant that can be, I want you to also hear what I have learned thus far about anxiety that I find most encouraging as I continue to work on daily surrendering that to Christ and seek out the help I need to grow in this area.
Anxiety’s greatest lie is this… You are not capable of living the life God believes is possible for you.
You are right in your thinking that faith is more than a magic trick, but never underestimate the power of God’s Spirit to partner with you in fighting against that terrible lie.
Loving God, I have already confessed to you my tendency to want to go my own way. I know that I struggle with trust and having the humility I need for wisdom to shape my every thought, word and deed. Today Lord, help me to know that growth is a process and to have confidence in what I may easily believe is true for others but may forget when I think about me.
Your Spirit is working for my good. You do not grow weary in that labor. You will never abandon me in my need. I believe it Lord and I am grateful for each of these promises you are fulfilling in my life. AMEN.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.