Last month we saw that treasuring the material world leaves us poor where it counts — that we lack deep, abiding joy when we treasure the material things of this world. Today we look at another aspect of treasuring something or someone besides Christ.
Treasuring the material world robs us of knowing God’s care
When we place our hope in possessions, things we know can be taken away or destroyed, we set ourselves up for the inner turmoil of anxiety.
That’s why Jesus turns to His disciples and says, “Therefore.”
“And He said to His disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, 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, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you’ ” (vv. 22–31.).
But how can we not be anxious about food and clothing?! This seems pretty essential, right?
Jesus uses two examples of God’s sustaining power in the small and seemingly insignificant to prove He won’t drop the ball in our lives either. He is always working for our good, even when we don’t see it in the moment.
Ravens are unclean and detestable according to Old Testament law (Lev. 11:15). If God cares for that which isn’t fit to be before Him or can even cause another to become unclean, how much more will He provide and care for His own children?! And what do worry and anxiety get us? At its worst, anxiety can cripple us to the point of shortening our lifespans, to physical symptoms and issues.
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?”
Jesus’ argument is that we are trying to do things we lack power to do. We can’t control the rain or the markets or how long we will live. So how does being anxious help in any way?
The lilies Jesus mentions are not the big beautiful easter lilies; this probably is a reference to common wildflowers. And Jesus points out how splendidly creation is adorned, a work He did Himself. The fleeting stuff that is here one day and gone the next is cared for — how much more will God meet the full measure of our need in Him?
Jesus calls this a faith issue: “O you of little faith!”
Do you have the faith to trust in the providence of God even when you don’t see how He is working? The nations seek and strive after all this, but God our Father already knows our need.
What do we do then?
“Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
We don’t have to fret or worry about how God is going to provide
We need to pray for faithful eyes and a trusting heart to see how He is doing it, not so we can believe but so that when we see it we can walk in faith. All too often we pray that God would show us how He’s doing things because we need a sign. God wants us to ask for sight so we can walk forward in faith. Our security isn’t in understanding His plan but in trusting in Him as the plan-maker. He’s got this, and He’s got us as His children!
George Mueller lived out a practical example of this:
“The children are dressed and ready for school. But there is no food for them to eat,” the housemother of the orphanage informed George Mueller. George asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. George knew God would provide food for the children as he always did. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in.” Soon, there was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. The milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He asked George if he could use some free milk. George smiled as the milkman brought in ten large cans of milk. It was just enough for the 300 thirsty children.”
When we treasure the material world, we are robbed of knowing God’s fatherly care
Do not be anxious, because God knows your needs and knows what is needed to serve Him. Our focus then is to serve as God calls and lean on Him to provide.