Reflections on Matthew 6: 25-34 and Philippians 4:4-7
Our lives are complex and with that complexity come a host of worries. How will I pay for the car repair? Why was I overlooked for that job promotion? What am I doing with my life? Why can’t the doctors figure out what’s wrong with my child? Can my marriage be saved?
While the lives of the early disciples living in the first century may have been less complicated than ours, their worries could be distilled into the same broad categories. Health. Provision. Food and shelter. Jesus’ words to his listeners, as recorded in Matthew 6, “Do not be anxious for your life,” apply to us today as well.
His words were not meant as a critique. He wasn’t judging them, or us, for worrying about important things. He was reminding his listeners of God’s love and care for them. When Jesus says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things,” he’s reassuring us of God’s watchful eye over us.
What does it mean for you today to know that God knows every need and desire of your heart?
The financial stress? God sees it. Your unanswered questions about life and career? God is with you in the wondering. Your family burdens? He’s got them too. But he also knows that worry changes nothing. Rather than fixing things, worry seeks to destroy our emotional, and even physical, well-being.
Seeking God’s kingdom first
Since anxiety and worry are such a normalized part of our lives, how do we begin to disentangle ourselves from them? Jesus provides the antidote to worry when he tells us to seek God’s kingdom before any of these other things. Not instead of, but before these other things. Seeking God’s kingdom begins with seeking God. When we seek God first, we can rest in the assurance that he knows our needs and hears our prayers.
At times it can feel like God is far away, as though heaven were a place at a lengthy physical distance from us. But God is here. Immanuel, God with us. Nothing but a holy, wispy veil separates us from him. When we draw close, we can sense his tangible presence with us.
Our deepest needs, desires, and the cries of our heart are safe with him. When our hearts are troubled, rejoicing in God’s past provision buoys our faith. Thanksgiving tills the soil of our heart to prepare us for prayer. Prayer transfers our ownership of a problem to God. Once offered to him in prayer, we don’t need to reclaim it or continue worrying about it.
Jesus invites us to offer him the burdens we carry. Through prayer God offers us a holy transfer of our worry for Jesus’ shalom. Once freed of worry, we can fill our minds with things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, attractive, excellent, and praise-worthy.
The way of God’s kingdom is paved in peace. Relinquishing our worries to God is a decisive act of faith. It also requires an ongoing commitment to continue releasing our worries into his loving care. This is hard work. It’s rarely a one-and-done. But the peace God promises us in the midst of our storms is worth the effort. This is how we seek God’s kingdom in our life.