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That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? - Matthew 6:25-26 (NLT)
Earlier this year our American President created a stir when he allegedly used a derogatory term in reference to certain African and Central American nations. Referring to these nations as less-than, the sentiment suggested countries like the USA - those with stronger infrastructure, greater economic opportunity, and limitless cultural and socio-political freedoms - are intrinsically better.
Even more troubling is the implication that people from one nation could be viewed as less valuable than those from another.
However, before jumping too quickly or deeply into harsh condemnations against overt statements of prejudice, we would be wise to examine our own hearts. What thoughts go through our minds when we deliberately avoid eye contact with the panhandler standing at the stoplight; how easily do we avoid passing through “that part of town”; why do we so rarely share a meal with those outside our own tax bracket?
In other words, how often, subtly or otherwise, are we guilty of judging the value of another person based on his/her appearance, income, addictions, failures, clothing, language, etc.? Sadly, if you are at all like me, this happens more than I’d like to admit.
Jesus has much to say about letting go of our worries and anxieties, but doing so begins with cultivating a right view of ourselves and of God. It starts with this: your life - any life - is of infinite worth to God, regardless of your circumstance, your finance, or your style of pants. We all have inherent worth to God because we are His, created by Him, in His image.
One of the best ways to see people the way God sees them is simply to get close, to spend time with others unlike us. Visit our global missions page today and pray about going on a short-term trip this year.Share Tweet
Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? - Matthew 6:27 (NLT)
I am a born idealist, an eternal optimist. I don’t often worry myself with details because I tend to assume that things will just work themselves out in the end. I’m not reckless (much, anymore) or naive; I just prefer spontaneity and don’t mind to roll with the punches.
My wife, on the other hand, attempts to anticipate all the possible outcomes of a situation. She’s a great balance for me, as I am for her.
When we go on road trips, Erica will sit contentedly in the passenger seat and read for hours on end. But if her eyes are not on the road, even a slightly significant tap of the brake pedal will cause her to jolt up and gasp. Her gut assumption is that we are about to crash - every time - and it always takes her a moment to get her bearings before she can breathe deeply and relax again.
(Don’t tell her this, but sometimes I like to pump the brakes just for fun to get a rise out of her.)
Almost sarcastically, Jesus reminds us that worry has no place in our lives. In particular, He wants us to remember the One who is in control when it comes to our basic needs. But simply telling ourselves not to worry won’t do the trick; we have to cultivate a more robust faith to counter the anxieties of the flesh. The deeper our roots go into Christ, the more confidence we have that God really is our good provider. And confidence leads to peace - it is the antidote to worry. When we know, with confidence, who we are and whose we are, worries will fade.
It is those with unwavering confidence in Christ who forsake the comforts of home to spread the Gospel in foreign nations, who give 10% (or, often, much more) of their income to Kingdom work in and through the Church, who face even the prospect of death with a peace that passes understanding.
What are you doing to cultivate your confidence in the Father? If you don’t daily spend time reading the Bible, what is stopping you? Consider starting a reading plan today.Share Tweet
And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. - Matthew 6:28-29 (NLT)
As a kid, I had absolutely no fashion sense. None. Zero. My wardrobe was a steady stream of sweatpants, Umbros, and the occasional pair of blue jeans. When I was in 8th grade, the Skidz brand of clothing had a surge of popularity. The first time I ever recall asking my parents for an item of clothing was when I started to see kids wearing Skidz around school. To my delight, my mother (who must have been thrilled I was willing to wear something other than blue sweatpants) brought home a Skidz outfit one day. You read that right - an outfit.
The next day I sauntered into the school with my black-and-white-checkered Skidz pants and matching long sleeve Skidz logo t-shirt, feeling like I owned the world. Looking back, I know how ridiculous I looked, not just because I succumbed to 90s fashion, but because I was overly concerned about something that really didn’t matter: image.
I’m of the belief that we are at our best when we don’t take ourselves too seriously. I happen to think Jesus feels the same way. Even as adults, we often spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about our image, from the cars we drive to the clothes we wear. But even Solomon, the richest ruler the world has ever seen, could not create a clothing line for himself that would rival the beauty of a simple lily.
God loves beauty. And here’s a truth-bomb: He thinks you’re beautiful. Right now, just the way you are. We are healthier, happier, and more in-tune with God’s heart when we stop worrying about our own image.
Here’s a challenge: forgo your own image maintenance for a little bit. Determine your monthly budget for clothing and choose not to spend it. Instead, donate that money to a charity, a church, or a person in need. Do yourself a favor and stop worrying about your appearance, at least a little bit.Share Tweet
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. - Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
On more than one occasion (or one hundred occasions, for that matter) my wife has rolled her eyes at me for what she would consider to be misguided priorities around the house. When it comes to housework, I have no problem holding my own. The trouble is the chores I identify as helpful are not always the most pressing or the most efficient.
I’ll sweep the floors before dusting furniture or cleaning countertops. (“Don’t you realize you’re wiping dust and dirt onto your newly vacuumed floor?”) I’ll mow the lawn before cleaning bedrooms. (“Our guests are not going to sleep in the backyard, silly.”) I’ll run a half-full load of our laundry without checking the kids’ hampers first. (“Now you’ll end up running two washer cycles when one would suffice.”)
It’s not that the housework I am doing doesn’t matter; the problem is my priorities don’t always make sense in the bigger scheme of things.
The same is often true when it comes to our faith. Our tendency is to spend our energies worrying about the perceived needs right in front of us: food, clothing, financial stability, to name a few. It’s not that these are bad things, Jesus says (on the contrary, if God clothes the flowers in such splendor, how much more does He care about our clothing?); they are just not supposed to be the first things.
Jesus knows how this works. If we spend our mental energies worrying over lesser things, we’ll miss out on the very Thing itself - God. Seek Him first, however, and we’ll soon discover that our worries fade in light of His eternal promises.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. - Matthew 6:34 (NLT)
The past is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, but today is a gift - that’s why they call it the present.
I’m sure you’ve heard this quote before, or some iteration of it. It’s a little cheezy for my liking, but the point is well taken. Worrying about the past or the future does little good for us; living in the present moment, however, is where the real blessings lie.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Scott Nickell to chat on Locker Room, Southland’s podcast for men, about issues I see men facing. The bulk of our discussion centered on the dangers of busyness, and how - for men in particular - we too often wrap our identities up in the things we accomplish. We work long hours, constantly have a few home improvement projects in the works, and likely pursue a hobby or two when we can steal a few moments. We even have a tendency to wrap our kids and families in the rat race as well, overtraining and over-involving them in myriad pursuits in the name of “well-roundedness.”
The problem is, without the proper grounding and focus, these pursuits actually pull us away from the present moment. We get too busy preparing our kids for the future and earning to provide a future for our family that we miss the beauty of the present moment.
Jesus knows life is not easy. “Today’s trouble is enough for today,” He says. Do what needs to be done, absolutely. But when we slip into a lifestyle that is constantly waiting for the next thing to come, we miss out everything that really matters. Jesus is exhorting us to be present in the present. Recognize the presence of God in our midst; learn to hear the still, quiet ways He speaks and reveals Himself; slow down enough to be grateful for everything we already have.
God is here, now. Don’t miss Him.