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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?” - Matthew 6:25 (NLT)
In my very awkward high school years, I was forever stressed about clothes. I had an incredibly poor sense of style, couldn’t afford the right brands, and consistently felt left out. I eventually saved up for some wardrobe pieces the cool kids had, all of which have now been given away or sit in the back of my closet as an overpriced memory of a particularly cringey time.
Needless to say, this was a difficult passage for 14-year-old me to wrap my head around. Looking back I clearly see the pettiness of this issue, but there are also a lot of big, real things we worry about day-to-day: illness, safety, finances, kids, job security, and I won’t get started on the news cycle. This command to not worry is a bold one, and something we can easily shrug off.
Jesus says this in the context of His famed Sermon on the Mount—maybe His most well-known sermon—where He lays out instruction for a new, better way to live. (You can read it in its entirety in Matthew 5-7) His presence, death, and resurrection meant we were no longer under the heavy laws of the Old Testament, but instead He offers us a new, better way to live... and He mapped it out in that sermon.
So in this invitation toward something more, something better, He asserts this command: Do not worry about everyday life. He doesn’t say this because it’s any easy request or because our worries are invalid; He says this because He, in His humanity, knew our struggle, and knew how deeply this could rob us from a full life. He, instead, offers freedom, and that includes freedom from worry.
“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” - Matthew 6:26-27 (NLT)
I lead a group of high school sophomores with our Student Ministry, and in our group time recently, as they aired their drama and stresses, I offered them something I learned in high school: To run everything through a filter of, “Will this matter in a week? A month? A year?” In a season of life where everything feels like the end of the world, this reality didn’t change my emotion, but it did change my perspective.
In grown-up world, our worries are more tangible; the stresses that steal our energy likely have a more lasting impact. So Jesus challenges His followers with a different question: Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
In our individualistic, self-sustaining society, we view ourselves as our own provider, whether we acknowledge it or not. We work to provide, to gain greater control, to escape worry. Most of our approach to a worry-free life is oriented around finding the right circumstances. But is that really working? Furthermore, are we seeing God as provider and in-control, or are we grasping at that title for ourselves?
The reality is, we aren’t good at being in control. We are incredibly limited in our ability to bend circumstances or dictate outcomes. But the good news is this: The one who has all the power is on our side, and He wants to provide for us.
He’s the one who feeds the birds without their asking. He attends to all creation and knows our needs and desires before we ask. You could probably recount stories of His presence and providence in your own life. We can walk away from our own stories and from Jesus’ encouragement with this confidence: We matter deeply to God, and He is a much better Protector and Provider than we are.
“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. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?" - Matthew 6:28-30 (NLT)
I almost always have flowers in my home. I grew up thinking it was kind of silly, spending money on something that seemed like such a waste, but I’ve grown to love the beauty and life they add to a room, and that they serve as a reminder to believe and claim the truth of this verse: He will certainly care for you.
As we’ve been talking about, across Scripture and our lives and nature, we see God as our Great Provider. We could probably swap stories about times when He showed up for us (or maybe not the way we wanted). But this passage points out the heart of all our striving and stress: Why do you have so little faith?
Stress is not an isolated habit; it inevitably affects and is affected by other areas of our health or relationships. Our spiritual lives cannot be separated from the rest of our lives, and stress, in particular, cuts our capacity for faith short. We cannot lean into the fullness of who God is if we cannot surrender the fullness of our trust and control.
The question at the end of all our worry, even in the presence of a God who has promised to provide, is this: Do we truly believe He cares for us? To surrender is the most humbling and trust-filled action we can take toward freedom from everyday worry—it not only declares the power and character of God over our lives, but it opens us up to receiving and believing the truth of who He is and how He cares for us.
"These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." - Matthew 6:32-33 (NLT)
I try to challenge my instinct to reach for my phone in the little in-between moments of my day; waiting in line or at a red light. While these brief moments prove for some mental clarity (and uneventful people-watching of everyone else on their phones), the inundation of information and media we consume is hard to escape. There are televisions in gas station pumps now! Our screen-free moments feel increasingly few.
You could spend a day reading articles about the negative impact this epidemic is having on the world, but maybe, as followers of Jesus, the real crisis is in what holds our attention and what fills our thoughts. Our days fill with highly divided political drama, tragic news stories, picture-perfect family photos, or someone’s new diet, workout plan, or purchases—no wonder our culture is held captive by worry.
But what if we could set a different example? Perhaps the most significant gift we possess that the world lacks is that of peace and hope. That should change not only what we fix our attention on, but our perspective and approach to it. And if we were able to embrace this in fullness, our worry-free lives have the potential to be our greatest everyday testimony for God.
I’ve heard the question posed in more than one sermon, “If someone watched your life for a week, would they know you were a Christian?” In other words, do your actions reflect what you claim to believe? A more relevant question might be, “Do you live in a way that reflects trust in a good Father who will provide?” We have the joy of being a shining example of a Kingdom well-cared for by the most loving God, and our response to worry can be what sets us apart most from the world.
"So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." - Matthew 6:34 (NLT)
“I AM VERY BUSY.” I’ve seen these words on calendars, notebooks, coffee mugs. Society’s busyness and hurry have now been embraced as a personal brand rather than an exhaustion to be alleviated. And I think we do a similar thing with worry; we may not celebrate it, but we have certainly accepted it as a way of life.
With this verse in particular, Jesus isn’t giving self-help advice; He’s offering freedom from the hamster-wheel of worry. And we respond, not by willing ourselves to stop or being dismissive of real problems, but by repenting of what we try to take control of and shifting our focus to the tone of a loving Father—He is never frantic, never surprised, never stressed. And He has promised us His peace, as a gift the Spirit cultivates in us, if we ask for it.
Accepting this new way of life not only means freedom for us, but freedom to use our energy and attention and generosity on the things that matter in the Kingdom; to offer the same freedom to the busy, hurting world. God intended us to be free from worry, not just for our own sake, but for the sake of a bigger picture He is inviting us to play a role in.
Imagine what our days, our families, our communities could look like if we took what Jesus said seriously, and laid worry down to pick up trust and purpose and wholeness instead? There are people who need the truth and love of Jesus, and the more we surrender our worry, the clearer our vision for Heaven gets.
Take the list from Monday: Do you see these worries any differently at the end of the week? How do you think God approaches them and cares for them? What would be possible if you were free from worry? Ask God how you can be generous—with your time, your home, your talents, your finances—with what He has provided.Share Tweet