For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.Matthew 6:25-34
As Jesus explains to the crowd gathered on the mountainside that you cannot server both God and wealth, He immediately and naturally transitions into addressing anxiety and worry, within the context of material provision. It is very likely that a majority of the crowd present were poor peasants, languishing beneath the boot of the powerful Roman state. However, it should come as no surprise that there were some in the crowd that were comparatively wealthy as a reward for their cooperation with their Roman oppressors. In both cases, however, provision and wealth were predicated by fear and anxiety beneath the heel of the Empire. And Jesus’ message was meant for both factions.
For the poor, His message was easy to recognize, but not so easy to realize. They are forced to live anxiously wondering where their next meal would come from. Anxiously wondering if the next day would find the Roman soldiers breaking down the door to confiscate what food or possessions they had. If one spoke out against the Roman state, which was considered an act of treason, it would be grounds for imprisonment and all property commandeered by the local Roman authorities. So the poor was forced to live in silent resentment, anger, and fear – always worried that their food, drink, clothing, or shelter would be taken away at any moment.
For the rich, Jesus’ message was not so easy to recognize, and even harder to realize. For many, they had made incremental compromises in order to secure comfort and security. Some had resorted to volunteering as tax collectors for the Roman state, resulting in being labeled a traitor by their countrymen for selling them out. It would not be uncommon for tax collectors to take advantage of their position and overcharge the citizenry in order to fortify their own security. Blinded by their own personal need for security found in the wealth of the power Roman Empire, their hearts would abandon their devotion to their nation and ultimately their God.
Where you place you faith will determine your sense of security. If you place your faith in government, then every election cycle your sense of security will be threatened. If you place your faith in wealth, your heart rate will fluctuate with the ebbs and flows of the stock market. If you place your faith in your job, the inevitable stress of job security will drive you towards workaholism. If you place your faith in your family, the eventual failures of human nature will leave you disappointed with your marriage and your children. If you place your faith in your friends, you will drown in a sea of discouragement when they are no longer with you. If you place your faith in your fashion sense, you will always be looking to the next trend for your self-confidence. If you place your faith in your beauty, as you inevitably age you will begin to be drawn to cosmetic procedures that distort the true you that God created you to be.
However, if you place your faith in the immovable rock of Christ, the firm foundation – the chief cornerstone upon which our security is meant to be realized – then we can know peace. We can experience joy in knowing that God will provide what we need to be eternally secure. Jesus never promised that we would not go without. But He did promise, we would never go without Him. With His last words before His ascension to Heaven following His resurrection, He made this promise:
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20
The formula is simple. Seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first. Seek a heart of repentance. Transform your heart by renewing your mind and resting in the assurance of His grace. Seek His will on earth as it is in Heaven. His will is clearly laid out as He has imparted to us the authority of Heaven to go and make disciples of all nations. When we invest our lives in seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God, He is with us and He will empower us to do His will. In so doing, we can rest assured knowing that He is always with us, from here to eternity.