The following article is an excerpt from "A Study of the Teachings of Jesus Christ"
by Joseph F. Harwood.
The book may be downloaded in PDF format by clicking on the “Download” button below.
Many of us will find that there will be times in our lives when we face circumstances that cause us to be concerned about how we will provide for ourselves and those who depend on us. Maybe a job loss, an injury or illness, or maybe our own lack of credentials or skills may cause us to worry about how we will make it in the days that lie ahead. We may anxiously question whether we will be able to obtain the things that we need to sustain ourselves and our loved ones.
Jesus knew that we would face times like these, and in Matthew 6 He spoke specifically to our concerns about such things. He prefaced His teaching by saying in verse 24 that we cannot serve two masters; we cannot serve both God and money. He then continued in the verses that follow with His teaching about worry, and about God’s promise to provide for the needs of His people. Beginning in verse 25 we read:
“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, emphasis added).
Jesus told us not to worry about our tomorrows and about how we will provide for ourselves in the days ahead. He assured us that God will provide for our needs, pointing to the fact that He provides for even the birds of the air, which “do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns”. These creatures do not cultivate crops and store them for their future needs, but they gather daily what God provides for them. Jesus used the lilies of the field as another example, saying that they “do not toil nor do they spin”, and yet God clothes them in splendor. With these examples of God’s provision, Jesus taught us that if God takes care to provide sustenance for even the birds of the air and the grass of the field, then He will surely provide for us as His people.
Jesus then taught us not to anxiously preoccupy ourselves with chasing after material things as unbelievers do, making the pursuit of the money necessary to obtain these things the priority of our lives. He assured us that God our Father knows our needs and promises to provide for us, if we will seek His kingdom and His righteousness as our priority in life.
This means that above all else, we are to walk in obedience to God’s word as revealed to us in the Bible, and we are to put the pursuit of worldly endeavors and our own desires behind our pursuit of the things of God. If we will seek as the preeminent goal of our lives to obey God in all that we know He requires of us, then we can rest in His promise that He will provide for our material needs (Matthew 6:33-34).
The circumstances and conditions of our lives will reveal God’s plan for our lives. Sometimes these circumstances are only temporary. Other times certain circumstances and conditions will be something that we will live with for the rest of our lives. If an ability or talent or credential that the world deems valuable is out of reach for us, it is because our sovereign God, according to His plan and purpose for our life, has determined that it will be out of reach for us. We should then look to Him to provide for our needs and not to our own strengths and abilities.
The world esteems highly material wealth, prominence, power, prestige, and position. We as believers are told not to love the world or the things that are in world, and we are not to preoccupy ourselves with them (1 John 2:15-17). Instead, we are to seek the things of God as the priority of our lives. We are to make obedience to God’s word in every situation and circumstance our primary focus in life. When we have done this, let us accept God’s provision for our lives as He sees fit to give it, and let us rest in His promise that He will indeed provide it.
The Apostle Paul taught us much about the Christian life when he said: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We as believers have been called to walk and live our lives by faith in the trustworthiness of God and all that He has promised to us through His word. Most of us will find that living our lives by the sight of material wealth stored up for ourselves, or by our own strength and abilities, is something that will be out of reach for us. Our sovereign and loving God directs our paths, and He will demonstrate His faithfulness as He sustains us and carries us through the hardships of our lives. Through these experiences, the promises in His word will be shown to be completely true and trustworthy.