“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” ~ Matthew 6.31-33
Jesus’ words at the end of Matthew 6 gain added strength when combined with His words at the beginning of the chapter. When anxiety tempts us to fear the future, Jesus tells that we need not be anxious about the future is because our Father who is in secret sees us when we give, when we pray, when we forgive and when we fast. He knows what we need before we ask, and promises to provide for us as we trust Him.
And how do we trust Him? By doing what Jesus says: seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
The command, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” ends with a promise of future grace: “and all these things will be added to you.” A short list of “all these things” is found in the verse which precede it. There is a sense in which anxiety – by driving us to worry ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ – makes us less human. Anxiety can make us forget we were created in the image of God.
In truth, we are created for than food and drink and clothing. Jesus reminds us we are created to reflect the glory of God by carrying out the mission of God. Food, and drink, and clothing, are important. Yet Jesus reminds us that life is more than what we eat and drink and put on our bodies. Anxiety about such things distracts us from our true mission.
Jesus commands us to aim at heaven because if we aim at heaven, He promises we’ll get earth thrown in. If we aim at earth, we’ll get neither. Jesus commands us to conquer anxiety by pressing on to fulfill a desire this world cannot fulfill. In contrast with the Gentiles who scurry hither and yon—like squirrels seeking last year’s acorns, Christians embark upon the peace-producing, soul-satisfying, heart-assuring, and mind-engaging quest of proclaiming the supremacy of Christ above all things. Our great calling is the Great Commission.
We conquer anxiety by taking an active role in the mission of God. We defang worry by doing what God requires. We overcome excessive concern about the future by doing what God requires. We do what God requires by practicing what Jesus preaches. We practice what Jesus preaches by doing two things: loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves. When we love God with everything we have, we will seek first His kingdom. We will promote Him not ourselves. The Holy Spirit will change how we think, live, and treat others. He will help us find ways to include Him in every thought, insert Him in every conversation, and involve Him in every activity. He will open our eyes to the reality of God’s presence in our home, our church, our work, and our relationships. He will affect positively how and why we worship and work, relate to our parents and siblings, love our spouse, and treat our fellow Christians and co-workers. When we love our neighbor as ourselves, we will seek the righteousness of God. We will do what God requires. We will practice what Jesus preaches. The Spirit will open our eyes to the fact that the Great Commission is both local and global in scope.
To seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness is to serve God and God alone. To be preoccupied with excessive concern over ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ while serving God is serving two masters; something Jesus says no one can do. Serve God and He will add all these things to you. Let us seek the kingdom of God by loving Him more than food and drink and clothing. Let us seek His righteousness by sharing the gospel with our neighbor.
Let us conquer anxiety by faith in future grace.* Let us trust Him to provide our needs in the future.
You think about that.
[*To live by faith in future grace means exercising a robust trust in God’s promises to reward those who trust in Jesus by practicing what preaches. The future of future grace refers to God’s promises flowing into your life from the future with the result being that for as long as we live, our trust in God’s promise is revealed by treasuring up treasures in heaven. The grace of future grace refers both to God’s unearned and undeserved favor, as well as His power at work in our lives to make good things happen in us and for us.]