Canada, October 7, 2018
Sunday between October 7 and October 13 inclusive
USA, November 22, 2018
Thursday between November 22 and November 28 inclusive
Read the passage at the bottom of this post: Matthew 6:25-33, The Message or Matthew 6:25-33, The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
It might be helpful to pause on the word, "Therefore," which begins verse 6:25 and review the "whereas's" that begin in Chapter 5:
- The Beatitudes
- Being salt of the earth and light of the world
- Obeying and fulfilling the law
- Anger and reconciliation
- Adultery in our hearts
- Let your Yes be Yes or your No be No
- Do not retaliate, instead publically expose the unjust authority
- Love your enemies
- Give alms, but don't make a show of it
- Pray, but don't make a show of it
- Fast, but don't make a show of it
- Store up treasures in heaven not on earth
- Make sure your inner light is healthy
- Don't think you can serve two masters: God and wealth
These teachings are the basis for the "Therefore, do not worry" in Verse 25.
The teaching in Verses 25 to 33 is about stopping worrying: anxiety, fear, fretting, fussing. It is NOT about stopping planning, being responsible, caring. It is not encouraging us to have a laid back, "whatever" attitude. Notice the strong verb in Verse 33 - strive / seek / desire / endeavour
The opposite of worry / fear / anxiety is faith - or better still - trust. If we were to trust in God as simply and completely as the birds of the air and the flowers of the field do, we would not be anxious. We WOULD still have responsibilities but would not be anxious about them.
And more than this, if we set our responsibilities within the framework of first and foremost desiring God's realm and its justice, then our intentions don't get confused with our expectations.
Which is to say, it is human nature to describe our intentions in terms of the expected outcomes. Doing this is very useful since it gives others a concrete picture of the anticipated "reward" at the end of the journey.
However, in the real world, setting out on the journey will result in learnings and set backs. We will become worried and anxious about achieving our expectations. But if we re-focus on our original intentions - and trust that God is still present in our current circumstance - then we can stop worrying about tomorrow.
Today's trouble is enough for today. Indeed.
Historical background information in this post is drawn primarily from Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, see link below, pages 49-50.
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, et. al., Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
Matthew 6:25-33 (NRSV)
25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Matthew 6:25-33 (The Message)
25 "If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. 26 Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
27 "Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? 28 All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, 29 but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30 "If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 31 What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. 32 People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Scripture quotations from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
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