Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Effect of Worry on Faith

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
  -- Matthew 6:25

What was Jesus saying?  Was he telling us to live our lives without thought? To just go about our days without planning or thinking about what we are doing?  No, the word "thought" in this scripture is the Greek word merimnao which means "to be anxious about".

He goes on to give us beautiful examples of why we shouldn't care or worry or be anxious about our circumstances.

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
  -- Matthew 6:26-29

In other words, God the Father provides for our every need. He is Jehovah Jireh , our provider. What can our worry do for us?  Can it make us taller?  Can it clothe us?

Even without worry, we cannot match the glorious gifts of the Father. Solomon, as wealthy and powerful as he was, could not compare to the lilies of the field.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
  -- Matthew 6:30-34

So, again, it comes down to a matter of faith. If we truly have faith in God, if we trust him to keep his word, if we trust him to be our father and take care of us, we wouldn't worry about what we will eat, drink or wear. We would simply rest in our faith that God will provide. (Now, don't take this the wrong way and think that you can just sit at home and do nothing and wait for God to meet all of your needs, because we are also told in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 that those who don't work don't eat!) God isn't saying we don't have to take action, he's saying not to take on worry and anxiety about our circumstances.

Too often, we get our priorities in the wrong order. We rush around trying to gain material things instead of seeking God's way first.

I can't help but notice that this lesson comes right after Jesus taught the disciples how to pray (the Lord's Prayer). One of the key phrases in this prayer is "Give us this day our daily bread". A couple of reflections on this:

In the old testament, the children of Israel received daily bread in the form of manna (literally, "what is it"). They could only gather enough bread for the day. Anything not consumed that day would spoil. They had to gather daily and could not be concerned about the next day.

Throughout scripture, bread symbolizes the word, and the word symbolizes seed.

The truth is, God knows what we need. AND, he has provided the seed to get everything that we need in the Bible. You see, Christians should never be concerned about what we don't have, because we have the seed to grow whatever it is that we are lacking. It just takes word seed and Faith -- or leaving the seed planted until harvest time. 

This is why we are told:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
  -- 1 Peter 5:7

After God created the heavens, the earth, and all that is in them, we are told that he rested. We were made in his image and likeness, and are supposed to follow after him. If he worked and then rested, shouldn't we do the same?

When we have done all we know to do, when we have done the physical labor, when we have sowed the spiritual seed, then shouldn't we cast the care of the issue over onto him -- just as we would cast our load onto a beast of burden to be carried for us. When we have done all to stand, we need to relinquish the care and then just stand on his promise. When we can learn to do that, when we can truly let go and no longer be tossed and turned by our circumstances and what things look like, then we will truly know peace.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
  -- Philippians 4:6-8

This is truly the peace that passes all understanding. When we can stand calm and sure on his word no matter what is happening in the world around us. And we do this by replacing any thoughts of care or worry with whatsoever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report.  We do this by standing on God's word.

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