Sunday, September 1st, 2013
Sermon On The Mount (Part 23)
When To Worry And What To Seek
Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:31-34 (NKJV)
Preface: like most Christians, I have favorite Scriptures. But we must not cling only to one-liners--not even in Scripture. As a story must be read in context to receive its full meaning, even more must God's Word be read in context to receive Its full meaning--and the resulting benefits.
Clinging to one Verse is like clinging to a perfect piece of wood in a stormy sea. Yes, it can save us, but isn't it better to ride in a beautiful boat? One driven by the 'Captain of salvation' (Hebrews 2:10)? You abide in Him by reading His Word in Its full majesty--therein releasing Its full power: Verse by Verse, Chapter by Chapter--because that's how God built the Bible.
Even more, by sailing in a perfectly driven boat, you'll get to the places He wants you to go faster--rather than paddling your hands and kicking your feet on top of a piece of wood--no matter how wonderful it is.
Back to Matthew 6:31-34: I love this part of It: 'Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness...' It's one of my favorite Verses. I believe we should apply It to every desire in our lives, because Its meaning is clear: What to seek first is not worldly wealth or even sustenance, but God: His Spirit and His Son. Then He provides the rest--even the best: the desires of our hearts. His timing will be perfect. We should not rush it or worry about it.
But Jesus also talks about outsiders (a.k.a. Gentiles, which most of us once were); they are the ones we are supposed to help. People outside of Jesus worry constantly, and well they should--but their worry is misplaced. Instead of salvation, they worry about ration (as in food, clothes or wealth). Instead of salvation, they worry about station (as in position, placement or power).
We understand these worries, because we face them too. But they don't know what to do about them--except to fight to get the things they want. Still their worry remains. Because they fight the wrong foe and are powerless to fight the real one, who is Satan.
Here's the key: we are supposed to example the joy of a worry-free life--available only by faith in Christ. Because the piece of driftwood they grasp to stay afloat is not a beautiful Scripture, but a soon-to-be-sinking lie. We need to invite them into His Boat. But to do that, we must advertise Its benefits: lack of worry is a big one.
If we as Christians carry worry on our backs, if we as Christians speak worry from our lips, why would outsiders want to join Jesus? Our witness is wrong. So we must cast our cares in the privacy of successful prayer, and live our lives in the publicity of successful joy.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Sermon On The Mount series.