Don’t Worry; Seek God

Posted: May 1, 2017 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 12:22-34, “Don’t Worry; Seek God”

If you ever want to play a trick on a friend (and it’d better be a good friend!), then buy his/her child a gift that makes lots of noise.  Our daughter received one such gift that she used for years, and we absolutely hated: the Big Mouth Billy Bass.  One of the songs this fish sang was Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry; Be Happy.”  Many of us are old enough to remember when the song originally came out, and it was everywhere.  No matter where you went, Bobby McFerrin was crooning acapella of his advice not to stress out.

The song might be applied to Jesus’ teaching in Luke 12:22-34.  Not from the aspect of ignoring troubles & seeking temporary happiness, but as in reprioritizing life, not getting stressed by the little things.  Question: Can things like food, clothing, and shelter be considered “little”?  After all, these are basic necessities of life.  Yes…when we compare them with God, they’re little.  Even the biggest problems we ever face are still tiny in comparison with the infinite God.  What is impossible for Him?  Nothing.

So don’t stress – don’t worry.  We spend all our lives seeking stuff that will perish; Jesus tells us to seek the stuff that will last.  If God is our priority – if our ultimate treasure is with Him, then everything else falls into perspective.

The things Jesus teachings in vss. 22-34 are actually the second part of a larger teaching that began in vs. 13.  A man from among the crowd which was listening to Jesus asked Him to solve a family dispute.  It was not uncommon for rabbis to be asked about ethical & moral problems, and that seems to have been the case here.  The man had a legitimate issue with his brother regarding the family inheritance, but Jesus perceived there was more to the man’s motive.  He was selfish & greedy, wanting even the things for himself that did not belong to him.

In response, Jesus told the parable of the rich fool: the story of a landowner/farmer who was so consumed with himself that he never stopped to consider God’s plan for him.  This man was about to be judged by God, and he wasn’t at all ready.  If only he had been generous toward God & not for himself alone, then he would have had treasure in heaven.

It is on that idea of heavenly treasure that Jesus follows up His parable.  How might someone gain treasure in heaven?  How could they be sure of it?  What is it?  These are some of the things Jesus goes on to address with His disciples.  They weren’t to worry about earthly things; their focus was to be on their heavenly Father.

Don’t seek the world; seek the kingdom of God!

Luke 12:22–34
22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.

  1. Here’s the premise: Don’t worry.  As it’s been often said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.”  Question: Is that just some trite phrase – does it minimize real things and real troubles & just an exercise in make-believe?  Is this what Christians are supposed to pretend when real problems come knocking on our doors?  No.  Again, food & clothing are basic necessities of life.  Without these things, we will certainly die.  A person can conceivably survive for several weeks without food.  Moses & Jesus each endured 40-day fasts – Mahatma Ghandi endured a 21-day fast with only sips of water at age 74.  But at some point, the body shuts down.  Likewise with clothing.  Despite what current fashion trends might be, clothing is necessary for life to continue.  Too much sun, and our skin burns – too much cold, and we freeze to death.  So these are indeed real needs, and thus the things that provide these needs (our jobs) are real issues with real life.  It’s no wonder that people get concerned about them.  Why shouldn’t we worry about them?
  2. Because “life is more than” these things.  To say we’re not to worry about them doesn’t mean we pretend they don’t exist; it’s to understand there are bigger issues at stake.  It’s to understand that there’s more to this life than the things we can see.  There is more to life than earthly life; there is eternal life – there is abundant life – there is life in which we are reconciled and restored with our Creator God who is our loving heavenly Father.  Life is far bigger than food & clothes, as important as they are.  Life is about our fellowship with God.  When God first formed Adam from the dust, were food and clothing important?  At least for food, yes.  (Clothing was a different issue then!)  But that was all part of God’s provision.  Adam never needed to worry about food, because food was assumed.  God placed Adam in a garden with food all around him.  Food wasn’t the most important part; fellowship was.  The best part of the Garden of Eden was God walking with Adam and Even in the cool of the day – it was about fellowship with their Creator.  That was the original perspective, and the right one – all up until the day that Adam sinned & everything changed.
  3. This is still the proper perspective for us to take.  Yes, it takes work and the “sweat of our brows” to put bread on the table, but those things are the most important things in life.  The most important things are our relationships with God & with those we love.  First, we are to be reconciled to God the Father through Jesus Christ, loving Him as children to a perfect Father – then we’re to love others God places in our paths, most importantly our families & other born-again believers.  Life isn’t about stuff; it’s about people (the Person of God, and other people He created).  We’re not going to take a single item to heaven with us, but we will most certainly see other people there.  We will definitely see our God there.  That is the real stuff of life!
  4. And that’s the stuff that will last the longest!  Think about it: how long will we live upon the earth?  To say that someone lives 110 years is a monumental achievement!  But at some point, everyone dies.  In comparison, how long does eternity last?  When someone is 1000 years old in heaven, they’re still a mere infant in the long-range of things.  In heaven, we will not think of time in terms of years or decades; we’ll think in terms of eons & millennia!  10,000 years from now, how often do you think you’ll be stressed about your current job?  Never!  What problem do you have in your life today that will still exist 1000 years down the road in heaven?  None.  So why stress?  Why worry?  Anxiety about food and clothing today is utterly useless in the grand scheme of things.
  5. Keep in mind that the previous parable was about selfishness & greed.  What is worry, other than too much focus upon self?  If we’re overly worried about something, it’s because we believe we have the power to fix something that isn’t being fixed, and that we’re not doing enough.  In other words, it’s all about us and what we can do.  It’s selfishness – it’s egotism.  It isn’t about us; it’s about the Lord & what He can do.  That’s why Jesus points to a couple of examples of God’s provision…

24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?

  1. Example #1: Ravens.  How often do you think ravens worry about food?  Some scholars believe that Jesus is referring to a general category of birds, and it’s certainly possible.  This same teaching is included almost word-for-word in the Sermon on the Mount, and Matthew’s version uses “birds” as a category, rather than “ravens” in particular.  Of course, it’s quite possible (even plausible) that Jesus taught this idea more than once, and that at this later time, He pointed to ravens specifically.  What makes it interesting is that ravens are considered unclean, by Hebrew dietary standards. (Lev 11:15)  Ravens are carrion birds – scavengers, eating the dead bodies of animals left behind.  Thus they weren’t fit for Hebrew consumption. So what?  So God “feeds” ravens. God even cares for unclean birds.  Things we ignore or avoid are beloved by God.  They may be unclean to eat, but they are still created by God, and He cares for them.
  2. Thus Jesus’ point: if God does that for ravens, how much more for us?  We are more valuable than birds!  This is a typical form of Jewish logic, arguing something from lesser to greater.  Jesus employs it masterfully.  Ravens were a dime-a-dozen – they weren’t even birds that Jews would purchase.  We think of the grackles here (same family of birds as crows & ravens), ubiquitous in parking lots eating trash & fast-food leftovers.  We don’t want anything to do with them…but God made them, God loves them, and God feeds them.  Do you think God somehow cares less for you & me?  Of course not!  We are of infinitely more value than the carrion/garbage birds!  And that’s no exaggeration.  After all, there is only one category of created life for whom Christ died: humans.  Jesus didn’t die for the ravens or grackles – He didn’t die for the slugs or maggots – He died for you & for me.  We were purchased from sin & death with the blood of Christ Jesus, the Son of God.  We are literally of infinite worth in the sight of God!
    1. A Christian never needs to ask the question: “Does God really love me?”  Yes, without question He does!  All you need do is look at the cross.  In fact, that’s a question that no human anywhere need ask.  Yes, God loves you.  Even when you are lost in your sin – even when you are actively rebelling against God, God still loves you.  He hates your sin, and He is angry with the wicked every day.  But He still loves you.  He wants you to be changed – He wants you to be forgiven – He wants you to be made His child.  How do you know?  The cross.  Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  How much does God love you?  Enough to send Jesus to die on your behalf, all at the time when you still hated God.  God loves you.  You are infinitely valuable to Him.

25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?

  1. Here’s the follow up: Worry is foolish – stress is stupid.  It’s absurd.  What do you expect to accomplish from your stress?  Do you think you can make yourself taller?  Do you think you can add years on to your life?  Little kids want to grow taller than their parents, and often stretch themselves out to extremes to make them think they’re taller than they are.  But the simple fact is they will only grow as God allows them to grow.  Other people try to go to extreme measures to add years on to their lives (which is another way some scholars interpret this phrase), yet the Bible is clear that every day is ordained for us by God. (Ps 139:16)  Those things are out of our hands.  It’s absurd to think that we can make ourselves taller or live longer.  Platform shoes and botox injections only mask the issues; they don’t solve them.  If you can’t add to your height or life (a minor task for God), how do you expect to handle anything else?
    1. As an aside: just the fact that we cannot add to our days does not give us license to live recklessly.  Some people use the excuse that “God has ordained my life” to say that they can walk out into the middle of the freeway and expect not to get hit by a car, because they are invincible until their numbered days are up.  (1) God is omniscient, and maybe He foreknew your stupidity & factored it in. (2) Our days may be numbered, but how we spend those days have a lot of latitude.  We could spend them healthy, or in traction.  God is not to blame for our bad choices; that’s all on us.
  2. The bottom line is simple: Don’t be anxious!  It doesn’t accomplish anything.  How does worrying about food put bread on your table?  How does stressing about your job solve problems with your boss?  All you can do is all you can do.  Do your work, follow through on your responsibilities, and most of all, pray and honor the Lord.  All of the rest is up to Him.  Trust your heavenly Father to do what’s best.

27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

  1. Example #2: Lilies/flowers.  The translation of “lilies” is certainly accurate, but the word can also be used in a more general sense of “flowers.”  The type of plant doesn’t make a difference to Jesus’ point – nearly every flower is beautiful.  Overall, there is nothing quite as beautiful as God’s creation, yet 100% of it is going to burn.  Figuratively & literally, that’s true.  For Jesus’ teaching, He helped people imagine how grass & flowers were culled & used as tinder for ancient Middle Eastern ovens.  Yet the Bible tells us that in the future, God will literally remake the heavens & the earth with “fervent heat” & all the earth will be “burned up” as God makes a new heavens & earth. (2 Pt 3:10-13)  It really is “all going to burn.”  Everything we see in this physical world is all temporary – it is disposable, by God’s design & plan.  And even so…it is beautiful!  Texas wildflowers are especially gorgeous in the spring, and virtually any area in the world has its own beauty to be seen, be it the forests, deserts, mountains, and more.  The best man can do cannot compare with the work of God.  Solomon was the richest man in all the world in his day, with gold and silver so abundant that it was beyond the ability to count.  He had the finest clothing, the fanciest homes – even the temple he built for God was covered in pure gold.  No king in history has come close to the opulence of Solomon…and what was his luxury and beauty compared with that of what God does within the earth?  Just to step outside certain mornings is enough to take your breath away.  That’s how much God loves His creation – He makes it so beautiful that it we cannot help but think of Him and give Him thanks.
  2. And yet, He loves us more!  We are more precious to God than flowers!  As beautiful as those flowers may be, every single one of them will burn.  But not those who belong to Christ Jesus.  God designed humans to exist forever, and those who believe in Jesus will indeed live forever in the presence of God.  The flowers & fields may be part of creation, but we are the pinnacle of God’s creation, made in His own image, bought with the blood of His Son.
  3. Thus: How would it be possible that God would not clothe us?  How could we conceive of God not providing our needs?  Of course He will!  He loves us more than we can imagine.  He knows our every need, far better than we do.  He cares for us down to the very last detail.
    1. Is this a guarantee of luxury?  Of course not.  Nowhere are we promised Italian designer suits, expensive shoes, or gold watches.  No Christian is guaranteed to wear Vera Wang or any other fancy Hollywood or Paris designer.  We may be children of the King of kings, but that doesn’t mean we’re born-again with silver spoons in our mouths.  It is a guarantee that God loves us, that He cares for us, and that He is our ultimate Provider.
  4. The examples given, Jesus begins to bring the point home…

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.

  1. Don’t seek stuff; don’t stress out.  Again, Jesus doesn’t ignore the fact that food, drink, and clothing are necessities – nor does He imply that honest work & labor is not required to receive these things.  He does say that these are not the things that should consume our attentions.  These are not to be our primary desires.  They aren’t to be the things upon which our hopes rise & fall.
  2. The phrase “nor have an anxious mind” (“do not keep worrying” NASB) is interesting.  What’s translated as a whole phrase in English is actually a single negated word in Greek.  It’s the only time this word is used in the New Testament, and it means “to be very concerned about, with the implication of placing too much value upon something.”  That’s the passive form of the verb (which is used here); the active form is somewhat telling, in that it means “to raise on high – to exalt.” (Our English word “meteor” is derived from it: a rock very high in the sky.)  There’s an idea of something being raised too high in our mind, suspended in mid-air, unstable.
    1. Do you ever feel like that when you’re worried?  As if you have no solid ground beneath you & like your world can give way at the slightest trouble?  That’s a sign of too much stress.  It’s a sign that you’re doing exactly the opposite of what Jesus instructs: seeking only after the temporary things of food, clothing, etc.  It’s a sign of a lack of foundation & grounding – something which Jesus specifically said would come to those people who ignored His teaching.  Matthew 7:26–27, "(26) But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: (27) and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."  The person who hears the gospel of Christ and ignores it will find him/herself without an eternal foundation, and their world will crumble at the sign of trouble…especially that of death.  But born-again Christians fall into a similar trap.  We say “Yes, Jesus” to all kind of His teaching, but we don’t believe it in our hearts.  Thus we don’t put it into practice, we worry, stress, try to solve impossible difficulties on our own, stumble into sin, and more.  If we had simply obeyed Jesus & given things over to Him, we would have avoided the problems.  Contextually here, we would have avoided the stress.
    2. God doesn’t want you stressed out!  God doesn’t want you consumed with worry about things you cannot change.  He doesn’t want you consumed with yourself and your wants, needs, and desires.  First of all, that’s not why He created you.  He created you to have relationship with Him & to give Him glory.  Secondly, all it does is cause you harm, and God would spare you from that.
  3. Ultimately, this kind of stress is godless.  It signifies a lack of faith.  This is what Gentiles do; not born-again believers.  The nations of the world try to provide for themselves.  For that matter, that’s what the pagan religions of the world try to do.  Every man-centered, works-based religion is a futile attempt to provide for a person something that can only be provided for by God: salvation.  Every religion except Christianity either ignores the need for salvation, or attempts to bribe God into granting it.  If we just “do” enough, God will see fit to let us in – if we just “give” enough, say the “right” words, perform the “right” actions, maybe God will be persuaded by all of our good qualities & allow us to come into eternity.  And who gets the glory for that?  We do.  After all, we’re the ones who did the work, so we’re the ones that should get the credit. … No!  That’s not the gospel!  In the gospel, Jesus does the work, and Jesus gets the glory.  Salvation is a gift of God’s grace, so God is the only one who gets the credit.  He provides for us; not the other way around.
    1. Do you start to see the problem with selfishly stressing over our stuff?  When we look to ourselves as our provider for the little things, what’s to stop us from looking to ourselves as our provider for the eternal things?  The logic for one is the same as for the other.  Stressing over stuff is not merely a lack of trust in God; it’s anti-gospel.

31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

  1. Notice the conjunction “but.”  Normally, this might not be something worth too much attention as there are several ways to translate certain common Greek conjunctions, such as “and, but, so, also,” etc.  However, in this case a specific contrasting conjunction is used.  Jesus is purposefully & intentionally contrasting what He said here with what He said earlier.  It might be said, “Nevertheless, seek the kingdom of God.”  Jesus already said what the Gentiles do.  What is it that born-again Christians are to do?  Jesus emphasizes it here…
  2. Seek the kingdom!  For all of the things that Jesus said not to do, this is something we are to do.  Seek the kingdom of God – set your desire upon the Lord and upon the things He desires.  Strive for Jesus and the things that are on His heart.  As we saw last week in the parable: value the things God values.  God Himself is to be our first priority.  Remember that the first and greatest commandment is what is stated in the Hebrew Shema: Deuteronomy 6:5, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."  Love God, seek God, worship God – give God your everything, and pursue Him with all that you are.  That’s when you’re seeking the kingdom of God. Everything else flows from that point.
    1. Question: Isn’t seeking the kingdom of God about salvation?  Yes – but it’s not just salvation.  If the only thing “seeking the kingdom” meant was to pursue Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of past sin, then that would be something would stop.  After all, He forgives us the moment we ask.  Once we put our faith in Christ, we’d be able to stop seeking Him, since we found Him (or rather, we were found by Him).  But that’s not what Jesus says.  We are to continually seek the kingdom of God. (Present Active Indicative)  This is something we never stop doing.  Thus this isn’t only talking of the forgiveness of sin; this is speaking of our ongoing relationship with God.  Truth be told, we don’t start seeking Christ until we come to faith in Him.  After that point, that’s when we begin a lifelong pursuit of Him, desiring to glorify Him in everything we do.
  3. What do we find when we seek God and His kingdom first and foremost?  We find God is our provider!  All of the other “things” that would normally be the focus of our searches and stress are things that God adds to us.  He gives us our food, our clothing, our shelter.  Just as He feeds the birds & clothes the flowers, so does He do with us, whom He loves so much more.  Again, this does not mean that we are guaranteed to be rich, nor are we given freedom to be lazy.  We still have personal responsibility.  Our fridge may be stocked, but we still have to prepare the ingredients & cook dinner if we want to eat.  Even if you’re ordering pizza, you still have to pick up the phone and have money available.  There’s no promise that these things will magically appear in our mouths.  We need to stop treating Jesus’ promises of God’s goodness as a carte-blanche for our own laziness or irresponsibility.  And of course ultimately, the provision God gives us is spiritual & eternal.  We have an eternal home in the heavens when we have faith in Christ Jesus.  We have the provision of God the Holy Spirit inside us as an eternal guarantee, power for present living, and a prayer intercessor with God the Father.  We have all kinds of provision in our God that have nothing to do with food & clothing.  Far be it from us to simply reduce God’s provision down to simple materialistic things.
  4. That said, be careful not to quickly spiritualize away the promise of God’s physical provision.  God is alive and active among His people.  He does provide physical & financial miracles in supernatural ways.  God was the one who gave Solomon his vast riches in the first place.  God was the one who put a coin in the mouth of a fish for Peter to pay the temple tax.  God was the one who fed 5000 men (plus women and children) with just a few loaves and fish.  God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) can & does provide for His people in wonderful, physical ways.  He did it in times past, and He still does it today.  Virtually any born-again Christian can remember an act of God’s physical provision if we stop and think about it.  In fact, it’s probably harder to think of times that God did not provide, than times He did. (At least, times when God didn’t provide according to our expectations.)
    1. Keep in mind that we cannot “force” God to act according to our expectations.  God may choose to allow us to have financial difficulty for some reason known only to Him.  Financial challenges to 21st century American Evangelicals are far different than what they might be to 1st century Jews in the Roman Empire, or Christians in 3rd world poverty-stricken nations today.  The way God provides for us might be through hard work, or at least the bare ability to work.  It’s still His provision.
  5. Once again, It comes down to a matter of trust.  We trust God to provide for our needs (both temporal and eternal), and we trust Him even when He acts in ways we don’t understand.  God is God; we’re not.
    1. Do you trust God in this way?  Do you seek Him in this way?  If not, why?  God has proven Himself trustworthy, and the most visible evidence is the cross.  God provided for your ultimate eternal need through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on your behalf.  If He cares for you in the eternal ways, what makes you think He is indifferent to your daily needs?  If you can trust Him for salvation, how much more can you trust Him for bread?  At a certain point, our lack of trust needs to be acknowledged for what it is: sin.  (And even here, it is a sin that can be forgiven!)

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

  1. Don’t fear.  Fear is the foundation stone of stress.  And once founded, it becomes a vicious circle.  When we fear, we stress.  When we stress, we worry.  When we worry, we lose faith.  When we lose faith, we fear…and the cycle continues until we’re drowning.  There’s only one way to stop it: faith.  We’ve said it before: fear is the opposite of faith – the two are mutually exclusive.  Paul wrote to Timothy saying that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)  John wrote that “perfect love casts out fear,” (1 Jn 4:18) – the kind of love that is evident of a person’s true faith in Christ.  A person actively trusting Jesus has no reason to fear, because Jesus ensures that fear is gone.  Fear in the life of a Christian is evidence of a shaken (or lacking) faith.  Thus Jesus tells us not to do it, and He gives three reasons why in this verse…
  2. Reason #1: We are beloved by God.  We are His sheep & He is our Shepherd.  We are the “little flock” of the Lord Jesus, people cared for personally and lovingly by Him.  Again, we are more valued than birds & flowers, truly beloved by God as His special creation and His own special people.
  3. Reason #2: God loves to give!  This is the “Father’s good pleasure.”  Paul wrote of our financial giving needing to be done cheerfully, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor 9:7)  Why?  Because He models it.  There is no giver more cheerful than God!
  4. Reason #3: Ultimately, God’s gift to us is “the kingdom.”  Again, when eternity is assured for us, everything else falls into perspective.  That said, keep in mind there is a “now & not yet” aspect to the kingdom of God.  There is much of it that we await in the future, knowing that we will experience it in its fullness when we see Jesus face-to-face.  But there’s also an aspect of it in which we live today.  When our trust is in the Lord, not in ourselves – when we’re living in faith instead of fear, then we’ll experience the joy and abundant life God desires for us as kingdom citizens.  We’ll be able to have abundant peace as the people of God even while living in a fallen world overrun with trouble.
  5. “OK – all of that sounds great.  I understand the reasons why not to fear – I understand that I’m supposed to trust God & not myself – that I’m supposed to seek God’s kingdom instead of seeking my own provision & stress.  But…how to do it?”  Great question!  Jesus answers that last…

33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

  1. Want to seek God first & foremost?  Want your focus to be upon Him & not upon yourself?  Get rid of the stuff that holds you back.  Contrary to what our instinct might be, the way to not stress about earthly stuff is not by hoarding up as much as possible as a hedge against trouble; it’s to rid yourself of it so that it doesn’t distract you from Jesus.  When our focus is on the stuff that we can hold & our own ability to provide it for ourselves, then we’re not looking to Christ, and that’s when we start the cycle of fear & stress.  So don’t grab onto more; get rid of what’s causing you to stumble.  Don’t hold tighter to it; get a loose grip, trusting God the Father to put in your hand the things He wants there.  Sell + give = provision.  Get rid of the stuff you don’t need, but don’t use the profits for further riches – give it to the poor & get it out of your hands entirely.  This is how we build heavenly treasure.  This is how we get our focus off of ourselves & onto eternal things.  This is when we put our money where our mouths are in seeking the Lord & His kingdom.
  2. Objection: How will selling your possessions give you treasure in heaven?  Is Jesus promoting salvation by works?  Can someone purchase eternal life by giving 100% of his/her money to the poor? (I.e. the ultimate alms-giving)  No.  The whole context is one of trust.  Where is your trust: in earthly treasure, or in God the Father?  Selling one’s possessions is a demonstration of priority.  It is a visible way of affirming one’s total dependence upon the Lord. When you get rid of your stuff, you don’t have any choice except to depend upon the Lord.  If He doesn’t provide for you, you don’t eat…and that’s exactly where God wants us.
  3. Question: Is this a command that Jesus expects us to literally follow?  I.e. should we sell off every single item of clothing & go live naked on the street?  No, of course not – that’s not Jesus’ point.  Later, on the night of His arrest, Jesus will tell the disciples to purchase a sword. (Lk 22:36)  Thus, they will at least have one possession.  Even Jesus and the disciples still walked around Judea with clothing, knapsacks, and basic provisions.  Later, Paul will write to the church regarding the expectation of personal responsibility and work. (1 Tim 5:8)  By definition, to provide for one’s family ensures some possessions of various kinds.  So here, it’s best to see Jesus’ command as hyperbole: an extreme to make a point.  It’s similar to His instruction in the Sermon on the Mount to chop off one’s hand or pluck out one’s eye in avoidance of sin. (Mt 5:29-30)  These were extreme examples (hyperboles) that made powerful points.  Likewise here.  Jesus does not command homelessness; He commands dependence.  We are to put our trust in the Lord – not in our wallets.
  4. That said, neither does Jesus endorse materialism.  Jesus may have spoken in hyperbole, but His point was clear!  Never will we find Jesus teaching us to hoard up all we can & spend our money, time, and other resources solely on ourselves or our personal pleasures.  Quite the opposite!  Being part of His kingdom means that we will be mindful of others, which will include giving freely of our possessions.  (Demonstrated by the early church in Acts 4:34-35.)
  5. Why does it matter?  It all depends on where you want your heart to be.  If you want to be wrapped up in the stuff of the earth and pass away with the stuff of the earth, then by all means focus upon earthly things.  If you want to have your life wrapped up by God, growing in your relationship with Jesus, then focus upon heavenly things.  Focus upon eternal things…

Conclusion:
Where’s your focus?  What is it you seek?  Where’s your trust?  The answer to those questions goes a long way in determining whether you’re fearful or faithful – whether you’re stressed, or solid in the peace of God.

God doesn’t want us stressed out over the stuff of the world!  He has far much more in store for us as His children.  When the whole focus of our lives becomes ourselves (how much money we can store away – how much food we can put on the table, etc.), then not only are we not looking to the Lord Jesus in faith, but we’re not telling anyone about the Lord Jesus regarding faith.  We become useless in the Great Commission, because we’re not thinking about anyone else.  Even if we did, we’re certainly not exampling what it looks like to have faith in the Lord.  Why would anyone else put their trust in a Jesus whom we obviously don’t trust? 

It seems so basic, doesn’t it?  We’re talking about stuff like food & clothing.  Yet if we don’t trust God for those things, we demonstrate that we don’t trust Him for much else…and all of a sudden, the gospel suffers & our profession of faith starts to crumble.

Christian: you say you trust God?  Then trust Him!  Affirm your faith in Him, and double-down on your dependence upon Jesus.  Perhaps for some of you, it means taking a very practical step of getting rid of stuff that is a distraction.  Maybe there’s some stuff that very clearly comes to mind as physical items that keep you from fully trusting the Lord.  Perhaps you’re in a house too expensive for your budget – or you’re upside-down in a car-payment.  Maybe credit card debt has overwhelmed you to the point of drowning, and you’re no longer focused on serving the Lord, but doing whatever you can to make an extra few dollars.  Get rid of the stuff that holds you back.  Scale down, sell stuff – do what it takes.  Certainly be responsible, but take those practical steps to ensuring your sole trust is in the Lord.

For others, it’s not financial, but spiritual.  Outwardly you say you trust God & seek Him, but inwardly, you know it’s different.  Inwardly, you’re well acquainted with fear & have a constant companion of stress and unsettled suspense.  Stop your worrying!  Where you lack faith, ask God to increase it.  Where you fear, ask Jesus for His assurance.  God loves you – He sent Jesus to die for you.  As a Christian, you have zero reason for fear…ask God for the strength to walk by faith.

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