When anxiety overtakes us, we become bound up in the small stuff of life, the passing, transitory things, when we should be focused on the eternal. [In Matthew 6] Jesus is saying, “Look, God has taken care of the birds and the lilies. He has taken care of the tiny transitory parts of creation. But you’re much more valuable. You take care of his business, and don’t worry about your own.” As mentioned previously, I don’t mean that in some reckless way. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do what you need to do to take care of your family, or that you don’t need to pray, plan, or work. It just means we need to keep our priorities straight.
It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Hold on a minute, guys. You’ve got mixed-up priorities. You’re worried about what you’re going to eat, drink, and wear? Look, just keep following me. Let’s spread the gospel. Let’s be concerned about lost souls. Let’s expand the borders of the kingdom.” Of course there’ll be a future, earthly kingdom when Jesus returns, but in the present, he rules a spiritual kingdom in the hearts that are being changed by the gospel of God’s grace. If you give yourself to God’s business, he will meet your every need along the way. The other things “shall be added to you.” But if the lesser things become little gods, the true God is displaced, and life becomes a mess. That’s the thought here. When we hold nothing back from God, God will hold back nothing that is necessary to accomplish his will and do his work.
We see an illustration of this principle and promised provision in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings. Following the Lord’s faithful care of his prophet Elijah by ravens, which daily delivered bread and meat, God directed him to go to a town named Zarephath, where he would again be fed, this time by a poor widow. When Elijah arrived, he found the widow gathering sticks at the city gate and asked her for bread and water.
So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’” (1 Kings 17:12–14
The widow did as God’s prophet had directed her. She gave her last meal to him. What happened next? Her flour never ran out, and her oil flask never ran dry again. God provided for her needs. As she trusted the Lord by submitting to his messenger’s message, she experienced what would later be promised in Matthew 6:33 by Jesus. She sought first the kingdom of God, and all her needs were added unto her. So it will be for us. When you and I give God and his work the proper place in our lives, everything else will fall into its proper place.
[This post is written by Philip De Courcy, and excerpted from his new mini-book HELP! I’m Anxious]