Guarding against Worry
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
suggested further reading: Philippians 4:6–20
Christ reproves the excessive anxiety that people have about having enough food and clothing, but he also offers a remedy for curing this disease. When he forbids people to be anxious, he does not intend that they give up all concerns, for we know that people by nature have such concerns.
But excessive care is condemned for two reasons: either because people can annoy and vex themselves to no good purpose by being more anxious than is proper or their calling demands, or because they take more burdens on themselves than they have a right to do. They rely so heavily on their own efforts that they fail to call upon God to provide.
To guard against such excessive care, we should remember the promise that while unbelievers “rise up early, and sit up late, and eat the bread of sorrows,” believers will obtain rest and sleep through the kindness of God (Ps. 127:2). Though the children of God are not free from work and anxiety, yet we can properly say they do not have to be anxious about life. They may enjoy calm repose because of their reliance on the providence of God.
It is thus clear how far we should go in caring about food. Each of us ought to work as far as his calling requires and the Lord commands; and each of us ought to be led by our own wants to call upon God. We must find the intermediate place between indolent carelessness and unnecessary torments by which unbelievers kill themselves. If we give proper attention to the words of Christ, we will find that he does not forbid every kind of care but only that which arises from distrust. Take no thought for what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, he says. Distrust belongs to those who tremble for fear of poverty or hunger as if they may be short of provisions at any moment.
for meditation: What if I lose my job, if my house payment rises beyond my ability to pay, if I have a heart attack, if I can’t afford to send my children to college—do such “what ifs” keep you awake at night, fretting about life’s possibilities? How can you find rest in Jesus’ assurance that God will provide for you, no matter what?