“So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ But, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:31, 33)
Jesus is exhorting us not to worry. As God provides food for the birds and clothes the flowers with beauty, so will he provide for us. Jesus says we should seek God’s kingdom first, and all these things will be provided as well.
The variety and subject of our worry is almost endless. We can worry about our health, jobs, the well-being of loved ones, and what people think of us. It is not uncommon to worry about all the preparations for a wedding or other big event, only to see it take place, and later wonder what all the worry was about.
When I look back on the greatest opportunities for worry in my life, I thank God that he was present when our youngest daughter underwent open heart surgery at age four. I thank God that I was not relying only on my own pro and con list when making a major career decision impacting our family. I thank God for his kingdom in surrounding me with a loving wife, family and friends when having surgery for an aggressive and advanced form of prostate cancer. That was fourteen years ago.
Peter Kreeft in his book, After Virtue, reverses Jesus’ statement about seeking the kingdom. “Unless we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these things will not be added to us.” If we are not seeking God, we are in effect separating ourselves from him, relying solely on ourselves. “Doing it my way” may sound clever in a popular song, but it is not likely to result in our being part of God’s kingdom with the accompanying benefits of his wisdom, counsel, truth, courage, faith, hope and love.
Seeking God’s kingdom along with his guidance and assistance requires faith, detachment and contentment. We need faith in his love for us, trust in his provision, and hope in an outcome that is eternal. We need detachment from trying to control the timing, means and outcome.
When Martha complained to Jesus about Mary not helping her in the preparations for Jesus’ visit, Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part.” (Luke 10: 41-42) Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to him.
What is your antidote for worry – seeking the kingdom of God first, or relying primarily on your own resources?