Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
ANXIETY, or ONLY TRUST GOD (Matthew 6:25-34, Luke 12:22-31)
Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say unto you is a definite link between the principle just recorded and the application
which follows. Be not unduly concerned or do not worry are much clearer translations than the Kings James Version
which said "Take no thought." Taking thought 300 years ago meant exactly what is involved in modern "anxiety;"
taking thought had no connection with giving careful thought to a problem or project. In fact, in this part of His
sermon, Jesus is actually commanding His listeners to give very careful thought to their life, to reflect upon what
really sustains it.
Jesus is not advocating a shiftless, reckless, thoughtless attitude to life. He is forbidding a care-worn, worried fear
that takes all the joy out of life. As seen in the parallel (Luke 12:22-48), man must think wisely and plan discreetly
concerning the necessities of life (Proverbs 6:6-8, 2nd Corinthians 12:14, 1st Timothy 5:8, 2nd Thessalonians
9) Matthew 6 - Anxiety vs Only Trusting God
Jesus is teaching against worry. Four times more He will talk about anxiety (Matthew 6:27, 28, 31 and 34; see also
Luke 10:41, Luke 12:11 and 22, Philippians 4:6). If one worry about earthly treasure and bodily needs, it will turn
the heart from God to the slavery to mammon. This lusting after things that we do not have, this uneasiness and
distraction of mind is sin and a sure sign that the heart is fixed on earth.
Be not anxious about your life, what ye shall eat; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Notice that the phrase
"what ye shall drink" has been omitted from some Bibles.
The life and the body. Jesus' word (psyche) is often used to express the life-principle which is the union of soul and
body (Genesis 9:4, Matthew 2:20, Matthew 20:28, Luke 12:20, John 10:11-18, Acts 2:27, Acts 20:10, Romans 11:3,
Revelation 8:9). Jesus defined the word life (psyche) by way of the questions regarding its sustenance: "What shall
we eat? Where with shall we be clothed?"
His speech does not mean that Jesus is equating all that is one's life (psyche) with his body, because there is more
to life than its union with a body. There is clear evidence that the soul of a man is also expressed by this word
(Matthew 10:28 and 39, Matthew 11:29, Matthew 16:25-26, Mark 8:36-37, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33, Hebrews 10:39,
James 1:21, James 5:20, 1st Peter 1:9 and 22).
Jesus is saying, "You yourself are more important than the food you eat, the body you inhabit or the clothing that
covers it!" Men are prone to be more concerned about making physical life possible than about making life worth
living. Mere physical existence is not worth the trouble to sustain it, especially if the problems of the soul are left
Therefore, in terms of priorities, the body is far less important than one's spiritual existence, but it has needs far
more pressing than the lack of clothing. The inferiority of the body compared to the man who dwells in it is seen at
the point where the man leaves the body. At death none of us will have need of food and clothing. What folly to
make our chief concern those things which perish with the using and over which death has dominion.
Behind this command stands God who established it, gave the life, formed the body and sewed its first suit of
clothes (Genesis 3:21). Dependence is the law of our being, because we are obligated to leave to God the size,
form, color and nature of our body. Why should we not trust Him for its maintenance? But many of the most
spiritual argue in exactly the opposite way: "I must live! I must be clothed and fed! I must know where I will live,
where my next meal is coming from. The great concern of such lives is obviously not God but how one is going to
live. Jesus objects to worry because it gives earthly well-being a false trust in something here.
Jesus used this illustration purposely to show the utter unreasonableness of being so anxious about the means of
living. Birds do not have these possibilities. The birds do not sow, nor garner, for these are superior advantages
that God has given to man. The thing condemned is not work, because a bird is a hardworking little creature, going
out and working for its daily supply of food. Jesus' point is that, even without man's superior advantages, there is
not in birds that straining to see the unforeseeable future and seek security in things accumulated for it. They live
literally "hand to mouth," and yet they do not worry, because they are fulfilling the law of life that God has infused
into their being.
The bird does not worry for its food; it just obeys the law of its life and becomes what it is. The law of our life is that
we work for our food (Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:15, Genesis 3:17-19); we were created to work, not to worry.
Will God nourish birds and forget His own children? But our worry about our nourishment, whether we realize it or
not, reflects on God's love for you (Romans 8:32). It also reflects on His sense of priorities: it assumes that He
busies Himself with things of less importance in His universe while ignoring man whom He created in His own
likeness and for His own personal fellowship! It also puts God into a religious compartment, separating Him from the
practical affairs of life like food getting.