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.” (Luke 12:22–23, NKJV)
Jesus had just warned against covetousness, by saying that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). In contrast to materialism’s greed (which prevents being rich toward God, Luke 12:21), disciples of Christ avoid the distracting cares of this life. While we provide for ourselves and others, our faith rests in God, who supplies our material needs. We are tempted to confuse our wants with our needs. Jesus reminds us not to do so. By first seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness, our faith rests in God, not in ourselves. By doing so, we are assured that our Father in heaven will provide what we need in this life (Matthew 6:33-34). Do not be deterred from your goal of heaven by putting the material things of life before doing the will of God. Since God cares for our lives and bodies, He will certainly provide our food and clothing. Keep your faith in God, and focus on heavenly things first.
16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? 17 Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence. 18 If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. 19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. (Psalm 94:16–19, NKJV)
The Lord has not promised to remove Christians from the hour of trial and trouble. Indeed, He did not remove His own Son from trouble. Jesus said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27). God’s purposes are served, even when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. God did not abandon His Son, and He will not abandon you. He is our refuge and strength when evildoers press upon us. He delivers us from the depths of despair. His presence, power and mercy delights the soul, especially in the face of unsettling troubles. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” … Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37).
31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:31–34, NKJV)
What is the primary aim of your life? What, more than anything else, drives you, motivates you, compels you to action? Unbelievers crave (“seek”) material things that satisfy their momentary desires. Disciples of Jesus hunger for the rule and reign of God in their lives. Our priority is to be upright before God and men in word and deed. We trust our heavenly Father to supply our daily material needs. So, we strive not to “worry” about (be distracted by) things beyond our power and control. We meet our daily responsibilities and challenges with faith in God. So, again we ask, what is most important to you? Are you really living for heaven, or for this earth? Your daily decisions, words and deeds show your true answer. Walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7)
These are the promises made to those in Christ who have learned not to go beyond the providential Hand of the Lord. Jesus never said that we should not be concerned for the things of this world, but rather that we should not let them distract us from the promises and blessings found in the security we feel in our prayers. Those Christians who let the devil distract them to the point of forgetting to pray, have left their own hearts unguarded and opened their minds to greater problems than they could ever handle on their own. Let us be secure in our own minds, and our hearts will be guarded by the trust we have in the power of our prayers to God. “In God We Trust” should be more than a slogan on a monetary piece of paper or metal coin. (Dennis Scroggins, Bible Thoughts for Today)
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” (Proverbs 12:25, ESV)
Anxiety is an anchor that strangles the soul, depriving the heart of joy and gladness. Worrying and fretting over things one cannot change diverts attention away from those things that truly matter. Jesus said that anxiety robs the heart of trust in and dependency upon God (Matt. 6:25-34). To guard against this enemy of joy, Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:25-34). Our proverb says the heart burdened with worrisome doubt can be lifted up by well-chosen words of comfort and encouragement. If you know someone who is struggling with anxiety, offer them a kind and pleasant word that reassures them of God’s ever-present love and care. Help lift the anchor that is dragging them down to despair.
…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
Paul has just exhorted Christians to do three things to avoid being weighed down by anxiety (the distracting cares of this world): Be joyful, be gentle and be prayerful (Phil. 4:4-6). Now, he tell us the positive result of such a life of faith; God’s great peace standing as a garrison around your heart and mind, protecting your thoughts, feelings and perceptions from the onslaught of doubt and fear. Many yearn for inner peace, yet it eludes them, because they are at war with God (Jas. 4:1-4). For true and abiding peace, turn to God and the salvation that is in His Son, Jesus Christ. Then, because you are at peace with God, nothing can overwhelm you. You have His promise.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:4–6, NASB95)
Christians have the ability to live in joyful gladness under the most stressful situations. The character of gentle forbearance couples with remembering the Lord’s approaching judgment to form two reasons we live in joy instead of anxiety. The third strand of the three-fold cord of joy is prayer. The thankful requests of prayer strengthen our resolve to rejoice in the Lord because we know God hears and answers us. With a gentle spirit, generous prayers and respect for the Lord’s presence and power to judge, Christians refuse to abandon joy for anxiety, especially in the face of temporary trials. Though Paul was imprisoned in Rome for his faith, he set this example of always rejoicing in the Lord. Today, remember Christ rules from heaven and sees all things. Keep a gentle spirit toward others as you petition God with thanksgiving for His great and constant care. By doing so you can, and will, “rejoice in the Lord always”.