Worry & Faith
Faith is simply to believe the words and promises of God. But to start us in learning faith Jesus talks to us about worry.
It's in the Sermon on the Mount. It's where Jesus said "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek after all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:31-33)
It's a "stay in your lane" type of thing, but not at all like you would expect. It starts out pretty simple with the understanding that God has created and will provide for our daily needs. In Confirmation classes the children memorize "clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all my goods ..." OK, "all my goods" is the older wording but I still like it better than "all I have". But the point is that God has given amazing blessings, and even when life is hard, we are still surrounded by God's love, mercy, and daily blessings. So why should we be anxious? God is there and He knows our needs.
But still we worry. And Jesus knows that we worry. He was born to become one of us and share all the problems, tiredness, hunger, aches, pains -- and the uncertainty of what the next day will bring. That's why He was a man of prayer, up early in the mornings and going off to spend time hearing the words of the Bible and praying to His Father. (See Isaiah 50:4) He was serious about sharing this human existence.
Jesus knows that we worry. That's why He speaks to the worry. If He did not understand, He would not be able to tell us in the way He says it, "do not be anxious" and surround that verse with so many beautiful illustrations about the birds of the air and the flowers out in the fields. (Really, you have to read Matthew 6:25-34. It speaks right to the heart.)
I heard someone, many years ago, say that part of the meaning was God saying, "Do not worry. God will do His part. Just do yours." But look closer and you will find something very interesting. In these verses, the parts that God takes on are the humbler and lowlier. He tends to flowers, birds, food and drink. He sustains the physical life.
And what does He invite us to seek and put our attention on? The noble, the spiritual and the eternal. He invites us to focus on faith ("do not be anxious"); the kingdom of God (because He is busy giving the kingdom to us); and "His righteousness". "His righteousness" is nothing else than the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ, a free gift that was earned as Jesus went into Jerusalem, and from there to the Garden of Gethsemane, and from there to the cross, and from there to the empty tomb.
Jesus is inviting us to focus our mind and soul on every gift of mercy and grace in Jesus, and He can take care of all the other, temporary, passing and smaller things. These are the promises of God. Really. He's got this.
And faith? Faith is simply to believe the words and promises of God.
(There is more for another day, Worry & Faith: Part 2)
Lord Jesus, be my Teacher and help me to learn faith. Since I struggle, speak Your promises over and over again, so my soul may hear You inviting and know that You will be with me in everything and bring me into life and victory. Amen.
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Rev. Mark Willig
Pastor Willig is pastor emeritus of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church.