Yesterday in part 5 we started to look at how Jesus wants us oriented when it comes to finances. We saw that greed is evil, money is neutral, and it should be handled as though all we have belongs to God, because it does. Today we’ll go on to what Jesus says next in relation to all that about trusting God for provision. If Jesus is restoring mankind and the world, then part of what he is restoring is a trust for God to provide such as Adam had in the garden of Eden before the fall. Jesus says is like this, in Matthew 6:25-34:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Verse 25 says, “Do not be anxious about your life.” And the section ends with verse 34, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” So see this first as a command. No command of Christ can be bad for us. So, no anxiety about provision. Does this mean we sit on the couch, watch TV, and wait for someone to show up at the door with money, food, and shoes for the kids? No. It does not mean that. Look at the last part of verse 25: “Is not life more than food…” Is not life more than food. Don’t be anxious about your life. This goes back to where we started at the beginning of the book. God has assigned to us life. Life is what was broken when Adam rebelled. The wages of sin is death, the absence of life. Restoration in Christ is abundant life. We are called to joyfully, faithfully, and trustingly pursue life. But now we see that this does not mean pursuing wealth. We are to pursue work for God’s sake, but trust him for money.
We are to pursue life, and that means pursuing something specific. Jesus tells us the answer in verse 33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” What things will be added? Whatever you actually need, because “your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (32). So what is this “seeking the kingdom and his righteousness?”
In short, it is everything. It is looking to abide in Christ in every second of every day. It is seeking to be present with him in his presence. It is “be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). It is walking in him. It is looking to fellowship with him as we pray without ceasing and, in him, pursuing the activities and work that he puts before us. When we can learn to abide with and in him, obeying him, and living for him, we will not only experience perfect peace, but we will see him provide everything he knows we need. And if he doesn’t know we need it, we don’t need it!
How about “his righteousness?” Seeking his righteousness is seeking his ways, his principles and living accordingly. This is why he has given us his word (more in chapter 7) and his Spirit. How much time do you prayerfully consider his ways of truth, honesty, integrity, love, generosity, faithfulness, and joyfulness? How much energy do you put into understanding and obeying his commands? Seeking life is seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness, or his right ways, and trusting him completely as we carry out our calling as productive, faithful, image-bearing stewards of whatever he puts in front of us. If you devote yourself to God, and what he has for you to work at, money, provision, and perfect peace will be a forgone conclusion.
What is antithetical to perfect peace? Anxiety. Perfect peace and anxiety do not exist in the same person at the same time. One is godly, and one is not. One comes from faith, and one comes from fear. One comes from God, and one comes from satan. I think probably most Christians rarely experience perfect peace because, first of all, Jesus’ instructions about it are too simple for them, and second, that word, perfect. Because we know that we were born so sinful that we needed Jesus to die horribly for us, and because we know that we still have sin indwelling our flesh, and we confuse our self with our flesh, we assume that anything with the adjective perfect could not apply to us. This is unfortunate and a great victory for satan.
The truth is, it is God’s desire for you to live in freedom. It’s part of the blessing of the true Christian life. God holds out life, peace, joy, spiritual and personal power (I don’t mean power over people, but over the darkness), and most of us say, “That’s ok, I’ll settle for your grace and an eventual trip to heaven. Then we live 80% like the world who is in darkness. Satan loves it. God doesn’t, but he allows it because though he could make us follow him, it only matters to him that we choose for ourselves. I’d like you to understand that if you want to, you can grow in these things. In fact, this is the true point of discipleship, growth in Christlikeness. Usually we think that means reading the Bible more, praying more, and maybe going to church more. But it doesn’t mean those things. It means more freedom. Seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and grow.