These verses (Matthew 6:25-34) are a striking example of the combined wisdom and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ’s teaching. He knows people’s hearts: he knows that we are always ready to counter warnings against worldliness by the argument that we cannot help being anxious about the things of this life. “Have we not our families to provide for? Must not our bodily needs be met? How can we possibly get through life if we think first of our souls?” The Lord Jesus foresaw such thoughts and provided an answer.
An Anxious Spirit
He forbids us to keep up an anxious spirit about the things of this world. Four times over he says, “Do not worry” (verses 25, 28, 31 and 34). About life, about food, about clothing, about tomorrow, “do not worry.” Do not be over-careful, over-anxious. Prudent provision for the future is right; wearing, corroding, self-tormenting anxiety is wrong.
God’s Providential Care
He reminds us of the providential care that God continually takes of everything that he has created. Has he given us “life” (verse 25)? Then he will surely not let us lack anything necessary for its maintenance. Has he given us a “body” (verse 25)? Then he will surely not let us die for lack of clothing. He calls us into being and will doubtless find meat to feed us.
He points out the uselessness of over-anxiety. Our life is certainly in God’s hand; all the care in the world will not make us continue a minute beyond the me which God has appointed. We cannot add one hour to our lives; we shall not die till our work is done.
The Birds of the Air
He sends us to the birds of the air for instruction. They make no provision for the future: “they do not sow or reap or store away in barns” (verse 26); they do not store food for the future. They literally live from day to day on what they can pick up by using the instinct God has put in them. They ought to teach us that no one doing their duty in the position to which God has called him, will ever be allowed to come to poverty.
The Flowers of the Field
He tells us to look at the flowers of the field. Year after year they are decked with the brightest colors, without the slightest labor or exertion on their part: “they do not labor or spin” (verse 28). God, by his almighty power, clothes them with beauty every season. The same God is the Father of all believers. Why should they doubt that he is able to provide them with clothing, just as he cares for the “lilies of the field”? Anyone who thinks about perishable flowers will surely not neglect the bodies in which immortal souls dwell.
Worry Unworthy of a Christian
He suggests to us that over-carefulness about the things of this world is most unworthy of a Christian. One great feature of paganism is living for the present. Let the pagan be anxious if he wants to; he knows nothing of a Father in heaven. But let the Christian, who has clearer light and knowledge, give proof of it by his faith and contentment. When we are bereaved of those we love, we are not to “grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). When we are tried by anxieties about this life, we are not to be over-careful, as if we had no God, and no Christ.
A Gracious Promise
He offers us a gracious promise as a remedy against an anxious spirit. He assures us that if we “seek first” and foremost to have a place in the kingdom of grace and glory, everything that we really want in this world will be given to us “as well” as our heavenly inheritance (verse 33). “In all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). “No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:11).
Last of all, he seals up all his instruction on this subject by laying down one of the wisest maxims. “Tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (verse 34). We are not to carry cares before they come: we are to attend to today’s business, and leave tomorrow’s anxieties till tomorrow dawns. We may die before tomorrow: we know not what may happen tomorrow; we may only be sure of this one thing, that if tomorrow brings a cross, he who sends it can and will send grace to bear it.
In all this passage there is a treasury of golden lessons. Let us seek to use them in our daily life: let us not only read them, but turn them to practical account; let us watch and pray against an anxious and overcareful spirit. It deeply concerns our happiness to do so. Half our miseries are caused by fancying things that we think are coming upon us: half the things that we expect to come upon us never come at all. Where is our faith? Where is our confidence in our Saviour’s words? We may well be ashamed of ourselves when we read these verses and then look into our hearts. We may be sure that David’s words are true: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).