“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Worry is not the same thing as concern. Concern is when we’re faced with a challenge and we put on our thinking caps and roll up our sleeves and go to work. Worry is when we are convinced that no matter what we do, everything is going to end badly. It’s been said: “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due” (William Ralph Inge). It doesn’t make much sense to worry. Yet we all do it. Why?
When we’re caught up in our worries, we might think that the reason we’re worried is because there are so many things to worry about. And if God would just take those worrisome things away, we think we would no longer have reason to worry.
But the circumstances of our life have no power to make us worried. The truth is that even if every single worrisome thing in our life were to disappear completely, we would still have the ability to think that something horrible is just around the corner. The problem isn’t with God. The problem is with us.
There is a statement found three times in the Bible, twice in the Old Testament and once in the new, and it goes like this: “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). At first it might not sound like such a thing could be true: “There is no one who does good, not even one.” From our perspective, we see many acts of kindness and love from other people. We all know people whom we consider good people. But God sees what we don’t see. He sees behind the things we say and do, and even the things we think, and he looks at our hearts. And what does he see? He sees worry. Worry says something about us. It says we don’t trust God to be God.
So while worry can cause things like stress and high blood pressure and even heart disease, the worst effect of worry is that it separates us from God. And we have no one to blame but ourselves. We all need God’s help. We all need his forgiveness. We all need him to make us right again.
But now remember who it is telling us not to worry. It’s Jesus. Even as he speaks these words, he’s on his way to the cross to die for the sins of the whole world. He is God’s antidote to sin, all sin, including the sin of worry. He’s your Savior. And because he died as your substitute, God looks at you in a new way. Now when he looks at you he sees Jesus. He sees Jesus’ perfect, sinless record. He sees a holy person. He sees a saint.
And he wants you to see what he sees. Think how important this is for us believers living our lives each day. See, if you’re feeling guilty about something, it becomes very difficult to be a loving person. A guilty conscience comes out in harsh words and anger and impatience and selfishness. But knowing that all of your very real sin is really forgiven in Christ: this frees you from the shackles of your guilt so that we can show love to one another, in good times and in bad. People who know that they’re saints in God’s eyes act like saints.
But it gets even better. Everyone who believes in Jesus is in God’s kingdom. And there is no better kingdom than that. It’s a kingdom of peace and contentment, where God works everything out for your best, where not even death can separate you from God. In fact, this kingdom is so important, so wonderful, that Jesus says “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”
You know where to find it. That’s why you go to church, it’s why you love hearing and studying God’s Word. You know the kingdom Jesus established by his death on the cross and his resurrection, and you know where to find it. We find God’s kingdom in his Word of forgiveness.
The life of a believer is lived under the cross, and that’s never easy. But God’s words for you and me today are full of comfort and peace. He says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (34). He says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father fees them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (26-27). He says, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you, as well” (33).
Devotion by Pastor Jon Zabell
Copyright (c) 2022, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Green Bay, WI 54301
Bible text, NIV (c) Biblia, 2011