“Therefore I say to you, do not worry 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? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
This section of the Sermon on the Mount gives seven arguments against worry:
- If God gave life, He will sustain life, 6:25
- It is God’s nature to supply for His creatures, 6:26
- Worry is useless, 6:27
- Man as the crown of creation shows the futility of worry, 6:28-31
- Worry is characteristic of unbelievers, 6:32a
- God’s providential care shows there is no need for worry, 6:32b-33
- Worry for more than what is at hand compounds worry, 6:34
“Therefore I say to you,
The “therefore” draws a conclusion from the impossibility of dividing our service between two masters (v.24).
do not worry about your life,
The word “worry” is a compound word from two Greek words: part and to divide. Worry is dividing care into parts. Worry is the division of two objects: (1) Will the bad thing happen to me, or (2) will the good thing happen? Anxiety is suspension between two points. The idea is to be drawn in different directions at the same time. The person is not in either the bad or good area but in a state of suspension between the two. A better translation would be anxiety in this context.
What you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.
The argument here is not absolute. Jesus did not argue for irresponsibility in taking care of one’s family.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
This is an argument from the greater to the lesser. The words “more than” give an argument from the greater to the lesser (a fortiori). Life is of greater priority than meeting the mundane issues of daily living. “Life” means soul but here it carries the idea of self. Overemphasis on daily living will distort the priority of life.
Thus, Jesus’ first argument against worry is this: if God gave life, He will sustain life.
Jesus offered three illustrations of anxiety in verses 26 to 30.
How God cares for birds
How God cares for lilies
How God cares for grass
The first illustration is how God cares for birds.
Look at the birds of the air,
The birds of the air illustrate God’s providential care.
for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns;
Birds fly here and there seeking food but they do not grow their food or put food into storage.
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
God providentially cares for birds.
Are you not of more value than they?
This is an argument from the lesser to the greater. Believers are of more value than birds. Since they are more valuable, God will care for them even more. Believers are dearer to God than creatures without souls.
The second argument against worry is that it is God’s nature to supply for His creatures. Believers are of more value than birds so He will care for us even more than them.
Worry pulls us apart.
Materialism gives a false sense of security. When it fails us, as when the stock market goes down, then we enter into an unsettled state. God wants us free from cantankerous care. He wants us free from the tyranny of necessity.
There is a contrast between worry and trust in God. Anxiety fails to understand God’s providence and care of the individual. Worry cannot make any change and it cannot help in coping with problems.