31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough
trouble of its own.
In order to get to the right kind of life with Jesus leading it, our lives have to become really simple. We’ve crowded our lives with a lot of stuff, a lot of things on our “to do list” that we have somehow convinced ourselves are necessary for our success and well being and the success and well being of our families. But they get in the way of what is to be our focus. They get in the way of what is to be our sole mission in life—to seek the Kingdom. We typically try to create a life and a pathway to that life like we’re smarter than God. But we don’t have to create a life because a life has already been created for us. And that life is with God. It’s not with the world. It is a life with God in the world. We’ve got to stop doing most things with the
world in mind and start doing all things with God in mind.
What Jesus teaches here on the side of a mountain is so transformative. He says at the end of his teaching:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Jesus doesn’t want us to fall. He doesn’t want us to experience a great crash in our lives because we’ve built our lives on sand. I’m reminded of Psalm 127:
“Unless the Lord builds the house… the builders labor in vain.”
Many of us would say “God is a part of my household.” That’s why people love thanking God for the opportunity He gave them to build their lives. “Because without Him none of this would be possible.” But that’s where the big mistake makes itself known. We’re not supposed to give God a credit for the possibility—one line at the end of an auto graphical chapter in our lives. We’re supposed let Him build our lives, build our homes. In a literal sense, we build with God. We labor with God. We do the things He instructs us to do. He lays out the building instructions and we are supposed to follow them. And whatever we build based on those instructions, ultimately, He built it.
It is He who establishes the foundation and gives us the ability to build it. The great ideas we come up in our pursuit of a godly life that end up working well come straight from God. He’s built things that make up my life that would seem to be the
result of well thought out choices I made, that just somehow worked themselves out for my good and for the good of others. In my fumbling around, “In my weighted decisions, in my considerable surveying of my opportunities, because of my deeply intellectual analysis and prowess, and through my highly developed spiritual observation and discernment, I’ve made significant personal life transformative decisions for God.” But what I’ve come to realize is that the decisions were just as
much by God as they were for God. I am not all that. Alone I possess neither the intelligence nor spirituality I may espouse. What may be perceived as wise was divinely profound, because God did it. I was putting up a shack while He was building His kingdom. I was putting up sheet rock while He was laying down stone. I was hammering in nails while He was building a hedge of protection around me.
25 “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?”
Don’t worry about whether you have enough to eat, drink or wear. Stop worrying about whether you have the necessities to live. If you’ve ever worried about how you were going to make it, don’t. God will take care of you. Now that sounds
simplistic, and for some, simplistic means simpleton. “Of course we should worry about having the necessities in life to sustain us, who doesn’t worry about those things when we’re one pay check away from it?” I’ll tell you who doesn’t worry about
those things—people who trust God. People who trust Him, literally, with their lives. Seeking the kingdom first will categorically simplify your life. If you think about it, seeking the kingdom first is analogous to fasting. Because it is a disciplined dependence on God first, over food, and water in order to live. In fact, it is a dependence on God to supply you with those things as a result of you seeking Him first.
What does it mean to seek the kingdom? It means that you are seeking the kingdom to come. Well, what does it mean for the kingdom to come?
This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Seeking the kingdom to come means seeking His will to be done. Where? “…on earth as it (already) is in Heaven.” The first three words of v.10 are explained by the next eleven words. Your kingdom come. What does that mean? Your kingdom come means “Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
v.11 “Give us today our daily bread.”
Jesus says pray for the necessities—food, drink, clothes. “Lord, give us today (not tomorrow, because tomorrow will take care of itself), our what we need each day.” Jesus is telling us to pray for our daily provision and then give that concern over to
God. This is what is so simplistically profound: if we want to get rid of that worry of whether we will have enough, we have to pray everyday! “Give us our daily bread” is a day-to-day prayer. When Jesus says in v.9 “This is then how you should pray,” the “how” is not just about the things contained in our prayers, the “how” is about the frequency of our prayers.
Prayer is a self-discipline, but so is anxiety. If we want to rid ourselves of the self discipline of anxiety, we have to use another self-discipline called prayer. We have to fight frequency with frequency. We have to fight fire with fire. The key is to
replace a hurtful self-discipline with a healthy self-discipline. As much as I believe in the possibility of instantaneous deliverance, we typically cannot replace a hurtful self-discipline with a prayer. Most of the time we need daily and set prayers over an extended period of time in order for a true deliverance to come.
Most people give up too quickly in prayer for something and then blame ignorance. “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong?” I’ll tell you what you’re doing wrong—you’re not using the self-discipline the Spirit gave you. If you’ve been living in the constant
disposition of worry, where you’re worried about your family, your job, your health, and where your provision will come from. Let me tell you something that you already know—you can’t live healthy that way. As hard as you try, you can’t control
all of that. As disciplined as you are worrying about all those basic needs, as discipline as you are trying to fix everything in your life, you can’t fix it.
27 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Worrying is a self-discipline that adds nothing and takes the place of prayer. “I can’t be disciplined. ” Not true because worrying takes a lot of discipline. Worrying requires a lot of discipline that takes a lot out of you. Prayer, on the other hand, requires a lot of discipline that pours into you. “I’m all over the place all the time.” No you’re not because there’s a central theme that connects the entirety of your “all over the place” life, and that’s worry. But Philippians 4:6 says “Do not be anxious about anything.” Take the anxiety out of anything you’re dealing with right now. “…but in every situation, by prayer and petition…” Replace the discipline of anxiety with the discipline of prayer. “…present your request to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Replace the self-inflicted discipline of worry with the God-affirming discipline of thinking about the goodness of God. I’m going to discipline myself to think about things like that so that the God of peace is with me. When I think about His goodness, not only does the peace of God guard me, but the God of peace comes to be with me. It’s that next step of replacing worry that brings me into the presence of God.
I don’t believe it’s coincidental that after Jesus says to pray for His kingdom to come and will to be done in Matthew 6, He says to pray for our daily bread. It’s the kingdom that we must seek first. The problem is that most people live their lives in reverse order. And when our priorities are backwards, we are going to have anxiety about how we are going to get our needs met because we have made that our first order of business. In our minds there is nothing more important than our basic needs. But that’s a lie. That’s the lie the world has told us. And many of us believed that lie. “You don’t have anything if you don’t have your health.” That’s a lie. “Planning for your retirement is the most important thing you can do for yourself.” Not true. “My first priority is to provide for my family.” No it’s not. You just reprioritized the order God created us to have. And so the anxiety you’re experiencing about getting your basic needs met is a result of having your priorities out of order. Anxiety can be a function of misplaced priorities. But when your priorities are in order, your basic needs are met. And my trust in God is being further built because I actually believed Him when He said “Seek first for My kingdom…”