This reflection was given by our ALM Carol on Sunday 16 February 2020. You can read it again here:
Do Not Worry – easier said than done! (Matthew 6. 25-end)
In this chapter, Jesus recognised the three basic needs of every man. Namely clothes, food, and medicine. In Jesus’ time, the average life expectancy of an individual didn’t exceed 40 years due to sickness and hardships. Continuous supplies of food and clothes were rare and considered a luxury. People were often worried and anxious about how to meet these needs. Unlike today when some people have wardrobes full to excess!
What is it that people worry about the most?
Some worry about the past. Did I say the right thing, did I make the right decision, did I do the right thing? Many worry about the present. What shall I do, where shall I go? Most are worried about the future. Yesterday is past, today is almost over. I am still, here, I have made it this far. I had dinner tonight. I have a place to sleep tonight. But what about tomorrow? How will I survive, how will I eat, how will I pay the bills, how will I pay the rent? You may say, “What about tomorrow night?” That is not here yet, who knows how God will supply for that? Jesus said to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
“What you shall eat, what you shall drink.” Two things are necessary to sustain life, food and water. These things are basic for survival, thus they become the main concern for a person who has no money. The Hippies certainly provided us with interesting insights on how to survive without working. In the communal houses, where everything was shared, they would have what they called the garbage runs. They would go to the back of the large chain grocery stores and pick up the throw away food. Vegetables and fruit that had blemishes so that it was not saleable, but still good, the great amount of trimmings of celery, lettuce, and other vegetables. They would go fishing. Survival was a challenge to them of their ingenuity.
“Don’t worry about your body, what you shall put on.” I notice that all of you have clothes on here today. We often hear of a person being so destitute that all that they have is the shirt on their back. At least they have a shirt on their back. How many shirts can you wear at one time? We should not have our treasure in our wardrobe closet. It is not necessary to have the latest fashions. At my Advent session I did a section on John the Baptist portrayed by a bunch of old clothes, not a snappy dresser, but yes, he survived.
“Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” Food is not the most important thing in life. A right relationship with God is far more important than your food. How narrow and restricted is the life of the person whose main interests are in fashion and food.
What is the cure for this worry about food?
First of all, by looking at the birds. They do not plant gardens, or fields, they do not harvest crops or store food in their barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. They are not His children, He is not their Father, He is their creator. If He feeds the birds which are not His children, how much more will He feed His child? You are much better than they. They only have a Creator, creation relationship. You have a Father, son, or daughter relationship.
Second, think things through. What good does worry do? Which of you who are worried about being short, can by your worrying add 18 inches to your height? All the worry in the world will not help you to grow even one inch.
What is the cure for the worry about clothes?
Jesus asked, “Why are you worried about your clothes?” The cure? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not toil. That is, they do not raise cotton crops. They do not spin. This is something that is foreign to us. The ladies used to have to make their own material before they could even make their clothes. They used to have what were known as spinning wheels, you would spin the wool or cotton into yarn or thread. You would then weave the yarn in the loom to make the material for the garment you were proposing to make. Consider this, “Solomon with all of his glory and wealth was not as beautifully clothed as these lilies in the field.
The lilies of the field were thought to be the anemones that grow so profusely around the Sea of Galilee. They are a beautiful red, some are white, while others have a blue cast to them. They are gorgeous as they carpet the fields in the brilliant red vibrant colours; I have some that come up each spring in my garden; beautiful indeed.
God is already aware of our needs because he is an all-knowing, all-seeing God. He meets the needs of his people in due time. Worry and anxiety are the fruit of little faith. Security is the fruit of faith anchored in God.
Unlike the people in Jesus’ day, we are no longer worried about food, clothes or medicine. There’s plenty. Then what makes Jesus’ words relevant to us? How do we understand what was said then and there now and here? If Jesus lived among us today, he would have said: “Don’t worry about money.” Jesus told his disciples “But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
How do we pursue God’s Kingdom?
We contribute to the furtherance of his Kingdom on earth.
With Prayer – that God’s Kingdom will come in the mighty power of the Holy Spirit to save sinners, to destroy the works of Satan, to heal the sick and to magnify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matthew 6:10)
With Involvement – Spending our God-given abilities, skills, talents and other resources for the needs of the church. Last month we launched our Year of Service (see booklet on what we can do during 2020 for ourselves and our community).
Giving – Giving is a way of contributing to God’s Kingdom. It helps our church to give systematically. In return God has promised to bless our finances. We have a system here for regular giving please see a Warden for details.
You know, worrying over tomorrow’s misfortune doesn’t make any sense at all, because today has enough to occupy our attention and God has given us the grace to meet the needs of that day. Besides, tomorrow’s feared misfortunes may never happen, and today’s grace is sufficient only for today and should not be wasted on tomorrow. If tomorrow does bring new trouble, there will be new grace to meet it. Let’s not forget however that Jesus did not mean that it is wrong to make provisions for future physical needs. What he did forbid is anxiety and or worry that shows a lack of faith in God’s fatherly care and love.
I finish by reading the alternative version of Psalm 23 that Rev. Deborah put in her letter in January’s magazine which sums up all we need to worry about – or not!
The Lord is my Pace-setter, I shall not rush;
He makes me to stop and rest for quiet intervals.
He provides me with images of stillness, which restores my serenity.
He leads me in ways of efficiency, through calmness of mind.
And His guidance is my peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day
I will not fret, for His presence is here.
His timelessness, His all-importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity
By anointing my mind with His oils of tranquillity.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours,
For I shall walk in the pace of the Lord and dwell in His house forever.