“Therefore take no thought . . . . “ Matthew 6:31
The times wherein we are living are difficult and from many points of view most critical.
Perhaps they are not times such as God’s people have experienced in the past, times of persecution and death, or war and epidemic and famine.
Even so, also our times are serious indeed. Times they are wherein the black storm clouds are constantly lowering and growling overhead. Times they are of much confusion and turmoil, distrust and envy among nations and individuals. There is no war; neither, however, is there peace. Always we are made to feel that everything in the world is building up to another worldwide eruption, far more so, I fear, than any of us realize. Times they are of much apostasy, corruption, worldly-mindedness and unionism that bodes no good for the church of Jesus Christ in the world. Consequently, these are also times of much care and anxiety, nervous agitation, mental distress, heart attacks, nervous breakdowns, ulcers.
Many questions could be asked about the days ahead. What is in store for us? What do we need, and what should we pray for. What about ourselves; will we continue in life and health and strength? What about the economic situation; will there be employment for all, and will business take a turn for the better? What about this cold war; will it gradually come to an end, or will it develop into a more serious situation?
To all these and many other questions we must reply: we don’t know! Perhaps the answer, in several or all instances, will be the one flesh desires. Perhaps the opposite will be the case. As far as mere things are concerned, God has promised us nothing. The way before us, therefore, may well be one of hardship, privation, sickness, sorrow, depression, war. Who knows?
Christian friend, do you want some good advice? The best? A sure cure for all worry? Something that really affords peace, whatever be the way of the Lord in days ahead? Then listen to these words of Christ Himself: “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Of, Wherewithal shall we be clothes? For all these tings do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Such is Jesus’ own remedy for worry, no matter what the circumstances. Isn’t it wonderful? So simple, that a little child can understand it. So comprehensive, that it covers every situation. It’s absolutely fool-proof!
* * * *
“Therefore take no thought . . . . “
That it is the desire of Jesus deeply and firmly to impress this on the minds and hearts of His people is evident from the fact, that He says almost the same thing four times within the space of ten verses. In Matthew 6:25 we hear Him say: “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Three verses later He asks: “And why take ye thought for raiment?” In verse 31 we read: “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, what shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothes?” Finally, the Savior sums it all up in the closing verse of the chapter, when He says: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.” Obviously, therefore, our Lord considers this exhortation of paramount significance for His church.
“Take no thought” does not mean precisely what it says; that is, in the King James Version: that is, according to the current meaning of the word “thought.”
It is certain, that Jesus does not mean to say: don’t think about material things; don’t’ plan; don’t be concerned in the good sense of the word; don’t be careful, again in the good sense; don’t provide. Be unconcerned, careless, indifferent. Forget about the future, about food, drink, clothing, shelter, jobs, business, family, church, school.
Some people seem to lean toward such an interpretation, not because of any great faith they may possess, but because they are naturally indifferent. In general, they assume that attitude toward life. They are unconcerned, careless, irresponsible, superficial, indifferent toward that for which they should show concern. They’re not going to ruin their only life on earth by bothering about too many things.
Reason tells us, of course, that nothing can be farther from the truth, or from the mind of the Lord Jesus. We must plan, provide, be concerned about the things entrusted to our care. Scripture is plain on that point. God made us rational creatures, with mind and will and strength. As such, God has entrusted much to our care. He gave us bodies and souls, gifts and talents, houses and goods, jobs and business, wife and children, church and school. All these are the Lord’s and as such we are to provide for them. To this end He has given us many means, and these we are to use to the utmost of our power. Carelessness is sin. It mocks with our responsibility and neglects that about which we should be deeply concerned. God wills that we shall be devoted to our calling, each in his own place and station in life.
* * * *
“Take no thought” means precisely what is said in the Revised Version: “Be not anxious, saying, What shall we eat? . . . . “
Jesus is telling us here: Don’t be concerned in the evil sense of the word; don’t be full of cares; don’t WORRY! Be carefree! Not careLESS, but careFREE! Such is the old English meaning of the word “thought.” The meaning of words, however, change with time. That’s one reason for revised versions.
We know what it means to worry, do we not? We’ve learned it the hard way, by experience. Our heads and hearts and lives are so full of them. If all our worries were bricks, and all were placed on one heap, what a mountain it would make. That’s true of all of us. Our older people have their worries; but our young people do too; and so do our small children. It is a common notion, even an adage, that young people have no worries. We know better. They worry about their appearance, future place in life, a home of their own, and many other things.
To worry means, according to Webster, to strangle; to shake and tear with the teeth, as a dog worries a rat; to trouble, tease, harass; to be anxious. Worry implies, that you are being shaken and torn by the things that are causing the worry. These things have you by the neck, and they mean to break it. Worry is anxiety, fear, restlessness of mind, vexation of spirit. Worry is deep seated dissatisfaction with the present; carnal apprehension with respect to the future. Worry is the mental anguish which we endure when we fear that God will not do what we want Him to do. Oddly enough, and that at once indicates the evil of it, usually we worry, not about ourselves, but about God. We’ll take care of our end, but will God take care of His? We plant our seed, and worry that God will not grant the increase. We become ill, and worry that God will not grant recovery. We make our plans, and worry that somehow the Lord might prevent their execution.
We are anxious about so many things. That’s the one thing about worry: there’s always plenty to worry about. It’s dry and hot for a few days, and we worry about a drought; it begins to rain, and we worry about a flood. We have a job, and we worry about losing it; we have no job, and we worry that we may not get one. I’m well, but I worry about becoming ill; I’m ill, but now I worry about becoming well. And so we find ourselves on a vicious merry-go-around.
Worry is sin!
Worry is a tremendous burden even from a purely natural point of view. Few things make life so miserable, so gloomy and hard to bear. How it can keep one awake; cause one to toss about in bed until the wee hours of the night deprive one of appetite and ambition; cause ulcers or send one to Pine Rest! I do not say that all ulcers are due to worry, but I do say that if there were less worry there would be far fewer ulcers. I do not mean to suggest that all who are in Pine Rest are there for this reason, but I do believe that if there were less worry, there would not be that constant cry for more and larger nervous institutions.
Worry, however, is deeply sinful too, and that is far worse. It isn’t satisfied with the way God does things. It doesn’t believe, really, that God does all things well, or even that He does all things at all. It judges that God’s way is not always the best. It doubts the love and grace of God, His wisdom and power, faithfulness and care. In short, it doesn’t rest in the Lord! It doesn’t trust in God! That’s the cause of many of our troubles, physical, mental, spiritual.
“Therefore,” says Jesus, “take no thought.” Be not anxious for food, drink, clothing, shelter, anything. Don’t worry! Trust quietly in Him!
Forever trusting in the Lord,
Take heed to do His will;
So shalt thou dwell within the land,
And He thy needs shall fill.
Delight thee in the Lord, and He
Will grant they heart’s request;
To Him commit thy way in faith,
And thus thou shalt be blessed.