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Therefore… For… But…

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”

            “For after all these things 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.”     Matthew 6:31-33

 

Learn, when you study the Word of God, to mark the little words.  As often as not they are they key words in the text.  We have three such words in this passage:  “therefore,” “for,” and “but.”

“Take no thought,” says Jesus.  That was the subject of our previous meditation.  Don’t worry!  Worry is futile; deeply sinful too.  Be carefree!  Rest quietly in the Lord!  Trust in Him!

Why?  “Therefore”!  A moment later Jesus says:  “For.”

This “therefore” points to reasons already given – two of them.  The “for” points to reasons yet to come – two of them.  Hence, our Savior gives four cogent reasons for the exhortation to put all our trust in God alone.

*   *   *   *

            Therefore!

Let’s begin with the “therefore.”

Jesus says in verse 24: “No man can serve two masters . . . Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  Immediately thereupon He says in verse 25:  “Therefore I say unto you.  Take no thought . . . “

The idea is clear.  One who takes thought, worries, is anxious about these daily things, food, drink, clothing, shelter, etc. has his heart on these things; is living for them: serving them.  That’s the only explanation possible:  Why do we worry about food, drink, homes, clothing?  Because we have our hearts on them.  If such were not the case, we might certainly think about them, but we would not be anxious about them.  Besides, as a rule we don’t start worrying when we have no more to eat or drink or wear.  We worry while our cupboards are still full of good food, our closets are still full of clothing, and while we still enjoy more than adequate shelter.   Why do we worry about death?  Because we want to live; we don’t want to go to heaven.

Such an one is serving mammon, the god of this world, and serving mammon the is not serving God.  In the measure we do the one we cannot do the other.  A heart that is full of the earth cannot at the same time be full of God.  A mind that is busy only with material things cannot at the same time be busy with the spiritual.  Jesus says: you cannot do both.  That’s a spiritual impossibility.  Nor will God share His honor with mammon.  You may want both to dwell together in the house of your mind and life.  God says:  I will have nothing of such an arrangement: either mammon goes, or I.  That’s the way we experience it too, do we not?  “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Therefore Jesus follows that saying with the admonition of verse 25:  “Therefore I say unto you: take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; not yet for your body, what ye shall put on.”  Because ye cannot serve God and mammon!  Remember that, Christian friends!

For!

            We now turn to the “for.”

Closely connected with this first reason from the context is the first one given in the text why we should “take no thought.”  Jesus says:  “For after all these things do the Gentiles seek.”

Here you have the same basic idea.  Obviously, “being anxious” is the same as “seeking these things.”  “Take no thought, FOR after all theses things do the Gentiles seek.”

The Gentiles are the heathen, the nations outside of Israel, those who do not know and serve the God of Israel.  Generally speaking, they are all the ungodly, those who are strangers to the life of regeneration and live only for this world.

Of these Gentiles, ungodly; these are the outstanding characteristics:  that they are purely carnal; live only for the earth: that their god is their belly, and their only concern in life is: How can we get the most out of this life?  God is not in all their thoughts!

Jesus means to say: in as far as you take thought for these material things you are no different from these Gentiles.

Therefore!

            Let’s go back to the “therefore.”

In the immediate context Jesus speaks of the providence of God.  He says: “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns:  yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.”  Again:  “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  Do you need more reason for trusting in God?

That providence of God is all-comprehensive, is it not?  It includes every bird, every flower, every blade of grass.  God rules over all things with absolute, unchallengeable sovereignty.  It embraces the minutest detail in all the universe.  Even the hairs of our heads are all numbered, and not one can fall without the will of our heavenly Father.

Especially in the light of this providence is not all worry, anxiety, both foolish and sinful?  How foolish!  What good is it?  Jesus says:  “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?”  But also, how sinful and distrusting!  “Are ye not much better than they?”  If God takes care of the birds and the flowers and each tiny blade of grass, will He not take care of you?  You are His children, are you not?

“Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? . . . “

For!

            There is one more thing.  We go back now to the “for.”

Jesus says: “For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”  Really, that speaks for itself.

Your heavenly Father!  What a name!  The eternal God is your Father, Who loves you with an everlasting love, Who cares for you more and better than any earthly father can care for his son, and Who knows all things that are and ever can be.  What is more, your Father is the eternal God, infinite and everywhere present, all-knowing and all-wise.

He “knows.”  Knows what?  Knows that you have need of all these things; that you must eat and drink and have clothing and shelter as long as you are in this life.  He knows what you need of these things.  He knows how much you need of these things.

In the light of all this, how foolish and sinful is all anxiety!  If the everlasting God is your Father, and your Father is the ever lasting God, what possible justification for worry can there be in your life.

But!

            We know now what we must not do!  We know why!  Jesus gave us four mighty reasons.  But now:  How must we do this?  My heart must be on something.  There must be a positive way wherein I must walk in order to avoid this foolish and sinful anxiety for material things.

Jesus says:  “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

You know what that means.

“The kingdom of God” is that blessed commonwealth, whereof God is Sovereign, Potentate of potentates forever and ever; whereof Jesus Christ is King under God: whereof the elect only are the citizens, and whose destination is heaven in all its endless beauty and glory.

Its “righteousness” consists of harmony with God, His sovereign will.  Legally, the righteousness of the kingdom consists of forgiveness and justification: spiritually of sanctification and a godly walk.

To “seek” means to strive, life for that kingdom, its righteousness, the church, salvation, the truth and all that pertains to the life of that kingdom.

“First” – always first!

I said: you know what that means!

Then – DO IT!  You must!  You can!  You are His children, are you not?  His grace has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

And as far as all “these things” are concerned:  “They will be added unto you.”  Does this mean, that you will not have to work for them?  Of course not!  Does it mean, that we don’t have to pray for them?  No!  Does this mean that we will have abundance of material things?  No!  But it does mean, that as long as we are in this world we shall have just enough.  “God will take care of you.”

In this way we shall have peace.  If only the grace of God has taught us that great and precious lesson, that

Enough is enough!