Matt. 6:25 ¶ ³Therefore 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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Matt. 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matt. 6:27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
Matt. 6:28 ¶ ³And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
Matt. 6:29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
Matt. 6:30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Matt. 6:31 So do not worry, saying, What shall we eat?¹ or What shall we drink?¹ or What shall we wear?¹
Matt. 6:32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
Matt. 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matt. 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
25"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
26"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
27"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
28"And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,
29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
30"But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
31"Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?'
32"For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matt. 6:25 Œ Dia» touvto le÷gw uJmin: mh\ merimna×te thØv yuchØv uJmw×n ti÷ fa¿ghte [h£ ti÷ pi÷hte], mhde« tw× sw¿mati uJmw×n ti÷ endu/shsqe. oujci« hJ yuch\ pleio/n estin thvß trofhvß kai« to\ sw×ma touv endu/matoß;
Matt. 6:26 emble÷yate eiß ta» peteina» touv oujranouv o¢ti ouj spei÷rousin oujde« qeri÷zousin oujde« suna¿gousin eiß aÓpoqh/kaß, kai« oJ path\r uJmw×n oJ oujra¿nioß tre÷fei aujta¿: oujc uJmeiß ma×llon diafe÷rete aujtw×n;
Matt. 6:27 ti÷ß de« ex uJmw×n merimnw×n du/natai prosqeinai epi« th\n hJliki÷an aujtouv phvcun eºna;
Matt. 6:28 kai« peri« endu/matoß ti÷ merimna×te; katama¿qete ta» kri÷na touv aÓgrouv pw×ß aujxa¿nousin: ouj kopiw×sin oujde« nh/qousin:
Matt. 6:29 le÷gw de« uJmin o¢ti oujde« Solomw»n en pa¿shØ thØv do/xhØ aujtouv perieba¿leto wß en tou/twn.
Matt. 6:30 ei de« to\n co/rton touv aÓgrouv sh/meron o¡nta kai« au¡rion eiß kli÷banon ballo/menon oJ qeo\ß ou¢twß aÓmfie÷nnusin, ouj pollw× ma×llon uJma×ß, ojligo/pistoi;
Matt. 6:31 mh\ oun merimnh/shte le÷gonteß: ti÷ fa¿gwmen; h¡: ti÷ pi÷wmen; h¡: ti÷ peribalw¿meqa;
Matt. 6:32 pa¿nta ga»r tauvta ta» e¶qnh epizhtouvsin: oiden ga»r oJ path\r uJmw×n oJ oujra¿nioß o¢ti crhØ/zete tou/twn apa¿ntwn.
Matt. 6:33 zhteite de« prw×ton th\n basilei÷an [touv qeouv] kai« th\n dikaiosu/nhn aujtouv, kai« tauvta pa¿nta prosteqh/setai uJmin.
Matt. 6:34 mh\ oun merimnh/shte eiß th\n au¡rion, hJ ga»r au¡rion merimnh/sei eauthvß: aÓrketo\n thØv hJme÷ra hJ kaki÷a aujthvß.
This passage speaks on one of the greatest needs of men, and one of the most prominent elements in Greek and Roman literature of the period, the need to be delivered from worry and anxiety. There are six separate emphatic directives given by Jesus in this, part of his Sermon on the Mount. In fact, he uses the same exact verb root six times in this short passage, ³merimna¿w² (merimnao) a present active imperative verb meaning ³to be anxious for.²
His six imperatives, or absolute commands, are:
1. Do not worry about your life and body (v.25)
2. Do not worry about getting food and shelter (v.26)
3. Do not worry about the length of your life or your physical stature (v.27)
4. Do not worry about clothing (v.28-30)
5. Do not worry in general, about anything, instead keep your thoughts on God and His Kingdom (v.33)
6. Do not worry about tomorrow, live one day at a time (v.34)
1. The Necessities of Life (Verse 25): Jesus is not suggesting that anyone just not care about the preparations for life, in other words, He is not suggesting you become a lazy couch potato. Instead, you are directed to go about doing the things you are responsible for (Pr. 27:23, 2Cor 11:28, Phil 2:20). In fact, He is clear that you must work in order that you might eat (2Thes 3:10). Even more, you are directed to work over and above what minimum is expected of you, so that you might have enough to give on to others (Eph. 4:28).
Christ is talking here about being preoccupied with the material possessions of life. He is talking about being so wrapped up in getting things that we become anxious, disturbed and lose sleep over the thoughts of not getting them. He is especially talking about being so consumed with getting that we think less and less of God. This reflects our fears of not having enough stuff (whatever ³stuff² is most important to you, cars, houses, money, ice cream, etc.)
It is obvious that your life and health are far more important than what you eat or the clothes you put on, so why would you let thoughts of those things dominate your life? At the same time, beyond a reasonable expectation to take care of what has been given you, what can you do to preserve your life and protect your body?
The central point here is a warning against materialism (worldliness and possessions), that will take over and run your life if you are not careful (James 4:1-4).
The most important point I think Christ is making here is one that is subtle and indirect; what are your priorities, and what comes first in your life? Why would you be concerned about things to adorn or modify your body, when this life is so fleeting, and your eternal destiny is, well, eternal! Seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness should be the first priority of every person, as by doing so, it sets your priorities straight from the beginning.
This point is so central that, within these 9 short verses, He repeats verbatim twice the imperatives to not worry about food, clothing or shelter, and indirectly refers to this in nearly every verse.
2. Getting food and shelter (Verse 26): A wonderful, direct, and very obvious point. God takes care of the birds in the air, who do almost nothing to feed themselves except gather what He has provided. He gives shelter to them as well, though they do little to provide for themselves in that area either. Yet you, who are made in the image of God, and remade into the image of Christ, are so much more important to Him than the mere birds (Mt 10:31). Why wouldn¹t he provide so much more and better for you?
Some ancient philosophers taught about or drew morals from nature as well as from philosophy. Many Jewish teachers said that God¹s concern in the laws of the Bible was only for humans (although it was clear that God watched over all creation; cf. Ps 104:27). But Jesus¹ argument was a standard Jewish ³how much more² (qal vahomer) argument: If God cares for the birds (and rabbis agreed that he sustained all creation), how much more does he care for humans?
Two other points are made here, God knows your every thought, your every need, and your every concern, just as he knows every bird who flies through the air (Ps. 50:11, Job 38:41, Ps 147:9), every hair on your head, and every one of His creations on earth (Mt. 6:33). And He will provide for every need you have (Heb 13:5). But those who do not place their faith in this are both insulting God and less intelligent than the average bird!
3. Length of your life or your physical stature (Verse 27): The word used here is very interesting, it contains a very striking point about the nature of worry. ³hJliki÷a² (helikia) is a noun meaning ³to add to² but in the disparate terms of time of life, life span, or height! No-one has a ³normal² body, have you ever thought about that? What constitutes ³normal²? God made every unique in their own ways, how tall or short they are, how long or crooked their noses are, how their eyebrows are shaped and so on, which is really good thing if you like to be able to recognize other people! Do any two people have the exact same length of their lifespan? Since we are talking about a finite length of time, probably, but is that length anything other than what God has intended?
It is obvious that you cannot add a single inch to your height by worrying about it, but there is somewhat of a temptation to think you can add to the length of your days by constant worry, the old ³what if² game. What if I did this, or what if I bought that, or what if I went to that health club, or what if I repeated these certain words every morning for 30 days. But God knows how tall you will become and how long you will live, and knew so before the beginning of time.
Thomas Jonathan Jackson, ³Stonewall² Jackson, the famous Confederate general, once told an aide after a battle the secret of why he was able to remain so calm and focused during the chaos of combat. He said that he knew that God had determined the time and place of his passing, and therefore he could be just as comfortable and secure on the battlefield as he could in the comfort of his own bed. This is precisely what Christ was talking about, not to hold anxieties or worry about these things that you have absolutely no control over.
4. Clothing (Verses 28-30): ³Consider the lilies.² They do not provide themselves with outer adornments, their beauty is derived from their purpose in this world. Similarly, believers are not to be concerned with how they paint, perfume and adorn their own bodies, seeking some temporary and ultimately superficial, man-oriented display of beauty. Instead, their real beauty comes out as they go about in the word, doing that which God has made and directed them to do.
A couple of points:
- Man is the lily spoken of, he is here today and gone tomorrow. There is no time to consume yourselves with thoughts of temporary fashions and fads.
- Clothing is used for protection from the elements, and to cover the body for modesty. There is nothing wrong with putting adornments or cutting the fabric a certain way, if it makes you feel better, but the more you concern yourself with these distractions, the more you turn away from thought of God and His Kingdom.
- Fashion and popularity. How much time, resources and efforts go into making yourself ³presentable² in this fashion-crazed world? How many of you have clothes in your closet you¹ve worn a time or two, but which are now ³out of fashion²? More importantly, how do we as Christians exclude the unsaved by our own standards of acceptable fashion?
I witnessed a terrible result this firsthand a few years ago. I was working with a food distribution ministry, and we were at a rural location next to a large and very low-economic status trailer park. A dirty, disheveled man, who had apparently been doing a lot of manual labor and did not have a regular bathing habit came in to ask for some food. We got him what he needed, and talked for some time about his relationship with God. He quite eagerly expressed a great desire to come to Christ and get to know more about God. The first part we took care of immediately, but when we started talking to him about getting into a church (like the one where we were distributing that day), he balked hard, eventually and tearfully admitting the reason he thought he couldn¹t come to church was ³I don¹t own a suit.²
That was possible the most damming thing I have ever heard about the real-world practices of modern Christianity! We concern ourselves with such trivial thoughts of ³appropriate dress² and ³community standards² that we are willing to shun and exclude those who are earnestly seeking the righteousness of God in order to maintain our artificial ³standards²!
5. Do Not Worry in General (Verses 32-33): Christ makes the distinction here very clearly between believers and non-believers. ³For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.² Those who do not have the provision of God must seek for themselves, otherwise they would perish. But God knows you need the necessities of life, and as any loving Father would, provides them with great joy and pride to his children.
The word translated ³seek² here is ³zhteite² (zeteite), a second plural present active imperative noun, meaning to go after very actively, to desire, to pursue, to search out, to endeavor with all your might to get. The point is to spend all the time and energy you have to ³seek out² and totally embrace the Kingdom of God, which leaves you no time to worry over lesser matters. Combine this with the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20), and the believer is charged not only with the critical task of becoming a subject of God¹s Kingdom, but of bringing others with them into the fold as well.
6. Don¹t worry about tomorrow (Verse 34): Live one day at a time, don¹t be preoccupied with what is going to happen, or worse yet, what might happen tomorrow. Keep your attention focused on God, His Kingdom, and His Word, and He will see after tomorrow for you. Christ is not forbidding you to do what is absolutely necessary to take care of tomorrow, just excluding you from the never ending obsession of getting more and more, and the subsequent fears of losing it all.
Don¹t take this final imperative the wrong way, it is aimed at your thoughts and attention, not your physical deeds and the necessities of everyday living. My father, an atheist, told me very recently that he had come to the conclusion that this very passage undermined the entire Christian faith. In his mind, this was linked with the passages in Matthew 24:34, where Jesus tells the disciples that ³this generation² (some early manuscripts say ³this race²) will not pass away before his return. In Dad¹s mind, this meant He was telling them not to pay their bills, not to worry about maintaining their homes or any part of their lives, as they will all be in heaven soon, anyhow. Dad said that when Jesus didn¹t immediately return, they were all then in big trouble, because they hadn¹t planned out the rest of their lives!
This is very far from Jesus¹ words or intent. He command those who are called by His name to trust in Him, to rely on Him to provide their needs, and to go about their lives unconcerned with what fate might befall them in the next hour or the next year. God knows all, and can be trusted to do what is good and right for us all. To worry anyhow is nothing less than to tell Him that he is not worthy of our trust or allegiance.
6:25-34: Don¹t Worry About Possessions
6:25. Most people in antiquity had little beyond basic necessitiesfood, clothing and shelter. Because their acquisition of these necessities often dependedespecially in rural areason seasonal rains or (in Egypt) the flooding of the Nile, they had plenty of cause for stress even about food and clothing.
6:26-27. 6:28-30. Some commentators have suggested that the flowers here may be anemones, which were purple, the color that many ancient readers would have envisioned for Solomon¹s royal robes (6:29). Yet such flowers were fuel for the oven. The perishing of grass and flowers as they dried up in each year¹s summer heat was a natural image for human mortality (cf. Ps 103:15-16; Is 40:6-8).
6:31-33. The pagan world did indeed seek after such necessities, but Jesus reminds his hearers that they could trust their Father (v. 32; see comment on 6:7-8) and should seek the kingdom (v. 33).
6:34. Other Jewish teachers after Jesus gave the same advice; whether Jesus used a common saying or his teaching in this case became a common saying is hard to determine.
6:19-34 Possessions and security (see Lk. 11:34-35; 12:22-34; 16:13). A collection of short sayings (19-24) and a more sustained argument (25-34) are united by the theme of possessions. In contrast with the materialistic concerns which occupy our attention most of the time, Jesus calls his disciples to put God first, both by giving priority to eternal issues and also by trusting our heavenly Father to meet our material needs here on earth.
Vs 19-21 focus on our sense of priorities, and point out that to be primarily concerned with material possessions not only shows a wrong perspective but is also foolish, since such possessions cannot last.
Vs 22-23 may seem out of place here, but they depend on a subtle wordplay. The word which the NIV translates as good is lit. single¹, but it also denotes generosity, and the bad eye of v 23 is a metaphor for stinginess and jealousy. These verses, therefore, also attack a preoccupation with selfish materialism and call for wholehearted devotion to God. V 24 reinforces the same point. Money translates the Aramaic word Mammon¹, a general term for material possessions (not necessarily illgotten gains).
There is a beautiful simplicity about vs 25-33, with their appeal to the example of the birds and flowers to illustrate God¹s lavish care for all his creatures. What is forbidden here is worry, not responsible provision for one¹s own and one¹s family needs; God provides food for the birds, but they still have to search for it! The basis of the disciple¹s confidence, in contrast with the anxiety of the pagans, lies in recognizing God as your heavenly Father (32). The proper attitude then is to put God first (33) and to trust him for our practical needs.
In today¹s world many (some of whom are Christian disciples) do not have all their needs met. This passage offers no answer to the problem, but we need to consider how God¹s provision relates to human misuse of what he has provided.
Notes. 22 The curious description of the eye as the lamp of the body means either that light enters the body through it or, more likely, that it enables the body to find its way.
27 Hour translates cubit¹, a measure of physical length which, like our span¹, can function as a metaphor for length of time. 33 To give priority to God¹s kingdom means to give our first allegiance to him as king; righteousness is the way of life which results from this decision.
34 This prudential but rather pessimistic maxim warns us that the preceding verses promise necessary provision but not freedom from trouble.
Two key elements in the understanding of this passage are called ³providence² and ³theodicy²:
(Jewish New Testament Commentary)
Matthew 6:30: How much more. This phrase signals a form of argument known in rabbinic literature as kal v¹chomer (³light and heavy²), corresponding to what philosophers call a fortiori reasoning: If A is true, then, a fortiori (Latin, ³with [even] greater strength²), B must also be true. The English phrase, ³how much more,² equivalent to Hebrew kol sh¹khen, expresses this sense and force. Explicit kal v¹chomer arguments appear in the New Testament twenty-one times, the others being at 7:11, 10:25, 12:12; Lk 11:13; 12:24, 28; Ro 5:9, 10, 15, 17; 11:12, 24; 1C 12:22; 2C 3:9, 11; Pp 2:12; Pm 16; MJ 9:14, 10:29, 12:25.
The fact that the New Testament uses kal v¹chomer reasoning so often points to a foundational principle of New Testament hermeneutics overlooked by most Christian scholars. The Jews who wrote the New Testament participated in the thoughtforms of their time, and these included certain principles of interpretation (hermeneutical rules, Hebrew middot, ³measures, norms²) widely used to understand the Hebrew Bible. There have been several listings of such middot in Judaism; best known are the thirteen middot of Rabbi Ishmael. They are found in the introduction to Sifra, a halakhic commentary on the book of Leviticus compiled in the fourth century, but Rabbi Ishmael himself was a tanna (a teaching rabbi quoted in the Mishna) who lived in the late first and early second century, and he is undoubtedly summarizing principles ³earlier than Hillel² (fl. 1020 C.E.; Encyclopedia Judaica 8:367). They are also included in the Siddur (Jewish Prayerbook) to be recited daily as part of the Birkat-HaShachar, the ³morning blessings² that begin the synagogue service. More than half of the article on ³Hermeneutics² in the Encyclopedia Judaica (8:366372) is devoted to them.
I have heard the objection that Yeshua came to bring newness, so that ³old² rabbinic principles are not to be taken into account in understanding the New Testament, that its writers had ³freed themselves² from rabbinic attitudes and practices and were no longer ³bound² by them. Just as at 5:18N I said it was facile to invoke Yeshua¹s ³originality² to justify assuming that Yeshua¹s ³Amen² has a novel meaning, so I say it is likewise facile to invoke his ³newness² to justify ignoring the historical, social, religious and intellectual ambience of the time and place in which he lived, and imagining instead a hothouse environment insulated from the Judaism and Jewishness of his surroundings. The middot were surely part of everyone¹s conscious or unconscious background in approaching Scripture, and it is gratuitous to suppose that Yeshua, Sha¹ul or the other New Testament writers constituted an exception. Traditional, rabbinic viewpoints are an essential element to take into account in understanding the text of the New Testament.
Matthew 6:34: Tsuris, Yiddish adaptation of Hebrew tzarot, ³troubles.² Leo Rosten¹s informal lexicon, The Joys Of Yiddish, lists under ³tsuris ² what he calls a ³folk saying²: ³Don¹t worry about tomorrow; who knows what will befall you today?² This could be an instance of New Testament material, purged of its origin, resurfacing in a Jewish context (see 5:21N); or, alternatively, Yeshua may in this verse be quoting a proverb already current in the Jewish culture of his own time.
(Matthew Henry¹s Commentary)
There is scarcely any sin against which our Lord Jesus more warns his disciples, than disquieting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of this life. This often insnares the poor as much as the love of wealth does the rich. But there is a carefulness about temporal things which is a duty, though we must not carry these lawful cares too far. Take no thought for your life. Not about the length of it; but refer it to God to lengthen or shorten it as he pleases; our times are in his hand, and they are in a good hand. Not about the comforts of this life; but leave it to God to make it bitter or sweet as he pleases. Food and raiment God has promised, therefore we may expect them. Take no thought for the morrow, for the time to come. Be not anxious for the future, how you shall live next year, or when you are old, or what you shall leave behind you. As we must not boast of tomorrow, so we must not care for to-morrow, or the events of it. God has given us life, and has given us the body. And what can he not do for us, who did that? If we take care about our souls and for eternity, which are more than the body and its life, we may leave it to God to provide for us food and raiment, which are less. Improve this as an encouragement to trust in God. We must reconcile ourselves to our worldly estate, as we do to our stature. We cannot alter the disposals of Providence, therefore we must submit and resign ourselves to them. Thoughtfulness for our souls is the best cure of thoughtfulness for the world. Seek first the kingdom of God, and make religion your business: say not that this is the way to starve; no, it is the way to be well provided for, even in this world. The conclusion of the whole matter is, that it is the will and command of the Lord Jesus, that by daily prayers we may get strength to bear us up under our daily troubles, and to arm us against the temptations that attend them, and then let none of these things move us. Happy are those who take the Lord for their God, and make full proof of it by trusting themselves wholly to his wise disposal. Let thy Spirit convince us of sin in the want of this disposition, and take away the worldliness of our hearts.
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