By Ryan Shaw
One of the greatest points of worry and stress for human beings relates to finances. It is also one of the danger areas that easily takes believers off track in wholeheartedly living for Jesus.
This is also true in the global mission movement. In fact, worry and stress over finances is a major reason why many do not continue in serving God, either at home or in the nations.
Having a correct outlook on finances and our livelihood is crucial for our success in the purpose of God. If we are bound in worry and anxiety related to finances we will be hindered and not come into the fullness of His plans for us.
Much of our calling and destiny in God will require finances. Jesus’ teaching prepares disciples to rightly handle financial pressures that inevitably come without succumbing to anxiety and worry.
Worry and anxiety about finances shuts down much of our spiritual life and what God has called us to be and do. Jesus’ desire is to free us from the nagging tendency of human nature to worry and be anxious specifically in the realm of money, provision, food, shelter, etc.
In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus lays out radical teaching to help disciples overcome this worry by changing their outlook. He is revealing how to remove the obstacles keeping us ineffective in pursuing the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Anxiety affects our words, emotions, thoughts, our very spiritual life. It is a thief hindering our capacities to trust God and to live by faith as we were created for.
Worry is like an emotional and spiritual cancer eroding us on the inside. It ruins relationships as we talk different, act different and process different.
Doctors report that anxiety is one of the leading causes of sickness. Getting free from nagging worry and anxiety will help many get healthy physically and restore many relationships as well.
Human beings have become so familiar with anxiety and worry about provision that we do not recognize it as sin. Being afraid about provision of future needs or worried that we may lack our daily necessities is unbelief.
When we are aligning our lives with the Word of God, we do not need to be anxious. Jesus teaches that as we are “laying up treasure in heaven,” (Matthew 6:19-21), possessing a “good” spiritual eye full of light (Matthew 6:22-23) and serving God and not worldly ambition (Matthew 6:24) we “do not be anxious about your life.”
Worry and Work
An important phrase to rightly translate and interpret is “take no thought of your life.” (v. 25) A better translation is “be not anxious.” This verse has often been interpreted to mean we are not to think about or work for the things we need in life.
Instead our hearts are set upon Him as our ultimate provider. Then we set our hands to the specific work God has given us at the time. That work produces a paycheck or a crop, etc. God is the One who supplies the work, initiating the entire process, and brings food and drink through the means of a job, business, associates, relationships, local churches, etc.
This in no way overlooks the fact that God does wonderful miracles of supply as we see throughout the Bible and church history. Just a few examples in Scripture are Elijah by the brook (1 Kings 17:2-7) and the manna from heaven for the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16).
He does this to glorify His name, reveal His absolute involvement in our concerns and to meet specific needs at a particular time. What we can falsely assume, however, is that doing so is the norm in God’s workings when Biblically it is always the exception. Elijah and the Israelites entire lives were not sustained in this way. God supplied supernaturally for a time and season.
It is the same for us. There are times when He will supernaturally intervene financially and I have wonderful stories and testimonies to prove this. However, the majority of life’s daily needs are met through the use of means which He has set around us.
Whichever way, it is still all from Him. We entrust ourselves ultimately to God, going on and working along the specific line He has called us and through these means He provides for our needs.
Verse 25 never teaches we are not responsible to provide for ourselves and our families, but we are not to do so with anxiety and worry. The whole counsel of the Bible teaches the same. Parents are to provide for their families and Scripture is clear a lazy person does not eat. (Proverbs 12:27)
Our freedom from worry is not an excuse to be lazy but a calling from the Father to increase our faith as we continue working wherever God calls us. God calls human beings to duties and vocations and to be diligent in them with faithfulness.
We are to consider the future and how we can meet those demands as they come. Jesus’ teaching is that because we have a caring, loving, faithful Father we can be free from undue worry and anxiety regarding the supply of daily living.