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! Matthew 6:30
Jesus has a way of really hitting us where it hurts. Of course, being omniscient helps when it comes to delivering verbal sucker punches but it still amazes me that His words from 2000 years ago are still applicable to my life today. It is truly as if He were saying them to me. In this particular passage from Matthew Jesus is addressing the issue of anxiety and He begins very bluntly, For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life. "Do not be worried about my life? Have you seen what I'm going through? Do you know what kind of pressure I'm under? Have you see our bank account balance? Do not be worried? Yeah, right!" The simple answer to all of these questions is "yes." Jesus, ergo God, knows all of those things. He knows exactly what your situation is and yet He still says, do not be worried about your life. He even goes as far as to say that when we worry about these things we have "little faith."
Now, for years I thought, "Well, God knows I will worry and He will let it slide because He understands." During me reading this morning of My Utmost of His Highest Oswald Chambers shed some interesting, and potentially painful, light on this idea (you can read the entire text here). His opening line is, Jesus sums up common-sense carefulness in a disciple as infidelity. As if Jesus' jabs to gut were not enough now Oswald is getting in on the action! Let me explain. The "common-sense" thing to do is for us to prepare for the future and take care to make sure our basic needs are met. Jesus tells us, however, that if we believe He is who He says He is then we should not be concerned about these things because we know He will take good care of us. In fact, He will not just take good care of us by our standards, He will take care of us by His standards. If we allow God to provide we get a glimpse of all that really matters because He is providing the most important and eternal things. He expresses this in Matthew 6:25b;
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Chambers goes on to draw from the parable of the sower and point out that the thorns that choke out the seed are not the devil but rather the worries and riches and pleasures of this life. By concerning ourselves with the things of this world we are prioritizing them over and above God Himself. What God seems to be saying is, "Your relationship with me is top priority. It is your reason for being. Now, focus on that and let all the rest fall into place via my hand." We see this vividly in Matthew 6:33;
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
In beautiful and divine fashion Jesus gives all this parable and all this metaphor and then boils it down for us into one, simple, easily digestible nugget of truth: seek God first and He'll take care of the rest. Why? Because that is His priority for our lives. Charles Stanley, in his Life Principles Bible, says that "Our intimacy with God-His highest priority for our lives- determines the impact of our lives." It is telling that this is Life Principle #1!
There is a reason for all of this too. God wants our relationship with Him to come first because He knows that if it isn't we will fall prey to idolatry of one sort or another. Soon, if we find ourselves able to provide in some areas of our lives, we will only see God as the escape hatch when the submarine of our lives begins to go down. We begin to worship God only when times get tough so that we might extract some tangible blessing to help us survive. God says it doesn't work that way because then He becomes a mere "blessing bank" when our earthly one runs dry. The crazy part is that this isn't because God has a subconscious need to be useful, it is because...wait for it...He wants to have a relationship with us. Even the most secular lists of ingredients for a healthy relationship will place trust at or near the top. The same goes for our divine relationship, it must be founded on trust, trust that God will take good care of us in ALL situations.
When we begin to lose trust in God's provision we begin to lose faith in His promises. This is why, as Chambers put it, our common-sense carefulness becomes infidelity. This is why Jesus tells us that if we don't trust that He will take care of us we have little faith. It goes further, and I made mention of this in the last post I believe, because we are more than willing to trust God with our eternal life but we have a harder time trusting Him with our earthly one. This defies reason and I am the first to admit that I am guilty of it.
Understand this, this is not some remade version of the prosperity Gospel that says if we just believe in God He will bless our pants off with all kinds of money and health. You see, He is the One who determines what our most pressing needs are. If He does give us access blessing it is only so that we may turn around and bless someone else with it. All I am saying is that if we align our priorities with God's He will take care of us. This is a promise, not from man, but from God Himself.
The most faithful thing we can do is to trust. Trust that God will save us because we have believed on His Son, Jesus Christ. Trust that God will provide for our needs. Trust that God has a plan for our lives that has implications for the Kingdom. Trust that God's Word is filled with promises that we can bank on daily. You see our trust in God is evidence of our faith in Him and it is also something that we use to exercise our faith on a daily basis to make it stronger. The funny thing is, this almost works in reverse of our bodily exercise. When we lift weights we work our way up from light to heavy, the small to the great. In our faith we trust first for our eternal salvation (by far the more important thing) and work our way down to trusting God in the little things that we face from day to day. I believe that God will bless us when we make an effort, not when we make excuses for our lack of faith.