Don’t Worry! Be Peaceful.

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), October 16

fullsizeoutput_fab“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing” (Lk. 12:22-23).

Advertising exists to entice people to “live to eat” and to “dress up to play”—to accumulate more and better. The message is as ancient as the serpent’s in the Garden of Eden. There Satan deceived Eve into choosing “good” over God and personal autonomy over trust in God. Instead of experiencing the life that Satan promised—“You will be like God, knowing good and evil”—Adam and Eve experienced the spiritual death that their disobedience ensured. They chose not to believe that God is good and that His word is true—that they were created to walk with God. They believed that eating from the prohibited tree would give them something better than God. After the Fall, their descendants who don’t call upon the LORD and live by faith are enslaved to their appetites.

Man’s natural default is to satisfy self instead of deny self, to succumb to fleshly appetites and ignore the spiritual need of being re-united with the Creator—to live to eat and to dress up to play. Therefore, Jesus warns His followers not to focus on their physical needs, but to pursue the life that He gives, “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Fahter knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Lk. 12:29-31, emphasis added).

To our world of contemporary convenience, these words may seem strange and out of date, but in Jesus‘ day people could not go to the grocery store; wages were paltry, and most were poor; and, famines, sickness, and want were abundant. Those without worry about getting what they need; theirs is an obsession with what they lack. Those with worry about keeping what they have; theirs is an obsession with what they have.

Worry is an obsessive negative mental activity, where potential threats are processed and strategies are developed to create a sense of safety. Jesus links the worry of the mind with the desires of the heart, “Do not seek . . . but seek the kingdom of God (12:29, 31). The mind worries about what the heart chases. The apostle Paul warns, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). Isaiah describes the mind obsessed with Him, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Is. 26:3).

Life is more than food. The body is more than food and clothing. The pursuit of food and clothing produce fear and worry. The pursuit of God produces peace.

Jesus’ model prayer advertises God’s care for His people, “Give us this day, our daily bread . . . . Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” (Mt. 6:11,13b).

Jesus’ command reveals a number of truths about man and worry:

  • Worry infests the hearts and minds of every man with either obsessing with possessing or obsessing with keeping.
  • Worry is a function of pride and unbelief. Proud and unbelieving people refuse to trust God their needs; theirs is a self-reliance in obtaining and keeping. God doesn’t enter the equation.
  • God may be trusted to meet daily needs. Therefore, prayer for daily needs anchors the mind and the emotions and prevents worry from taking root.
  • Worry is fear-based—fear of doing without, and fear of losing what you have—and sight-based—assessments made with the eyes and emotions.
  • Prayer is faith-based—confidence of our Father’s character and ability—and promise-based—trusting in God’s promises and character.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Lk. 11:14-12:34):
What does Jesus teach the people about His kingdom? About demons and their ruler? About the Pharisee’s concerns?