Luke 12:30
For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knows that you have need of these things.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Luke

ANXIOUS ABOUT EARTH, OR EARNEST ABOUT THE KINGDOM

Luke 12:22 - Luke 12:31
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The parable of the rich fool was spoken to the multitude, but our Lord now addresses the disciples. ‘Therefore’ connects the following with the foregoing teachings. The warnings against anxiety are another application of the prohibition of laying up treasure for self. Torturing care is the poor man’s form of worldliness, as luxurious self-indulgence is the rich man’s. There are two kinds of gout, as doctors tell us-one from high living, and one from poverty of blood. This passage falls into two parts-the prohibition against anxious care {Luke 12:22 - Luke 12:31}, and the exhortation to set the affections on the true treasure {Luke 12:31 - Luke 12:34}.

I. The first part gives the condemnation of anxiety about earthly necessities.

The precept is first stated generally, and then followed by a series of reasons enforcing it. As to the precept, we may remark that the disciples were mostly poor men, who might think that they were in no danger of the folly branded in the parable. They had no barns bursting with plenty, and their concern was how to find food and clothing, not what to do with superfluities. Christ would have them see that the same temper may be in them, though it takes a different shape. Dives and Lazarus may be precisely alike.

The temper condemned here is ‘self-consuming care,’ the opposite of trust. Its misery is forcibly expressed by the original meaning of the Greek word, which implies being torn in pieces, and thus paints the distraction and self-inflicted harrassment which are the lot of the anxious mind. Prudent foresight and strenuous work are equally outside this prohibition. Anxiety is so little akin to foresight that it disables from exercising it, and both hinders from seeing what to do to provide daily bread, and from doing it.

The disciples’ danger of being thus anxious may be measured by the number and variety of reasons against it given by Jesus. The first of these is that such anxiety does not go deep enough, and forgets how we come to have lives to be fed and bodies to be clothed. We have received the greater, life and body, without our anxiety. The rich fool could keep his goods, but not his ‘soul’ or ‘life.’ How superficial, then, after all, our anxieties are, when God may end life at any moment! Further, since the greater is given, the less which it needs will also be given. The thought of God as ‘a faithful creator’ is implied. We must trust Him for the ‘more’; we may trust Him for the less.

The second reason bids us look with attention at examples of unanxious lives abundantly fed. Perhaps Elijah’s feathered providers, or the words of the Psalmist {Psalm 147:9}, were in Christ’s mind. The raven was one of the ‘unclean’ birds, and of ill omen, from Noah’s days, and yet had its meat in due season, though that meat was corpses. Notice the allusions to the preceding parable in ‘sow not, neither reap,’ and in ‘neither have storehouse nor barn.’ In these particulars the birds are inferior to us, and, so to speak, the harder to care for. If they who neither work nor store still get their living, shall not we, who can do both? Our superior value is in part expressed by the capacity to sow and reap; and these are more wholesome occupations for a man than worrying.

How lovingly Jesus looked on all creatures, and how clearly He saw everywhere God’s hand at work! As Luther said, ‘God spends every year in feeding sparrows more than the revenues of the King of France.’

The third reason is the impotence of anxiety {Luke 12:25}. It is difficult to decide between the two possible renderings here. That of ‘a cubit’ to the ‘stature’ corresponds best with the growth of the lilies, while ‘age’ preserves an allusion to the rich fool, and avoids treating the addition of a foot and a half to an ordinary man’s height as a small thing. But age is not measured by cubits, and it is best to keep to ‘stature.’

At first sight, the argument of Luke 12:23 seems to be now inverted, and what was ‘more’ to be now ‘least.’ But the supposed addition, if possible, would be of the smallest importance as regards ensuring food or clothing, and measured by the divine power required to effect it, is less than the continual providing which God does. That smaller work of His, no anxiety will enable us to do. How much less can we effect the complicated and wide-reaching arrangements needed to feed and clothe ourselves! Anxiety is impotent. It only works on our own minds, racking them in vain, but has no effect on the material world, not even on our own bodies, still less on the universe.

The fourth reason bids us look with attention at examples of unanxious existence clothed with beauty. Christ here teaches the highest use of nature, and the noblest way of looking at it. The scientific botanist considers how the lilies grow, and can tell all about cells and chlorophyll and the like. The poet is in raptures with their beauty. Both teach us much, but the religious way of looking at nature includes and transcends both the others. Nature is a parable. It is a visible manifestation of God, and His ways there shadow His ways with us, and are lessons in trust.

The glorious colours of the lily come from no dyer’s vats, nor the marvellous texture of their petals from any loom. They are inferior to us in that they do not toil or spin, and in their short blossoming time. Man’s ‘days are as grass; as a flower of the field so he flourisheth’; but his date is longer, and therefore he has a larger claim on God. ‘God clothes the grass of the field’ is a truth quite independent of scientific truths or hypotheses about how He does it. If the colours of flowers depend on the visits of insects, God established the dependence, and is the real cause of the resulting loveliness.

The most modern theories of the evolutionist do not in the least diminish the force of Christ’s appeal to creation’s witness to a loving Care in the heavens. But that appeal teaches us that we miss the best and plainest lesson of nature, unless we see God present and working in it all, and are thereby heartened to trust quietly in His care for us, who are better than the ravens because we have to sow and reap, or than the lilies because we must toil and spin.

Luke 12:29 adds to the reference to clothing a repeated prohibition as to the other half of our anxieties, and thus rounds off the whole with the same double warning as in verse 22. But it gives a striking metaphor in the new command against ‘being of doubtful mind.’ The word so rendered means to be lifted on high, and thence to be tossed from height to depth, as a ship in a storm. So it paints the wretchedness of anxiety as ever shuttlecocked about between hopes and fears, sometimes up on the crest of a vain dream of good, sometimes down in the trough of an imaginary evil. We are sure to be thus the sport of our own fancies, unless we have our minds fixed on God in quiet trust, and therefore stable and restful.

Luke 12:30 gives yet another reason against not only anxiety, but against that eager desire after outward things which is the parent of anxiety. If we ‘seek after’ them, we shall not be able to avoid being anxious and of doubtful mind. Such seeking, says Christ, is pure heathenism. The nations of the world who know not God make these their chief good, and securing them the aim of their lives. If we do the like, we drop to their level. What is the difference between a heathen and a Christian, if the Christian has the same objects and treasures as the heathen? That is a question which a good many so-called Christians at present would find it hard to answer.

But the crowning reason of all is kept for the last. Much of what precedes might be spoken by a man who had but the coldest belief in Providence. But the great and blessed faith in our Father, God, scatters all anxious care. How should we be anxious if we know that we have a Father in heaven, and that He knows our needs? He recognises our claims on Him. He made the needs, and will send the supply. That is a wide truth, stretching far beyond the mere earthly wants of food and raiment. My wants, so far as God has made me to feel them, are prophecies of God’s gifts. He has made them as doors by which He will come in and bless me. How, then, can anxious care fret the heart which feels the Father’s presence, and knows that its emptiness is the occasion for the gift of a divine fullness? Trust is the only reasonable temper for a child of such a father. Anxious care is a denial of His love or knowledge or power.

II. Luke 12:31 - Luke 12:34 point out the true direction of effort and affection, and the true way of using outward good so as to secure the higher riches.

It is useless to tell men not to set their longings or efforts on worldly things unless you tell them of something better. Life must have some aim, and the mind must turn to something as supremely good. The only way to drive out heathenish seeking after perishable good is to fill the heart with the love and longing for eternal and spiritual good. The ejected demon comes back with a troop at his heels unless his house be filled. To seek ‘the kingdom,’ to count it our highest good to have our wills and whole being bowed in submission to the loving will of God, to labour after entire conformity to it, to postpone all earthly delights to that, and to count them all but loss if we may win it-this is the true way to conquer worldly anxieties, and is the only course of life which will not at last earn the stern judgment, ‘Thou fool.’

That direction of all our desires and energies to the attainment of the kingdom which is the state of being ruled by the will of God, is to be accompanied with joyous, brave confidence. How should they fear whose desires and efforts run parallel with the ‘Father’s good pleasure’? They are seeking as their chief good what He desires, as His chief delight, to give them. Then they may be sure that, if He gives that, He will not withhold less gifts than may be needed. He will not ‘spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar,’ nor allow His children, whom He has made heirs of a kingdom, to starve on their road to their crown. If they can trust Him to give them the kingdom, they may surely trust Him for bread and clothes.

Mark, too, the tenderness of that ‘little flock.’ They might fear when they contrasted their numbers with the crowds of worldly men; but, being a flock, they have a shepherd, and that is enough to quiet anxiety.

Seeking and courage are to be crowned by surrender of outward good and the use of earthly wealth in such manner as that it will secure an unfailing treasure in heaven. The manner of obeying this command varies with circumstances. For some the literal fulfilment is best; and there are more Christian men to-day whose souls would be delivered from the snares if they would part with their possessions than we are willing to believe.

Sometimes the surrender is rather to be effected by the conscientious consecration and prayerful use of wealth. That is for each man to settle for himself. But what is not variable is the obligation to set the kingdom high above all else, and to use all outward wealth, as Christ’s servants, not for luxury and self-gratification, but as in His sight and for His glory. Let us not be afraid of believing what Jesus and His Apostles plainly teach, that wealth so spent here is treasured in heaven, and that a Christian’s place in the future life depends upon this among other conditions-how he used his money here.12:22-40 Christ largely insisted upon this caution not to give way to disquieting, perplexing cares, Mt 6:25-34. The arguments here used are for our encouragement to cast our care upon God, which is the right way to get ease. As in our stature, so in our state, it is our wisdom to take it as it is. An eager, anxious pursuit of the things of this world, even necessary things, ill becomes the disciples of Christ. Fears must not prevail; when we frighten ourselves with thoughts of evil to come, and put ourselves upon needless cares how to avoid it. If we value the beauty of holiness, we shall not crave the luxuries of life. Let us then examine whether we belong to this little flock. Christ is our Master, and we are his servants; not only working servants, but waiting servants. We must be as men that wait for their lord, that sit up while he stays out late, to be ready to receive him. In this Christ alluded to his own ascension to heaven, his coming to call his people to him by death, and his return to judge the world. We are uncertain as to the time of his coming to us, we should therefore be always ready. If men thus take care of their houses, let us be thus wise for our souls. Be ye therefore ready also; as ready as the good man of the house would be, if he knew at what hour the thief would come.See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 6:25-33. 29. of doubtful, &c.—unsettled mind; put off your balance. See Poole on "Luke 12:22" For all these things do the nations of the world seek after,.... That is, the Gentiles, as in Matthew 6:32 who are frequently, in the Jewish writings, called, in distinction from the Jews, , "the nations of the world" (s). This is an argument used to dissuade from an immediate and anxious concern for food and raiment, because it is Heathenish, and therefore very unbecoming the disciples and followers of Christ: it need not be wondered at in those that know not God, and do not acknowledge his providence, and are strangers to his covenant and promises; but must be very unsuitable to the characters of such who know that godliness has the promise of this life, and of that which is to come:

and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things; and therefore it is needless to be so anxious about them: the Persic version reads, "all these things", and so some copies; that is, meat, drink, and clothing, all the necessaries of life; See Gill on Matthew 6:32.

(s) Vid. T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 28. 2. & 29.

For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 12:30. τ. . τοῦ κόσμου, the nations of the world; this addition is peculiar to Lk., the expression here only in N.T., but frequent with the Rabbis (Lightfoot, ad loc.); meaning with them the peoples of the outside world as distinct from the Jews; here probably all (Jews included) but Christians. On the thought vide on Mt.30. the nations of the world] But you have not the same excuse that the heathen have for over-anxiety about transient needs.Luke 12:30. Πάντα) Construe with ταῦτα.
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