Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body…
Having touched upon the active ministry of life, our Lord at once proceeds to treat its besetting trouble with an amplitude of illustration which shows how important he considered it to be.
I. THE NATURE OF THE EVIL. We are misled by the word "thought," which has dropped one of its old meanings since the Authorized Version of the New Testament was issued. Christ is not depreciating an intellectual exercise, much less is he encouraging improvidence. What he really says is, "Be not anxious for your life."
1. The evil is in vexatious anxiety. If, after we have done all that is in our power, we fret ourselves with presentiments of possible mischief; or if, in the midst of our work, we let care about its issue take possession of our minds, we make the mistake our Lord deprecates.
2. The evil is concerned with bodily needs. The life, the food, the raiment. The idea is of being absorbed with deep concern for these temporal and external things.
3. The evil prevents concern for our higher interests and duties. Here is its greatest condemnation, not simply that it pains us, but that it injures us. Jesus does not advise freedom from anxiety merely on its own account, that we may have the satisfaction of being at peace. He sees that worldly anxiety fills the mind and heart,-and so keeps out thoughts of the great purpose of life. "The cares of this world" are tares that choke the Word. "The life is more than the food." We are to cast aside anxiety about food and clothes, that we may be free to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness."
II. THE CURE OF THE EVIL. All deplore it; but few see how to conquer it. Some even regard the words of Christ as applicable only to an idyllic state of society - possible among the flowers and sunshine of Galilee in those old dreamy days, but quite impracticable in the busy, crowded West of to-day. Let us see if there are not permanent lessons in this teaching of our Lord.
1. The spirit of nature. Our Lord was preaching on a mountain, with flowers at his feet and birds above his head. His illustrations lay close at hand; but his choice of them was evidently suited to his object. He touches on the beauty and fresh life of nature, so that his very language is soothing. It carries us quite away from the fret and fever of life. If we would spend more time in considering the lilies we should be calmed and refreshed. Wordsworth re-echoes this wholesome lesson.
2. The analogy of the lower world. God cares for the grass that is enamelled with flowers in the spring, then scorched by the sun and burnt as fuel in the summer. He feeds the wild birds. Nature is wonderfully adjusted in its mutual ministries so as to support its most fragile creatures. If we can "live according to nature" we shall be provided for. This does not mean becoming savages - who are not in a state of nature at all. It means observing the laws of nature, as flowers and birds are bound to do, but as men do not.
3. The revelation of our Father's care. He knows our need. He does not despise it, or suppose that we can face it with Stoical indifference. Therefore we can entrust it to him. Faith is the great antidote to care.
4. The call to higher duty. It is wrong to waste our lives in anxiety. It is incumbent on us to give ourselves to the service of God. When we do this we shall find it easier to trust God. Then the evil may come; but we need not snatch at it prematurely. It can wait for its day, and when that arrives we shall find that as our day is so our strength will be. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
WEB: Therefore, I tell you, don't be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food, and the body more than clothing?