Don't Be Anxious About Your Life
“And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
Temptations to be anxious right now are ever-present. There’s round-the-clock speculation about COVID-19 and its far-reaching effects. When will the number of cases peak? When will the curve flatten? How long will workplaces, schools, and stores remain closed? What if I or a loved one get infected? What will life be like when all of this is “over,” whatever that even means?
To this, and every other present or future circumstance that tempts us to be anxious, Jesus lovingly commands: “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.” (Luke 12:22). Jesus gives his original hearers (and us) three reasons why obedience to this command will glorify God and is good for us.
First, Jesus says, “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” (Luke 12:23) We sure need that reminder now, don’t we? While food and clothing are necessities, human beings have eternal, spiritual needs that outlast the temporal needs of this life. Every person’s greatest need is to be eternally saved from spiritual death that we deserve because of our sin. (Ephesians 2:1, 5; Romans 6:23) If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, then by faith in him, your sins are graciously forgiven and you will eternally dwell with God. Remembering that God provided for your greatest need through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is a powerful means to fight the temptation to be anxious.
Second, Jesus points out that God provides food for ravens even though they are not actively producing food for themselves. He punctuates this point by exclaiming that human beings are of more value than birds! (Luke 12:24) As Ben James wrote earlier this week, God declares us valuable in creation by making us image-bearers, and he declares us valuable in redemption by giving up his precious Son for our salvation. Remembering your value to God is another powerful means to fight the temptation to be anxious. Preach to your anxious heart that God loves you, values you, knows your needs, and promises to provide what you need.
Third, Jesus asks a rhetorical question, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Luke 12:25) The answer is, of course, no one can. We are powerless to add even 60 measly minutes to a lifespan of perhaps many decades! However, God controls and knows the length of our lives. “In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16) The earlier promise that God will provide all of your needs only gets sweeter when you consider that God knows the exact number of our days and what we need on each of them. Remembering our dependence on God for every minute of life we live is another powerful means to fight the temptation to be anxious.
After all of this, Jesus further commands, “Do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (Luke 12:29–31) Jesus warns against allowing anxiety to narrow your focus to only seeking your needs. He is not condemning efforts to provide for yourself and keep the pantry stocked. Jesus warns against putting your own survival, comfort, and satisfaction above seeking the advancement of his Kingdom in your life and others’ lives as well. Fight temptations to anxiety by believing and rehearing the truths of this glorious and practical passage!