Seeking Contentment

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ [32] For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

Matthew 6:31-32 ESV

Jesus summarizes his teaching on anxiety in this verse with a reminder to not be anxious about our food, drink, or clothing. The anxiousness that Jesus is talking about is further clarified in the next sentence by stating that the Gentiles seek after these things. It is the fixation of our hearts and minds on material objects over and above the spiritual realities and Jesus himself that is the source of our anxiousness. We worry and stress about our physical comforts and needs, when all the while our heavenly Father knows that we have need of these things. Our stress and our anxiousness are a reflection of our continuing struggle with contentment and trust. Our anxiety is a hazard light raising the alarm that something is not quite right in our hearts. Our anxiety is an important indicator of the current state of our faith and trust in our heavenly Father who loves us, cares for us, and provides for all we need and have in this world.

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Rich Inspiration

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Matthew 6:30 ESV

Look around and see the breadth of God’s love and beauty in the world. The creation is God’s canvas to illustrate his tender care and compassion for all things. The beauty of nature is a living reminder of our loving God and his daily provision. Jesus continues to point us back to reality by opening our eyes to truly seeing the world, God’s creation, that is all around us. There is life all around us that is arrayed in a wondrous beauty that causes an emotional response in us. The beauty of the world around us is magnificent. Yet, we continue to miss the Creator of this beauty and his sustaining providence in all of nature. Jesus wants us to take a moment and just gaze at all of creation in wonder and let it draw our hearts to the Creator. To see the beauty of the world and have our faith deepened.

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Lilly Lessons

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, [29] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Matthew 6:28-29 ESV

Once again, Jesus is continuing his discourse on anxiety and worry. He started this section by confirming that life is of more importance than what we are going to eat and what we are going to wear, yet these two things still pick and pull at all of us. We become anxious about clothing and possessions to such an extreme that they dominate our thoughts and become idols craving and demanding our attention. Jesus wants us to take our cues from the birds of the air and now the lilies of the field. These lilies are unmatched in their beauty and we should take note of how our heavenly Father has given these lilies an arrayment of beauty that surpasses even the pomp and glory of a king in procession.

Clothing has never been a consistent source of anxiety for me. I have never been overly stressed and concerned about my clothing or what I will wear or how I will look. To be fair, I have tended to push back on the social norms of what is expected to be worn for most of my life. Yet, I find myself falling into this trap with others at times. I worry less about what I wear but I often make snap judgments about others based on their choice of clothing for a particular activity or event. I find myself setting a standard that is solely based on my choices as the line of demarcation. Instead of understanding the person and seeing opportunities for Jesus, I only see my self-righteous value judgments about others. Which, now that I work this through in my mind is a revelation about the hidden stressor I have about clothing in my own life. Where I think of myself as being unconcerned, I am finding that there is a deeper anxiousness residing in my heart that truly does care about what I wear and my struggle to fit into the world and culture around me.

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Pride Prolonged

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Matthew 6:27 ESV

A life filled with anxiousness is a life spent denying the sovereign control of God over the workings of the universe and the affairs of humanity. It may be that I give ascent to the sovereign control and right that God has in being our Creator and Lord, but my everyday thoughts and words reveal the true character and nature of my heart. It is commendary to repeat the great verses of Scripture where we recite and honor the Kingship of Jesus but if these verses have not soaked our hearts in their unalterable truth, then we will find ourselves acting contrary to the very Scripture we recite. We will find that we have become hypocrites and idolaters as we sing these great truths but act in a manner that shows we are still clinging to and holding fast to our own will and might. Our idolatry becomes our own desire to be in control and make God’s blessings come to pass in our lives.

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Bird Watching

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Matthew 6:26 ESV

There are a multitude of reasons for my tendency to be anxious and worried. I can come up with a thousand different reasons for letting my fear overwhelm me and lead me into a state of anxiety. Yet, I think this verse hits the mark for me on a deep heart level. At the heart of my struggle with worry and anxiety is an underlying doubt and unbelief in my value and worth before the Lord. I doubt that my Creator and Savior truly means what he says about his deep and personal love for me. I struggle in my heart to truly understand that I am a treasured possession of the Lord God Himself. I doubt the countless stories in the Bible where God demonstrates this Fatherly love for his people. I doubt the many instances and evidences in my life where he has demonstrated his Fatherly love for me. My doubt runs deep at times and I spiral into a well of depression and fear.

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Countering Anxiety

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  

Matthew 6:25 ESV

At this point in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has finished his teaching treasure in heaven and has led us to understand and apply the important mindset of serving God alone without any duplicity and with complete devotion. Having taken this principle into our hearts, we are to apply this in such a manner that all anxiety is cast far from us. This sounds so simple as we read this passage and make the connection in our mind that Jesus is our perfect loving Master and as we give our whole hearts and lives to him, he alone will care for us and give us everything we have and need in this life and in heaven. Life is more than food and clothing. Life is more than these outer adornments and gathering of material things. It is more than a multitude of novel and unique experiences. It is more than indulging our cravings and desires. Life is meant to be lived in the presence of our Lord and Savior with humility and devotion. Jesus is life… our life.  

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Single Serving

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Matthew 6:24 ESV

Jesus concludes this section of the sermon by giving us a summary and personal application to his command that we lay up treasures in heaven. One of the most important factors in following Jesus with humble obedience is our complete dedication and devotion to God. We are a doubleminded people who continually see our desires and affections being tempted and drawn away from our Savior. We are a people that want to live for the treasures of heaven but are drawn and distracted by the treasures of this world. Jesus reminds us that we cannot serve two masters. We cannot be doubleminded with dual allegiance. We cannot serve God and the World at the same time. Our hearts are simply not designed this way. Our hearts are designed to focus and be completely devoted to one object of worship. Jesus is calling us to examine ourselves and ensure that we are fully devoted to our Father in Heaven and not these temporal worldly distractions that have no eternal value.

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Good Eye

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, [23] but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Matthew 6:22-23 ESV

The eye is the lamp of the body. This is a phrase that can speak to several different areas of our life. There is the thought that the eye works as a lamp to reveal the condition and state of our inner life. A healthy eye denotes a clear vision devoted to the Lord, whereas a bad eye reveals the cloudy vision of corruption. I tend to think of this passage in terms of what is being brought into my mind and heart through my vision. With the eye being a lamp for the body, the object and focus of my eye is of vital importance. With my eye being the lamp, it illuminates what my body (inner life) sees and focuses on. Thus if my eyes are healthy, I am allowing the light of the gospel into my body by focusing on the spiritual good. If my eye is bad, then darkness is clouding my vision and the light of the gospel is being withheld from my body and the darkness within me builds and thrives.

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Heart Location

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21 (ESV)

“Where is your treasure being stored?” This is the key question that Jesus is asking in this passage as he encourages us to examine our hearts and understand the true state of our desires and affections. The gauge of our heart is a matter of evaluating the location of our treasure. Is our treasure located here on the earth or are we storing up for ourselves a treasure in heaven where Jesus is located? The answer to this question answers the bigger question of the status of our hearts. The answer to this question reveals what is at the center of our lives. Our hearts will be located in the same place as our treasure and our hearts will be attuned to spending as much time and energy as needed to enjoy the treasure.  

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Two Treasures

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, [20] but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Matthew 6:19-20 ESV

The focus of the last three passages has been on engaging our hearts in giving, praying, and fasting. Jesus now sums up these three points by connecting the three spiritual disciplines with the idea of spiritual treasure. A treasure that is being stored up for us in heaven as we put them into practice and engage our hearts with our service. The contrast is that we are not to focus on building worldly wealth as a substitute for a humble dependence upon God. We can be wealthy and be blessed by the Lord both financially and materially, but we are not to trust in our wealth by any means. We are not to look to our wealth and physical resources as a source of security. Our only source of hope and security comes from God alone and he is concerned with our eternal soul and the storing up of treasure in heaven where he is and where he will bring us.

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