This past Sunday, Pastor Donnell spoke on the topic of generosity, giving what we have to God and trusting that God will provide for our needs. Among the Bible passages that he cited, he quoted Jesus as written in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 6:
Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Another teaching of Jesus Pastor Donnell mentioned, as recorded in the gospel of Luke, addresses the same subject, only goes a bit further:
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith? And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor.
We will use these two passages for our meditation this week.
When Jesus refers to people’s anxiety about food, drink and clothes, the vast majority of his listeners were likely thinking about survival. This is still the case for some of us. For many of us, though, when we think about these things, we think about having the right kind of food, drink and clothes. In either case, we likely spend as much time thinking about these things as the Jews did in the first century.
These sayings are very challenging. To put aside thinking about the things that we need or want and focus on God’s kingdom is difficult. Jesus knows that we need these things. His father knows our needs, as well. So Jesus’ primary request is for us to trust; trust in his and his father’s love and care for us.
It is easy to see these sayings as commands or rules. They are fairly straightforward and there is not much room for debate. But as Pastor Donnell said, when you are faced with a command that you can’t (or don’t want to) obey, you simply ignore it. The alternative is to feel as if you are a failure, and most of us avoid that. Another approach would be to see these commands as describing our life if we were fully living in the kingdom of God. This is the life that we are learning to live even if we are falling short right now. As we continue to grow in our trust of God, we can be honest with Jesus about our short-comings and seek his forgiveness. He is kind and merciful and will forgive us and through his Spirit enable us to take the next step forward. Thus, as you begin to pray through these two sayings of Jesus, I encourage you to be very honest with yourself about your feelings about food, drink, clothes, and the other necessities of life. Invite Jesus to sit with you as you ponder these things. As your thoughts and feelings arise as you read these passages, share them with Jesus. If you fall short, be honest with Jesus and seek his forgiveness. If you wonder how God will provide for with these things, ask him. Give him some time to respond. You might next consider how your life might be different if you focused more on God’s kingdom. This might mean a change in how you spend your time or your money. It might mean a change in what you desire to see happen most.
Pray the passages a second time, more slowly this time. Pause on those phrases which captured your attention the most the first time through. Again, share your thoughts and feelings with Jesus. Ask for his help to trust God more.
You might jot down your most significant thoughts and feelings and any words that you may receive from God.
Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.