Calm in the Storm of Worries
Ending Anxiety By Seeking First His Kingdom
Published November 11th, 2016; Updated November 11th, 2016
31 - Therefore do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear for clothing?" 32 - For all these things the Gentiles seek after; for your heavenly Father knows you need them all. 33 - But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 - Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
The word that I translated "anxious" could be translated "worry" or "distracted." I think this could be helpful when thinking through seeking after the Kingdom and righteousness. Worrying is being distracted from the Kingdom. The word that I translated as "trouble" in verse 34 can also be translated "evil." Making the "trouble" that each day has sufficiently enough of an evil type of trouble.
μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε λέγοντες• τί φάγωμεν; ἤ• τί πίωμεν; ἤ• τί περιβαλώμεθα;
πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπιζητοῦσιν•
οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος ὅτι χρῄζετε τούτων ἁπάντων.
ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον τὴν βασιλείαν [τοῦ θεοῦ] καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ,
καὶ ταῦτα πάντα προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν.
μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε εἰς τὴν αὔριον,
ἡ γὰρ αὔριον μεριμνήσει ἑαυτῆς•
ἀρκετὸν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἡ κακία αὐτῆς.
Paul uses similar language in the letter to the Ephesians when distinguishing between the way that the Gentiles walk and the way that believers walk. In the same way, Jesus shows that the Gentiles worry about the things of the world, while the believer trusts in God's provision. Gentiles seek after material good. Believers seek first the Kingdom and righteousness. Christ gives two grounds for why we should not worry, the negative ground being that these are the things that the Gentiles say and do, while the positive ground for why we are not to worry is that our Father knows all that we need. Although I labeled verse 34 in my Arc as being an inference of verses 31-33, I think that it is in a way a one sentence restatement of everything that Christ has been saying in verses 25-34.
Verse 33 gives us the means by which we can stop worrying. By setting our eyes on the Kingdom and seeking it first, all the other things will fall in line through God's faithfulness. What Jesus isn't encouraging is wantonly forsaking the duties and concerns of everyday life. He finishes this section of the Sermon on the Mount by reminding the people that each day has it's own troubles and concerns. By setting our eyes on the Kingdom every day, God will vanquish the evils and troubles of that day like a loving Father watching over his children. Jesus' last statement in this passage should remind of us Lamentations 3:22-23, which states, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." If each day is faithful to bring its own sufficient evil and trouble, how much more faithful is our loving Father to give new mercies every morning? We are fickle creatures that at the blowing of the wind think that our world is coming down around us. In those moments Christ comes alongside us and reminds us of where to turn our gaze, where to place our trust, and tells us to fight today's battle not tomorrow's.
Other helpful texts on worrying and anxiety within the New Testament: Philippians 4:6-7 Luke 12:24-34 Matthew 11:28-30 1 Peter 5:6-8