Context is always key in Scripture.
I’m working on the concept of DECREASE this year. Last week I wrote about Matt. 6:33 and God’s instruction to seek His Kingdom first. This week we look at what God gave us next to ensure success.
Matthew 6 is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). We could camp out here for months and not glean every nugget from the text. But in this section, Christ was addressing the people’s anxiety over the daily necessities: food, clothing, etc. He called the crowd “you of little faith” (6:30) because God provides these things for the birds and flowers. And since God cares more for PEOPLE, surely He will provide for us, too. He wants our success!
That’s when He gave the command to seek God’s Kingdom first from last week’s study.
One of the most important rules to understanding scripture is to read what comes immediately before and immediately after the verse you are studying.
Context. Here’s the way this chapter plays out:
- Don’t worry about daily stuff.
- God cares for His creation.
- God cares even more about you.
- Stop worrying, you people of little faith.
- SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and all these things will be given to you. (daily needs)
- Don’t be anxious about tomorrow.
- Don’t judge others.
Today we’re looking at #6 & 7. Don’t be anxious. And don’t judge. Our 2 secrets for success!
Dictionary.com defines it as “full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear of danger or misfortune; greatly worried…”
Okay, confession time: I don’t get anxious about food and clothing. Except that I eat too much of the first which causes the second to not fit well. (Another part of my DECREASE plan for 2016).
But I know far too many people who DO worry about food. I am fortunate enough to work in a school that partners with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. I get to distribute weekend food to my 5-6 year olds each week. Free. No cost to the school, and definitely no cost to the children. Sure, some kids only eat the meals they get at school. But there are far more that the Food Bank identifies as “food insecure.” This means that sometimes they have food, but it probably isn’t very nutritious. Or there may be food most days, but not all. Or maybe the kids eat and the parents don’t.
These children wait ANXIOUS-ly each week to get their backpacks of kid-friendly food. It’s always the highlight of my week to hand it out. If you could spare some money and are looking for a program that makes a real difference on a regular basis, please donate. For only $200, you can fill 1 child’s backpack for an entire school year.
So, I don’t get anxious about food. But I do get anxious. I can get so totally worked up about the safety of my loved ones that I become physically ill. It’s the “They’re driving in a snow storm,” or “She’s in a city that’s flooding everywhere, and she’s totally surrounded by water” moments that force me to stop and pray. Being anxious doesn’t help anyone. But prayer does. It wouldn’t be unusual to see me get a text from someone, triggering anxiety. Then see me lay hands on my phone as I lift them up in prayer.
B. Judge/Judgmental –
to form an opinion of; decide upon critically
We are reminded in the following verses that WE will be judged in the same way that we judge OTHERS.
I saw a challenge on social media the other day: to go an entire day without being critical of anyone. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking through my day and the number of times that I mentally or verbally criticized people.
- The driver who almost caused a wreck when their pickup pulled out in front of me to rush to the NEXT lane past mine. Cars in all 4 lanes had to slam on their brakes. And I had a mental conversation with the driver about their need to get to the fast food restaurant so quickly. [What if the driver was having blood sugar issues?]
- Hubby when he didn’t ask me to get something at the store. He had to go get it less than an hour after I got home. [I should have volunteered to go instead of questioning why he didn’t mention it.]
- The sender of the package I should have had in August or September. Still waiting. [Won’t it be all the more a blessing when it comes?]
I should be black and blue from all the judgment coming back at me. So, here is God showing me yet another area that I need to DECREASE.
Action Plan: How about this week we ask God to reveal our anxious moments and our judgments against others? I’m confident that He will reveal them with His gentle loving Spirit. When we see our worry, we can pray for peace and for the perfect love of God that casts out all fear. And when we see our critical side, we can pray again – for forgiveness and a spirit of love. See how easy that will be? Nothing to be anxious about!