by: Roy Fruits, Senior Pastor
COVID-19. Aka Corona Virus.
Several months ago, we didn’t even know what it was. Now that it has mushroomed in the U.S., we are all in crisis mode. Some are handling it well. Others are panicking, buying up everything in stores amid fears of weeks of isolation and a global recession. My dad, who is 87 and lives in Newark, Illinois, spent two and a half hours grocery shopping because Illinois shut down all restaurants. He lives by himself and let’s just say his area of expertise is not cooking! Eating at restaurants is his primary way of meeting one of his most basic needs. The current global pandemic can cause panic and rob us of peace. Be honest, perhaps that person is you.
I would like to share a passage with you directly from Jesus as He, the Son of God, speaks truth into our minds and hearts when it comes to panicking during this current pandemic. Take a few moments and read Matthew 6:25–34 below, preferably out loud.
“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 than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The word anxious is repeated by Jesus six times in these verses. However, it is important to understand what Jesus means by anxiety. It is equivalent to the word “worry.”
The best biblical definition that I can offer you is this: Anxiety or worry is excessive concern about things in this world, which causes us to no longer put our trust in God.
Jesus is not addressing the very real medical condition of anxiety disorder or any other medical condition. Those are issues that should be addressed by professional, yet biblical counseling. What Jesus is warning against is the form of anxiety or worry that keeps us from trusting God and putting first His agenda for our lives. Jesus commands us to not be anxious because he knows how prone we are to losing perspective on what really matters in the long run. So how does this passage give us guidance so that we do not panic in the current pandemic?
God cares for His children
If you have put your trust and faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, your life is securely in His hands. Jesus makes it clear that as human beings, we bear the image of God. We are more value to God than any other part of His creation. If He takes care of unemployed animals and plants, He certainly will take care of those He loves. As beautiful as birds and plants are, your value and worth are far greater in God’s eyes.
When Jesus refers to the “Gentiles” in verse 32 he wasn’t speaking racially. He was referring to people who do not follow God or have faith in Him. Their entire perspective is on this life and not on the life to come. They focus on the physical life and become overly concerned with things of this life because they have no hope in a loving God who can take care of them. With that perspective, who wouldn’t lose peace and panic!
However, for those that know Christ as Savior and Lord, we have a promise in the second half of verse 32. Jesus tells us not to be anxious because we can put our trust in our heavenly Father who knows all our needs. And not only does He know them, He has an endless supply of resources to meet our basic needs. His shelves never empty like we see in the stores today. If you start to panic and wonder where the next paycheck is going to come from or how you will find food, remember that God knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees each personal situation and what tomorrow will bring. He has promised He will take care of His children.
Notice, Jesus doesn’t say it is wrong to think about food and clothing or other basic needs. Actually, we should think about them to a certain degree and work to supply them for ourselves and our family members. However, Jesus says it is wrong to be overly concerned or anxious about genuine needs. It means you are not trusting God for His promised provisions. When you do not depend on Him who knows and controls the future as well as supplies what you need, you become anxious and that adds more problems for you personally.
Anxiety never helps, it only hurts
Jesus was clear in verse 27, being anxious about anything does not add a single hour to your life. In other words, if you are anxious, you are wasting your time. Keep working at providing for your basic needs and finding solutions to the problems you may face; at least you will be productive. Jesus was not saying to avoid working or using our God-given wisdom to solve problems during a crisis like we currently face. He also does not suggest we avoid planning and being prepared for what may come. His command is to not be overly concerned and anxious so that you are losing perspective and no longer depending on Him as the one who will provide for His children.
Not only is anxiety a waste of time, it can cause emotional and psychological damage. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down…” In this current pandemic, there is much to be anxious about. Money, job security, health, isolation and what our future will look like with the new reality of COVID-19. All these things can be overwhelming, and if we are not careful, the anxiety and lack of peace in our life will become mentally and physically unhealthy.
The key to walking with wisdom while dealing with the cares and concerns of life is found in the question Jesus asks in Matthew 6 at the end of verse 30 and in verse 34. Jesus does not say “do not be concerned about the needs and issues we all face in life." This is especially true when it comes to a global pandemic. He never says, “Let go and let God.” For instance, we expect our president and government officials to be concerned and work towards finding solutions that will address many of our needs and health care issues. We also need to be concerned ourselves and act in ways that help, not hurt. However, we are not to do so with such myopic tunnel vision that we become overly concerned, lose peace and become anxious. Matthew 6:34 shows us very practically how we begin to lose perspective. Instead of trusting God for today and tomorrow, we borrow worry and anxiety about what will happen in the future and pull it into today. When that happens, we fail to act with wisdom by doing our part today and then trusting God for the outcomes and provisions of our needs.
Is it wrong to be concerned about health, money, a job, your “singleness,” your children and grandchildren? No. We all have troubles each day and certain seasons of life bring concerns. He doesn’t suggest we ignore them, or that we avoid joining together to provide community and care for one another. When He says not to borrow from tomorrow and bring it into today, He is saying don’t worry about the things that are out of your control. Jesus also tells us as followers of Christ that life is more than the world we can physically see, touch and feel. People who do not have a relationship with God (i.e., Gentiles in v. 32) become overly anxious about life and their own physical needs because they have no hope in the future We are admonished by Jesus to have faith or trust in God (v. 30) and remember that there are even more important matters to life than our earthbound physical concerns. If I am anxious, worrying or panicking over what I can currently “touch and feel,” then I might miss what God is doing in and through this crisis. That is why this next point is so critical.
Place God’s Kingdom priorities first in your life
Matthew 6:33 contains a powerful promise. It is one we often overlook. Jesus is contrasting our limited perspective with His abundant provisions. If we place His Kingdom agenda and priorities first in our life, then He will provide our basic needs. The secret to life and finding peace in anxiety is grasping that life is not simply about our current circumstances. Life is bigger than these things.
The step that Jesus is suggesting is counterintuitive. Everything in us as humans desires to focus exclusively on what we see, feel and touch. Jesus says that our ultimate focus should be on His priorities for our life today and tomorrow. When we seek His Kingdom agenda first, then we are promised that as His loved and valued children, God will provide for these basic, tangible needs. If we do not, we not only become overwhelmed and anxious, but we also no longer depend on Him. We take matters into our own hands seeking to control what we cannot control, instead of trusting the God controls everything. If I cannot safely predict what will happen tomorrow with this pandemic, then instead of trusting my limited knowledge and power, why not leverage my ignorance and turn my gaze upon the God who does? Why not trust the God who has provided for me as His loving child, and rest in His control and abundant provision for today and tomorrow? If He has been faithful today, He will be faithful tomorrow (v. 34).
When I realize that life is much bigger than my current world, I begin to place my trust in God, know my future life is secure in Him, look forward to His coming for me, and rest in His love and care for me. And then I can finally find peace. I also adjust to His agenda for my life. By living differently and loving radically as Jesus did, I am not only assured of my needs being met, but I also know that I will not miss His plan and purposes for me to further His Kingdom.
Don’t miss the phrase in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness…” If I am anxious and overly concerned about my needs, my world, my health, my work—then I miss His Kingdom work and plan for my life and those around me. To pursue His kingdom and “righteousness” means to live and love like Jesus. It means to choose to let His agenda be my agenda in life. When I choose God, I take my eyes off myself, trust my heavenly Father and begin to see how I might love those around me.
During this time, , choosing God’s agenda means I am keenly aware of not just my needs, but also the needs of others who are struggling. I quickly remember that I am here to display the love of Jesus Christ to those around me. And as God’s people, we are to love one another so that the world will know we are followers of Jesus Christ (John 13:34, 35). The moment I accept the truth of what Jesus is saying, I find peace. I can trust His character and His ways for today and tomorrow. Knowing that I am eternally secure, valued and cared for allows me to focus on His agenda not only for me, but also for how I might love others around me.
It is amazing to me what happens with the simple decision to put Jesus Christ first in my life. When I do, He sits on the throne of my life and begins to show me how I can live and love in a way that people see Him. When we as a church seek to be the Church during this crisis, we act as His body in the world (1 Corinthians 12:27). As individuals and as a church we are seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness by trusting and following, and therein serving and caring for those around us. I don’t need to worry about myself. I am depending on the God who is bigger than COVID-19. I am depending on the God who is bigger than my health, my job, my finances, my food, my kids and my future. For you it may be a different list, but the common denominator we must all come to is dependence on God. Our hope should be fixed on Him and His righteous reign in our lives. We not only find peace for an anxious heart, we can pass His peace on to others so they can find hope in Jesus.
Life is more than just the physical component. Life has a spiritual component that must be addressed. A soul will wander aimlessly, driven to be anxious and consumed by the crises at hand. Unless Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord. We can help you find a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Please contact us via our web site at www.rockpoint.church. We will have someone contact you and help you begin to find peace for your troubled heart by turning and committing to Christ as your Savior and Lord.
And, for those of you who are followers of Christ and part of God’s Church, would you begin to rest in His provision for your life and begin to pray for His Kingdom agenda in your life, your small group, your community of friends and our church? God has opened the door for us to be His body in our world and offer peace instead of panic. We can join together and not only provide the love and care we all need , but also offer it to those around us.
God’s Kingdom agenda is to reach the world.
Now is our moment.
Find His peace and pass it on.