“Neither be Ye of Doubtful Mind”
“The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Luke 12:23-31)
In this passage, our Savior bids us care for our souls and the eternal interests of our immortal souls. Our chief concern regarding ourselves ought to be our hearts, specifically our hearts’ relationship to our God. Solomon said, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Most people take great care in adorning their bodies, but give little thought to the ornaments of the soul. The feeding of the body involves much care, but the supply of spiritual food is neglected. But our bodies are only the abode in which we dwell for a time. We are living souls! The soul is immortal. The body will soon become food for worms. How I wish we could grasp this fact! —) “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37
Trust God’s Providence
The Son of God calls our attention to the higher and nobler part of our beings, and bids us see to it that our souls are in a right state. He here teaches us, his true disciples, to seek God’s grace, to trust him as our Lord and Savior, and to make certain that all is well with our souls. But our Lord’s instruction in this passage is principally about trusting his wise and good providence in the everyday affairs of our lives.
No doubt there are some people who are in easier circumstances than others, some who are in positions where they enjoy many comforts, while others are in places where they suffer many hardships. But our circumstances have little to do with our lives in reality. Our circumstances are temporary and change quickly.
Happiness, contentment, peace of mind are not found in circumstances, but in our inner beings, in our soundness of heart, in our minds. The inner man has far more to do with one’s joy or sorrow than anything outside us.
There have been some who have been perfectly free in a prison, while others have been in absolute bondage with wide estates to roam over. I have known some, whose spirits have triumphed when all around has tended to depress them. I have seen others, who were wretched and desponding when they had, apparently, all that heart could wish.
It is the heart, the mind, the soul, that is the main thing. Your inner self is that which brings you daylight or midnight, wealth or poverty, peace or war. If we spent half the time, energy, and care on our souls that we spend in trying to better our circumstances we would be in a far better condition. We would all be wise to concentrate on fitting circumstances to our hearts rather than trying to fit our hearts to our circumstances.
Try as you may, you cannot alter the world in which your lot is cast, and you cannot alter God’s providential arrangements. Would it not be better to alter yourself to God’s providence and be resigned to his will? Of course it would!
Did you ever notice how often, in the Book of God, the inspired writers of Holy Scripture busied themselves with what one old writer called “indoor work” — the work that has to be done within one’s own heart?
“Bless the Lord, O my soul,” says David, in the 103rd Psalm; “and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” This indoor work always pays best; and our Lord Jesus, in his exhortations, constantly urges us attend to it. He said to his disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled.” A little later, he said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” He says the same to his disciples in every age. We cannot avoid tribulation. Yet, our Master says, “Let not your heart be troubled.” All the water in the sea will not hurt your ship so long as you keep it outside. The danger starts when it gets inside the ship. — It matters little what is outside you, if all is right within. So long as the Dove of heaven in our hearts enables us to sing sweetly of the love of God and causes the flower “Heart’s-ease” to bloom in our souls, we can and will be at peace, content, and joyful in the wilderness of trouble, the desert of care, and the raging sea of tribulation.
As C. H. Spurgeon put it, “A hurricane of afflictions may beat about you, yet you shall be a blessed man, for all the elements of blessedness are within your own heart. God has given them to you, and the devil himself cannot take them away.”
This is God’s message to you and me: — “Seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind” (v. 29). The language used by our Lord in this verse is very unusual. The word translated “doubtful” is not used anywhere else in the New Testament. It means “midair.” It appears to have something to do with meteors, so that the passage might be rendered, “Neither be ye of meteoric mind.” Even more literally, we might read it, “Neither have your mid in the clouds,” or “Do not have a cloudy mind.”
Our Lord’s word here is an imperative command. He is saying, “Stop seeking what you shall eat or what you shall drink, and stop living in suspense.” He is telling us to quit living like birds in the air, flighty and unsettled. He is saying, “Do not let your mind be tossed about like clouds in the air by every wind of circumstance.”
The word “doubtful” is so pregnant with meaning that I have no hope of expounding it. Rather, I will simply give you some of the things suggested by it. — “Neither be ye of doubtful mind.”
Stop Being Anxious
The first thing our Lord requires of us here is this: Child of God, stop being anxious. Stop worrying. Stop being tossed up and down by your outward circumstances. If God prospers you, do not allow that to make you soar. If he empties you, do not allow that to make you sink. If God sends you a little pleasure, do not allow that to put your head in the clouds. If he sends you heaviness and sorrow, do not allow that to put your head in the dust. Stop being so greatly affected by external things. Stop worrying. Do not allow your heart to fret. Cease from your anxious care about your circumstance.
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (5) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9)
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (2) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (3) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)
Our Savior’s injunction in Luke 12:29 means, “Do not be anxious about your temporal affairs.” Be prudent. We have no right to spend the money of other people, nor even our own, in wastefulness. We are to be careful and discreet. Every believer should constantly remember that he is only a steward, and that he is accountable to his Master for whatever he has, and the use he makes of it. But when we have done our best with what God has trusted to our hands, do not worry because you cannot make more of it. And when you have done your best to meet your expenses, do not sit down, and wring your hands because you cannot make them less.
I cannot turn a dime into a dollar. If I must sometimes live from hand to mouth, that is God’s purpose. He commonly feeds his children with daily manna. Seldom does he give bread to his own for weeks and months and years, but daily. Why, then, should we be staggered, much less astonished by such experiences?
It is irresponsible for anyone to live greedily and bring hardship upon himself and his family because he can never have enough toys. But it is insane to fret about things over which you have absolutely no control. All the worrying in the world will not alter what is, has been, or shall be.
Have you ever made any profit by biting your nails and pacing the floor? Have you ever gained anything by worrying? I have never seen anyone get comfort from the blanket of worry. I have never seen anyone fetch grist to the mill by fretting, or any meal to the barrel.
Perhaps you are thinking, “I know that is right, but I cannot help fretting and worrying.” I beg your pardon. Are you a believer? The Lord Jesus says to you, “Stop worrying.” “Stop being of a doubtful mind.” That means stop. And he would not tell us to stop, if we could not stop. Would he? No. The fact is, our worrying is a matter of disobedience and unbelief.
More than that — We only make matters worse by worrying. Have you not always found that to be the case? It is not our difficulty that makes us unfit for anything, but our unbelief that makes us unfit for our difficulties. In all the troubles of our lives, we would be wise to heed the often repeated words of Moses to the children of Israel before the Red Sea: — “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord!” — “The battle is not yours, but the Lord’s.”
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (11) Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. (12) Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. (13) For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (14) Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:10-14)
“He sits a Sovereign on his throne
And ruleth all things well”?
Our Savior demands that we stop worrying, and cast all our care upon him, because he truly does care for us.
Stop Being Ambitious
Worry has far more to do with proud, personal ambition than any of us want to acknowledge. So, I cannot fail to show you second, that another meaning of our Lord’s admonition is “Stop being ambitious.” God’s word to Baruch is God’s word to us all. — “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not. Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted will I pluck up” (Jeremiah 45:4-5).
Most of us are too much like meteors in the sky, soaring high with great thoughts about ourselves, but sporadic and unstable. That ought not be. May God give us grace to seek wisdom not wealth, faith not fame, and patience not praise. We all need to have the wings of our proud ambition clipped. We ought not soar so high as we do in ambition for ourselves. We ought to strive to be great, and stop striving for greatness. We ought to be ambitious for goodness, not for glory. We ought to seek acceptance with God, not the applause of men. We ought to be ambitious for favor with God, not fame among men.
Stop Being Unstable
A third meaning of the Savior’s exhortation is this: — “Stop being unstable in your mind.” We ought to be men and women of resolute, decisive, stable character. If you look at the context, you will see that this meaning fits very well. Many there are who are time-servers. Their thoughts are consumed with they shall eat, or what they shall drink, or how they shall be clothed. They are always watching to see which is the best way to go to get what they want. As the old proverb has it, “they know on which side their bread is buttered.” They wait to see which way the wind blows, and then are moved with great passion in the same direction.
God’s people are cut from different cloth. Grace makes people resolute, decisive, and stable. — “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Like Jephthah of old, having lifted their hands to the Lord, they cannot and will not go back. Like Joshua, they are determined, no matter which way the tide runs, — “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Our Lord says, to you and me, “Neither be ye of doubtful mind.” The long and short of it is this — In any circumstance, at any time, tell me what is right, and you have told me what I must do. If I give consideration to anything else, I will not do what I know is right. Show me God’s will, and you have shown me my path. If I give consideration to anyone else’s will I will not do God’s will. If we would walk with God, we must not confer with flesh and blood (Galatians 1:16).
Stop Doubting God
Fourth, our Lord Jesus here says to his believing people, “Stop being of a doubtful mind with regard to God’s goodness, grace and mercy. Neither be ye of doubtful mind regarding your soul’s salvation.”
There are many who are not saved who are very confident that they are. There are many, who know nothing of the grace of God who sing, and sing with great liveliness,
Blessed assurance! Jesus is mine,
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Such presumption is deadly. But, then, there are those who make doubt a vital point of godliness. That too is horrible. Our Lord says to you who trust him, and to me, no matter what our circumstances, no matter what our feelings, no matter what our failings may be, no matter how great, — “Neither be ye of doubtful mind!” Our salvation is a matter of faith, not of feeling. Child of God, hear and heed the word of your Savior, — “Neither be ye of doubtful mind!”
We have entirely too many fears for a people to whom the Lord God has said, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10).
Why can’t we believe God? Has he not proved his great faithfulness to us? David heard God’s promise and believed him. His faith in God gave quietness to his heart. God’s promises quientened his fears. Didn’t they? “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalms 23:4). — “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalms 4:8). — “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up” (Psalms 27:10).
We have far too much anxiety and worry about earthly, material things for a people to whom the Son of God has said, “Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)
It is written in the Scriptures, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). — Why should I worry, fret and pace the floor by day and by night, when God my Savior has promised that my Father will for his sake provide me with everything I need in this world? Why should I concern myself about that which God, who cannot lie, has promised?
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:31-34)
We have far too many doubts concerning God’s mercy, love and grace for a people to whom the Lord Jesus Christ has said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Our shameful, sinful, baseless doubts are inexcusable. — “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
Upon what grounds dare we call into question the mercy, love and grace of God? We have absolutely no reason to entertain any doubt concerning him! Did he promise; and shall he not fulfill it? Perish the thought! The Scripture says, “He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life.” I believe the Son of God. I have life! Why should we question that, ever? Paul was a sinner, just like us, save by grace, just like us. He didn’t question God’s promise (2 Timothy 1:12; 4:6-8; Romans 8:31-39).
I am not going to doubt God’s love because of something I have thought, or said, or done. His love is unconditional and free! I am not going to question his grace because of my sin. His grace superabounds where sin is found! I am not going to be suspicious of his mercy because I do not deserve his mercy. His mercy is for the undeserving! I am not going to doubt his faithfulness because of my unfaithfulness. His faithfulness stands forever! — “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). — “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19).
We spend entirely too much time grumbling and complaining about our trials and troubles for a people to whom the Lord Jesus has said. — “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We ought not be surprised when troubles come our way. We ought to be surprised when they don’t come! As long as we live in this world, we are going to have trials, troubles, temptations and sorrows.
God in Israel sows the seeds
Of affliction, pain and toil.
These spring up and choke the weeds
That would else o’erspread the soil.
Every ounce of gold that has ever been perfected and made valuable has been refined by fire. And if God puts the gold of his grace in us, he will also make us pass through the fire. — “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10). — “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” (1 Peter 4:12).
Trouble is not a strange thing. For the believer, the absence of trouble is a strange thing. Yet, when we meet with some great difficulty, some heavy trial, some heart-breaking sorrow, though we may not say it, our first shameful, wicked thought is usually, “Why me?” Our first thought really ought to be, “Why not me?”
Shall I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to when the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?
Our trials are nothing compared to what others have had to endure before us. Our sorrows are nothing compared to the sorrows our Master endured to have us. Our grief is nothing compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us!
We have entirely too much attachment to this world and to this present life, for a people who are looking for a city whose Builder and Maker is God ((Hebrews 11:8-10; (2 Corinthians 5:1). We know that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” We have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Believers are a people who long to be with Christ. Yet, it is so difficult for us to be torn loose from this present existence called “life.”
The only way for us to be delivered from these carnal principles, the only way we will ever be delivered from the cares of this world, the only way we will ever be saved from our fears, concerns, doubts, grumblings, and attachments to this world is to find something better. Our religious works will be dropped like a hot potato, if we ever see and get hold of Christ’s finished work. Our boasted good deeds will be of no value, if we are allowed and made to see what Christ has done for sinners. Our righteousnesses will appear to us as they really are, as filthy rags, if ever we behold the righteousness of God in Christ. Our goodliness will wither and die like mown grass in a furnace, if we ever see the goodness and glory of God in Christ (Isaiah 6:1-6). If ever we see Christ there will be no more, argument about our goodness, debate about our worth, or fuss about our will.
Even so, our fears, our doubts, our grumblings, our complaints against our little trials, our complaints against our God’s providence and purpose will disappear in proportion to the faith we have in his promises (Isaiah 43:1-5; 46:4; Romans 8:28-32). The more fully I believe his “I WILL,” the less I will fear. The less I believe his “I WILL,” the more I will fear.
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