First Things First
“And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 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.”
When our daughter was a child, my wife and I tried to teach her to look beyond the end of her nose. Even as a small child, we tried to get her to focus her attention on things that really mattered. That did not mean that she wasn’t allowed to play games, have fun, and enjoy the various stages of her childhood. — Not at all. But we did work at not allowing her to live for games and fun and frivolity.
Why? — Because a child that grows up without learning responsibility is likely to live that way for the rest of his/her life. Such a child grows up to be a miserable, useless, self-centered, whining adult. We did not want that for our daughter, any more than you want that for your children. So we constantly pressed her to keep her priorities in order and to keep her mind focused on things that really matter.
Why was it necessary for us to constantly remind her of the importance of these things? The sad fact is, unless we are continually reminded that some things are unimportant, other things slightly important, other things very important, and a few things most important, we will all spend our lives pursuing, worrying about, and crying over things that are utterly insignificant, while neglecting those things that are truly important.
In the passage before us the Lord Jesus tells us to get our priorities focused. Remember the context. Our Lord has just given us the parable of the rich fool, telling us that those who live for this world, neglecting their immortal souls, are fools. Then, he gives us the rich, instructive words found in Luke 12:22-31.
We will have that upon which we set our hearts. So, “set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).
A Fact to Remember
“And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment” (vv. 22-23).
Here is a fact to remember. — There is more to life than the gratification of animal cravings and the adornment of the body. Yet, these are the things about which all men and women most naturally devote most of their thoughts and energy. This is the very thing Paul is talking about when he says, “Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content” (1 Timothy 4:8).
We only live in these bodies. Life is what is inside the body. Life is not that which is sustained by meat; but that which is sustained by grace. Beauty is not something you can buy in a clothing store, or in a plastic surgeon’s office. Beauty is the hidden man of the heart, Christ Jesus, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27; 1 Peter 3:1-6).
Some things to Consider
Here are some things to consider. Our Savior is calling us away from the care of the world and calling us to faith, calling us to honor God by believing him. He does so by pointing out some things that ought to be obvious to every kindergarten child. They may seem to be simple, insignificant, almost trivial lessons to carnal minds; but the things mentioned in this passage are matters of deepest importance. The more I ponder them, the weightier they become. The more I study them, the more profound they appear.
Consider the ravens. — “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?” (v. 24) If God almighty condescends to provide for the needs of a bird, a raven at that, if he orders the affairs of providence to give the ravens their daily food, is it reasonable for us to ever imagine that he might fail to provide for us?
Consider yourself. — “And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?” (v. 25) The word here translated “stature” should probably be translated “life,” or “age,” as it is in John 9:21 and 23 and Hebrews 11:11. What our Lord is saying here is that none of us can, by any means, add one thing to the height of our physical frames, or to our age, or to the days of our lives.
Our days are “as an handbreadth” (Psalm 39:5). — Considerably less than one cubit! If we are not able to add anything to the number of our days on this earth, it is utterly absurd to spend our time and energy fretting about how we can do so! — “If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?” (v. 26) Far better it is for us to say with David, “My times are in thy hands,” and rejoice to know that it is so.
Consider the lilies. — “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?” (v. 27-28) If the Lord God every year provides the lilies with fresh foliage and fresh blooms, how absurd it is for us to imagine that he might fail to clothe us today, or tomorrow.
Consider the heathen. — “For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things” (v. 30). What a shame it is for God’s people to grovel like the heathen of this world after the things of the world. If God is my Father and Christ my Savior and the Holy Spirit my Comforter, if heaven is my home and eternity is the span of my life, I ought not find it difficult to live above the cares of and anxieties of the heathen. Faith in Christ ought to make my heart light. The light of eternity ought to make the things of earth grow dim. Heavenly glory ought to make the baubles of earth utterly insignificant to me.
Consider your Father. — “Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things” (v. 30). This fact alone ought to make us perfectly content. All our needs in this world are perfectly known to our Father, the Lord of heaven and earth. He can relieve our needs whenever he sees fit; and he will relieve our needs whenever it is best for us that they be relieved. He who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up to death to ransom our souls, he who gave us his darling Son will not fail to give us everything we need.
Let us consider these facts. May God the Holy Spirit write them upon the tables of our hearts and cause them to bring forth fruit in our lives. Nothing is more common to men than worrying about things over which they have no control. Nothing is more contradictory to our professed faith in the living God than worrying about the things of this world and our lives in it. And nothing so honors our God as confidently trusting him.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 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. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” (Psalm 23:1-6)
A Call to Faith
Here is a call to faith in our God. — “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” (vv. 28-30). Oh, may God the Holy Spirit create and sustain in our souls confident faith in God our Savior, teaching us day by day to trust his infinite wisdom, goodness, grace, love, power, promises, faithfulness, and mercy, teaching us day by day to rest in his providence!
A Kingdom to Seek
In verse 31 our Lord directs our hearts heavenward and tells us of a kingdom to seek. — “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” We all know that our first priority in life ought to be the kingdom and glory of our God. We must not give our hearts to this world. Let us not live as though we were animals, without immortal souls. May God give us grace to live as men and women who are constantly aware that our lives in this world are but a very brief prelude to another world, as men and women with immortal souls to be saved or lost. You and I have a death to die, a God to meet, a judgment to face, and an eternity awaiting us!
Those things need to be ever before our hearts and minds. But when can it be said that a person is seeking the kingdom of God? Am I seeking the kingdom of God? Are you? I know this: — The kingdom of God is the only thing worth seeking! And I know this: — A person is seeking the kingdom of God when he is living in the pursuit of Christ. — “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14; Philippians 3:3-14).
A Promise from Christ
Here is a promise from Christ to content our hearts.—”All these things shall be added unto you” (v. 31). That person who sets his heart upon Christ and eternity shall never lack anything in this world that he needs. He shall always have exactly enough of everything (Psalms 37:25; 84:11; Isaiah 3:10; 33:16; Romans 8:28-32; Psalm 23:1-6).
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