“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Today we live in a culture of fear. Fear sells magazines and gains an audience on TV. Politicians try to create fear to sway the electorate by demonizing the opposition. Coming out of the pandemic, the talk quickly turns to the fear of the next pandemic, when it will strike, and how bad it will be. When faced with the struggles of life, it is easy to become anxious. Every day we are reminded that we are finite and incapable of dealing with the issues we are confronted with. While people often present a public persona of strength, confidence, and composure, it only hides the reality that we often are plagued by fear, doubt, and apprehension regarding the events in our life that seem out of control. Even as Christians, we often are caught up in the fear that permeates our culture. We fear the future. We fear the moral collapse of our country. We fear what the world will be like for our children.
In this passage, Christ addresses the plague of anxiety and fear. First, we should note that the things causing fear are not hypotheticals or imagined. The fears are real and legitimate. The problems are dealing with issues that are basic for survival: the need for food and shelter. Christ was talking to people who understood this fear. They did not have a freezer full of food or a closet filled with clothes. They lived in a world with a constant threat to their daily well-being. A neighboring nation might invade and devastate the land. A natural disaster may occur that destroys their homes and crops. Their history had been filled with such circumstances, and nothing could assure them that it would not happen again.
It is also significant that this discussion comes on the heels of his talk on wealth and prosperity. We pursue wealth because we believe it can insulate us from the adversities and struggles of life. If we have full barns (vs. 26) and multiple closest filled with clothes (vs. 28), then we have no reason to worry. But these things only create a false illusion of security. Instead, our security comes from God. To illustrate, Jesus points to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Their safety is not based on what they have but upon who provides it.
In verse 33, Christ gives us the key to overcoming fear and anxiety. The answer lies in our focus on the kingdom of God. As the king of the universe, God takes responsibility for the care and provision of all those who are a part of his kingdom. When we surrender ourselves to him and pursue his righteousness, we no longer need to fear, for we are now under the care and provision of God. Anxiety does not arise from the size of our problems or struggles. Stress occurs because our view of God is too small. When we are aligned with Christ, we are under the protective care of the God of the universe, and we are aware that he is sovereignly orchestrating all events to accomplish his will. Isaiah reminds us of this when he states, “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!
Regarding all this, people call it a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or dread it. It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And he shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. Then he shall become a sanctuary” (Isaiah 8:12-14). We no longer need to fear circumstances, political events, or even personal struggles because we have the living God who takes personal responsibility to provide for us and provide a place of safety where we can be free from fear.