Years ago, our family planned a trip to Florida and one of the things we wanted to do was get some good seafood. So, I asked the hotel concierge, “Where’s the best seafood in town?” She didn’t hesitate: Shepherds by the Sea.
The building the restaurant was in was a little sketchy, but she knew what she was talking about. A wall-to-wall and down-the-hall buffet, heaped with seafood of every imaginable variety cooked in every imaginable way – as much as we wanted, some of the best we’ve ever had. When the server brings the bill, our son Bradley – 12-13 at the time – sees the total and wide-eyed whispers, “Daddy, do we have enough money for that?” I whispered, “No. Get ready to run!” Of course we had enough money! Did he really doubt his Dad had the resources to pay the bill? Did he think we were going to leave his mom and siblings to fend for themselves?
Jesus says that to worry about what we’ll eat and wear is a sin. One of the greatest reasons worry is sinful is that, like our son had his worries that Dad could pay the bill, it doubts our heavenly Father has the love and resources to cover our needs. And it’s not a far step from there to doubting his other promises too.
But it’s deeper than that.
If we can’t trust God to be true to his promise to provide needs that are tangible like food and clothing, how will we ever trust him for our deepest need of salvation – which for now is intangible. We could say that learning to trust our Father to meet our physical needs is practice for trusting that he has the ability and desire to rescue us from our sins and provide an eternal life of joy and peace.
Jesus ends the above passage with the remedy for worry – seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness. In a similar way the New Testament tells us the cure for the struggle with sin is not to focus on the sin, but to focus on Jesus. (2nd Cor. 4:18; Hebrews 3:1; 12:1-2)
We don’t learn not to worry by telling ourselves repeatedly not to worry. We learn not to worry by focusing on the greatness of our Father. By just saying the words, he created a universe so big we can’t see the end of it. He owns it all. He knows our needs. He’s promised to never leave or forsake us. He will provide.