Take no thought for your life

This discussion is fairly comfortable while it remains theoretical. However, Christ doesn’t leave it there. He challenges us to put that which we know to be right into practice in the mundane things of daily life. He said, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (Matt 6:25).

That statement is a radical proposition. Take no “thought” conveys the idea of being anxious, of being troubled with cares, of looking out for a thing and seeking to promote self-interests. We are not to be anxious over the necessities of our life, such as food and raiment. This is all humankind does; it concerns itself with food, clothes and shelter. We need to have a focus beyond these things.

The concept goes further than just being anxious. It carries the idea of scheming or planning in detail because the same word is used by the Lord, when he described Martha as being “careful” and troubled about many things in Luke 10:41-42. She was meticulous, painstakingly planning every detail of her domestic responsibilities, to the extent that she placed an overdue emphasis on this activity and became anxious when it went awry. Christ gently chides her and exhorts her that in all life’s labours, “one thing is needful” and that was what Mary had chosen.

The same word is used when exhorting the disciples not to be anxious when they would be called before the courts of the world: “And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12). God would provide the answers in the moment, so they were not to be unduly anxious over their responses. They should trust in Him instead of filling their thoughts with all kinds of different scenarios and schemes.

So we can see from the use of this word elsewhere that the Lord is telling us not to be anxious over the mundane things of life, carefully planning them out and stressing over the outcome. We are not to invest that much energy in the things of the world, but trust that God will take care of them. Paul put it this way: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:4-7). Note that we are exhorted to be “careful for nothing,” handing our requests over to God, putting things in His hands and leaving them there. This allows us to experience God’s peace, something the world around us can never fully understand.

Married life brings with it a necessity to deal with the day to day duties of this world but we must avoid being brought under their control: “But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cartel for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married cartel for the things of the world, how she may please her husband” (1 Cor 7:32-34). This passage is indicating that to some extent a “care for the things that are of the world” will come upon a married couple. His exhortation to the married is that they be “without carefulness”, that is, without anxiety. As married couples, we need to think through how much “the cares of this world” intrude upon our life in Christ. How much anxious care are we giving to these things? Are we placing too much burden upon the marriage and thereby drawing each other away from the things of the Father?

Amos paints a bleak picture of the demands upon their husbands of the women in Samaria, insisting that they provide a sumptuous living at the cost of crushing those around them. He wrote, “Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink” (Amos 4:1). If we translate this picture into our times, it would be like a sister putting pressure on her husband to provide a high standard of living by sacrificing time away from the family and from the ecclesia and at the expense of working for God in the Truth. The same can be true of husbands who can demand such domestic perfection that the wife neglects the raising of the children to provide a house that is swept and garnished, but empty of spiritual life. We can put demands on each other that cause the provision of spiritual meat in the home and in the ecclesia to be neglected. The standards of living that we may demand of each other may pull us away from the “good thing” that Mary chose, the one thing that is needful. If a couple in the Truth constantly keeps the biblical goal in the forefront of their minds, it will bring a peace that passes understanding into the household because the family unit isn’t consumed with covetousness and the cares of this life.

Our care needs to be for one another (1 Cor 12:25). We ought to follow young Timothy’s example and naturally care for the state of others at the expense of ourselves (Phil 2:19-21). That is the challenge. Not to seek our own wellbeing, but the wellbeing of others. This was always the modus operandi of our Lord and Master. No matter how tired and hungry he was, he was moved with compassion and became a servant to those who sought him ( John 13:13-14).