30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
There is a heavy spiritual principle here that we must grasp: God will feed and clothe us if we rely on Him to do so. If we do not trust in Him for it (i.e. have faith) then we are left to our own efforts. As Jesus digs more profoundly into this concept, He uses the word “Gentile” to explain those who do not believe in God. Remember, His audience was Jewish. Generally, we use the word “Gentile” to mean “non-Jew,” which was its original meaning but to the Jews it also meant “godless.” So if we recognize Jesus’ point that way, that the godless seek food, clothing, and shelter on their own…then what does that say about us? I know, it’s a great slap in the face.
Now, to be clear, Jesus isn’t saying to quit your job, burn down your house, put on a loincloth and become a nomad. He is saying that if we try to do it by ourselves, it will never be enough. Not only will we fail sometimes, but we will always be striving for more and more because we never know when we will need to pull from our reserves. King Solomon, the wise and rich king, wrote in Ecclesiastes 2 the foolishness of trying to work for ourselves:
20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless. 24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Solomon explains that it is chasing after the wind: something you will never “arrive” at. It’s a meaningless goal because it is unattainable. Whenever we do reach our goal in physical satisfaction, it is never enough and we always want more. But pay attention to what he said in verse 24 on: in seeking God, these things bring joy and satisfaction. He goes into great detail explaining this throughout Ecclesiastes, but for now, I think you get the idea. In Exodus 16, we read the story of God hearing Israel’s cry of hunger in the desert and he poured out bread and quail for them to be satisfied. His one stipulation, as a test of their faith, was that they were only allowed to gather what they needed for the day. If they gathered more to store for the next day (which they did because they did not trust God to provide more), it would rot overnight and become infested with maggots. The Israelites survived physically like this for 40 years wandering the desert! So, what if in your hunger you cried out to God and He told you to keep your fridge empty and every morning there would be a meal prepared for you? Would you trust Him for it?
In the Kingdom of God, food, clothing, and shelter are minimal things to be concerned with. If we are focused on these things, we will never grow spiritually. The godless seek these things, not the godly. Those focused on the world seek these things, not those focused on Christ. We act as though God isn’t with us, that He doesn’t listen to us, that He doesn’t care about us, that we need to fend for ourselves. These are all lies from our spiritual enemy! Remember what Paul says in Ephesians 6:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
If we really think our daily battle involves going to work every day so you can pay the rent, buy a steak, and wear Nikes, then you truly have succumbed to the lies of the devil. God tells us, “Hey, have this all covered if you trust me. I’m good for it. It is just a distraction so that you lose your focus on me. Now, stop worrying about the inconsequential things and follow me!” I really love the story of Peter walking on water with Jesus. It is a perfect picture of what happens to us in life. In Matthew 14 we see Peter having the faith to step out of the boat, but suddenly everything around him caused him to lose focus:
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
When we worry about food and clothing, this is exactly what happens to us: we begin to sink because we drop our focus from Jesus and begin focusing on the turbulence around us. What waves and wind are currently in your life? What has caused you to lose your focus on Jesus and stop living in the Kingdom? How can you trust God more in these areas and begin walking on water again?