Summary: During tough times worry can sometimes mar our thanksgiving celebrations. Jesus reminds his followers that they can always rest in his care and give God thanks for his grace.
Matthew 6:25-33 “A Worry Free Thanksgiving”
It’s been a tough year for just about everyone. The economic recovery has started, and even though we’ve been told it won’t end overnight, it can’t come fast enough for us. Most of us have had to downsize our spending and pay off some debt. Some have lost jobs. Others are fighting to save their homes. There have been times when it has been difficult to sense God’s presence in our struggles, let alone thank him. We read this passage of Scripture and think to ourselves that when we look around our world we see more cactus than we do lilies—and the birds are looking a little thin, lately.
It is a lot easier to say “Thank you,” when we feel safe, secure, comfortable and in control. Difficult times, like the ones we have been experiencing, remind us, though, that giving thanks is not necessarily connected to what we possess. More often it is connected to what we have been given.
THE GIFT OF CARING
In sharing this teaching with his disciples, Jesus wants to underscore the truth that God cares about them. It is so very easy to think of God as a vengeful God who takes joy in punishing us for any small infraction of the law. The picture of an unconcerned God is also easy to envision. We tell ourselves that God is distant and our problems are small when compared to other concerns in the universe. Jesus desires to put an end to such errant thoughts. He stresses that God is a caring God.
Life is not on an independent path apart from God. If God were to remove his creative activity life would cease. God is responsible for the beauty of the lily fields, and the provisions for sparrows and other small animals. All of creation is dependent upon God.
The disciples can look around them, see how God cares for his creation, and take comfort in the truth that God cares for them. A life of faith, for the disciples, is a life that walks in a trusting relationship with their creator and one that rests in God’s tender care.
The point of this story is not that God provides us with physical abundance. Jesus is not saying that God will provide clothes that are more beautiful than lilies. Nor is God saying that God will provide so much food for us that we will be able to become fat and lazy (though this now seems to be a common problem in United States society). The point of the story is not the amount that God will provide, but the truth that God will provide and take care.
This Thanksgiving we can give thanks that God cares about each and every one of us.
Worry is a common human experience that does not need to be a part of a Christian’s life.
Jesus points out to his disciples how fruitless worrying is. Worry does not solve problems or even motivate us to action. Worry destroys peace and contentment. Worry has the ability to cause physical ailments.
One cannot simply decide not to worry. Worry needs to be replaced with a more positive activity or mental exercise. For example, when we catch ourselves worrying, we can intentionally decide to begin to give thanks to God for specific blessings and signs of his care. Worry can be a signal to pause and pray, or to seek God’s guidance as to how a particular obstacle or challenge can be overcome.
Jesus points out to his disciples that worry is a characteristic of the gentiles—people who do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Gentiles seek more food, more clothing, and bigger homes. They are out to impress—to be the most wealthy or powerful. Christians march to the beat of a different drummer. Because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross we no longer need to find our identity or shore up our self-esteem by things. Our identity is that we are children of God and our self-esteem is strengthened by knowing that God considers us worthy of his love.
This Thanksgiving we can give thanks that because of God’s care we can be free from worry.
SEEK FIRST GOD’S KINGDOM
Being carefree enables us to redirect our energies. If we no longer need to be overly concerned about our physical wellbeing, we can focus on loving and serving God.
God has called us to be his people and his body. At our baptism, God made us a member of his family, filled us with the Holy Spirit, and empowered us to be lights to the world by our words and our actions.
God promises us that as we seek first God’s kingdom, God will make sure that all of our needs are met. This is a promise of God and God never goes back on his promises.