I spent a little time this morning reading through a well-worn passage from the sermon on the mount. (Well, I'm actually using a new Bible so there were no marks...there are now). I've probably read this section in its entirety and in parts hundreds of times...and probably even heard one of the revelations I came to today preached before, but for some reason today it clicked.
Matthew 6:19-24 is the passage on not laying up treasures on earth. This in itself if a daily struggle in the consumer-driven world we live in. Verse 24: "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."
Okay, fair enough. I can't serve God and money...meaning my hope needs to be in God's provision and not on my own accumulation of treasures (this after I spent a good 30 minutes oogling running tops on zappos...which I didn't order. Not because by ordering the tops I would love God any less, I just really didn't need one.)
So next is where a lightbulb went on. Maybe I never noticed it before because of how most Bibles have nice little section titles so we often read with continuity. Maybe its because I'm a little thick headed. But verse 25 begins: "Therefore (emphasis mine) I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" (There are about 100 different things I could write about the impact of that verse on my life right now for how God is working in me...but I'll share the first one).
When Jesus tells us "therefore don't worry" (my paraphrase), He's referring back to His comment on not being able to serve God and money. We can't serve both, and we need not be anxious about how God is going to provide. When we get anxious about money and stuff, whether we have $1 in the bank or $1,000,000, we are choosing to serve the money and not God. In verse 31 Jesus says our heavenly Father knows what we need...He knows we need clothes, He knows we're out of milk, He knows someone is going to outgrow their boots next week in the middle of a major storm...He knows, and He will provide. The passage specifically refers to food, drink, and clothing. If He would have referred to shelter and transportation we have our basic needs covered (pretty sure He's on top of those as well).
You may say "but you don't understand all the bills and all the stress." Trust me, I do. We may have just moved into a place of debt freedom, but we've had plenty of times where we had to wait to buy groceries or where shoe glue was God's way of providing footwear for a season. And when in our times of financial need we could have (and at times did) could have put so much emphasis on our needs and lack of "good things" that earthly treasures, even if they weren't in our possession, were taking first place in our lives. And now that we are in a season of not being so strapped for cash we could also easily let stuff become what drives.
God's provision doesn't mean He's going to bless us with cars and houses and other sparkly things here on earth (although there are some that preach that...that's a false message that makes my stomach turn). It means when we look to Him for our provision, what we need will be given.
If you're in a time of need, trust that God will provide in some way at the right time (stories of God's provision at exactly the right time are awesome...I'd love to hear some of them in the comments). Maybe you're in a time where God is providing even more than you need. I challenge you to allow God use you to be part of providing for someone else in need.
*all Bible passages today are from the ESV