Physical Needs? Mt 6:25-34

Russell Minick

Why shouldn’t we be anxious for $tuff?

  • Because we don’t really need things?
  • Because God will “bless us” with prosperity?

Physical needs conclusions:

  • Be rooted in God’s righteous rule first.
  • Pursue practical needs from a position of security with God.

 Exposition extracts:

6:25 Anxiety does not create what we need; the Creator has.

6:26­-30 If birds and flowers rely on the Creator, shouldn’t people made in his image rely on Him?

6:31-32 The worldly default in a difficult world is anxious pursuit to grab.

6:33-34 The Kingdom perspective realizes that trouble is part of a world fallen into rebellion that will only be fully resolved when God’s ways are completely established.

Impermanence?  Does it matter what lasts?

Buddhism and the problem of impermanence:

  1. The truth of suffering (impermanence)
  2. The truth of the cause of suffering (desire)
  3. The truth of the end of suffering (wake up)
  4. The truth of the path that frees us from suffering
    1. rightly align yourself to the meaninglessness of pursuing satisfaction in an impermanent world
    2. eventually this leads to the cessation of existence

Buddhism, very similar to Ecclesiastes and the problem of trying to make sense out of life “under the sun”, despairs of lasting meaning or hope.  This is an honest realization.  The lack of lasting transcendence means that whatever good we encounter eventually is lost.

The missing element is permanence.  God is the hope of life lasting.

The comprehensive goodness in the Sermon on the Mount is the promise of life that is blessed, because there is a Father who brings us into the blessedness of his everlasting Kingdom.  This is the answer Buddhism lacks; the answer Ecclesiastes reveals at the end.

Psalm 103:13-19

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on his faithful followers.
For he knows what we are made of;
he realizes  we are made of clay.
A person’s life is like grass.
Like a flower in the field it flourishes,
but when the hot wind  blows by, it disappears, and one can no longer even spot the place where it once grew.

But the Lord continually shows loyal love

to his faithful followers, and is faithful to their descendants,

to those who keep his covenant,
who are careful to obey his commands.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven;
his kingdom extends over everything.

We fear that which we do not control.  Realizing we don’t control the Lord begins in fear but ends in assuring love:

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect (telos) in love. 

Our fear breaks down self-focused living and makes us open to God.  His love steps in where our control was and reassures us that we do not need to control him.  That is meant to comfort us.  That is what Isaiah predicted would happen, and what John the Baptizer was doing when Jesus stepped forward in Matthew 3.

Isaiah 40:1-8

Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

6 A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”

 

Yes, we have legitimate physical needs.  Yes, we should pursue caring for our physical needs.  And yes, pursuing those needs from an assured relationship with a loving heavenly father, and his wise and righteous ways of living, is how we can bypass anxiety and be comforted.

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