Matthew 6:34, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
This morning, many people live in constant states of emotional upheaval. One emotion may replace another but the common denominator between their moods and varying emotions is that they possess and consume their time. Emotions can be two-edged swords in our lives. They have been given to us to help deepen our experience of circumstances, but running amok, they tear into the fabric of our being and end up running us instead of aiding us. For example, Paul cautioned the Ephesians in 4:24-25 to be angry but not to sin as a result of it. Anger itself is not a sin, but left to grow and breed, sin is easily found. The upheaval today takes on many forms and wears different masks, but most of it revolves around the uncertainty of the future and the deplorable state of things that seems to swing downward daily. While the moral decline pains my soul, it should be no surprise. Paul's long description of the evil days in II Timothy 3 foretells the events that we see today. While awful, we should not be shocked at their appearance. The Lord in His mercy told us they were coming and included the remedy and potion for dealing with them: the word of God. (II Timothy 3:14-17) As for the other culprit of emotional upheaval today - future uncertainty - let us delve into it more from the study verse before us.
Our study verse is found in the latter half of Christ's "Sermon on the Mount." Christ has layered many different thoughts about moral living and Godly deportment ultimately culminating in the verse before ours that encourages us to seek God and His kingdom first and foremost in our lives. When that foundation footer is dug in and built upon as it should be, other things will "fit" more comfortably and line up as they should. As the saying goes, "The first step is the most important." Our lives need to start in the right place before we can hope to live in a way that will be honorable and God-fearing. Christ continues His speaking in our verse by showing that we should not worry and fret about things if we want to fulfill the injunction in the previous verse. Worry is very akin to bitterness, pride, and fear in that all these things are spiritual killers. When someone desires to live a Godly life, these things will prevent him from doing it. What do worry, bitterness, pride, and fear have in common? The focus in all these things is on self rather than Him!
Years ago, I was a "worry wart." People who have known me only 10-15 years sometimes find that statement remarkable since they tell me that I don't seem to worry about much anymore. While I hope that is a compliment, it did not come naturally. Two things provided the catalyst for me to grow past that crippling state of bondage. First I heard a sermon that expressed these thoughts: "People generally worry about two different kinds of situations. They either worry about things they have no control over, or they worry about things they have some control over. No one outside of God has complete control over anything, so let's look at these two situations. If you worry about something you have no control over, can you change it? Then, don't worry about it. If you worry about something you have some control over, does the worry help you do what you can in that situation? Then stop worrying about what you can't do and just do what you can." The other was a conversation that I had with my natural mother. Part of my worry was what others thought about me. It consumed me that people thought one thing or another. She finally told me, "Son, you're not responsible for what other people think. You're responsible for doing what is right. Besides, of all the people you know, half of them aren't thinking about you. The other half don't think about you half as much as you think they do."
Taking my story and the words of the Saviour, can we control the future? We may be able to do things that help or hurt the future, but we do not have full control or complete say-so in it. Are we responsible for results about the future? We may get good results in things, but our responsibility is to do what is right no matter what. Worrying over what may come or what looks like it will come will not help the situation, and it will prevent us from doing what we can in an honorable fashion. Think about the last phrase that the Saviour gives in the verse. There is enough evil (trouble) today to go around without focusing on the trouble of tomorrow. If I am more concerned with the perceived trouble of tomorrow, then I will not honorably labour and war through the conflicts of today. Thinking about tomorrow's battle in such a way can keep us from winning the battle before us today.
We should pause here to make a brief comment. Some take this verse to prove that we should not plan for the future. People who invest financially and/or make any plans for what they will do in days to come are in error and lacking in faith by this mindset. This verse does not intimate such a thing in the least. Rather, this verse focuses on the future in one specific way. Do not take worry to it. Planning for it is very noble and finds notable examples in Scripture. Planning and worrying are two different things. One is a focused mindset, while the other is an obsessed mindset. One helps, while the other consumes.
When people worry about the future - no matter the arena - they by extension shove something else out: hope. When worry prevails, hope wanes. Paul encouraged us that hope is a great sustainer for our journey. (Romans 8:24-25, Hebrews 6:20) There is no greater light here for the child of God than to have the hope of what God has done, has promised, and will even yet do. Do I know what tomorrow holds? Not necessarily, even though I have logical ideas about it. However, here is what we do know friends. Though the events of tomorrow are not completely known, we know that He is there! Whatever happens to us, around us, etc., He will be there. No matter what we endure, He will walk with us or carry us through it. Sometimes He even takes troubles away from us. No matter what tomorrow brings with all of its care and trouble, Christ will be there with us and for us.
People today talk about politics in woeful tones. Church members talk about the church in sad inflection. Sometimes it may even seem like the devil is winning. However, no matter who is in office, the King still inhabits His throne! No matter how much the church declines, the gates of hell shall never prevail against it. No matter how many battles or campaigns the devil successfully wages against us, we have still won the war through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Though I may not know what the next "chapter" contains, the ending has been revealed, and what a glorious ending it is!
Friends, the world we live in is plagued by sin. As such, it will continue to have darkness, sorrow, destruction, and misery. It should be no surprise when those evil beasts rear their ugly heads. However, we should not let our emotions run wild to worry about the "whys," "whens," and "hows." The certainty we have that our hope is anchored in shines supreme above all other things. No matter what happens today or any other day, His throne will forever endure. No matter how many more days this earth has left, the church will be in it. No matter how many battles the devil may win, he still loses. No matter how dark the evil may seem, good wins. Thank God that His mercy endures forever. Let us think on these things. May our hearts be refreshed and our hope revived in the precious promise of a Victorious King! While we think on these things, we can then follow the example of the little sister who was commended by the Master who hath "done what she could." Let us do what we can, praise God for what He does, and thank Him for His never ceasing presence with us. Worried? We've won friends. Somewhere after the seas of all the tomorrows is a day that will be the eternal celebration of His coronation.