Matt. 6:25 ¶ Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (emphasis added)
Matthew chapter six is a contrast between two ways of life. The first is one that seeks praise or glory of men through public religious actions (6:2, 6:5, 6:16) the second does them secretly so God (who sees in secret) will give the reward (6:4, 6:6, 6:18). Actually this isn’t about religious worship but our source of happiness (6:19-20) and whether things are more important to us than God (6:24).
Because what we expend our energy towards reveals what we worship (6:19-20, 6:25) Jesus encourages His disciples not to overthink about the secondary needs of life such as food or clothing.
While studying this passage for a sermon on Sunday from Matthew 6:25-34 I was interested in the last phrase “Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than raiment.” Basically it means there were more important things to worry about, and in a deeper sense God had already given them life (their primary need) so He could definitely be trusted to meet their secondary needs.
That idea of “secondary needs” sort of stuck in my head through the study of this passage, and in particular how often we view these needs as primary (absolutely essential).
It would probably help to define secondary needs; in my opinion this is something that would be nice to have (a luxury) however we can definitely live without it. While at first it seems as if we have few secondary needs, the truth is most of what we enjoy daily could fit in that category. It could be something as simple as a box of breakfast cereal , and a five-dollar pizza, or as serious as an American smartphone .
The fact that we are surrounded with luxuries (particularly in the US) makes us used to having them. So when those luxuries are lost we respond with panic because an absolutely vital item has been taken away.
A few weeks ago my American iPhone stopped charging properly (since stopped charging completely and died) which led to this post on Instagram.
Now that post is a bit of a joke of course, but in all honesty I went into serious panic mode the moment my phone stopped working, and its taken an amazing amount of willpower to keep myself from going to a store and buying a new smartphone. The sad thing is I have a phone that works in SVG but it’s extremely basic (hit the number 2 three times to get a letter c basic) so the secondary need of a smartphone feels as if it’s life or death.
The truly dangerous thing with our attachment to secondary needs is it opens the door for Satan’s temptation. In the end almost all of our temptations he whispers “God doesn’t love you” when something we aren’t given what we want. Sally Lloyd-Jones describes this really well in the words of Satan to Eve in the “Jesus Storybook Bible.”
“As soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to Eve. ‘Does God really love you?’ the serpent whispered. ‘If He does , why doesn’t He let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit? Poor you, perhaps God doesn’t want you to be happy.”
Reading Genesis three it’s easy for us to tell Eve “of course God loves you, look at all the other trees in the garden. All you have to do is avoid one!” But when your iPhone dies, or Dr. Pepper is $3.25 a can we entertain the thought “does God love me?”
So how do we keep ourselves from worshiping the God of secondary needs? By focusing on the primary ones God has already provided.
- We have been given life (breath)
- We have been given freedom to choose our own way
- And most importantly we have been given Salvation, which makes us children of God
In a way the secondary needs of life make us forget God’s provision so the moment my iPhone dies or Lucky Charms is too expensive I have to stop and think.
- Am I alive right now?
- Am I a child of God?
- Will I spend eternity with Christ?
It’s only as I gaze into the Gospel and eternity with Jesus that the seemingly life or death needs are seen for what they are…unnecessary