Rev. Slopsema is pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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.
We find this passage in Jesus’ beautiful Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus instructs us in this sermon to take no thought for, i.e., not to worry about, what we shall eat or drink or wear. There is good reason for this. Our heavenly Father knows that we have need of these things. Besides, our heavenly Father clothes the grass of the field and feeds the birds of the air. Are not we much better than they? Instead of seeking such material things as food, drink, or clothing, we must rather seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, knowing that God will add all these material things to us.
This important instruction is now summarized by our Lord.
Take no thought for the morrow, i.e., do not worry about the future.
For this admonition Jesus gives two reasons. First, the morrow will take thought for the things of itself. Second, sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.
How valuable this instruction of Jesus is. We are so often given to worry. Here we are taught that there is no need to worry. Neither does any good come from worry.
Let us now hear this instruction of our Lord.
Take no thought for the morrow.
What is there about tomorrow or the future that people fear? The answer is supplied by the last part of this passage: evil. Evil refers to that which may hurt us or bring disaster. This hurt may come from something that happens, or it may come from a person in our life. Evils are present every day of our lives. Every day we confront situations that could bring hurt and even disaster. This inclines people to worry about the future. What might happen tomorrow? What evil lurks in the future?
What are these evils that might conceivably befall us and that bring worry to our souls?
Jesus had just spoken of the possibility of not having the necessities of life. For many in the world, this is a great and legitimate concern. They live every day on the brink of poverty. Others live in prosperity. Yet there is the real possibility of losing one’s job, having to lower one’s standard of living, or even going bankrupt. This can certainly generate a great deal of worry.
But there are other evils as well. There is the ever-present threat of sickness. Some families have histories of cancer or heart disease. Who in the family will be struck next? Others have a daily struggle with sickness that threatens to bring disability or an early death. What worry this brings. And then there is the approaching loss of a loved one through death. There is the evil that awaits a loved one, often a child, who lives in sin. In some countries there is the constant threat of war. To one degree or another there is always the evil of persecution for Christ’s sake. All these things tend to generate worry and anxiety.
In all these things we are instructed to take no thought, i.e., not to worry.
This does not mean, of course, that we exercise no care for the future. Jesus’ instruction must be understood in the context of faithful labor. In this same sermon Jesus speaks of sowing seed, reaping, and gathering into barns. He also speaks of making cloth for our raiment. The book of Proverbs instructs us to learn from the ant, which provides meat in the summer and gathers food in the harvest (Prov. 6:6-8). We are also warned against stealing from our neighbor by our laziness and are admonished rather to work with our hands the thing that is good that we may even have to give to him that is in need (Eph. 4:28). And those who will not work should not eat (II Thess. 3:10). In all this labor we are admonished to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). This means that in all our labors and laying up for future need, we seek to attain the righteousness of God provided in Jesus Christ and thus enter into the kingdom of God to enjoy its blessings.
It’s in the context of that care and industry that Jesus instructs us not to worry about the morrow. What he means is that we are not to be anxious. One is anxious about the future when he is preoccupied with the evil that may befall him. He begins to dread the future. He wakes up every day with a sense of dread. Worry can rob someone of his appetite for food and his sleep at night. It can even make one physically ill.
Instead of this worry, we must be at peace about the future. We must be content, secure, confident, even though we know that evils will come.
We may well ask for a reason for this instruction. Look at the evils that have befallen us in the past. Look at the present evils with which we must deal every day. Can’t we expect the same in the future? And doesn’t that give us every reason to worry?
Jesus gives us two good reasons not to worry for tomorrow.
First, the morrow will take care of the things of itself.
Yes, there will be evils tomorrow and in the many tomorrows of the future. And these evils will bring with them the potential of injury and disaster. Nevertheless, tomorrow will look out for these evils and take care of them so that the disaster they threaten will not come and all will be well.
Just how is this to be understood?
We have an obvious case of personification, i.e., ascribing to inanimate objects the qualities of a person. Here tomorrow is viewed as a person who will bring with it the same God whom it brought today and yesterday, and who will take care of all the evils that await us so that we are safe and secure.
Who is this God?
Jesus calls Him our heavenly Father (v. 32). In Jesus Christ, God has become our Father. He has become our Father, first of all, by adopting us has His children for Christ’s sake. But He has also become our Father by a spiritual rebirth in Christ. As our Father, God loves us, cares for us, and provides for us all things. He is not only willing to do this as faithful Father, but He is also able, being almighty God.
That God is present today, providing for all our needs, averting all evil or turning it to our profit. Tomorrow that same God will be present to do the same.
How foolish, then, to worry about tomorrow! Most things that we worry about for the morrow never materialize. And that which does take place will be cared for by the God that the morrow will bring.
But there is another reason not to worry about tomorrow. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.
This means that there is enough evil to handle for each day. Each day brings with it its own evils with the potential for hurt, whether it be sickness, wounded relationships, emptiness, loneliness, poverty, war, or whatever. By the guidance of our heavenly Father there is never more than we can endure. He limits the evils that befall us on any given day. And He upholds us in His grace so that we can carry them and are not crushed. On the other hand, whatever evils God places upon us on any given day are also sufficient. It is enough to carry. We really are not able to carry any more. We can carry the burdens of today’s evils only by the grace of God; and God gives us this grace one day at a time. God does not provide us with grace today to cope with the evils of tomorrow. We receive grace only for today.
So we must not worry about tomorrow. Those who worry about tomorrow take upon themselves tomorrow’s burdens. They carry both today’s burdens and tomorrow’s. But they have grace only for today’s burdens. So tomorrow’s burdens cripple them. Worry over tomorrow doesn’t solve tomorrow’s problems. Worry only cripples one so that he cannot deal with today’s evils effectively. And it often leaves him incapable of dealing with tomorrow’s evils when they come. Much better that we leave tomorrow’s evils to the hand of our heavenly Father and deal with today’s problems in the grace of God.
O ye of little faith.
This is what Jesus says to those who worry (v. 30).
The Word of God is clear. God is our Father in Jesus Christ. As our Father He will care for us day by day. His mercies are new every morning.
The question is whether we have the faith to believe His Word. Those who are strong in faith do not worry about tomorrow but leave tomorrow in the hand of God.It is only when faith falters that we begin to worry.
So we must grow in our faith and maintain a strong faith in God’s promises. A strong faith comes from knowing the Word of God and meditating on it. Faith becomes strong also through prayer. And don’t forget the fellowship of the saints. Don’t ever worry alone. Always bring your worries to a fellow saint, so that he may assure you from God’s Word and help you view your problems realistically.
Doing this we will take no thought for the morrow. Each day we will deal only with today’s evils and burdens. And by the grace of God we will serve Him effectively, joyfully, and confidently.