In the Fulness of Time/Part 31

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007
Jesus demonstrates his authority over natural forces when he heals the woman with the hemorrhage. Was she healed simply by touching His robe, or was more involved?

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Three Words about Worry: Matthew 6:25-34

By repeating “Take no thought” throughout this passage, the King James Version might give the impression that Christ is advocating neglect of planning for the necessities of life. Rather, His idea is that worry is a waste of time, thus the translation should be “be not anxious.” Jesus gives three reasons why true disciples should not be overcome by anxiety; and while these rules are directed toward those who are anticipating His Messianic earthly kingdom, they are universal and apply to anyone at any time. Our nation, indeed, our world, has been recently rocked by events which were not anticipated, throwing lives into confusion and even despair. These words are what we need today!

Worry is unnecessary. 6:25-30

Jesus asks four questions which summarize the futility of worry, the first of which is “Which is more important, the temporal or the eternal?”

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious 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 food, and the body than raiment?”

The original word for anxious is meridzo, “to divide in different directions,” and in this context refers to a distraught mind, half trusting, half doubting. James 1:8 calls him a double minded man who is unstable in all his ways. This is really another way of expressing the “two masters” idea of 6:24; is God or worry controlling you?

When you consider all that enters into the word “life” (psuche), it is foolish to worry about food which merely sustains life here on earth; and there is more in the word “body” (soma) than the clothing which adorns it. The context largely decides usage of words. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “I am come that they might have life (zoe) but in verse 11, “The good shepherd giveth his life (psuche) for the sheep.” Then the Apostle Paul speaks of a “natural body” (soma psuchikos) and a “spiritual body” (soma pneumatikos) in I Corinthians 15:44, which means that there is a body adapted to the soul and another type of body adapted to the spirit. This indicates that psuche can mean soul as well as life.

Here Jesus is harking back to 6:19 where the temporal things are contrasted with eternal things; in like manner, there is more to life than food and drink, and more to body than clothing. Paul’s differentiation of the soulish body from the spiritual body says the same thing as Jesus; one of our heavenly treasures is a glorified body unaffected by decay! Thus, since God gave us the life and body which are more than the food which goes in, or the clothing which goes on, then to worry about these lesser things is completely unnecessary!

His second question is “Which is more valuable, birds or believers?”

Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”

God has not given birds the ability nor responsibility to sow, reap, or store food in barns; He has given them the instinct to know which food is suitable and the ability to obtain it for themselves. Yet, God does not drop the food into the baby birds’ mouths: the adult bird works at hunting the food. Thus, the illustration is not an excuse for human idleness; it is an admonition to trust God Who “feedeth them” and Who considers believers more valuable than birds. The greater value of believers is stated directly in 10:31, “Fear not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

In answering the first question, the argument went from the greater to the lesser; this argument goes from the lesser to the greater.

The third question is, “How can you change the unchangeable?”

Matthew 6:27 “Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?”

The two words cubit (pechus) and stature (helikia) have had different translations. In Hebrews 11:11 helikia refers to Sarah’s age, not her stature. In the NIV pechus is translated hour here in Matthew 6:27, as a measure of time rather than size. So the argument is maintained that Jesus is saying that it is impossible to add even one hour to your life span. Then this is associated with the parallel passage, Luke 12:26, “If ye then are not able to do that which is least,” in order to show that adding time to the life span is a lesser thing than adding a cubit to one’s stature. This argument falls on its own weight, for as a matter of fact, a person can no easier add to his life span than he can add to his stature! From God’s point of view, each of these is equally “the thing which is least.” Jesus is speaking about change which is impossible for man to make! In Matthew 19:24-26 He will tell them it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, and then will say, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Finally, Jesus asks, “How can you doubt the faithfulness of God?”

Matthew 6:28-30 “And why are ye anxious for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin, And yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven , shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”

Jesus now goes back to the subject of clothing, only here He uses an illustration from the fields. Lilies and other wildflowers grew where everyone could observe them. Lilies are created just right for their environment; God does everything for them to grow and manifest their beauty. When the Queen of Sheba saw all of Solomon’s glory, she was so overwhelmed that she remarked, “Behold, the half was not told me!” (II Chronicles 9:3-6). Yet, Solomon in all his glory was not “wrapped around” (periballo) like even one lily!

The conclusion? “Shall not God much more clothe you, O ye of little faith.?” The exceeding value of each believer in the sight of God should make our faith expand! To be anxious is to have little, shrinking faith. The grass of the field lasts only until tomorrow, and is burned in the oven! The believer lasts forever, and though this mortal body be burned in a terrorist’s fire, “we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens!” (II Corinthians 5:1).

And this will certainly come to pass, “in the fulness of time!”

Read Part 32

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