We started a new business a few years back to create a place where local tradesmen were respected, and customers provided with excellent customer service. Little did we know how much we didn’t know. Our lack of business experience and some naivety sometimes let our customers down and created moments of needless anxiety, worry, and fear. By God’s grace, we made it through those storms and learned some lessons in resilience along the way. You may not have started a business, but chances are high that you’ve experienced your share of anxiousness and worry.
Yet, Jesus came that we might have an abundant life now and all eternity. Thankfully, Jesus is clear about three steps to learn radical resilience and break free from worry, anxiety, and fear. Matthew records the wisdom of Christ this way -
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NIV, Lk 12:22–34.)
We launch into a resilient life by adjusting our destination and goals. Where should our destination be - The Kingdom of God. Jesus knows what’s best for our flourishing both now and into eternity. He knows that our supply flows from the Father's kingdom. So he says, "seek first his kingdom, and all these things will be given to you as well." (v.31)
Seeking the Father's kingdom first means aligning our goals and priorities with His. We build our life around pursuits that expand and strengthen God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We pursue the well-being of our families and neighbors and put off selfish pursuits. Jesus says that choosing this destination in life brings the supplies of heaven. In God's kingdom, we gain not by accumulating earthly treasure but by trusting our eternal inheritance.
Jesus says that our fears are dissipated when we place our trust in God's eternal inheritance. Right now, at this very moment, God is pleased to provide access to His kingdom. Paul explains this principle by saying,
"He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also graciously give us all things? (NIV, Romans 8:32).
Two things begin to happen when we loosen the grip on the resources God has provided to us for the good of the poor. One, our hearts expand to love and treasure people over material goods. Two, people asking God for help find their prayers answered through you. The way of seeking first God's kingdom brings resilience and a release from the chains of worry as the Father shows you firsthand how He is working through you.
We grow in resilience through first seeking the Father's kingdom, trusting His inheritance, and embracing a life connected to Jesus. Through Christ, we don't have to worry about our lives. As Jesus says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?" (v.25). The ravens can't produce crops, but they are well fed. The flowers can't labor, yet they are beautifully clothed. If Jesus takes care of common birds and short-lived flowers, He can provide for our needs. Jesus explains,
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (NIV, Jn 15:5–8)
Embracing a life connected to Jesus implies a two-pronged focus - obedience to Jesus' commands and planting ourselves in places where Jesus can bear fruit through us. Through this connection, we find the abundant life we were designed to live - free from anxiety, worry, and fear.
Prayer: Jesus, I love you. Thank you for setting an example of resilience by staying focused on your mission to save me by living a perfect life, receiving an unjust sentence, taking the brutal and shame-filled death I deserved, and coming back to life on the third day. Help me lay down worry, anxiety, and fear as I seek your Kingdom and follow your ways. Amen
Questions for Application:
But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (v.31)
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."(NIV, Jn 15:5–8)