Rony Kozman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, Samford University
Worry doesn’t solve anything. (22–26)
In this passage Jesus sets the eyes and desires of His disciples on God’s Kingdom. In Verse 13, someone asks Jesus to resolve his dispute with his brother over the family inheritance. But Jesus refuses to arbitrate and instead warns the crowd, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions” (v. 15).
Then, Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who built larger barns to store up his crops and goods. This does not seem unreasonable. Why wouldn’t you save wealth and store it up so that you can say to yourself, as the rich man does, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink and enjoy yourself”? What seems to be a wise venture of saving one’s wealth is condemned by God. As Jesus says, “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared — whose will they be?’ That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (vv. 20–21). What Jesus condemns is someone who focuses on making themselves materially wealthy but they are spiritually impoverished. It is In light of this that Jesus tells his disciples to not worry about what they need to live, whether food, health or clothing.
God knows what we need. (27–30)
Instead, Jesus corrects us and wants us to recalibrate our attention, desires and priorities. First, we do not need to be concerned with our material needs because God knows what we need, and He will provide us with our necessities. After all, God feeds the birds who do not save up grain, and they do not go hungry. And God clothes the flowers and the grass, and they don’t even labor for their clothes. We are more valuable than birds and grass. Will God not clothe and feed us? Not only do we not need to give our anxieties and excessive attention to these things since God knows what we need and will take care of these things for us, but we also should not worry about these things because worry itself is unproductive and does not add to our lives.
God will take care of us as we seek the Kingdom of God. (31–34)
Instead, Jesus instructs us to seek God’s Kingdom, and God will seek the things we need on our behalf. How do we seek and receive God’s Kingdom? Jesus here tells us how. He tells us, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” So instead of being anxious about our material necessities or pursuing and saving wealth like the rich man, Jesus prescribes that we give up our wealth, that we sell our possessions and give charity to those in need. By giving to those in need, we paradoxically store up the imperishable possession of God’s Kingdom. We store up treasure in heaven, which can be neither destroyed nor stolen. Our hearts cannot be set both on gaining earthly treasure and heavenly treasure. We can pursue one. And in order to gain one, we give up the other.