We have often heard this admonition, “Take it one day at a time.” This is frequently assumed to be from the 12 Step Spirituality; however, it was straight from the mouth of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount: Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil (Mt. 6:34).
But let’s go back to the beginning of that passage: “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (vs. 24).
Jesus goes on to tells us, his disciples, not to worry about our lives. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
These are two essentials that are a direct result of the consequences of Original Sin. In Genesis we are told that God had created all things for the benefit of man. “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Man also was naked and needed no clothing.
Jesus is restoring the relationship between God and man and telling them not to worry about these items. God will provide.
Next, Jesus tells the disciples to look at the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. Birds fly around, so they are mobile and can find food. Here is a little experiment to build your faith. In the spring, put up a bird feeder in your yard. Place bird seed in it. See how long it takes for God to show the birds where their new feeding place is. How else could they find it?
Jesus likens the flowers to our garments. He talks of how they neither “work or spin.” In other words, they do nothing to obtain their beauty. Jesus says they are more beautiful than the finest garments that King Solomon possessed, and he was the wisest man on earth, at the time.
Digging deeper, Jesus tells them that the pagans seek money to buy these things because they do not have the ability to trust God, so they have to rely on mammon. We are to rely on God to provide our essentials.
Jesus tells us to put our priorities in order. Time and time again, I have witnessed people who were subjected to the sin of Affluenza, come to the Lord and find their tastes had changed and they found they could live so much more simply than they thought they could before.
I remember one young woman who came to me for financial counseling. Her finances were in really bad shape. I mean, if you looked up “financial trouble” in the dictionary, her picture would be next to the explanation. I was stumped. Finally, in all candor, I told her, “Nancy (not her real name), I am stumped. I honestly do not know how you are going to get out of this mess.” She looked at me and said, confidently, “I do. Before I gave my life to the Lord, I smoked and drank. I used to play softball every Wednesday night and after the game we would go to the bar and drink until 11:00 or 12:00 at night. Now, I go to Bible study on Wednesday nights, I quit smoking, and the money I spent on those things I can spend paying off my debts.” She now trusted God, not mammon.
Believing in God to provide does not mean we sit back, put our feet up on the desk, and say, “Okay, God, take care of me.” That will leave you in a comfortable position — and broke.
Jesus tells his disciples, “But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (vs.33). The first thing we ask God for is forgiveness of our sin and seek his righteousness — how to do things God’s way, not ours.
Several years ago, a song was recorded by a woman in recovery that sums up what Jesus asks of us. Here is the chorus:
One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you.
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.
This is one of the most difficult instructions to follow. It will sort out quickly whether you are trusting in God or mammon.
Only through Jesus, can you do it.
(© 2011 Stu Walker)