I was listening to a preacher who condemned as faithless those who did not believe that God has guaranteed us perfect health and the best of things. We can expect that God wants us to be the head not the tail and therefore we can expect the best car on the block. If God is truly a good God, doesn’t God want to give us good things?
The preacher gave two texts to support this theology. We will look at both in this short series. The first of these is Matthew 6:33 that you have heard before.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
The first thing that we must do when looking at this text is note what it says and what it does not say. First of all it tells us to “seek first God’s kingdom.” This initially tells me that if I am thinking about getting the best car and the biggest house that my mindset is not in line with this scripture. No a mindset of consumerism is in direct conflict with this text. Jesus is telling them to seek first God’s kingdom.
In fact, Jesus is speaking against this mindset when he began this passage. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says that we cannot serve God and money. He then immediately begins this passage in Matthew 6:25 with the word “therefore” which means that he is using this thought that culminates in “all these things shall be added to you” to help to attack in us the mindset of materialism that many of us seem to be infected with in Western Christianity.
The next thing that hits me about this text is that it says “these things shall be added to you.” What are “these things?” Is it a new car? Is it a new job?” What is Jesus talking about? so we need to go look at what are the “these things” that Jesus said would be added unto us.
Well the good thing is that we can go to the scripture itself. Let us look at the whole passage. Matthew 6:25 begins with Jesus telling his hearer “do not worry about the body…what you shall eat or drink…or your body…what you will wear.” So Jesus is telling the hearer that because you are not serving money (Matthew 6:24) you should not worry about what you are going to eat or drink or wear.
The first thing that should hit us is that Jesus is not talking about “wants.” No Jesus is talking about needs. We need to eat, drink, and clothe our body.
Then Jesus tells us that the Birds of the air eat, but they don’t’ sow, reap, or harvest (Matthew 6:26). Jesus then tells the hearer that the lilies are clothed even better than Solomon (Matthew 6:28).
Then we get to the conclusion. Jesus says to not say “what shall I eat…drink…or wear” That is what the “pagans” ask. (Matthew 6:31-32) No seek first God’s kingdom and all “these things” shall be added to you. what things? Food, drink, or clothing. These are necessities, these are not luxuries. Jesus is not talking about being the best dressed on the block with this text. No the “all these things” does not include your new job. no it does not include your new house. No it does not include your new car. It includes food, drink, and clothing.
One might be able to expand the thought to include other necessities, but it is not talking about the luxuries that many of us are attempting to make it say. No this text does not teach that if you have enough faith God will give you everything you want. No it does not mean that if I have enough faith I will not lose my job. No it does not teach that.
But it teaches that God cares about our necessities. Now this still brings the question, what about those of us who do not have these necessities. I still wrestle with that idea as I noted before.
But on the face of it, the text don’t say what some are trying to make it say. It is a promise of Jesus that you will have food, drink, and clothing. It is not a promise that you will get the “hook up” more than that. As always I encourage you to just read the text…
The Bible says in Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper.” Many preachers, gospel singers and Bible teachers have emphasized this text to us who have their enemies come against them. We sing this in our songs. We rejoice at what seems to be a guarantee that weapons will not assail us.
However in the midst of our shouting, some of us must ask the simple question, “what does this mean?” Some of us make a simple statement that if our enemies weapons cannot hurt the true child of God. In that world the righteous are a bit like Superman. The wicked shoot guns at the righteous but the bullets simply fall down. Knives don’t cut the child of God and the weapons of evil doers are rendered useless in their presence. Such a world does not seem real to our minds. It doesn’t seem to make sense when we look at the history of the martyrs and it doesn’t make sense in light of the Bible which lets us know that we will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)
So if that is not what “no weapon” means. What does it mean? Some would say, well, it means that we may be hit with bullets, but we will not fully face the full pain that those who are not in the Lord will face. This is certainly a nice idea. The Bible does say “perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 John 4:18) But the reality of human living remind us that doubt can and does creep into our experience. John the Baptist questioned whether Jesus was truly the messiah (Matthew 11:3), Elijah the prophet ran away from Jezebel in fear for his life (1 Kings 19:1-14), and even Jesus Christ himself yelled “My God My God, Why hast thou forsaken me (Matthew 27:46). No it is not that we don’t face the fear in light of the uncertainty that being human brings. We do have fear when standing in front of the weapon of our enemy.
Simply put, the writer of our text seems to be giving a vision of another time. The writer is speaking of the future when God’s kingdom will be fully realized. And the writer is using imagery that simply says that our weapons of today will not prosper against you. The same chapter says “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you.” (Isaiah 54:11) When God’s city is rebuilt, then no weapon formed against you shall prosper. In that day “Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.” (Isaiah 54:14)
Yes today weapons may overtake us. Yes today weapons may hurt us. Yes today you are hurt. And Lord help us, even killed by weapons. But this vision of the future lets us know that that is not God’s ultimate intention. This text lets us know that a day is coming when the “wicked shall cease from troubling and the weary shall be at rest.” And when God’s ultimate intention is fully realized, “we will study war no more.”
In short, the day is coming when weapons will not prosper against us. And now we can take comfort in the fact that even though I may have to face what these weapons can do to my mortal body, ultimately God will destroy their power. And as the Bible writer says in 1 Corinthians, death itself is subdued and killed by the mighty power of our God. (1 Corinthians 15:55)
So yes, a weapon may kill you, but God will reverse that. This is not removing the fact that you were killed, it is just making it so that you have overcome it. And more important is that promise later in the same chapter that God’s people will be vindicated. (Isaiah 54:17)