One of the beauties of the commandments of Christ is that they are never tossed out in a vacuum. That is, Jesus never expresses Himself as “just go do this because.” Jesus, in His graciousness toward us, always gives the underlying reason for His commands.
For example, when Jesus speaks against divorce in Matthew chapter 19, he doesn’t just prohibit it and say that’s it. Rather, He explains that divorce violates the first principles of marriage. God designed marriage as a lifelong partnership. “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mt 19:6).
Likewise, in our current topic of our Father’s care (Mt 6:25-33), Jesus instructs us not to worry; not to be anxious. But Jesus doesn’t stop with just the instruction. He tells us the why of “do not worry”. Jesus demonstrates His compassion toward us by explaining the why.
Jesus says that you do not need to worry because your Father knows everything you need. Your Father knows everything about you. Your Father’s care for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field are just a small picture of His infinite and intimate care for you. Jesus takes the wind out of our need to worry by not just prohibiting it, but by assuring us of our Father’s knowledge, care, and provision.
Following the example of Jesus in taking the wind out of our worry is something I needed to learn in leading our family. Rhonda and I were married and started our family while still in college. The combination of children (learning to parent when newly married) and college (having no money) led to plenty of anxiety.
My response to Rhonda’s anxiousness was a flippant, “Hey, don’t worry about it.” It was a, “Stop worrying. After all, the Bible says not to worry.” This was my early approach to spiritual leadership in our marriage. I did not recognize at the time that Rhonda’s gift for seeing the road ahead made her more aware of the dangers in front of us and the resulting worry that went along with that. I was seeing life through my more naïve and phlegmatic nature which led to less worry on my part. I needed to learn to ease her worries by my actions, not just words. What did this look like in practice?
I discovered many areas of family life where I could ease Rhonda’s worries by taking action. If Rhonda was worried about our finances and saw no clear path to pay for our next car need that was just around the corner, I learned to lead in planning together how we could save for that purchase instead of just saying, “Don’t worry about it.” If Rhonda was worried that our homeschooling was going off the rails, I jumped into the planning with her rather than just telling her not to worry while I sat idly by. If one of our children became disinterested in learning or their chores or connecting with our family goals, I stepped in with a plan to get us on the same page. Do you see the pattern?
Jesus’ teaching assures us of the “why” to not worry. In a similar way, those of us in a leadership position can often mitigate the worry around us by not only explaining and living into Jesus’ assurance, but by taking leadership action as well. It is called leading by understanding and serving the needs of our family.