Anyone who interacts with children will immediately understand the temptation to simply reply with “Because I Said so.” when wanting them to obey. There are two ways imperatives can be given. The way of force, which includes judgment, has the attitude of “Why can’t you just do as I say?” The other responsive imperative takes into account the particular struggles of little ones, their understanding, and attempts to woo them into submission for their good.
In Matthew 6, we find Jesus responding to worry in His followers with compassion. As Pastor Lauren pointed out Sunday, He doesn’t say we SHOULDN’T worry, but that we have no NEED to worry. If He simply said “Don’t worry”, it would imply judgment of us in our weakness. The authoritative imperative passes judgment on those who do not obey. It is not only a judgment by the one in authority, but also sparks self-judgment in followers, beginning a cycle of shame where the follower wonders why they cannot simply obey.
Instead He reminds us of all of the reasons why we don’t need to worry in one of the most touching passages in His teachings. The times Jesus gets frustrated with followers for their lack of faith is AFTER He has given them reminders and they consistently do not take it into account. Even then, His Spirit groans with us in our weakness, rather than becoming angry.
The passage in Matthew 6 is one many of us have probably heard countless times. Maybe we know it by heart. However, we must make the conscious choice to let this passage redirect our focus from our worries to the One who is able to supply ALL of our needs, whether physical, mental, or spiritual. It is the difference between the practice of following Jesus and simply knowing the verses.
There are endless things to worry about for each of us. How we respond to those worries will distinguish us as followers of Christ. Let us follow Him today on the path of peace, clinging to His beautiful promises.