When desire and fear come into conflict, our natural tendency is to prioritise the response to fear. Unless we consciously recognize and resist this response, the enemy can use our fear of poverty to guide our lives.
Why you must not be anxious – the reason might surprise youSometimes the headings and the way verses are broken up causes us to lose the line of thought in the Bible. I’ll use that as my excuse for never having noticed this before:
Mat 6:24 (ESV) You cannot serve God and money.
Do Not Be Anxious
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.
The “Do not be anxious” before verse 25 is a heading, and then it starts talking about not being anxious about what we will eat and drink, the grass and the lilies of the field, the birds of the air, and how God takes care of all of those.
The heading “Do not be anxious,” makes us not really take note of the first “therefore” in verse 25. “Therefore” means that what is about to come, is because of something that has just been said. What has just been said here, is that you cannot serve God and money. The “Do Not be Anxious” is just a heading. It’s not part of the original text.
Take the headings and verse numbers away, and it looks like this:
You cannot serve God and money. Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.
The “therefore” implies a direct cause and effect here.
Another way to write this, which is a bit more the way we would speak today, is something along these lines:
Don’t worry about the stuff you need, like food and clothing, because you cannot serve God and money.
The impossibility of serving God and money is the REASON why you must not worry about stuff for which you think you need money. God knows you need these. You cannot serve Him and money at the same time. He knows that. He just told you that He knows that it’s impossible for you to serve both.
Not worrying is not optionalSo this wasn’t really like a word of encouragement, like you say to someone before a test, “Don’t worry, you’ve studied hard and things will be OK.”
This seems to me to be more of a warning, maybe even a strict instruction.
DO NOT WORRY.
Why is it so important not to worry?
Worry is a form of fear. The moment you begin , you will begin to serve the source of your fear. If you are worried about money, and the demand of your job comes in conflict with the demand of serving God, then you will find it difficult to make the choice and do the Godly thing. The more you worry, the more difficult it becomes. If you worry enough, you will end up making the wrong decision.
God knows this.
So He gives us an instruction to protect us against it.
The command is: Do not be anxious. Don’t worry.
He then continues to give us a serious of thoughts to focus on, instead of the worry – namely to look around us at how God is providing for nature – and filling our hearts and minds with the abundance we see there.
If you are prone to worry, memorise this whole piece of scripture, and let God free you to serve Him alone.
As they conducted business, it was natural for them to present the gospel to the people they encountered. Marketplace people played a vital role in the emergence, establishment and expansion of the Early Church—in fact, most of Jesus’ followers remained in full-time business while simultaneously conducting full-time ministry. This was possible because they saw the marketplace as their parish and their business as a pulpit. To them witnessing was not an occasional activity but a lifestyle.
- Silvoso, Ed. Anointed for Business (p. 16). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
I am many people
Christianity cannot be separated from the marketplace and government because as people we cannot separate ourselves from ourselves.
Pull yourself toward yourself
There is, however, something that is constant across all of these:
I am human, and as such, made in God’s image to be God’s representative on earth.
This to me represent the core of who I am and what I was created to be. All my roles must be pulled into and built around this core concept.
The unifying questions
This really simplifies my approach to many of the challenges of life in that I only have a few questions to ask that can guide all my decision making:
1. What would “Loving God with all my heart, mind and strength” look like in this situation? Or to make that question more practical:
“What does God want me to be doing, and how does he want me to be doing that (with what attitude and emotion and underlying thoughts) in this situation?
2. What would “Loving my neighbour as myself” look like in this situation? What do people around me need, and what do I have that I can give and contribute in the best possible way?
The disciplines that help us answer those questions
To answer both of those questions, there are really only two things I need to do:
1. Spend a little bit of time every day reading and studying the Bible, and just becoming quiet before God, listening for His voice and just moving my heart closer to His.
2. Stay in an attitude of prayer as I move through the day, constantly asking God to show me what He wants me to see, hear what He wants me to hear, notice what He wants me to notice – and then respond in the way He wants me to respond.
From there, I trust Him for the grace, strength and provision to act accordingly.
For me, this is really a summary of what it means to be a Christian.
When we are integrated, God’s kingdom is the same everywhere
And to get back to where we started:
When we live like this, whether we are at work, at church, or at home; and whether work is full time ministry, government work, non profit work, teaching, or working in the marketplace in a normal company, or even running your own company – it is all built on the same foundation. The questions are the same. The purpose remains the same.
My name is Ashton Fourie.