ŇTherefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.Ó Matthew 6:31-32.

 

 

ŇTherefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?(v.31)

 

Here, Christ again repeateth His commandment against distrustful care given in v.25. The reasons of His repetition be these: First, to set an edge upon the commandment, that so it may more sharply and deeply enter into their hearts, as we said before. Secondly, to further His disciples in the practice of faith, for by this often repetition He gives them occasion to meditate and think upon the duty the oftener, whereby their faith must needs be much confirmed; for this we must know for our direction to get and strengthen true faith in our hearts, that a man is not a mere patient in the receiving and strengthening of this grace; it comes not from God to us, as visions did to the prophets in a dream in the night, or as the print of the seal is set into the wax, but God works it in the use of ordinary means. And therefore if we would have faith wrought or increased in us, we must do that which by nature we may do; to wit, hear the Word preached and read, we must meditate therein, and labour so to urge the promises of God upon our own hearts; yea, we must do what we can to stir up in our hearts a desire to believe, and to strive against doubting and distrust, and therefore must give ourselves to prayer, with sighs and groans to God, for the working of His Spirit in our hearts.

 

Now touching this commandment against distrustful care, we handled it in the 25th verse, shewing how far our care must go for things needful, and where it must stay. It must extend itself to the diligent use of lawful ordinary means to procure things needful, and there stay; giving place to faith to wait upon GodŐs providence for the blessing of our endeavours. The distrustful care which perplexeth the heart about the success of our lawful labours, is that which Christ forbids, and it is that evil sickness which infects most menŐs souls, as they may easily discern by observing these things: What it is that oft breaks their sleep in the night; what comes first into their thoughts when they awake; and what their minds turn most upon all the day long; and whereabouts they can take greatest pains, with most delight and least weariness. If it be for the things of this world, then distrustful care infects their souls, which we must strive against, and learn to live by faith.

 

Here only observe how Christ describes this unlawful care by the effects of it in distrustful persons, bringing them in, saying, What shall we eat? What shall we drink? Or Wherewith shall we be clothed? And thus indeed they used to complain, especially when they have great charges and slender means, or else do sustain any great losses, then, How shall we live? What shall we do? And such like speeches of distrust; which Christ here justly reproves, because they blame God for His dealing towards them; as though He had no care of them, or would not provide things for them. We therefore must learn to shut our mouths against distrustful thoughts, and beware we murmur not nor complain of His dealing towards us. When (Lev. 10:3) AaronŐs two sons Nadab and Abihu were both slain for offering strange fire, Moses tells him it was the LordŐs doing, who would be glorified in all that come near Him; then the text saith, Aaron held his peace. And David notably testifieth his contentment in GodŐs providence (Psa. 39:2), I held my peace and said nothing; yea, (v.9), I should have been dumb and not have opened my mouth, because thou the Lord didst it. Excellent is that saying of the Lord (Isa. 30:15), In rest and quietness shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength; meaning that by patience and contentment, a man shews strong confidence in God; so that though GodŐs dealing seem never so hard, we must beware of impatient words and murmuring thoughts, endeavouring to say with Eli (1 Sam. 3:18), It is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth good in His eyes; and with Job (Job 13:15), Though He kill me, yet will I trust in Him.

 

 

Ň(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.Ó (v.32).

 

This verse contains ChristŐs fifth and sixth reasons to dissuade His hearers from distrustful care. The fifth is drawn from the practice of the Gentiles, and it standeth thus:

That which the Gentiles do, which know not God, you must not do (they doing amiss). But the Gentiles seek thus distrustfully for things needful. Therefore you must not do so.

 

The words in the original whereby Christ declareth this behaviour of the Gentiles, be more emphatical than our translation doth express; for they import that the Gentiles set themselves to seek, or seek with all their might. Which must be observed, because it is not a sin simply to seek things necessary, but wholly to give ourselves thereto that is the sin, because it proceeds from distrust in God.

 

Question: Why did the Gentiles wholly give themselves to seek to things necessary? Answer: Because they knew not the true God, nor His providence; they were not acquainted with His Word, as David saith. And this was the state of all the world before ChristŐs coming, the Jews only excepted, and their forefathers, with some few proselytes, who, by conversing with GodŐs people, were converted to true religion.

 

This point well observed;

 

First, overthrows the opinion of universal grace, as a mere device of manŐs brain; for if the Gentiles knew not the true God, how should they know the way to life? If God gave them not so much grace whereby they could depend upon His providence for the things of this life, much less did He give them grace to believe and to be saved if they would.

 

Secondly, this shews that they who set their hearts upon the world and give themselves to seek earthly things, are Gentiles and pagans; they have not yet attained to this principle of Christianity: to depend upon GodŐs providence by faith. They see no providence, and so rely only  upon the means whereby they sacrifice to their own pains and industry, and so make themselves their own god. This is the state of many among us, who bear the name of Christians, but in deed and practice are as Turks and pagans. And this reason alone well weighed, is sufficient to move any Christian heart in a moderate care to seek earthly things.

 

Thirdly, mark the ground of this reason: ChristŐs disciples had the true God for their God, which the Gentiles had not, and therefore they must differ from the Gentiles in their behaviour. This teacheth us that in all things GodŐs children must be unlike the heathen; for, in evil things we must forsake them, and in all things that be good we must excel them. The son of a prince will not shew himself like a beggar in anything; no more should the child of God, in anything conform himself unto the world. O, then, how worthy do we walk of our vocation; for the very sins of the heathen are rife among us, as uncleanness, drunkenness, slandering and oppression; nay, many among us exceed the pagans in merciless dealing towards the poor; for they never knew that Christ came for relief in the person of His poor, and yet many among them were more merciful than many nowadays that bear the name of Christians; for do not the poor sometimes die for want of relief? And do not many among us make a gain of GodŐs judgment upon the poor, selling their commodities dearest, when the poor have greatest want and need? Well, if we will approve ourselves to be GodŐs peculiar ones, let us be ashamed to be like the heathen in any evil, or not to go beyond them in that which is good.

 

 

For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

These words contain ChristŐs sixth reason to His disciples against distrustful care, drawn from GodŐs special providence over them. And it also includes an answer to a secret objection against ChristŐs command; for some man might say, If we may not be careful for things needful, who shall provide them? Christ here answers: You must not be distrustfully careful, for you have a Father in heaven, who knows whereof you have need, and careth for you. Now look whereof God takes care in your behalf, you need not trouble yourselves further than the sober use of lawful means. But God your heavenly Father takes notice of your estate, and will provide that which is best for you. And therefore you need not to vex your minds thereabout.

 

A most worthy reason, and alone sufficient to drive us from distrustful care; for this acquainteth us with GodŐs particular and special providence over us, taking notice of our estate whatsoever it is, and disposing it to the best. In regard whereof, we must learn contentment in all estates of this life, in sickness, as in health; in trouble, as in peace; and in want as well as in abundance; for whatsoever our estate be, it is according to the good pleasure of our heavenly Father, who is infinite in power and wisdom, both knowing what is best, and able to turn all to our good, as we shall surely find by comfortable experience, if by faith we depend upon Him. This David knew well (Psa. 23:4), and therefore saith, I will not fear, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Why? For thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff; that is, thy Spirit, thy Word and providence comfort me. If our hearts were settled in this point, we should not be impatient in distress, nor dead hearted in want; nay, it would make us cheerful in the hour of death; for hereby we should be assured that these estates were better for us than peace, wealth, or life itself, because they come by the will of our heavenly Father, who knoweth whereof we have need. And therefore let us labour by faith to be assured of our adoption, that we may know God to be our Father, and then by the same faith we shall be easily assured that He will turn all things that befall us unto our good.