Five Times

How can one not worry?

Justin Kim
Five Times
Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

Five times. There are few topics where Jesus says the same thing five times. In most cases, the same thought is quoted in multiple places, as in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. But in Matthew 6 Jesus repeats something five times (verses 25, 27, 28, 31, and 34)—and in one setting, too.

And that is? “Be not anxious.” Don’t worry, Jesus says. It’s easy to say, but quite difficult, if not impossible, to live out. How can one not worry? Within the 24-hour news cycle, how can one not think of smaller conflicts becoming global wars; or of another pandemic, or a new biological disaster; or of economies edging toward ruin? Or all of these—and more.

Maybe you are the type who ruminates over such personal questions as “What is going to happen to my life? my finances? relationships and relatives? children and grandchildren? marriage, future, retirement?” (Maybe you were good until you read this article.)

Toward the end of Matthew 6, Jesus states His famous verse, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (verse 33, KJV). Seek denotes searching earnestly for something that you did not have to begin with. First denotes order and the priority given, whether in time, focus, amount, and/or intensity. In short, kingdom and righteousness point to living Christ’s life outward and inward, with the fruit and character of Jesus.

The phrase of interest, though, is all these things. Verse 32 says the Gentiles seek them and, by inference, true followers of God do not. Second, the Father knows that we have need of “all these things.” And if we seek these things, we again by inference are stating that the Father does not know this fact. In other words, the anxiety of the children denies the omniscience of the Father. Does our emotional state dictate our inherent theology?

What are all these things? Matthew 6:19, 20 says these are earthly treasures. The problem is, whether by moth (biological decay), rust (environmental corrosion), or theft, these earthly things diligently sought after will, ultimately, be lost. Rather than our seeking them anxiously, God will give all these things if we seek Him first. He and all these things do not mix; one master must be chosen. As Jesus says, “true Jews” seek God, but “Gentiles” seek all these things.

“Be not anxious” means to invest in heaven with the best interest rate in the universe. This isn’t a command or advice, but a promise (five times) with creative power to reorganize the spiritual life, if we only embrace Jesus’ words in faith. As light emerged out of nothing, may His peace emerge out of our anxiety.

Justin Kim