Each month we ask two writers to reflect on a quote by Dr. Stanley. For April, Joseph Miller and Kayla Yiu explore God’s promise to meet our needs and how it impacts our sanctification. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Stanley’s sermon “Because He Lives.”
Jesus said that just as the Father takes care of the birds of the air, the grass, the flowers and all the rest, that He would provide for our needs. And I wonder how often you and I have needs and we hassle with them, we argue about them, we tell other people about them, but we don’t turn immediately to the resurrected Christ, who promised to provide. Because He doesn’t do it exactly when we think He ought to, and because He doesn’t do it exactly the way we think He ought to, we think, “Well, Lord, where are You?” He’s where He’s always been: He ascended to the Father, and He lives within the heart and in the life of every single believer.
by Kayla Yiu
The passage Dr. Stanley refers to here—Matthew 6:25-34—is the perfect antidote for our worrisome hearts. We love to pluck the passage from the Sermon on the Mount, let it stand on its own, and soothe our spirits when we’re overwhelmed. The editors of the New American Standard Bible agree, giving these verses the heading “The Cure for Anxiety.” However, the Sermon on the Mount doesn’t have section titles—or even paragraphs and numbers. Jesus’ words are one long, continuous thought. Bearing this in mind, read it again and notice how His “cure” changes: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on” (Matt. 6:24-25, emphasis added).
“You and I tell other people about our needs, but we don’t turn immediately to the resurrected Christ, who promised to provide.”
Despite the way our Bibles separate these two verses, Jesus’s thoughts are directly and intimately related. When Jesus said we can’t serve God and wealth, modern believers often hear they can’t serve God and be rich—and probably imagine a camel trying to fit through the eye of a needle (Matt. 19:24). But if we look at the original Greek term mamónas, we see by “wealth,” Jesus meant money, possessions, and property. He wasn’t referring to amassing great riches—the amount was not the issue. His statement is more a neutral nod to materials in general. The Lord’s words may resonate more today if we imagine Him saying, “You cannot serve God and material possessions.”
“For this reason I say to you,” Jesus continues, “do not be worried about your life.” He tells the crowd not to worry about material and physical needs, so that they can serve their one true Master. Whether they had too many possessions or not enough, either was a distraction from devotion to God. Here we’ve been thinking great wealth is the concern—and it certainly can be—but worrying about what we don’t have just as easily removes the Lord from the highest throne in our heart. Jesus knows our physical needs are real, and that’s precisely why He promises to meet them: so they don’t distract us from Himself. May we learn not only to leave our day-to-day needs to God, but also to move forward with full devotion to Him.
by Joseph Miller
Not too long ago, my wife sent me shopping for an ingredient—one I struggled to find on the grocery store shelves. Despite being someone who enjoys preparing meals for friends and family, I didn’t know where to locate a tube of polenta, an Italian meal made of ground corn.
I went to the “fancy” grocery store first, assuming I would find it there. I wandered from one end of the building to the other, searching refrigerated sections, dry goods pasta shelves, and even the charcuterie area, and came up empty-handed. In my search, I passed at least four employees, but I was unwilling to ask for help. Why in the world wouldn’t I just ask an associate to point me in the right direction? I can answer only for myself: I don’t ask because A) I think I know best, and B) I doubt if anyone cares enough to help.
Eventually, I hit a wall and realize the answer lies in the Lord’s capable and kind hands.
When Dr. Stanley asks why we don’t just turn immediately to the Lord, I think of my innate stubbornness. I don’t seek help in the small things, and I surely don’t turn to God during larger immediate needs—at least not at first. Instead, I go into overdrive trying to solve the problem. Then anxiety takes over, clouding my ability to make a clear or direct decision. Eventually, I hit a wall and realize the answer lies in the Lord’s capable and kind hands.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten a bit better at releasing my need to be right, and I more readily go to God with my needs, large or small (though my silly grocery run reminds me I have work to do yet). As is often the case for those of us who follow Christ, this is an act of faith. I have to believe that if He said it, He will accomplish it.