"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34
"I would like you to be free from concern." 1 Cor. 7:32
We associate the Savior's injunction and the apostle's wish together, because both set before us the same great truth, and indicate the same line of Christian conduct. Let not these words be misunderstood. Neither the Savior nor His apostle would desire men to be "free from concern" in regard to their highest—their eternal interests. The words are addressed to believers—to those who have been led to look for pardon, peace, and safety in Christ, the Redeemer; and what is meant by worry is not prudent attention, but anxious corroding care, and that chiefly in regard to temporal matters. Our Lord enjoins, not the dismissal of fore-thought, but that we should suppress all painful anxiety as to what the future may be storing up for us, and rest assured that we will find all our strength and energy needed when the hour of trial actually arrives.
Indeed, He commended forethought—for in the preceding verse He had said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," and in like manner the apostle exhorts Christians—to "give diligence to make their calling and election sure"—to "forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before"—to "labor that they may enter into the heavenly rest." In a matter of such infinite moment as our hope for eternity, we ought not—we cannot be, without thought or anxiety. We should be anxious to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ"—anxious to "show diligence to the full assurance of hope"—"anxious to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling"—anxious to "fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life."
Even with regard to our temporal interests, we may be sure the Savior does not forbid thought—prudence—care. God has placed us in the world, and assigned to us all duties which require daily thought and attention. From the king to the peasant, there is no lot in life where prudent carefulness can be either dispensed with or rightly suppressed. The Word of God enjoins everywhere—diligence, industry, painstaking perseverance—and, without them, there can be nothing but ruin and wretchedness. "The literal dismissal of all thought for the morrow, would involve the neglecting the culture of the soil—we would cease to sow, and, therefore, we would starve"—it would involve the neglect of those remedies which are needful for the preservation of health—neglect of precautions absolutely required to ensure our property and our lives—neglect of necessary provision against a time of sickness and old age. The artisan—the laborer, would live only for the day, and leave the morrow to shift for itself—No; this never could be our Savior's meaning.
It is the duty of the Christian to labor honestly and earnestly in the calling in which God has placed him—to use all lawful and innocent means to obtain a competent livelihood—and to be thankful that his heavenly Father has enabled him, by patient industry, or even by hard and toilsome labor, to earn his daily bread. Such is not the care about which we are warned—such is not the thoughtfulness which should be banished from the mind. We may be careful in "providing things honest in the sight of all men"—careful in laying out to the best advantage the portion of worldly good with which God has blessed us—without infringing on the precept here given; no, the apostle elsewhere declares, that "if any provides not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
But, then, while so doing, we must bear in mind, our entire—our constant—daily dependence upon God. We must seek to realize that without His blessing, all our care, and thought, and diligence will be fruitless—and we must, to rid ourselves of sinful fears and apprehensions about the future, "cast all our care upon Him, knowing that He cares for us." We are to enter upon no undertaking—form no plan, make no arrangements for the morrow, with out committing them into His hands, in firm reliance on the declaration of Scripture, that "the blessing of the Lord makes rich, and He adds no sorrow with it."
How many, alas! disregard and wholly neglect this in their daily lives! They scheme and plan for the future, as if all depended on their own energy and forethought—as if they themselves could turn the current of future events. No wonder "they rise up early and sit up late, and eat the bread of sorrows." Mark the furrows on the brow—listen to the anxious inquiry—see the restless running to and fro—the setting aside, sometimes the total disregard, of higher and nobler interests, for the things of time. Now, it is this carking care—this wearing worry, which is forbidden by Christ, and is inconsistent with a true and lively faith.
Not all the blighting of cherished hopes—the frustrating of plans, and the failure of the most carefully arranged schemes, will teach some men how utterly powerless they are over tomorrow. The merchant enters into perilous speculations, and tomorrow the crash of disappointment comes—he is left ruined and penniless. The wealthy citizen invests his thousands in some fair and flattering scheme—tomorrow it is found false and deceptive—all his "carefulness" has been of no avail. The farmer, elated by a time of unusual prosperity, extends more widely his operations, and undertakes far more than he is able to accomplish—tomorrow comes, and the sunshine has departed—misfortune and calamity are now his portion. The laborer, dissatisfied with the wages of today, abandons his work, sure that he will largely increase his gains in some other quarter. Tomorrow his hopes are unrealized—he encounters only disappointment and loss.
The true Christian, however, who has committed his interests to God, and left the issue in His hands, should be, "without worry." He has the promise of his heavenly Father, that "all things shall work together for his good." If tomorrow brings heavier duties or severer trials, tomorrow will also bring a larger measure of grace and patience. No combination of adverse events—no stroke of calamity, however unexpected, can deprive him of that gracious care which follows every step of his earthly pilgrimage. He need have no anxious apprehension about the future, for it is in the hands of Him who "does all things well and wisely;"—of Him who knows "the end from the beginning," and sees what is best for the welfare of His children.
Christian! the great and important matter is, to act our part well and faithfully in the present, leaving the disposal of the future entirely to God. It is ours to be careful in discharging the duties of today—it will be His to impart strength for the contingencies of tomorrow. We cannot indeed expect to pass through life without our share of trouble, but we may at all times confidently rely on the assurance, "as your days, so shall your strength be." And, the anxious apprehension about impending evils, can only have the effect of weakening our trust in God, and unfitting us for the discharge of present duty. Surrounding ourselves with gloomy forebodings and anticipating evils which may never cross our path, we will become faint and disheartened, and our anxieties will but increase the more. Let us "cast all our care upon Him who cares for us," confident that, let tomorrow bring what it may, He will sustain us in every difficulty—comfort and relieve us in every emergency, and "make His grace sufficient for us." The interests of God's people are His constant care—and by His most sure word He has undertaken to "supply all their need." He will not, it is true, impart grace before it is needed—but neither will He fail to communicate it when it is actually needed.
If only we would look to the past, and reflect on God's dealings with us, we will find that such has been His procedure. Oh! how often, in the day of sorrow and distress, has He given the very comfort we stood in need of—the measure of strength by which we were enabled to bear the trial! How often, in the time of sickness, has He relieved our pain when most severe—and mitigated our sufferings, when "vain was the help of man!" How often, too, have His gracious promises come to us in the very extremity of our need—and, "in the multitude of our thoughts within us, His comforts delighted our souls!"
May we not then say, "The Lord has been mindful of us, and He will bless us still?" "He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all," will not withhold that daily care we need for our comfort. He who adopted us into His family—accepted us in the Beloved—and made us partakers of the promises which are in Christ Jesus—He who has loved us with an everlasting love, will watch over us in every hour of danger, and overrule and control all for our final good. We know not what the future may bring—but we know that it is His to order everything in heaven and in earth, and that, in every emergency, we may look to Him for support. Every need He can supply—every difficulty He can remove—every fear dispel, and, trusting to His guardianship—relying on His care, we may, regarding the unknown and inscrutable events of tomorrow unhesitatingly say, "The Lord will provide."
Yes, Christian, many troubles may surround you—many dangers may threaten you—your hearth may become dreary and desolate, and every earthly comfort be removed—still, amid all these outward ills, anchor your soul on the sure word of promise—"I am with you always, even to the end;" and let this be your prayer–
"O Lord, give me Your heavenly grace, that I may cast all my care upon You, knowing that You care for me; and, by whatever path You lead me, oh! save me from all doubt of Your love, and bring me closer to Yourself."
"Though some good things of lower worth
My heart is called on to resign,
Of all the gifts in heaven and earth,
The best, the very best is mine:
The love of God in Christ made known,
The love that is enough alone,
My Father's love is all my own.
"My soul's Restorer, let me learn
In that deep love to live and rest–
Let me the precious thing discern
Of which I am indeed possessed–
My treasure let me feel and see,
And let my moments as they flee,
Unfold my endless life in Thee.
"Let me not dwell so much within
My wounded heart with anxious heed,
Where all my searches meet with sin,
And nothing satisfies my need–
It shuts me out from sound and sight
Of that pure world of life and light
Which has nor breadth, nor length, nor height.
"Let me Your power, Your beauty see,
So shall my vain aspiring cease,
And my free heart shall follow Thee
Through paths of everlasting peace–
My strength Your gift, my life Your care,
I shall forget to seek elsewhere
The joy to which my soul is heir.
"I was not called to walk alone,
To clothe myself with love and light;
And for Your glory, not my own,
My soul is precious in Your sight–
My evil heart can never be
A home, a heritage for me;
But You can make it fit for Thee."
–A. L. Waring
"When waves of trouble round me swell,
My soul, be not dismayed;
But hear a Voice you know full well–
'Tis I, be not afraid.'
"When black the threatening clouds appear,
And storms my path invade,
That Voice shall tranquillize each fear–
'Tis I, be not afraid.'
"There is a gulf that must be crossed,
Saviour! be near to aid;
hisper, when my frail bark is tossed–
"Tis I, be not afraid.'
"There is a dark and fearful vale,
Death hides within its shade;
Oh! say, when flesh and heart shall fail–
"Tis I, be not afraid.'"