If you are Facebook friends with me, you may have seen my recent posts about trying to find more natural yet effective cleaning products. It is my most recent mission in trying to reduce my son’s exposure to potential toxins. It was a topic that came up at my women’s Bible study last week as the ladies and I were sharing our struggle with worrying about and trying to protect our children. Then our Bible study leader, a mature and wise woman of faith, abruptly interrupted our banter to remind us that while it is nice to share our struggles with other women, it is of grave importance that we remember that when Jesus told us not to worry, it was a command! The room went silent as conviction hit us all like a divine lightning bolt. Ever since that moment, God has been working on my heart as I have meditated and sought His counsel on this issue, and I feel that He is calling me to share what He is teaching me with you. I think you will also find conviction on this issue, as well as freedom as we learn to walk in faith and obedience.
We all know the passage in Matthew 6 when Jesus tells us not to worry. I’ve even had it taped to my bathroom mirror for the past 3 years. But if you’re like me, you probably have tended to skip down to verse 34, which says:
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble,” (ESV)
and have applied it to the big issues in your life; who you will marry, whether you will have children, where you will live, what career path you will take, etc. However, if we go back and read Jesus’ entire teaching on this topic, which starts at verse 25, we will find that he wasn’t talking about these big issues at all.
“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. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (ESV)
He was talking about the details of life; what we are going to eat, what we are going to drink, what we are going to wear. I think we have all probably sort of skimmed over this part because we think he’s talking to poor people who don’t have access to food and water and clothes like we do, but surely all the people in Jesus’ audience were not poor. I think more than ever this passage applies to us today, and I think that many of us are gravely disobeying this command. Let’s take the passage and put in the issues that cause us anxiety in our day.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat,” whether organic, free-range, grass-fed, or hormone free, whether Paleo, GMO, or no artificial colors, whether raw or whole or high fructose, whether homemade or prepackaged, vegan, vegetarian, or Atkin, locally grown or imported, preserved, hydrogenated or homogenized, microwaved or juiced, iron fortified, supplemented, or gluten free,
“or what you will drink,” whether breast or bottle, fluoridated, pasteurized, or rBT free,
“nor about your body, what you will put on,” whether cloth or disposable, Ergo, Bjorn, or Moby, unbleached, organic, recycled or reused, made in America, post consumer, fabric softened or bleached, cotton, polyester, hemp, or bamboo.
And while Jesus only speaks of food, drink, and clothing, I think His message was intended to teach us not to worry about ANY of the details. For me this week, that means not worrying about toxins from cleaning products. For you other details may hit home; vaccination, antibiotics, shampoo, laundry detergent, homeopathic, phlates, parabens, BPA, germs, mold, allergens, probiotics, screen time, etc. Am I saying that trying to eat healthier or be more natural are bad things? No, not at all, when they are done with the right motivations. Jesus says not to worry about the details. At the heart of worry is fear—fear of the unknown, fear of what could potentially happen in the future. Are you making these decisions in faith or in worry and fear? Do you eat organic because you think it is more nutritious or are you afraid that pesticides will give you cancer? Do you use cloth diapers because you are trying to be a better steward of the earth or because you are afraid of the chemicals in disposable? Do you make your own baby food because you are afraid that the jarred stuff has preservatives that are harmful to your child? Is your child on an alternate vaccination schedule because you are afraid that they will get autism? Do you use natural cleaning products because you think that conventional ones have toxins that could give you cancer? You get the idea.
As women of faith, we are called to make decisions based on faith, not fear. Why? Because Jesus commanded us to. Listen to what Jesus said next: “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” This is so important because we are making all these decisions out of fear of death! We fear illness and premature death due to exposure to things in our food and in our environment, and God says that we cannot prolong our life (or avoid shortening it) by even an hour by worrying about these things!
“Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” It seems that this culture of fear and skepticism and distrust in the food, manufacturing, and medical industries is pervading our culture at an accelerating rate. This culture of fear is getting into the hearts and minds of Christian women, but we must remember that we don’t need to be afraid like “the Gentiles” do because we are Children of God--set apart. God has been going out of his way to protect his children for thousands of years--from Genesis forward! The same Jesus that you have put your faith in for salvation from your sin saved Noah and his family from the flood, parted the Red Sea to save his children from Pharaoh’s army, made shoes that didn’t wear out for 40 years, rescued Lot and his family from Sodom, brought down the walls of Jericho, fed 5,000, and died on a cross to save you from condemnation. Do you really think the God who numbers the hairs on your head won’t protect you from pesticides? Do you really think that the omnipotent God who orchestrated thousands of years of events to enact his redemptive plan for his children can have His plan for your life thwarted or cut short by cancer? Of course not. As a child of God, you don’t have to worry about the things that the world worries about because you are not of the world. You are set apart--under the grace, mercy, and protection of a loving father.
So, women of faith, stop being anxious about the details of your life. Stop making decisions about the details out of fear. Stop talking about it, blogging about it, and Facebooking about it. Stop boasting and posting pictures about it. Stop Pinning and Tweeting and Sharing about it. It’s a big deal. It’s a command. Let’s walk forward in obedience and find the freedom and peace that God wants for us.