In yesterday’s study, we saw that Jesus provided a cure for anxiety by what He said in Matthew 6: “Therefore, I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on… For after all these things do the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (vv. 25, 32-33).
The translators of the New Scofield Bible (as well as the translators of most modern versions) did not retain the expressions of the King James Version in this passage, which says, “Therefore… take no thought for your life.” And again, “Take no thought for the morrow.” This translation has misled some persons into thinking that Jesus was warning against working for a living or against making proper provision for the future. He was not. Actually, we have a case here where words have just changed their meaning. Both in the Greek and in the English of the time of King James, the meaning was just “stop worrying.” Paul meant the same thing when he told the Philippians, “Be careful for nothing” (Phil. 4:6). Peter also was referring to the tendency some Christians have to worry when he wrote, “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). According to Jesus, Christians must not be anxious or worried about anything. For worry, as well as a love of money and possessions or a judgmental attitude toward others, can effectively stifle the Christian life and ruin one’s witness.
It is very important, if we are to understand the essential point of these verses, that we recognize the clear outline that we have here. The clue to it is found in the repetition of the word “therefore” in verses 25, 31, and 34. It has been said that in your reading of the Bible, whenever you come upon the word “therefore” you should not go on until you understand what it is “there for.” If that is true for one instance of the word, it is much truer when the word is repeated several times over.
“Therefore” really means “because” or “because of this.” Thus, we immediately recognize that in these verses Jesus gives a conclusion (in each case identical) based on three things that have gone before. Because of the teaching in verse 24 the Christian is not to worry. Because of the truths in verses 26 through 30 the Christian is not to worry. Finally, because of the teaching in verses 32 and 33 the Christian is not to worry. The entire section contains three points that in each case is followed by the identical conclusion.