Luke 12:22-34 Do Not Worry, Seek The Kingdom, Invest In People.
Again, when we see a ‘therefore’ we ask what it is there for, and in this case Jesus draws a connection to what He has just taught concerning the parable of the rich man, who was covetous and wanted to be free from regular exercise of dominion stewardship (vv. 13-21). The rich man was blessed with an unusually great harvest, and rather than give to others in need, he wanted to tear down his barns and build bigger ones, and not because he feared not having enough to get through a winter or because he wanted to help even more people, but so he could “eat, drink, and be merry” (v. 19). Basically he wanted to be free from the regular exercise of the dominion mandate, which God gave to humanity to exercise dominion in the earth as His stewards. The rich man was only concerned with laying up treasure for his own use, instead of helping others and therefore being rich toward God (v. 21). Despite all that this man had he still worried about having to daily labour for the necessities of life. This then is the context of Jesus’ “therefore” (Cf. Mt. 6:25-33).
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about your body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing” (vv. 22-23). For some people life is not only all about necessities, but it is also about looking good. Jesus teaches us that there is more to life than our needs and wants. The reason that we should not worry is because our heavenly Father promises to feed and clothe us. As Jesus said, birds do not need huge storehouses, because God takes care of them. Therefore if God so takes care of the birds, how much more His covenant children (v. 24 Cf. Job 38:41)? Furthermore, Jesus also makes the point that worry, in and of itself, will not supply a person with anything. Adding one cubit to one’s stature may actually refer to one lengthening their lifespan (v. 25).
So the quality and length of one’s life cannot be increased by worrying, in fact, the exact opposite may be the case. Food and clothing are our basic needs, and so if worrying will not help us with these things, how much less should we not worry about things less necessary than these (v. 26)? Many worry beyond the necessities, to how they appear. Yet even here Jesus says that the lilies are also beautiful in appearance, greater than Solomon, and this beauty also comes from God (v. 27). If this then is the case with flowers that fade or the grass that withers, how much more for His children, who He calls to be His dominion stewards in all the earth? This then is part of what it means to live by faith-trusting in our heavenly Father for all our needs (v. 28). It is important to note that Jesus does not say that looking beautiful is not important or superfluous.
The existence of creatures and plants which are beautiful in appearance is a constant reminder that God created things beautiful in appearance, and this is part of what He saw as “good” (Cf. Gen. 1-2). This passage actually hearkens back to Jesus instruction and model of prayer. When we ask God to provide our daily bread, we are not so much asking God to do something He would not otherwise do. As Jesus said, our heavenly Father knows what we need. Rather, it is really about aligning our will with His. He would rather that we focus our attention on His kingdom as His stewards in this world (vv. 29-31 Cf. Ch. 11; Mt. 6:31-33). Jesus then brings things to an amazing climax-His kingdom promise. “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (v. 32). This is the promise of the successive administrations of the one covenant of grace.
This promise ought also to be the focus of our daily communion with God, of His kingdom coming, and His will being done on earth as it is in heaven (Cf. 11:2). Jesus then hearkens back to the point He made with His parable of the rich but foolish ruler (vv. 13-21). One ought to give of their abundance to those who are in need, and in doing so one will be making investments that will last for all eternity (v. 33 Cf. Mt. 19:21). Some envision this as some sort of riches in heaven that parallel what one may be giving up. However, are these “riches” not the very lives which we are able to impact and change for their good, and God’s glory? Is this not the point Jesus is making here-God can take care of our needs and even our wants, so what we should focus on is what He is focused on, and that is saving sinners to live for God’s glory. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 34 Cf. Mt. 6:19-21).