Tony Evans - The Reassurance of a Heavenly Perspective
Jesus tells a story to the crowd, a story about a man who wanted Jesus to redistribute the wealth so that this man could get an inheritance from his brother. Jesus then tells them the parable in verses 13 through 21 of Luke about a rich man who had gathered all of his profits together in order to retire early and enjoy the good life from his business success, only to hear the words, "You fool. Tonight your soul is required of you and now who will own what you have accumulated"?
Then Jesus broadens the application and says, "So is everybody. This doesn't just apply to the person I was talking to or the rich man I was talking about. It applies to everybody who is. So is the man or the woman who pursues treasures in this life and is poor toward God, have no wealth in heaven while they seek to accumulate wealth in this life or the things that wealth can provide".
Now, beginning in verse 22, Jesus knows that the disciples are listening to what he's told the crowd, and he knows what they are thinking. He knows they're thinking, "Now, wait a minute. Let's get practical. Jesus, I have to live in the nasty here and now, and you're telling me to focus on the sweet by and by. I've gotta go to work. I've gotta feed my family. I've gotta take care of my business. Like, come on, Jesus. Let's get practical. Life is real and life is hard, and you're coming up with this heavenly perspective stuff, be rich toward God, when I've gotta live with my two feet on the ground where real people live and real problems exist. So, sometimes, Jesus, this God stuff, heaven stuff, eternal-focus stuff seems a bit pie in the sky and not really related to my daily existence now". He knew they were thinking that. He knew you were thinking that, so he told me, "Preach this".
It says, "He said," in verse 22, "to his disciples". So, now Jesus has turned from the crowd to his followers. He's now not talking to the masses anymore. He's told them the story. He wants to apply it to his followers, so what he's about to say in verse 22 through 34 he wants his people to hear, those who claim him, those who claim to follow him, and his message is very simple, and so is mine. He repeats his message over and over and over again, and his message is: if you decide to live your earthly life with an eternal perspective, don't worry. Don't worry.
Look at what he says in the middle of verse 22, "Do not worry about your life". Look at what he says in verse 25, "And which of you by worrying can add an hour to his life"? Look at what he says in verse 26, "Why do you worry about other matters"? Look at what he says in verse 29, "And do not keep worrying". Then look at what he says in verse 32. He calls on worry's cousin and says, "Do not be afraid". His message is, "Don't worry. I know what I just told you disciples shook you up a little bit, because I told you to be rich up there, and I'm telling you now if you're rich up there you won't have to worry down here". That the antidote to worry is a heavenly perspective.
So let's see how this thing works, how an eternal perspective calms your earthly concerns. He says in verse 23 the reason you should not worry is life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Let me put it another way. We worry about the wrong thing. Life is more than food. We worry about whether we're gonna eat. If you really wanna worry about something, worry about whether you're gonna be alive, 'cause if you're dead eating is inconsequential.
"Am I gonna have food"? No, the question is are you gonna get up? 'Cause life is more important than food, but we tend not to worry about whether we're gonna wake up. We worry about whether we're gonna have the money to buy the food. He says you're worrying about the lesser thing. The body is more than clothing. If you don't have a body that's working, you can't put on a shirt, pants, dress. The clothing is secondary to having the body to put it on that's alive and functioning, so if you just have to worry, worry about the bigger thing, not the lesser thing.
He says that life is greater than food and your body is greater than the clothes you put on, so if you just gotta worry, worry about something big, not something secondary, so he shifts our perspective about the priorities in life. Then he says, "Well, lemme help you out a little bit more, disciples. Consider the ravens". Ah, consider the ravens. Mother Nature comes from Father God, and when Father God created Mother Nature he placed in Mother Nature lessons for us to live by. He says one of those lessons is the raven.
Why that bird? Because the raven was an unclean bird. The Jews could not eat the ravens. The ravens in the Old Testament were unclean, so Jesus picks a bird that you wouldn't fool with anyway if you were Jewish, 'cause he's speaking to his Jewish disciples. He says, "Consider the bird you would never consider". He says, "Lemme tell you about this bird. They neither sow nor reap. They don't have farms. They don't have seeds. They don't plant, neither do they, like the rich man, have a storehouse that they're building. They don't have barns, yet God feeds them". Wait a minute now. The ravens eat because God feeds them.
Well, wait a minute. How does God feed a raven? You don't see a raven standing on a branch with its mouth open, waiting for worms to drop from heaven. That's not how they eat. They go find worms, but the beauty of how God feeds them is he builds into creation that which empowers their existence. God has already put into the way nature works the food for the unclean, the ravens. It's built into creation, and then he says, "Are you not much more valuable than they? Well, wait. If I will feed an unclean bird in my creation, and you are my child and my follower, if I value something that I call unclean and make sure there are plenty of worms to go around, and you are my child, do you think I have less concert for you than them"?
My greatest concern is that you are a Christian and know of your salvation. Jesus Christ died on the cross in your place, as your substitute, to pay for your sins in order to give you eternal life. He has to give it away. It can't be earned, so if you'll go to Jesus Christ now, acknowledge your need for a Savior because you recognize you are a sinner, and then place your trust in Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins and for the gift of eternal life, he will grant that to you right here, right now. Go to him and simply say, "Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner. I recognize I need a Savior. I'm trusting you alone to be that Savior. Enter my life now. Cleanse me, forgive me, and give me the eternal life you promised". Do that, and you're on your way to heaven.
And are you not more valuable than they are? "Which of you," verse 25, "by worrying can add a single hour to your lifespan"? He says every time you worry, you waste your time. You do not add to your life. You may be contributing to shortening it. You worry. He said worry is like a rocking chair. It gets you started. It just doesn't take you anywhere. You just go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. He says, "Consider," study, "the lilies of the field," the beautiful flowers, "how they grow: they neither toil nor spin".
They have never taken a sewing class. The beautiful flowers have never gone to buy cloth or have never gone to a paint shop to give them their brilliant color. "But I tell you, not even Solomon in all of his glory clothed himself like one of these". He says the beauty of nature comes because of the color coding of the Creator, magnificent colors blending into one another, brilliant. He said, "You've got this backwards. You do not understand that I am your source, and yet the flowers which are here today and gone tomorrow give testimony to the power of God to provide".
Having made his point, he now wants to take a moment to drive it home to you and me, so he spends the rest of this chapter to drive home the point. That an eternal perspective, being rich toward God, making the eternal greater than the temporal, making the spiritual greater than the physical, positions you to experience the sourcing of God at a level that will blow your mind and lift your worry. Verse 29, "And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need this things". He says don't go crazy over the physical. Go crazy over the spiritual, 'cause your daddy knows what your situation is.
Notice he says your father, not their father, the Gentiles. That's the unbeliever. He says all these things the unbelievers go after, they break their necks ignoring the spiritual in order to accumulate the physical, no matter what it is, whether it's money or health or power or whatever it is, that substance of insignificance, they go after that. He says, "No, no, no. No, you go after me," because your Father knows what you need. Okay, let's get something straight. It doesn't say the Father knows what you want. It says the Father knows what you need.
Now, don't be punked by the unrighteous. Your Father knows where you are. Well, I remember sometimes I'd see my father on his knees saying, "Lord, show me how to provide for my family," but because he was rich in heaven, God would come up with ways on Earth to meet the need until the job opportunities opened up again. He would turn fish and sardines into Moby Dick sandwiches so his family would have something to eat. Now, if my earthly father, limited education, limited skill, limited opportunity, made sure his children got fed and you have a heavenly Father with no limitations, owner of creation, and you question whether He's gonna meet your need? He says that's an insult. That's because you're poor up there, and because you're poor up there, you have little confidence in what he's gonna do down here, and you've confused the source with the resource.
And so, what do we do? We've been punked by the Gentiles, so we try to follow their pace down here and wind up poor spiritually and otherwise. To live in worry, he says, is to live like the heathen. Okay, so what do you want us to do, God? What do you want us to do? Verse 31, "But seek his kingdom and these things will be added to you". Oh, but seek his kingdom. The word "kingdom" means rule, authority. Come underneath his rule. We live in the kingdom called the United States of America, but in the United States of America, there are good citizens, and there are bad citizens. Just 'cause you're in the kingdom doesn't mean you're good for it. God has kids in his kingdom, but he's got kids in his kingdom who wanna burn the flag. He's got kids in the kingdom who don't appreciate the privileges of the kingdom. He says, no, you seek, the way Matthew puts it, seek first the kingdom. Prioritize the eternal. Prioritize the spiritual.
Jeremiah 17, verse 7 and 8 says when you do, he provides even in a drought. And I love this phrase: "Do not fear, little flock". A little flock is a flock of sheep. Lemme tell you about sheep. Dumbest animals God ever made. Sheep aren't ignorant. They're ignant, and sheep are so dumb. One sheep will start walking in a circle and the other sheeps will follow it thinking the first sheep was going somewhere. They're just... sheep are dumb, dumb. And what does he call you and me? Sheep. A sheep that wanders from the shepherd is a fool, thinking it can make its own way. It's going to be eaten by the wolves, and that's why we often get eaten by the Gentiles, because we leave the Shepherd.
He says, tenderly he says, "Do not be afraid, 'cause I know you're scared. You're nervous". "If I prioritize the spiritual over the physical, I'mma lose on the physical". "Don't be afraid. Chill. It's gonna be all right. Fear not, little flock," 'cause sheep are scared. They're scared. They wanna know, "Am I gonna survive if I make this decision to prioritize the spiritual over the physical, if I'm rich toward God and make that more important than being rich among men"? He says if I do that... remember, this has nothing to do with how much money you have or how much money you don't have. This has everything to do with how big the bank account is up there, versus how big it is down here. It has to do with the eternal over the physical, the spiritual over the temporal. He says, "Fear not, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom".
Wow! So, what are you to do? Interesting statement at the end of verses 33 and 34. "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". Whoa, whoa, whoa. Now, this one is easy to miss, 'cause I know verse 33 just shook up some folk. He says, "Sell your possessions and give to charity". It does. That just shook you up, didn't it? The second half explains the first half. He says do that which has eternity tied to it, okay? So, being of benefit to others.
That's why Luke 6:38 says whatever you need, do that for somebody else. Give and it will be given back to you, because you just made a deposit in heaven. That's why God talks about him being first, first with your time, first with your talents, first with your tithe, he keeps talking about being first, because he says, "Then you position me as priority," so this is not just about money. It's about ministry, and he says, "You do this first, and you have built up an account from which withdrawals can be made". And then he gives the clincher. Oh, and it's a clincher because it's so misread. He says in verse 34, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also".
Now, let me tell you how most people misread that. They misread that to say "where your heart is, your treasure will be". That's backwards. It doesn't say "where your heart is, your treasure will be". It says "where your treasure is, your heart will be". Translation: your heart follows your treasure. Don't let the enemy switch the tags on you. The boys went into the store, and they took the tags off of the expensive clothes and put it on the cheap clothes, took the tags off the cheap clothes, put it on the expensive clothes, so people were buying cheap clothes and paying expensive prices 'cause somebody had switched the tag. The devil has switched the tags on us and then he has made cheap what's valuable, the eternal perspective. Made valuable cheap, and so we choose the cheap just because he knows how to put a good sticker on it, a good coloring over it. God is not complaining that you've been blessed, that he's given you this, that, or the other. He just wants to make sure that you're more rich up there than you are down here, so when down here fails, you've got something to withdraw from up there, because you're rich toward God and not merely seeking to be punked by the gentiles.
What are you worried about? What keeps you up at night? What makes you sweat, keeps you anxious, cause you to be nervous? Worry is all around us, isn't it? Sometimes we worry about not worrying, but yet what God offers us is his peace in the midst of life's realities. He doesn't say that living in this life is gonna be easy or problem-less. Believing that would be believing a lie. Jesus made it clear in this world you're gonna have trouble. It comes in different shapes, in different sizes, at different times, different strokes for different folks, but this life has enough trouble of its own, doesn't it? But that trouble does not have to define our wellbeing. That's the good news that Jesus offers us about not worrying and the offer of his kingdom. That we don't have to live a nervous life. We can live a life of calm in the midst of the storm.
By the way, that's when you really know you have the real deal, because you're not supposed to have it right now in light of what you're going through, and yet you still have it, and you wonder where that came from. I think it's called a peace that passes understanding 'cause you don't understand why you have it right now. The glory of God is when his kingdom burst through in our lives in situations that would normally cause us to stress out and become just nonfunctional, irritated, exacerbated, mean-spirited, because he has calmed us on the inside, which has given us control in how we operate on the outside. So, when life seems to be coming at you in every direction and worry seems to be overwhelming you, I want you to run Jesus. Don't walk, don't crawl, sprint. Because he is the peace giver and the peace maker even in the storms of life.