Matthew 6:31

ESV Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
NIV So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
NASB Do not worry then, saying, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear for clothing?’
CSB So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’
NLT So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’
KJV Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
NKJV “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

What does Matthew 6:31 mean?

If worry was ever a good option, it would be when the circumstances of our lives are at their worst. Isn't it time to start worrying if you don't know where your next meal or clothing is coming from? If not then, when?

That's part of Jesus' point in this passage. If that is not a good time to be fearful (Matthew 6:25), it means there is never a good time to be fearful. For the people who call God Father, worry is never the appropriate response to life. Human nature tempts us to fear, and to have anxiety, but it's not how God wants us to feel. As unrealistic as that sounds to many of us, that's the level of confidence He wants His disciples and listeners to have in their Father in heaven. It's a matter of trusting both God's ability and His willingness to provide for us.

Jesus has taught that God is both able and willing. We know God can provide because He feeds birds and dresses flowers. We know God is willing, Jesus has said, because His children are far more valuable to Him than birds and flowers (Matthew 6:26–29). Will we trust Him with the most basic, bottom-line questions of life?

It's important to notice two things about Jesus' teaching here. First, He is not promising His followers that God will provide lavish lifestyles on this side of heaven—He only says God will meet their needs. That "need" is always in the context of God's will for our lives, which is not always easy (Matthew 5:3–12). God will give us what we need to honor His plans, which might not be what we "need" to be comfortable or secure. Dependence on God's provision involves a radical re-imagining of what "needs" are. As the late Rich Mullins put it in his song Hard: "…He will watch over you and He will watch over me, so we can dress like flowers and eat like birds."

Second, Jesus is not telling His followers to stop working or planning or spending wisely. His teaching here does not mean we should sit wherever we are and wait for the world to feed us. God often provides work and wisdom to meet our needs. What believers should not do is obsess over wealth, either by stockpiling it or living in fear over poverty. God is a Father who feeds and clothes His children exactly as they truly "need" to be.
What is the Gospel?
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