Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6

Since we’ve been talking this week about how we can all get some much needed rest, I thought today I’d focus on this verse which I think highlights one of the biggest enemies of rest. Here it is:

Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

In other words, you can’t get rest until you stop running. The pagans run after all these things.  That’s right, I said “Pagans.” Pagan isn’t a word we use very often these days.  Or at least I hope you don’t use it.  I hope you don’t walk into work and say, “So, how are all you pagans doing today?”  Don’t think your co-workers are going to take that very well.  The word pagan was originally used to describe a nation that was not following God.  Here Jesus uses it to describe someone who doesn’t have God at the center of his life or her life.

According to these verses, what do the pagans do? What do people who don’t have God in control of their life do?  They run.  They run around worrying about what to eat. They are heading to happy hour for something to drink.  They are off to the mall running toward the sale rack. They are running.  Let me give you an obvious fact that every serious runner knows.  You can’t rest when you are running.

  • Are you running today?
  • Are you running at work?
  • Are you running to keep up with your work at home?
  • Are you running to get ahead financially?

Most of us are running, aren’t we? We are running so much that we even carry our own treadmills with us every where we go. You read that right, we carry a treadmill and never go anywhere without; in fact, we usually have it in the palm of our hand. You probably guessed that I’m talking about our cell phones. Cell phones have become nothing more than portable treadmills, designed to keep us running 24/7.

When we look at this device there is one singular message.  Run.  Run to Google for answers.  Run to email to make sure you keep up.  Do a quick calendar check to make sure you’re not following behind.  Run.  Remember: you can’t rest when you’re running.

Jesus gives us the answer to this pace problem in the next line of today’s scripture: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”  Let’s look at one word in this line.  It’s the word Seek.  In the original language of the Bible, the word seek isn’t really all that different than the word run.  Seek in Greek means to crave, to aim at, to strive after.   That’s basically what the word run means in verse 32. The words are almost identical. The only difference is that run is the word Epizetero which means run after and seek is the word Zetero which means run.

You see, there really is no difference in the word.  Either way you’re running.

So what we have here is not a problem with pace; it’s a problem with direction

The pagans run and we should run.  We just need to make sure that we are running in the right direction.

If we are supposed to run either way, why is one run exhausting and the other run satisfying?  Because one run leads to lifestyle habits that are unsatisfying; they don’t fill us up. When we run for work, run to fill a calendar, run because we think if we are busier that we are more valuable, run with a fear that we won’t have enough, run for something to drink or new fashions to wear or to make us feel better. When we run after these things it’s exhausting because none of these destinations lead us to a place of peace.

Have you ever accomplished a big task at work?  You worked and worked and worked and you got it done.  What happened right after that project was over?  You got a new project.  You got to celebrate for 30 seconds and it was on to the next assignment. The destination turned out to be empty and unsatisfying. The same is true of buying new clothes, getting a new car, doing a kitchen remodel, getting a raise in pay.  Those are all good things; great things. But the celebration is short then it’s on to the next project.

Jesus says seek me first.  Put my priorities first.  Run after my kingdom first.  Seek what you can do for me first because when I’m first whatever you accomplish has true meaning.  It’s satisfying.

Let’s talk for a second about the kinds of things we can run after that are satisfying: Jesus always prioritizes relationships.  Pouring into them is always good. And he challenges us to serve others.  Let me tell you something the happiest people I know are the ones that serve.

The bottom line is that Jesus wants us to be close to him.  To work on that relationship.  So Read, take a walk and pray.  Get closer. Find peace and rest, my friend. This is what Jesus wants for you.