In a comment on THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, 16, Bob and Judy told of a meeting where this passage was discussed and the question came up, “What if He (God) doesn’t provide those needs?” To which the answer was given, “Then you aren’t meeting God’s conditions."Bob went on to say that he sensed something was wrong. “Aren’t there instances when God doesn’t provide the 3 basics Jesus mentioned? Certainly.” He then used the infamous Bataan death march as an illustration and raised a number of questions, which boil down to just one: Who’s at fault? Did Jesus lie or did they fail to seek first His Kingdom and righteousness (cf. Matthew 6:33)?
I’m glad Bob asked for my thoughts which I’m always willing to give. I should have dealt with this question on that post when I published it.
We don’t need to go back 70 years to see matters occurring which bring Jesus’ promise into question. We could look at the thousands starving in North Korea or imprisoned in countries where to be a Christian is considered a crime. In fact, it is often those who are the most committed disciples, who are definitely seeking God’s Kingdom and righteousness, who seem to be suffering the most.
And the response that was mentioned certainly appeared to me to be a glib one. It sounded too much like the sort of response that Job’s friends would give, a judgmental pronouncement that the one who fails to receive provision is not keeping his/her end of the bargain with God.
So here are my further thoughts:· The promise is not made to everyone without distinction. It is made to disciples of Jesus (5:1, 2). The heathen are excluded (6:31). Only a disciple is seeking God’s Kingdom.
· The promise has to do with basic needs. We all have lists of perceived needs that go way beyond what is promised, and frankly most of us (myself included) would be very uncomfortable if we were limited only to food, drink and clothing.
· We need to be careful not to simply make these promises into a barter system, where we do our part and God is obligated to do His. All that we receive, even our necessities, are by His grace.
· We need to beware of passing judgment on the situations of others. Perhaps our tendency to hold others more accountable than ourselves is the reason Jesus immediately follows with “Don’t judge …” (7:1).
· Though we’re given the promise that God will supply the basic needs of Jesus’ disciples, He usually does not do so miraculously. He has delegated that responsibility to us. As James tells us, “If a brother or sister is naked and lacking in daily food” (James 2:15), we are to supply “his daily bodily needs” (verse 16).
· Paradoxically there will be times when those needs are not supplied, when disciples are “persecuted for righteousness sake” (5:10), when others deny those basic needs to the followers of Christ. Seeking the Kingdom may, and often does, lead to suffering, even martyrdom. Has God failed in these cases? I’d say definitely not! He is rather supplying something greater. “Theirs is the Kingdom of the Heavens.”