Matthew 6:34

‘“Each day’s own evil is sufficient.”’
(Matthew 6:34)

Job’s friend ‘Eliphaz the Temanite’(Job 2:11) famously once said, ‘“man is born to trouble, as… sparks fly upward”’(Job 5:7). He was right about that, as everyone discovers sooner or later in life. Jesus teaches the same here, in this statement from His Sermon on the Mount. We’re to expect such trouble or ‘“evil”’ on a daily basis even, ‘“Each day’s own evil”’! Describing trouble in this way helps us to see its root cause, ‘Satan’(Job 1:7), whose ‘power’(1 John 5:19) overshadows the whole ‘world’(Matthew 4:8) and whose ‘wiles’(Ephesians 6:11) God’s people in particular, like Job, must especially remain ‘watchful’(1 Peter 5:8) about.

Jesus’ statement concludes a section from the sermon about having a right perspective, or good ‘“eye”’(Matthew 6:22). Essentially we’re to keep one eye on eternity, the other focused on this daily ‘wrestling’(Ephesians 6:12), not getting too distracted by worries or concerns about other things, which might never happen. As James helpfully reminds us, we might not be here tomorrow anyway: ‘what is your life? … a vapour that appears… then vanishes…’(James 4:14)!

So first the eternal, our ‘“treasures in heaven”’(Matthew 6:20) as Jesus starts this section. Luke records, alongside essentially the same teaching, ‘“Don’t be afraid… for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom”’(Luke 12:32), i.e. God’s eternal ‘Kingdom that can’t be shaken’(Hebrews 12:28). With one eye anchored there, we’ll feel secure and confident. Jesus demonstrated this perspective by example too, enduring the biggest evil attack in history ‘for the joy that was set before Him… and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God’(Hebrews 12:2). So Paul taught the same, that we should look to ‘the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God… not… the things that are on the earth’(Colossians 3:1-3). As Jesus puts it towards the end of this section of the sermon: ‘“seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well”’(Matthew 6:33, cf. Luke 12:31). That brings us to the ‘things’ that we mustn’t be unduly distracted by, but which our heavenly father knows that we ‘“need”’(Matthew 6:32)

It’s true we’re this ‘vapour that appears… then vanishes…’(James 4:14), or as the psalmist describes us, like ‘a flower of the field… the wind passes over it, and it is gone’(Psalm 103:15-16), but whilst here there are things that we need, to live. God tends and makes ‘everything beautiful in its time’(Ecclesiastes 3:11), so Jesus encourages us to consider such flowers, the beautiful ‘“lilies of the field… if God so clothes the grass of the field… won’t He much more clothe you, you of little faith?”’(Matthew 6:28-30). We’re to consider the birds too, and since our ‘“heavenly Father feeds them”’(Matthew 6:26) He will feed us as well, until He wills that we fall ‘“to the ground”’(Matthew 10:29) to rise ‘in glory’(1 Corinthians 15:43). So whilst there are still ‘good works… prepared’(Ephesians 2:10) for us to do, we’ll find that we have the necessary resources, such as ‘food and clothing’(1 Timothy 6:8), to carry them out, always bearing in mind that the beauty God wants for us does not come from ‘outward adorning… putting on fine clothing’(1 Peter 3:3) and the like, but rather ‘a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance’(Colossians 3:12), from being adorned by the ‘Spirit’(Galatians 5:22ff.) of ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’(Romans 13:14, cf. Romans 8:9), who enables us to live and ‘walk’(1 John 2:6) like Him.

It’s surely not Jesus’ intention though that we’re inappropriately complacent. In fact, seeking ‘“righteousness”’(Matthew 6:33), which He encourages us to do here, will often become the means of our provision, from things like a godly work ethic, ideally providing a surplus even, so that we ‘have something to give to him who has need’(Ephesians 4:28). Such surpluses, distributed appropriately, can then become part of the ‘“treasures in heaven”’(Matthew 6:20) that Jesus starts with here, as Paul explains: ‘rich in good works… ready to distribute… laying up in store… a good foundation against the time to come… eternal life’(1 Timothy 6:18-19). Sometimes the work of each day will include appropriate forward planning too, even for gospel writing, like Luke who ‘traced the course of all things accurately’(Luke 1:3) before writing up, which must have taken time and planning. However, neither Luke nor Matthew would have worried unduly about not being able to finish, or whether anyone would make use of their completed work!

So, essentially Jesus’ point here is that with one eye on eternity, and faith for the journey, we can focus, without undue distractions, on the challenges of each day.

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