God’s Remedy to Cares
“But the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
The problem with cares is generally that people care either too much or too little. By sin, we always care in the wrong way; we either don’t care as we should about what is right and taking the right responsibility for how we live, or we become consumed with cares in worry and mistrust of God, focusing on these. We blow right past our own personal responsibility and holding these rightly, either in putting it off in the name of being “care free” or in trying to take up God’s work rather than our own. Cares can take our focus and consume it, and this is the fight with all the issues in the world. We need to be able to genuinely THINK and care and deal rightly with things while equally not letting these things be lord over our lives.
In actuality, putting on right cares is the best remedy to wrong caring. And this is where much of the issue is - so often people want to be free of cares without doing any real caring! But when we put on the right duty for good, then we should be free from all wrong cares. If we do our duty, then we have every right to look to God to take care of everything else.
Wrong worry leads us to try to control our circumstances rather than trying to control our holiness. For all of us, we cannot predict or control our circumstances, and for many of us we take on the pressures of these things, rather than trusting that if we truly make God’s Kingdom and righteousness our care, then God will rule over all circumstances for our good. This is the remedy that God teaches us in this life (Mt 6:33, Ps 37:1-11).
The deception of sin tries to get us to take on God’s work of providence rather than our work of righteousness. It also tries to get us to “trust in God” without doing our own duty to live righteously. Yet God teaches us that setting our focus on godliness and righteousness is the means by which we trust in God and wait for Him. The Lord teaches us that if we are occupying ourselves with the “one thing that is needful” the “one care” that we should have, then we can fully trust God to rule over all our circumstances.
The nature in us is always pulling us away from this right work. We are either careless or anxious about other things. We are either putting off our true duty of righteousness or we are concerned with the wrong cares, focused on far lesser concerns. Often we are filled with both of these things at the same time, rather than focused with the one care we should have. When we set ourselves to our duty of Christ and righteousness in Him, we set our eyes on God. When we choose to focus on these other things, we set our eyes on this world.
Again, the danger with care is that we focus on trying to control what we cannot and fail to see the great work of righteousness that God gives us as answer to how we navigate this world. Righteousness is the path God gives us through this world. Are you daily fighting to know God, walk in what He teaches you, discern what is of God and what is not? Are you daily fighting after the good works of holiness? Are you daily fighting for the sanctification Christ died to give us? Are you daily watching and praying against temptation? So many of us fall into the error of expecting God to do all for us while we reject what He has told us IS our duty. We believe that trusting in God is the lie that says “nothing is needful, just leave all to God”, rather than what Jesus said “ONE thing IS needful.” (Lk 10:42) And that if we truly seeking the Kingdom of God first THEN we can trust God for all else. If we do our duty then we know that God will do His.
The remedy to cares is: “I am going to focus on my duty before God, doing my best, and I will leave all else to Him.” It is wrong to leave “everything” to God, when that everything includes our own duty! But it is right to trust in God with all else when we are doing our duty. Our obedience (imperfect but sincere) is supposed to be what assures us during storms - that we are walking with Jesus and seeking to obey all He says. The consolation of the disciples in the storm wasn’t just that they “trusted in God”, but was to be that they should trust God BECAUSE they were with Jesus, they were IN God’s will. If it was GOD, not themselves, that led them into this place, therefore all was truly on Him for their provision. It was because they were doing God’s will that they shouldn’t be afraid. If we are truly walking in step with God’s will, not our will we are hoping God will bless, then we are supposed to be confident in God that He will keep us BECAUSE we do that which pleases Him (John 8:29).
Many cannot gain comfort because they do not see that the path to it is focusing on truly coming into God’s will (not on controlling circumstances). So when we are in the storms of desperation let these drive us to say to ourselves, “Right, what God has taught me is to focus on His righteousness and so that is what I will do. I trust in God that if I truly aim to live right before Him then He will take care of all else. So let me do my duty and trust in God that He will do His.”
The error of distrusting God, like the disciples did in the storm, was that God is NOT untrustworthy, rather, we are often the ones who are not living righteously and therefore we don't’ see God’s blessing or help as we expect. The disciples fretted at God doing His duty, rather than believing that God is not wicked, man is the one who is wicked. If man does their duty then they can fully know that God will work all things together for their good. Because man does not do their duty, they think God is the one who is evil, but God does not “work” for those who do not do what is right. Because so many see this, they doubt God rather than seeing that the real issue is man’s sin.
So many do not understand that they seek to trust God WITH their own duty to God, rather than trust that as they do their duty (fully helped by God to this), that God will keep His duty, and this is what our faith is supposed to be rooted in - that we are fighting to walk in the righteousness of God, and therefore we are confident that God will never scorn those who live as such. Whatever suffering or circumstances we face, it will be well with the righteous. And for all who reject righteousness, it will be ill with the wicked (Is 3:10-11).
The disciples should have been confident BECAUSE they were truly following Jesus, because they were in God’s will. Our need is to come into the same alignment with the will of God, to no longer try to have our own wills and hope (or demand) that God will bless them.
Many today do not understand how essential this is to their safety and blessing with God. Our work in this life is to come into true alignment with God. “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:26) So many are busy working for God when they are not truly in His will. But our safety is truly being WITH Jesus, and this means that we learn to be in His will (Jn 12:25-26). If we do this then we are confident that God regards the righteous and hears their prayers, and will preserve them forever. “The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” (Prov 15:29) Does our theology hold this truth in it? Do we understand this great truth about God?
To those who are made to feel more anxious by this call of God rather than less, I would encourage them to know that God is calling mankind to righteousness. What God is seeking is for people who will “cease to do evil, and learn to do good” (Is 1:16-17). God knows that this takes time. We don’t know God or align with His will overnight, it is a long labor to truly get in step with God. The point is simply whether we are giving all the effort we can to this or we are not. God is not commanding us to spend the strength we don’t have, but to spend the strength that we do have. He is calling us to choose righteousness and godliness above everything else in this world, and to sincerely seek it. If a person is told they have to walk 1,000 miles, this can sound like an impossible task. But when a person gets up every day and sets out to walk 20 miles, they come to find just how far they can travel by the meek task of “walking”. In one or two days the mountains that were in front of us are now behind us. And this is the humble work of the saint, we are called to honestly labor for this righteousness. To truly give our effort to it. God’s ways are not asking us to work beyond our strength, His ways are not burdensome (1 Jn 5:3), but neither are they frivolous. If that person gets up each day and walks, if they do their daily portion, then they will make 1,000 miles. But if we take the grace and time God gives us, as many do, to mean that we do not need to do our daily work of godliness, we don’t need to “give every effort” (1 Pet 1:5), then we will never reach the goal. Let this saint not feel overwhelmed by God’s call, let them depend on God’s grace and set their mind to their daily work of godliness. Again, the problem is in being either “careless” or “anxious”, rather than in focusing on our true duty and setting ourselves to this.
The wisdom Jesus teaches us is to focus on coming into alignment with the will of God, to make this our only concern, and to leave all else with Him. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt 6:33)
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 Jn 2:17)
November 27, 2023