Live With Tomorrow in View
“DO NOT be anxious about tomorrow,” said Jesus Christ in a famous discourse on a mountainside in Galilee. According to the rendering in The New English Bible, Jesus continued: “Tomorrow will look after itself.”—Matthew 6:34.
What do you think is meant by those words, “tomorrow will look after itself”? Is it suggesting that you should live only for today and ignore tomorrow? Does that really fit in with what Jesus and his followers believed?
“Stop Being Anxious”
Read for yourself Jesus’ words in their entirety as found at Matthew 6:25-32. In part he said: “Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. . . . Observe intently the birds of heaven, because they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses; still your heavenly Father feeds them. . . . Who of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his life span? Also, on the matter of clothing, why are you anxious? Take a lesson from the lilies of the field, how they are growing; they do not toil, nor do they spin . . . So never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.”
Jesus concludes this part of his discourse with two pieces of advice. The first: “Keep on, then, seeking first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” The second: “So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Sufficient for each day is its own badness.”—Matthew 6:33, 34.
Your Father Knows What You Need
Do you think that Jesus was discouraging his disciples, including farmers, from ‘sowing, reaping, or gathering their crops into storehouses’? Or from ‘toiling and spinning’ to get the clothes they needed? (Proverbs 21:5; 24:30-34; Ecclesiastes 11:4) Surely not. If they stopped working, they would almost inevitably end up “begging in reaping time,” with nothing to eat or to wear.—Proverbs 20:4.
What about anxiety? Did Jesus mean that his audience could escape anxiety completely? That would be unrealistic. Jesus himself experienced deep emotional distress and anxiety on the night that he was arrested.—Luke 22:44.
Jesus was simply stating a fundamental truth. Undue anxiety will never help you to solve whatever problems you face. It will not, for example, help you to live longer. It will not “add one cubit to [your] life span,” said Jesus. (Matthew 6:27) Intense, prolonged anxiety is, in fact, more likely to shorten your life.
His advice was eminently practical. Many of the things we worry about never happen anyway. British statesman Winston Churchill realized this about the dark days of World War II. Regarding some of his anxieties at the time, he wrote: “When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” Truly, there is wisdom in taking each day as it comes, especially when the pressures and problems we face could easily create great anxiety in us.
‘Keep On Seeking First God’s Kingdom’
Actually, Jesus had much more in mind than his listeners’ physical and emotional well-being. He knew that anxiety about getting the necessities of life, as well as a consuming desire for possessions and pleasures, can crowd out the more important things. (Philippians 1:10) ‘What could be more important than getting the necessities of life?’ you may think. The answer is spiritual things having to do with our worship of God. The prime thing in our lives, Jesus stressed, should be to ‘keep on seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness.’—Matthew 6:33.
In Jesus’ day, many people were eagerly pursuing material things. Amassing wealth was their foremost priority. Jesus, however, urged his listeners to have a different outlook. As people dedicated to God, their “whole obligation” was to “fear the true God and keep his commandments.”—Ecclesiastes 12:13.
Preoccupation with material things—“the anxiety of this system of things and the deceptive power of riches”—could have destroyed his listeners spiritually. (Matthew 13:22) “Those who are determined to be rich,” wrote the apostle Paul, “fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin.” (1 Timothy 6:9) To help them avoid this “snare,” Jesus reminded his followers that their heavenly Father knew they needed all these things. God would provide for them just as he provides for “the birds of heaven.” (Matthew 6:26, 32) Instead of allowing anxiety to overwhelm them, they were to do all they could to care for matters and then confidently leave things in Jehovah’s hands.—Philippians 4:6, 7.
When Jesus said “tomorrow will look after itself,” he simply meant that we should not allow undue anxiety about what might happen tomorrow add to our problems today. Another Bible version renders his words: “Do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.”—Matthew 6:34, Today’s English Version.
“Let Your Kingdom Come”
There is a big difference, however, between not worrying unduly about tomorrow and ignoring it completely. Jesus never encouraged his disciples to ignore tomorrow. On the contrary, he urged them to be intensely interested in the future. They should rightly pray for present needs—their daily bread. But first they should pray for things that were yet future—for God’s Kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on earth.—Matthew 6:9-11.
We should not be like the people of Noah’s day. They were so busy “eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage” that they “took no note” of what was about to happen. With what consequence? “The flood came and swept them all away.” (Matthew 24:36-42) The apostle Peter used that historical event to remind us of the need to live with tomorrow in view. “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved,” he wrote, “what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah!”—2 Peter 3:5-7, 11, 12.
Store Up Treasures in Heaven
Yes, let us keep “close in mind” the day of Jehovah. Doing so will greatly affect how we use our time, energy, talents, resources, and abilities. We should not be so preoccupied with the pursuit of material things—either the necessities or the pleasures of life—that we have little time for deeds that reflect “godly devotion.” Focusing solely on today may seem to bring immediate results, but at best those will be short-term benefits. It is much wiser, said Jesus, to “store up for [ourselves] treasures in heaven” rather than upon the earth.—Matthew 6:19, 20.
Jesus emphasized that point in his illustration about a man who made grandiose plans for the future. They were plans that did not include God. The man’s land was very productive. He decided to tear down his storehouses and build bigger ones so that he could live a life of ease, eat, drink, and enjoy himself. What was the problem with that? He died before he could enjoy the fruits of his labor. Even worse, though, he had not built a relationship with God. Jesus concluded: “So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”—Luke 12:15-21; Proverbs 19:21.
What Can You Do?
Do not make a mistake like that of the man whom Jesus described. Find out what God has in store for tomorrow, and build your life around that. God has not left humans in the dark about what he will do. “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah,” wrote the ancient prophet Amos, “will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) What Jehovah has revealed through his prophets is now available to you in the pages of his inspired Word, the Bible.—2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
One thing that the Bible reveals is what the near future will bring that will affect the whole earth on an unprecedented scale. Jesus said: “There will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now.” (Matthew 24:21) No human can avert that event. Indeed, there is no reason why true worshippers would want to avert it. Why? Because this event will rid the earth of all evil, and it will usher in “a new heaven and a new earth,” meaning a new heavenly government and a new earthly society. In that new world, God “will wipe out every tear from [people’s] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Revelation 21:1-4.
Does it not make sense, then, to take time now to examine what the Bible says about that development? Do you need help to do that? Ask Jehovah’s Witnesses to assist you. Or write to the publishers of this magazine. By all means, be sure to live not only for today but also for a wonderful tomorrow.
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“Stop being anxious . . . The next day will have its own anxieties”