From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #8478

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

8478. 'Let no one leave any of it until the morning' means that they must not be anxious to acquire it of themselves. This is clear from the fact that the manna was given every morning and that worms bred in what was left over, meaning that the Lord provides people's requirements every day and that for this reason they ought not to be anxious to acquire them of themselves. The same thing is meant by daily bread in the Lord's Prayer and also by the Lord's words in Matthew,

Do not be anxious for your soul, what you are going to eat or what you are going to drink, nor for your body, what you are going to put on. Why be anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not toil, nor do they spin. Do not therefore be anxious, so that you say, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For all these things the gentiles seek. Does not your heavenly Father know that you have need of all these things? Seek first the kingdom of God 1 and its righteousness, then all these things will be added to you. Do not therefore be anxious about the morrow; for the morrow will take care of the things that belong to it. Matthew 6:25-end.

Similar words occur in Luke 12:11-12, 22-31.

(References: Matthew 6:11, 6:25-34, Matthew 6:26, 6:28, 6:31-34)


[2] The present verse and the one that follows refer in the internal sense to concern for the morrow, a concern which was not only forbidden but also condemned. The forbiddance of it is meant by their being told not to leave any of the manna till the morning, and the condemnation of it is meant by worms breeding in any they did leave and its becoming putrid. Anyone who does not view the matter from anywhere beyond the sense of the letter may think that all concern for the morrow is to be avoided, which being so, people should then await their requirements every day from heaven. But a person who views it from a position deeper than the literal meaning, that is, who views it from the internal sense, may recognize what concern for the morrow is used to mean - not concern to obtain food and clothing for oneself, and also resources for the future; for it is not contrary to order to make provision for oneself and one's dependents. But people are concerned about the morrow when they are not content with their lot, do not trust in God but in themselves, and have solely worldly and earthly things in view, not heavenly ones. These people are ruled completely by anxiety over the future, and by the desire to possess all things and exercise control over all other people. That desire is kindled and grows greater and greater, till at length it is beyond all measure. They grieve if they do not realize the objects of their desires, and they are distressed at the loss of them. Nor can they find consolation, for in times of loss they are angry with the Divine. They reject Him together with all belief, and curse themselves. This is what those concerned for the morrow are like.

[3] Those who trust in the Divine are altogether different. Though concerned about the morrow, yet are they unconcerned, in that they are not anxious, let alone worried, when they give thought to the morrow. They remain even-tempered whether or not they realize desires, and they do not grieve over loss; they are content with their lot. If they become wealthy they do not become infatuated with wealth; if they are promoted to important positions they do not consider themselves worthier than others. If they become poor they are not made miserable either; if lowly in status they do not feel downcast. They know that for those who trust in the Divine all things are moving towards an everlasting state of happiness, and that no matter what happens at any time to them, it contributes to that state.

[4] It should be recognized that Divine providence is overall, that is, it is present within the smallest details of all, and that people in the stream of providence are being carried along constantly towards happier things, whatever appearance the means may present. Those in the stream of providence are people who trust in the Divine and ascribe everything to Him. But those not in the stream of providence are people who trust in themselves alone and attribute everything to themselves; theirs is a contrary outlook, for they take providence away from the Divine and claim it as their own. It should be recognized also that to the extent that anyone is in the stream of providence he is in a state of peace; and to the extent that anyone is in a state of peace by virtue of the good of faith, he is in Divine providence. These alone know and believe that the Lord's Divine providence resides within every single thing, indeed within the smallest details of all, as has also been shown in 1919 (end), 4329, 5122 (end), 5894 (end), 6058, 6481-6486, 6490, 7004, 7007, as well as that Divine providence has what is eternal in view, 6491.

[5] Those with the contrary outlook are scarcely willing to allow any mention of providence. Instead they put every single thing down to prudence; and what they do not put down to prudence they put down to fortune or to chance. Some put it down to fate, which they do not ascribe to the Divine but to natural forces. They call those people simple who do not attribute all things to themselves or to natural forces. From all this one may again see what those people are like who are concerned for the morrow, and what those are like who are not concerned for the morrow.

-----
Footnotes:

1. The Latin means the heavens but the Greek means God, which Swedenborg has in most other places where he quotes this verse.

-----

(References: Exodus 16:19; Matthew 6:25-34)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 8480, 8500, 9010

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 82, 158, 276


   Swedenborg Research Tools

Related New Christian Commentary
Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here: swedenborg.com.


The Practical (But Weird) Way to Deal with Anxiety

We explain why changing what we love is the practical way to deal with anxiety and why loving useful service is the best anxiety-resistant way we can care about life.


Two Steps to Awaken to God's Design

Feeling bogged down by the weight of your own negative thoughts? We give you two essential steps to awaken the inner parts of your mind and access God's presence and power there.


Ideas to Help You Manage Fear and Anxiety During The COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak can bring up feelings of fear and anxiety. Social distancing doesn't mean spiritual and emotional isolation. Connect with us and let's let a little spiritual light in together!


Do We Reincarnate? - Swedenborg and Life

Either we reincarnate or we don't, right? It depends on how you look at it.


How Spirits are Connected to Your Health - Swedenborg and Life

Worry, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Could there be spiritual causes to such maladies? What can we do to boost the immune system of our body and soul?

Arcana Coelestia #8478 >> 59:48, 59:49
Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Divine Providence
The Lord keeps the world in a state of order through His Divine providence, which is directed above all to the human race.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Does God Guide?
God leads and guards a person's path of life at every moment, bending every choice made towards the greatest possible happiness.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Food for Thought: Trusting in the Lord
Teachings about the Lord's Providence and true-false questions for discussion.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 How Does the Lord Lead People?
Lesson and activities looking at ways the Lord leaves us while leaving us in freedom.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Prayers for Teens: Trusting in God
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 The Problem With Worry
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18


Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.

The Bible

 

Matthew 6:11

Study the Inner Meaning

← Previous    Full Chapter    Next →         

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Matthew 6      

By Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman

Chapter 6.

Putting God First

---
1. “Take heed that you do not do your alms in front of men, to be observed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father that [is] in the heavens.

2. Therefore when thou doest alms, do not sound a trumpet in front of thee, just as the hypocrites do, in the synagogues and in the lanes, so that they may be glorified by men. Amen I say to you, They have their reward.

3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand does,

4. So that thine alms may be in secret, and thy Father that looks in secret shall repay thee Himself in what is manifest.

5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be just as the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, so that they may appear unto men. Amen I say unto you that they have their reward.

6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy bedroom, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father that [is] in secret, and thy Father that looks in secret shall repay thee in what is manifest.

7. And when you pray, do not speak on and on, just as the gentiles, for they think that they shall be heard by their many words.

8. Therefore be ye not like them; for your Father knows what things you need before you ask Him.

9. In this way, therefore, you should pray: Our Father, who [art] in the heavens, hallowed be Thy name;

10. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, as in heaven so upon the earth.

11. Give us this day our daily bread.

12. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.

13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

14. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

15. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
---

The focus of the preceding series of teachings was upon love towards the neighbor. This love should be so widespread as to extend beyond the borders of the family, beyond the borders of the neighborhood and even beyond the borders of a particular religious group. It should flow out towards all humanity, shining like the sun, equally and impartially on both the evil and the good, falling like the rain on the just and the unjust — in the same way as God’s love shines on everyone, in the same way that God’s wisdom comes down like rain everywhere. In other words, the goodness (represented by the sun) and truth (represented by rain) that flows in from God should extend outward towards the whole human race.

In this next chapter, however, there is a shift in focus. Whereas the preceding series of teachings focused our attention on the neighbor, the present series of teachings focuses our attention on God — the true source of all good works. Good works are, of course, necessary, but they must be done in the right spirit. Therefore, Jesus says, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them, otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (6:1).

Jesus is now halfway through His sermon, still sitting on the mountain. He has been instructing His disciples in the scriptures so that they might be rightly understood. But an accurate understanding of the scriptures is not enough. Even to do what they teach is not enough. If these works are to be done in the right spirit, they are not to be done for the sake of honor, reputation or personal gain. It is for this reason that Jesus now says, “When you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward” (6:2).

Jesus is here referring to the shallow, temporary reward of being esteemed by others. While there is nothing wrong with doing things that might evoke gratitude, praise, and admiration, that is not the kind of “reward’ that a person pursuing perfection seeks. Rather, people who desire to continually perfect their spirit do not seek the praise and admiration of others; instead, they seek only to do the Lord’s will, knowing that the rewards for this kind of effort — inner peace, quiet joy, and blessed assurance — are given in secret. Therefore, Jesus says, “When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. In this way, your charitable deeds will be done in secret, and Your father who sees in secret shall recompense you Himself in what is manifest” (6:2-3). 1

As Jesus continues His valuable lesson in putting God first — not self-glory and material gain — He provides instruction on how to communicate with God. First of all, speech with God should be in done in private, and not for the purpose of obtaining public praise: “When you pray, go into your inner room and shut the door . . . and your Father who sees in secret shall recompense you Himself in what is manifest” (6:6).

The “inner room,” which is sometimes translated as “closet,” “chamber,” or “bedroom” is ταμεῖόν (tameion) which also means “secret chamber.” If we take this literally, it seems to be speaking about a quiet place for uninterrupted prayer. While this is good, practical advice, the word choice also suggests the interiors of the human mind — our “inner room.” It’s about going within, removing oneself from all sensual distractions and material cares while attempting to enter into quiet communion with God.

When we “shut the door,” we leave behind the cares of the world, along with all ego concerns. We still our minds, focusing exclusively on our relationship with God and God’s relationship with us. As it is written through the prophet, Isaiah, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

As Jesus continues His instruction how to connect with God, He teaches that prayers should not be filled with “vain repetitions” (6:7), nor is it necessary to use many words. As an illustration, Jesus gives an example of a simple prayer, which begins, as all prayers should, with a direct address to God who is the Father of us all — our Father. This simple phrase is to remind us that we are all brothers and sisters of the same heavenly Father.

The implications are powerful and profound. It serves to remind us that we do not worship an invisible, distant tyrant, but a loving Father with whom we have a deep, intimate personal relationship. All of this, and so much more, is included in the opening words of this illustrative prayer: “Our Father, in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done” (6:10).

The prayer begins in this way to help us focus on what is essential — our love and worship of God, especially the importance of doing His will. After this invocation, the prayer is filled with expressions that involve the neighbor — frequently repeating the words “us” and “our”: give us this day our daily bread; forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; lead us not into temptation; deliver us from evil. In other words, this pray involves both self and others. But the prayer ends as it begins, with a clear focus on God: “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever” (6:12-13).

In the next verse Jesus returns to one of the central themes of the prayer: forgiveness. To ensure that His listeners do not miss this important point, He makes it quite clear that forgiving others cannot be separated from God’s forgiveness towards us: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (6:14). This is not to be understood as though God were in any way holding back His forgiveness until we do our part. Instead, it means that when we do good to others, we open the way to experience the forgiveness that is constantly flowing in from God.

But Jesus is also clear that the reverse is equally true: “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (6:15). In other words, to the extent that we forgive others, we experience God’s forgiveness. And to the extent that we do not forgive others, we close ourselves off to the blessings that God yearns to give us. The choice is always ours. Therefore, Jesus teaches us to ask God for forgiveness, Forgive us our trespasses, we pray, so that we may receive forgiveness; in turn, as we become filled with God’s forgiveness, we can offer forgiveness to others: “Forgive us our trespasses” we pray, “so that we may forgive those who trespass against us.”

It all begins in God.

Dealing with Despair

---
16. “And when you fast, be not just as the hypocrites, of a sad face, for they spoil their faces, so that they may appear to men to fast. Amen I say to you, that they have their reward.

17. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face,

18. So that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father that [is] in secret; and thy Father that looks on in secret shall repay thee in what is manifest.”
---

The focus on God continues as Jesus now turns His attention to another spiritual practice: fasting. “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting” (6:16). Once again, the literal instructions are quite clear. Just as Jesus warns against doing good deeds to be admired or praying in public in order to be seen as pious, He similarly warns against hypocritical fasting. This spiritual practice should not be used as a way of appearing righteous in the eyes of others. Nor should it be used to demonstrate to the Lord how deeply we are grieving, or the depth of our despair, in hopes that He will come to our aid.

The idea that we must “prove” to the Lord that we are truly suffering in order to get His attention and deserve His pity is an old idea. The ancient Israelites believed that tearing one’s clothes, wrapping one’s self in sackcloth, rolling in ashes, and fasting were some of the many ways of “afflicting one’s soul.” These practices included not only outward demonstrations of inner anguish, but also external shows of repentance, performed in the hope that God would take notice. In a graphic episode from the Hebrew scriptures, King Ahab is told that destruction is about to come upon him because of his wickedness. When Ahab heard this, “he tore his clothes, put sackcloth upon his flesh, fasted, and went about dejectedly” (1 Kings 21:27). Ahab’s show of suffering and sadness seemed to work. The passage goes on to say, “And the word of the Lord came to Elijah saying, see how Ahab humbles himself before Me? Because he humbles himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days” (1 Kings 21:28). 2

But Jesus counters this idea, teaching that there is a better way to deal with suffering. He knows that suffering arises during those times when we feel spiritual deprivation — an absence of good and truth in our life. During these periods of mental distress, there is a tendency to go about dejected, sad, gloomy, feeling abandoned by God. There seems to be no spiritual nourishment at hand. What we may not realize is that we are in the midst of a spiritual temptation — our soul is hungering and thirsting for the Lord’s goodness and truth. 3

Jesus offers the antidote: “When you fast,” He says, “anoint your head and wash your face so that you do not appear to men to be fasting” (6:17). This is good practical advice; it does no good to go about spreading gloom and despair. But Jesus’ words contain a more interior message. Throughout the scriptures, “oil” is a symbol of God’s love, and “water” is a symbol of God’s truth. Spiritually speaking, then, Jesus is giving sound advice for what to do in times of despair: “Anoint your head with the oil of God’s love,” He says, “and wash your face with the truth of God’s wisdom.”

Jesus’ advice works on both the natural and spiritual levels. Going about with a cheerful attitude, even in difficult times, is not just a matter of maintaining a stiff upper lip or pretending to be happy. With God’s love in our hearts and God’s truth in our minds, we will not appear to be fasting. However difficult the struggle may be, we will be sustained from within: “And your Father who sees in secret will recompense thee in what is manifest” (6:18). Even though the external situation does not change, God can work the inner miracle of bringing comfort when we are feeling despair, hope when we are feeling hopeless, and encouragement when we are feeling dejected.

Throughout this section, Jesus makes it clear that these secret rewards are always available to us whenever we turn to the Lord, opening ourselves to His love and seeking His wisdom. Whether we are doing charitable deeds, engaging in prayer, or going through a time of despair, if we turn to the Lord, feelings of inner peace, quiet joy, and blessed assurance are sure to arise. This is how the Lord, “who sees in secret,” rewards us openly.

Treasures in Heaven

---
19. “Treasure not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust spoil, and where thieves dig through and steal;

20. But treasure up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust spoil, and where thieves do not dig through nor steal.

21. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

22. The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be illuminated;

23. But if thine eye be wicked, thy whole body shall be dark; if therefore the light in thee is darkness, how great [is] the darkness!”
---

As the Sermon on the Mount continues, Jesus reinforces the importance of focusing on the things of heaven, placing them above the things of earth: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (6:19) says Jesus. Instead, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (6:20). We are to value the things of heaven above the things of the earth, for the things of the earth will pass away, but the treasures of heaven — the wisdom we receive from the Word, and the spiritual qualities we cultivate as we live according to that wisdom — will abide forever. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

The Word of God, and the heavenly wisdom that we can receive through it, is indeed a great treasure; it sharpens our spiritual vision, and enlightens our mind: “If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light” (6:22). A proper understanding of

God’s Word shows us that everything that happens can be turned to good, no matter how contrary to our will it may seem at the moment.

However, if we do not choose to store up for ourselves the treasures of heavenly wisdom, or develop heavenly qualities, our outlook on life will be tainted by the darker concerns of our lower self: “If your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” (6:23). Jesus therefore warns us about the consequences of seeing all things in terms of our selfish desires, for in doing so, we cast ourselves into darkness and misery. His warning is stated in no uncertain terms: “How great is that darkness!” (6:23)

Jesus is here distinguishing between earthy rewards and heavenly rewards. Every temporal, material reward — everything that rusts, everything that moths can destroy or thieves break in and steal — will pass away. But heavenly rewards can never be lost; they are eternal. The joy we once felt in selflessly helping someone can never be taken from us; the satisfaction of a job well done can become an enduring memory; the sense of being truly loved by a kindly grandparent — these are all heavenly treasures that nothing on earth can cause to rust, that moths cannot eat, and that thieves cannot steal. They will be with us forever. Even when memory fades, these treasures will still be there.

It is for this reason that Jesus urges us to focus primarily on the things of heaven: the Lord, the Word, and a life of service. This should be our “master”; everything else should be secondary. As Jesus puts it, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (6:24) 4

Absorption in materialism and the desire for wealth (“mammon”) can prevent us from experiencing the finer blessings of heaven. We cannot say that we love the things of heaven and the things of the world equally. Trying to do so would be like trying to look upwards with one eye and downwards with the other! 5 We must put our love of heaven above our love of the world.

It should be noted, however, that it is not wealth or riches in themselves that are to be despised and hated, but rather the love of them as ends in themselves. Whenever our primary focus is on ourselves, on our own happiness, our own security, significance and comfort, we are serving self rather than God.

It is, of course, not wrong to provide for ourselves and for our families. The caution, however, is to make sure that our desire to achieve reasonable comfort and security in our own lives does not become a driving passion and chief concern. Nor should it compete with our love for God and our love for heaven. To the extent that worldly ambition rules over us, we become slaves, and mammon becomes our master. Jesus is teaching that there is a better way. While the things of this world have their charms and delights, rewards and satisfactions, they must always be subordinated to the things of heaven. There is no other way. We cannot serve God and mammon. That’s why Jesus urges us to lay up for ourselves “treasures in heaven.”

Be Not Anxious

---
24. “No one can serve two lords, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

25. On account of this I say to you, Be not anxious for your soul, what you shall eat and what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the soul more than food, and the body [more] than clothing?

26. Look intently at the birds of the sky; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

27. And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?

28. And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they labor not, neither do they spin;

29. But I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.”

30. And if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, [shall He] not much more [clothe] you, [O ye] of little faith?

31. Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, with what shall we be arrayed?

32. For all these things do the nations seek; for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these things shall be added to you.

34. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow shall be anxious for the things of itself. Sufficient for the day [is] the evil of it.
---
Jesus concludes this segment of His teachings with the words, “Be not anxious.” This is often translated as “Do not worry” or “Take no thought,” but the Greek word used in this case is μεριμνάω (merimnaō) which means “to overly care,” “to be greatly concerned,” and “to be pulled apart.” In the light of Jesus’ teaching that we cannot serve God and mammon, we cannot let our worldly cares or worldly ambitions pull us apart or separate us from our love for God. 6

This is sound advice. However, if we take Jesus’ words too literally, it can sound like an all or nothing situation. What will happen to us if we choose to serve God, regardless of the outcome? Will we have enough to eat? Will we have enough to drink? Will we be able to provide clothing and shelter for our families? Jesus anticipates these concerns when He says, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on” (6:25).

Really? Does Jesus really mean that? Is Jesus saying that we should let go of all concern about our earthly needs? Should we not worry at all about whether or not we can pay the rent, or put food on the table? Doesn’t this sound a little irresponsible? What does Jesus really mean by these statements?

Depending on how we read these statements, Jesus’ words can strike us as being the most alarming or the most comforting words ever spoken. It is alarming to think that we are called to give up all concern for acquiring the things that are essential for our very survival — food, drink, clothing and shelter. What will become of us? Our instinct for self-preservation naturally rebels against this idea.

On the other hand, we have other instincts — higher, nobler instincts. These include an intuitive sense that God loves us, desires our happiness, and will provide for our every need. Jesus, in fact, is speaking about this higher instinct when He says, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (6:26). When understood in this way, Jesus’ exhortation to not be anxious is one of great comfort. “Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?” (6:27).

The words of comfort and reassurance continue: “So why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (6:28-29). Jesus then repeats the dominant refrain of this lesson: “Do not be anxious.” Do not ask questions like, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things (6:31-32).

Jesus then reinforces the idea that has been central throughout this part of his discourse: a single-minded focus on God must be paramount in our minds, above and beyond everything else: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” He says. And then, He immediately reassures us with these words of comfort: “and all these things shall be added to you” (6:33).

It’s reassuring to know that “all these things shall be added.” But we would be mistaken, to assume that God wants us to abandon all interest in this world, neglect ourselves and our families, seeking only the kingdom of God. Jesus is not preaching reckless abandonment and irresponsibility. Rather, He is teaching about priorities; He is teaching us what must be supreme in our lives compared to what must be of secondary importance.

Notice that Jesus does not say to seek only the kingdom of God; he says to seek first the kingdom of God. The exhortation to seek first the kingdom of God implies order and subordination, not exclusivity or total abandonment. A true believer will of course love God and the neighbor (including oneself), but devotion to God will always come first. A true believer will love both heaven and the things of the world, but devotion to the things of heaven will always take precedence over the things of the world. 7 A true believer will therefore be a responsible citizen, helping those less fortunate, caring for children, and providing for the elderly, but in all of this there will be a constant, quiet inner trust in God. Such a person will go about the business of everyday life, calmly and honestly, unshaken by setbacks, and content with all things whether they appear to be to one’s immediate advantage or not. Such a person remains focused on God, even while taking care of worldly matters.

A true believer knows that God is always providing, moment to moment, whether we are aware of it or not. A true believer trusts in God and has a deep understanding of what Jesus means when He says, “Be not anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow shall be anxious about its own things” (6:34). 8

The certain knowledge that God is continually providing for us should inspire us to do all we can for others, knowing that God is doing all He can for us. Our job is to meet the challenges of each day with courage and equanimity, trusting in God, and making sure that our lives are led according to His will. There will be new challenges each day, but as long as we rest content in God, we can make it through anything, day by day. As Jesus puts it, “Sufficient for the day is its own evil” (6:34).

In the light of this lesson, then, we should continue to care, continue to provide, continue to be good householders, but not let anything “pull us apart” (merimnaō), pull us away, or separate us from God. In brief, in whatever we do, we need to remember Jesus’ words of comfort, “be not anxious.”

-----
Footnotes:

1. In the NKJV we read, “He shall reward you openly.” However, the KV reads, “He shall recompense thee Himself in what is manifest.” The implication of the KV translation is that the “reward” we receive from God will not be “open” for all to see, or “open” in terms of material gain, but rather will become “manifest” through the more interior, invisible (and therefore “secret”) feelings of peace, joy, and blessedness. 2. See also Jeremiah 6:26: “O daughter of my people, put on sackcloth and roll in ashes; mourn as for an only son with bitter wailing.”

3. Apocalypse Explained 730:41: “All these temptations of the Lord are signified by the temptations in the wilderness forty days and forty nights, since the ‘wilderness’ signifies a state of temptations, and ‘forty days and forty nights’ the whole duration of these. No more was written respecting these in the gospels because no more was revealed respecting them; nevertheless, in the prophets, and especially in the psalms of David, they are described at length. ‘The beasts’ with which the Lord is said to have been, signify the infernal societies; and ‘fasting’ signifies here such affliction as there is in the combats of temptation.”

4. The term “Mammon” is an Aramaic word for “riches” or “wealth.” However, it also conveys the idea of a false god, an idol that people worship. As such it represents the slavish pursuit of wealth and riches even to the point where this passion becomes a desire that controls us and rules us. As a result, our gaze remains fixed on the things of the world rather than on the things of heaven. In Paradise Lost, John Milton personifies this idea. He writes, “Mammon led them on — Mammon, the least erected spirit that fell from Heaven; for even in Heaven his looks and thoughts were always downward bent, admiring more the riches of heaven's pavement, trodden gold, than anything divine or holy” (from Paradise Lost, Book 1, lines 678-690; slightly modernized). 5. Apocalypse Explained 409:7: “The words ‘No servant can serve two masters’ … must be understood as referring to those who desire to love the Lord and themselves equally, or heaven and the world equally. These are like those who wish to look with one eye upwards, and with the other downwards, that is, with one eye to heaven, and with the other to hell, and thus to hang between the two; and yet there must be a predominance of one of these loves over the other; and where there is a predominance, that which opposes will be hated and despised when it offers opposition. For the love of self and of the world is the opposite of love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor. For this reason, those who are in the heavenly love would rather die or be deprived of honors and wealth in the world than be drawn away by them from the Lord and from heaven; for this [love to the Lord and to the neighbor] they regard as the all, because it is eternal, but the former [love of worldly riches] as relatively nothing, because it comes to an end with life in the world.”

6. See also Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …. I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35).

7. Arcana Coelestia 9184: “The external person has no taste for anything except things of the world and of self, that is, the delights that arise from gain and important positions. But when the internal has been opened through regeneration … the order is turned around, that is, what has been occupying the first place is now put in the last. When this happens the Lord draws towards Himself all aspects of life within a person, so that they face upwards. Then those things that are the Lord's and heaven’s are seen by the person as priorities, and the Lord Himself as the priority of all priorities … When the order of life in a person is like this, gain and important positions are a blessing; but if that order is turned around, they are a curse. The truth that all things are a blessing when heavenly order exists in a person is the Lord's teaching in Matthew, ‘Seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’”

8. Arcana Coelestia 8478:1-2: “ ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of the heavens, and His righteousness; then shall all these things shall be added to you; therefore be ye not anxious for the morrow, for the morrow will take care of the things of itself’ (6:25, 28, 31-34) … The person who looks at the subject no deeper than from the sense of the letter may believe that all care for the morrow is to be cast aside, and thus that the necessaries of life are to be awaited daily from heaven. But when a person looks at the subject deeper than from the letter, as for instance when one looks at it from the internal sense, it can be known what is meant by ‘care for the morrow.’ It does not mean the care of procuring for oneself food and raiment, and even resources for the time to come; for it is not contrary to order for anyone to be provident for himself and his own. But those have care for the morrow who are not content with their lot; who do not trust in the Divine, but in themselves; and who have regard for only worldly and earthly things, and not for heavenly things. With such there universally reigns anxiety about things to come … Such are they who have care for the morrow. Very different is the case with those who trust in the Divine. These, notwithstanding they have care for the morrow, still have it not, because they do not think of the morrow with solicitude, still less with anxiety. Unruffled is their spirit whether they obtain the objects of their desire, or not; and they do not grieve over the loss of them, being content with their lot. If they become rich, they do not set their hearts on riches; if they are raised to honors, they do not regard themselves as more worthy than others; if they become poor, they are not made sad; if their circumstances are mean, they are not dejected. They know that for those who trust in the Divine all things advance toward a happy state to eternity, and that whatever befalls them in time is still conducive thereto.”

-----

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 680, 2290, 2291, 2371, 2493, 2838, 6476, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 839


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

An Invitation to the New Church 37

Spiritual Experiences 361, 732, 1731, 1790, 1826, 2435, 2678, ...

Spiritual Experiences (Interim Diary) 4735

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Proverbs 30:8

Bible Word Meanings

us
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role,...

bread
The idea of a “loaf” in the Bible is very closely tied to the idea of “bread,” and is often used to mean bread: Jesus...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Analyzing the Lord's Prayer
Look at the Prayer to see which parts are statements and which are requests. 
Activity | Ages over 11

 An Eternal Perspective
An examination of why having an eternal perspective is important, especially in our marriages.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Blessings: Life Is Eternal
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Blessings: The Word of God
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Border for the Lord's Prayer Calligraphy
Color the border around this calligraphy of the Lord's Prayer.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Clothes That Angels Wear
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Conversation with God
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Dare to Give
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Divine Providence and Tragedy
The Lord respects our freedom because He loves us. He respects it so much that He allows us to get into trouble, and then as far as we are willing, He brings us new strength out of our troubles
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Do Not Worry
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 Earthly vs. Heavenly Treasures
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 For Reflection: Treasure of the Heart
How can we gather spiritual treasure and bring forth good?
Activity | Ages over 15

 Give Us This Day
Project | Ages up to 6

 Golden Rule and Prayer Crossword Puzzle
Crossword puzzle about the Golden Rule and the Lord's Prayer.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Heavenly Clothing
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 His Kingdom
Article | Ages over 18

 Identify and Name False Gods
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Infinite Meaning in the Lord's Prayer
Think of ways that you can become more “connected” with the Lord and the people around you.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Kingdom of God
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Looking More Closely at Flowers
Ways to help children appreciate the beauty of flowers the Lord has created. 
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Lord's Prayer Book
Illustrate your own book about the Lord's Prayer, following the suggestions given below each phrase of the prayer.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Lord's Prayer in Folding Hands
Put the text of the Lord's Prayer in hands that can be folded in prayer.
Project | Ages up to 10

 Make a Border for the Lord's Prayer Calligraphy
Make your own border for the Lord's Prayer.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Make a Mural of the Lord's Prayer
Make a mural with a section depicting each portion of the Lord's prayer. Then illustrate what each part means to you.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Memory Verse: Our Daily Bread
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: The Lord Protects Us
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Trusting in the Lord
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 No Other Gods
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Our Father, Who Art in Heaven
How, then, should we pray, and what should we ask for from the Lord? One of His disciples asked the Lord this while He was on earth.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Quotes: Holy Is His Name
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Praying to the Lord
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Trusting in the Lord
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Relationship With God
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Seek First the Kingdom of God
The most important thing for us to do is to think about the Lord and try to obey what He says.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Simplicity
In order for us to receive the Lord's words, we must be simple - simple in the sense of being single-minded, looking to one source of truth, and in having our internal and external thoughts agree. 
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Spiritual Treasure
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Taking Care for the Morrow
We must work and plan for the future but trust that the Lord has the ability and the desire to lead us to heavenly happiness. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Glory of the Lord
We can know and love the Lord in His glorified human even better than the disciples did.
Article | Ages over 18

 The Life Which Lasts Forever
Death is a new beginning. We continue to be the same people. We meet up with people we know. And husbands and wives who had been separated by death are reunited. This is a beautiful picture, and it can provide tremendous reassurance.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord Is Our Heavenly Father
Make a picture of the Lord who is our Father in heaven, always looking out for us. 
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 The Lord Is Our Heavenly Father (version 1)
Color picture of the Lord with children.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Lord Is Our Heavenly Father (version 2)
Color picture of the Lord with children.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Lord's Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer is a way of talking directly to the Lord who is our Heavenly Father. The Lord gave us this prayer because it can lead our minds to the important things that will make our spirits grow strong. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Level 1, for ages 6-7.
Religion Lesson | Ages 6 - 7

 The Lord's Prayer
The Lord's prayer in a color border.
Picture | Ages over 15

 The Lord’s Prayer
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord’s Prayer
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Lord's Prayer Calligraphy with Violet Border
The Lord's Prayer with a lovely border of violets around it.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 The Second Coming
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Sermon on Mount: Do Not Worry
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sermon on Mount: How to Pray
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sermon on the Mount
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Sermon on the Mount (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer
Activity | Ages over 15

 Thy Kingdom Come
Activity | Ages over 15

 Treasures in Heaven
What would you put in a treasure box for life here on earth? What would you put in a treasure box for heaven?
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Treasures in Heaven, Treasures on Earth
On one chest, write what you would put in a treasure box for life here on earth. In the other treasure chest, write what you would want to pack in a treasure box for heaven.
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Trusting in the Lord's Providence Bookmarks
Print out these beautiful bookmarks with quotes about trusting in the Lord. 
Project | Ages over 15

 Understanding the Meaning of the Lord's Prayer
This is an overview of the deeper meaning of the prayer.
Activity | Ages over 11

 Vain Repetitions
Activity | Ages over 15

 Why Did God Create Me?
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18


Translate: