"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on (Matthew 6:25).

Today’s Gospel addresses the problem of anxiety and invites us to put our trust in God who knows our needs and is able to provide for them.

The Gospel is not saying that people should not be concerned about meeting their material needs. Jesus comments are directed at those who are overly concerned about material needs; it speaks to people who are unduly worried; it is directed to persons who are anxious about the things of life. The Gospel says that when these three concerns are present in people’s lives and lead to anxiety, it demonstrates a lack of faith in God’s divine providence.

The anxiety under discussion is that which comes as people worry about their material needs. This unnecessary worry can become a cause of evil as it has the potential to foster greed and selfishness. Further, it can lead to envy and jealousy if we perceive that the neighbour is doing better than we are doing.

The warning to avoid anxiety is apt as we experience so many material crises in our personal and national lives. The age in which we live with its emphasis on acquiring material things produces anxiety in our lives. Motivated by the philosophy that what we have, consume and possess, determines our human value, we can spend so much time worrying about our ability or inability to meet our needs and we find ourselves livining  in a constant state of anxiety.

Today’s Gospel teaches that we can overcome anxiety by trusting God who is able to provide all our needs.

Many of us experience anxiety as we worry about the material things which seem to control our lives. A perceived inability to satisfy our needs and wants can be anxious moments.

What are some of the things we worry about? Mortgage payments, house rents, acquisition of new appliances, new clothes, food and the like. Jesus is not saying that we should overlook these issues that can become crises; he teaches that we should take them in their stride and believe that God will see us through. Undue and unnecessary worrying about these and other issues will not solve the problem. The Gospel challenges us to remain focus and avoid anxiety over matters that seem to threaten our very existence. The Gospel calls us to have a trusting relationship with God, ‘we walk by faith and not by sight.”

One way to overcome anxiety caused by worrying over material things is to practice generosity within the context of stewardship. Generosity frees us from anxiety because it allows us to give freely and willingly without worrying about what we have or do not have. It releases us from personal fear and allows us to give unselfishly to God and our neighbour. Generous people do not live in anxiety. Generous people are joyful, happy and peaceful. Their generosity gives them a sense of happiness as they willingly share what they have without seeing it as a loss. Actually, they see it as a gain as they respond lovingly to some kind of human need.

This year our parish has as its theme ‘ stewardship - a way of life’. For many people stewardship as a way of life is difficult because it invites us to embrace a life-style that requires sacrifice, renunciation of greed and selfishness. It is daunting for some people because it is a challenge to have the faith of a child and trust God.

The anxiety caused by worrying over material things has its genesis in money. The power of money is so strong that it controls our lives and we make a god of it. It gives us a false security and we go after it believing that if we can get large sums of it all will be well. Sometimes, in pursuit of it we sell our souls. The absence of money to provide for our material needs is the main cause of anxiety.

The best way to overcome the anxiety caused by what we believe to be insufficient money is to give tithes. Tithing helps us to recognise that money is not our saviour. Giving tithes is an acknowledgement that we owe our existence to God and that it is he who supplies and will give us what we need to meet our spiritual, mental and physical needs. Tithing has to be understood within the context of generosity. Generosity helps us to overcome anxiety.

The only real problem with tithing is human greed and selfishness.

Tithing is not a burden; it is really a joyful act as we freely, willingly, and joyfully give to God a part of what he has given us. God does not need our tithes, but as creatures we give as an expression of our gratitude. Tithing is  a sign of our spiritual growth and it demonstrates our belief and trust in God to provide for all our needs.

We can use tithing as a barometer to measure our spiritual development. If we are able to tithe without compulsion it says that we are growing spiritually. One way to overcome anxiety is to give tithes to the church for God’s work. Refusal to tithe for whatever reasons we advance reveals a weakness of faith on our part and personal doubt to take God at his word. Tithing says, ‘we walk by faith and not by sight.”

Start to tithe, and you will experience freedom from all forms of anxiety. Put God to the test.

Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, 'How are we robbing thee?' In your tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me; the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing (Malachi 3: 8-10).

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