John Gavazzoni
Alternate Image - Your Flash isn't working!
The Gavazzonis'

Take No Thought
By John Gavazzoni

Having very recently been confronted with a pietistic exhortation on the subject of what ought to be the believer's normative state of mind in regard to our physical needs---with that exhortation referencing the alleged words of Jesus as recorded in Matt. 6: 25 specifically in the KJV of the Bible---and feeling a certain anointing-evoked discomfort that made me think, "this is very sincere, but very subtly deceptive in its high-sounding tone," I decided to follow the noble Bereans, and check to see if what was being pressed upon the reader would lead one to a balanced, healthy perspective on the subject.

The King James Version (also known as The Authorized Version) records Jesus in that verse thusly: "Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye should put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?"

Now in the days when the above version of scripture was translated, the expression "take no thought" might have been an idiomatic way---with a dash of hyperbole thrown in---to convey forcefully that a believer ought to be careful about making one's physical needs a very high priority in one's prayer life. I really don't know about that possibility, but I do know that what Jesus really said, as recorded in the original Greek of the New Testament, in no way expressed what we today should infer from those words. Not at all!

Why, I needed to go no further than looking into one of my several copies of the KJV, one with study notes, which is replete with references to more accurate translations of many, many words and expressions, to discover that Jesus was not urging His listeners to pay no attention to physical needs, but rather that they should not be anxious about them. In fact, His exhortation requires more than just "don't be anxious," in place of "take no thought." The Greek calls for a bit more amplification to convey our Lord's thought.

Here follows the choices of several translations that help to clarify Jesus' thought:

Jonathan Mitchell's Translation of the New Testament:

"On this account I continue saying to you: Do not constantly take anxious care, worry or undue concern for your soul-lives (or: your being)--what you can or should eat, or what you folks should or may habitually be drinking, nor for your body--with what you folks should clothe yourselves. Is not the soul-life (a person's inner being and life) more than nourishment, and the body [more than] clothing?

The Amplified Bible:

"Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, and about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing?

The Emphatic Diaglott, in its strict approach to the Greek, not placing priority on readability:

"For this I say to you: Not be over careful the life of you, what you may eat, and what you may drink; nor to the body of you, what you may put on. Not the life more is the food, and the body the clothing?"

The Concordant Literal New Testament simply opts for

"Do not worry...." in the place of "take no thought."

Well, it's pretty clear to me that a distinction needs to be, and is made, between ongoing, continual anxiety, incessant worry, or UNdue concern – and giving practical, reasonable DUE attention to physical needs. The message that gave me such discomfort went so far as to claim that to include such things in prayer is a mark of unbelief, in spite of the fact that almost immediately before He spoke those words, Jesus instructed His disciples when they prayed to pray ".........give us this day our daily bread."

You might be asking, "Why is John making such a big deal of this?" I am, because pietistic grandiosity can be more spiritually lethal in its covert legalism, than more overt forms. Whether it be a form of legalism that fixates on fleshly propriety, or a form that encourages an anti-incarnate path of spirituality, the final effect is the same: futility, frustration, and uselessness. 

Going on from Jesus to Paul, we find Paul being concerned for one church going through physical deprivation, and urging another church to come to its aid, and I think I'm safe to presume that Paul did so prayerfully. In my experiences of the fellowship of the saints, loving attention given to physical and financial needs within the gathering have been very much a true, rightful part of the corporate life-flow.

There's an issue here that has to do with a slippery slope that has so long dogged mostly the community of believers who are passionate about living on earth in true alignment with the glorious provisions that are ours as "seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus." We are so prone to generalize applications upon others, of those particular applications of---for instance---the measure of faith given to us distinctly in the particularity of our place in the Body of Christ.

One might have one's measure of faith directed by the Holy Spirit to exemplary effectiveness in a certain area, but then make the mistake of insisting that that application of giftedness is the norm for all believers, and with that tendency to assume that one is gifted to teach on the subject. One might be gifted with great generosity (the gift of giving), and come to assume that others are not as spiritual if they can't match the same level of liberality. Time and time again down through the history of the church, men and women of unique giftedness in some area, assume that this qualifies them as teachers.

I am aware of the grace of God powerfully at work in my life in that quality of the prophetic which sees light ahead of time, and in teaching that requires strength of spirit for prolonged, intense meditation. If I were to press upon my fellow saints that they should match my experiences in those veins, it would nearly drive some of them to the edge of despair, and likewise, for me to attempt the kind of great exploits of faith that are spontaneous to the gifting of others, I'd end up trying to make spiritual progress in that vein while, in effect, walking on a religious treadmill.  

Our Lord delights for us to bring every area of living to Him in prayer. While His mindfulness reaches much further, He is mindful of the sparrow when it falls, and He has the very hairs on our heads numbered. Some of my most intimate moments with Jesus have had to do with us---Jesus, Jan and I---seeing Duke, our German Shepherd, through his bout with cancer. Especially at night, before retiring, I verbally assure him that the four of us, the Lord Jesus, Jan, I and he, are going through his battle together. I speak words of life to my beloved companion, and the Father's and Jesus' precious creature.

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
Email John Greater Emmanuel John's Index