Forget the Hustle
Hustle & Grind. These are two words that seem to permeate the entirety of our culture at the present; and it makes sense.
We live in a time in which entrepreneurialism and start-ups are the majority, not the minority. Even those with traditional "9 to 5’s" can be found burning the proverbial midnight candle in order to chase the dream of flexible work hours, better pay, working from home and personal fulfillment.
This movement has created a realm of terminology specific to its requirements – "the hustle" and "grind.” What once was known, traditionally, as hard work is now being repackaged, recreated and resold with the idea that if you are willing to work for it, you can have it. And make no qualms about it; to a certain extent, it’s very accurate and effective. Hard work equals more opportunity which brings better options, usually.
Enter the problem.
"Jesus invented 'market disruption' within the church congregation; often leaving the stringently orthodox and accustomed-to-tradition in his wake."
Jesus had a poignant pattern of taking what his followers, or those claiming ownership to the people of God often, took for granted and turned it on its head. He invented “market disruption” within the church congregation; often leaving the stringently orthodox and accustomed-to-tradition in his wake. He would say things like:
“It’s been said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …” – Matthew 5:43
So when it came to addressing the anxiety and worry often associated with our personal need – clothing, food, finances and the like, He made no adjustments to his form. In fact, in the face of the hustlers & grinders, Jesus proclaimed a radical rendition of approaching how we view our personal need.
"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” – Matthew 6:31-32
In other words: forget the hustle.
Stop grinding. Quit trying.
"in the face of the hustlers & grinders, Jesus proclaimed a radcial rendition of approaching how we view our personal need."
When Jesus speaks to the crowds about their needs, he intentionally uses two specific species by which to drive his point home – birds and lily flowers. Throughout scripture, animals are often used as metaphors or examples; and in such are always done with intense specificity. When David writes poems and songs in the form of Psalms, he addresses God as the shepherd and his people the sheep. It’s a metaphor made to remind us of our feeble strength and propensity to wander, and that of God’s comforting traits of a shepherd - one who is often found fighting off bears or lions to protect his sheep or leaving the herd to find one who has gone astray. In both Hosea and Revelation, Jesus is likened to a roaring lion; a reminder of Jesus’ characteristic traits – unequally strong, fast, vicious, victorious and protective.
Scripture is no stranger to these metaphorical inferences, but Jesus’ use in Matthew 6 is on the nose and in the face within the point he’s making.
"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them … Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” – Matthew 6:26, 28
Jesus, like the writers of scripture before him, uses two species that speak straight to the point he’s trying to make. Birds, unlike squirrels, bears, and ants, do not store up food for the winter. Lilies, like grass, are subject to the ferocity and unforgivable temperament of nature. They are both unable, should they desire it, to partake of an increase in food or a decrease of heat. Both of the examples Jesus uses against the backdrop of our needs are intensely vulnerable and subject to nature’s (albeit, God’s) provision.
Herein is Jesus’ command to us for when we find ourselves anxious, fearful, restless and unsettled about our current state. Look at the vulnerable and feeble creatures; the ones not able to “grind," incapable of “hustling" or working into the night; control has never been within their grasp. Have a look and take note.
"...when it comes to our needs, Jesus is flipping the subject on its head and reminding us that no amount of work spurred on by concern will bring benefit."
To be sure, the Bible often talks about the need for hard work, discipline, and devotion to tending to the daily to-do list. But in this case, when it comes to our needs, Jesus is flipping the subject on its head and reminding us that no amount of work spurred on by concern will bring benefit. God has created us like sheep, like birds, like lilies – subject to the ebb and flow of the creation around us, with one difference: His intricate care and deep compassion.
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” – Matthew 6:30-33 (MSG)
I pray that you know God and the way He works; you trust that he’s “working all things together [for your good]” and that He desires for you to abide in the peace of His provision and care for you. Two chapters later, Jesus adds in another context, "If [earthly fathers, who] are evil, know how to give good gifts to [their] children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” - Matthew 7:11
So when it comes to your needs, be it financial, emotional or physical, give up the grind, cease the hustle, get in a really good night’s rest. Go to bed early and sleep in a little; because our Heavenly Father who "is good and does good” (Psalm 119:68) is already at work on your tomorrow.
"But God's not finished. He's waiting around to be gracious to you. He's gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right - everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.” – Isaiah 30:18
"So when it comes to your needs ... give up the grind, cease the hustle, get in a really good night’s rest. Go to bed early and sleep in a little; because our Heavenly Father who "is good and does good” (Psalm 119:68) is already at work on your tomorrow."
Finally, Jesus ends this counter-cultural, counter-intuitive command with a final addition.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” - Matthew 6:33
If you’re going to work, make it Kingdom work. If you’re going to worry, worry about the down and the out. If you’re going to put your hands to something, put them to helping the least of these. Give yourself to making Jesus known and bringing Heaven to Earth through service and compassion. And in this, as you take care of His Kingdom, God will take care of your every need.