What Is the Meaning of the Phrase “Sufficient Is the Day Unto the Evil Thereof?”

In the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded by Matthew, the Savior cautions his disciples against excessive anxiety about the future. You can’t serve both God and mammon, He says. Therefore, if you really trust God, you will focus on the present, with confidence that He will bless you in the future (Matthew 6:24-33).

Then He gives the following admonition:

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matthew 6:34).

When Jesus visited the American continent following His death and resurrection, He delivered essentially the same sermon to a group of people gathered at a temple in a place called Bountiful, but with some variations. The verse quoted above is different from the version recorded in Matthew:

Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof (3 Nephi 13:34, underlines added).

Here’s how I interpret the New Testament version of this passage:

You have enough challenges to deal with today without piling on all of the challenges you may encounter in the future. Focus your time and attention on today’s problems, and you can work on tomorrow’s challenges when they come.

And here’s my paraphrase of the Book of Mormon version:

Every day, you have enough time to deal with the challenges and duties of that day.. Therefore, don’t burden yourself with worry that there won’t be enough time tomorrow to deal with tomorrow’s work. There will be enough time.

I like both versions of this sentence, and I think they both lead to the same conclusion. I ought to prioritize serving over planning. I ought to prioritize the duties of today over the duties of tomorrow. I ought to pay attention to the people I’m with right now and the tasks I’m working on right now, and not be distracted by the people and tasks I will interact with in the future.

Today, I will exercise my faith by living in the moment. I will trust God, believing that there is enough time to address any challenges which the future may bring.

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