Scripture: Matthew 6:25–34
Overcoming WorryMatthew 6:25-34
Sunday, September 27, 2015 • Outdoor Service
Pastor Randy Smith
Over the past two months we have considered five subjects that prevent us from being overcomers in Christ. Out Lord has granted us so many wonderful promises of peace and joy, satisfaction and hope, freedom and forgiveness. However, when we are consumed by life-dominating sins, even one of them, the glorious blessings of our salvation will not be realized. So far, we've covered enslaving vices such as fear and bitterness and addictions and cynicism and guilt. Well, I saved perhaps the most common and most devastating one for last. This morning we'll wrap up this study considering the sin of worry.
You are already worried, aren't you?
We are a society of chronic worriers. We worry about academic grades, job interviews, approaching deadlines, retirement accounts, inflation, the weather, home repairs, sicknesses and a million-and-one interpersonal issues (cf. Lk. 8:14). And when we look back we have to ask ourselves, "What did it all accomplish?"
Of all that we worry about, statistics say: 40% of those things will never happen. 30% regard things in the past that we can't change. 12% pertains to criticism by others, which is mostly untrue. 10% is health related, which gets worse with stress. And only 8% deals with real problems that we will face. I believe all of us can say, "I've had a lot of trouble and most of it never happened!"
So this morning during out outdoor service we'll learn what our loving Savior has to say about the sin of worry from Matthew chapter 6. We'll shine a spotlight on this overlooked enemy and discover the remedy to crucify this destructive foe so that you may live abundantly in Christ.
1. The Command Stated (verses 25a, 27)
Let's begin with the command stated, our first point this morning. In verse 25, Jesus delivers this command as unmistakably as possible: "I say to you, do not worry about your life."
Now for probably all of us that command on its own is a tall order! However, the command does not come on its own. Jesus prefaced the command in verse 25 with the following words, "For this reason." There is a reason we should not worry about our life, and it is found in the preceding verses.
For example, if you look back to 6:20 you'll see God can take our corruptible treasures and translate them to treasures in heaven. In 6:9 we learn that God permits us to address Him as "our Father." 5:13-14 say God is not ashamed to call us the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world." And in 5:3 and 10 God promised us the "kingdom of heaven." Therefore having understood His love and power and faithfulness in these previous verses, we should be able to trust Him - even with the things that are most important such as our lives.
So before the command to be free from worry, is a call to think about God and His goodness. Worry naturally implies that we do not trust God to micro-manage the affairs of our life and work everything together for our greatest good (Rom. 8:28). Worry is distrusting the truth stated in 5:48 which declares that our "heavenly Father is perfect" in all His ways.
So the beginning of verse 25 gives a theological reason to do away with worry. It is an affront to God's reputation. Jesus also provides a practical reason to eliminate worry. Simply put, worry accomplishes absolutely nothing beneficial for us. In verse 27 He said, "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?"
Worry will not make our lives any better nor will it lengthen the lives we cherish so dearly. As a matter of fact, worry may very well shorten our lives. Dr. Charles Mayo of the well-known Christian Mayo Clinic once said, "Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands and the whole nervous system. I have never met a man or known a man to die of overwork, but I have known a lot who died of worry" (original source unknown). Proverbs 12:25, "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down."
So from the start we need to realize that worry is unproductive to solve our problems, unworthy of God's faithful reputation, and therefore, unnecessary for the children of God.
Let's move to the second point.
2. The Command Specified (verses 25b, 26, 28-30)
To emphasize God's abundant provision and pinpoint the sin of worry, Jesus specifies three areas that will produce the greatest anxiety in our lives. And these areas will produce the greatest anxiety because a failure to have these needs met means a failure to survive. Spurgeon called them "the world's trinity of cares"-namely the need for food, drink and clothing. You can see all three of them mentioned directly in verse 25.
Footnote: For probably all of us, we may find it difficult to directly associate with this passage. We have all three of these necessities in abundance. As a matter of fact, in America; overeating is our problem, closets are packed with clothes we rarely wear, and the money we spend on alcohol is probably enough to provide water for the world's entire population. So since we have these necessities, we tend to worry about lesser things like our hair or our newly purchased car or our lawn that has turned to brown straw this summer.
Therefore this teaching, though directly applicable to a first-century audience and probably a large percentage of the world's population today, might appear at first to have little meaning for us. Yet upon deeper examination we of all people might walk away most humbled by this passage when it is all said and done.
The overall point that Jesus is making is clear. Our heavenly Father can be trusted to provide the basic necessities of life so there is no need for us to be anxious. And if we are called to not worry about life's essentials, how foolish is it to worry about the more trivial matters that oftentimes plague our society.
The first necessity of life that Jesus deals with is food. Follow along as I read verse 26. "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?"
The command is to be a bird watcher! Observe the simple birds in your backyard. Though not without effort on their part (just as we are commanded to work-2 Thes. 3:10-the food doesn't fall from the sky!), birds have their food provided on a daily basis. They are not frantically flying around searching for the next meal throughout the day. They are not hoarding more than they need. Their little brains are not obsessed with food. Their provision is met for the day and the majority of their time is engaged in other activities in which birds find enjoyment.
So Jesus says consider the birds, and verse 26, then consider that "you (are) worth much more than they." The point is simple. If God provides for relatively insignificant creatures with such care, how much more will He care for those created in His image, redeemed by His blood, adopted into His spiritual family and promised a home with Him in eternity!
Said the robin to the sparrow;
"I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so."
Said the sparrow to the robin:
"Friend, I think that it must be
They have no heavenly Father (as they claim),
That cares for you and me."
Is there not something inherently wrong with us when birds can express more contentment toward their Creator?
In verses 28-30, now on the topic of clothing, Jesus again turns to nature for another illustration. "And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!"
Using the same form of logic, the point is the same as before. Even the most resplendent king the world had even known (in Solomon) paled in comparison to the wild flowers scattered along the grassy Palestinian hillside. Wild plants, here today and burned tomorrow, nevertheless cared for by God and clothed with great beauty. How much more will God clothe those destined for eternal life? Yet those same individuals are often the ones who worry about their clothing, and when they have their clothing, they worry about the brands and designs of their clothing!
No wonder Jesus concluded verse 30 with the words, "You of little faith." How can we observe how God provides for His lesser creation and then believe He will not provide for His children? How can we trust God for the eternal salvation of our souls and then believe He will fail to provide for our basic necessities (Rom. 8:32)? Where is our faith? Where is our trust in our heavenly Father?
3. The Command Restated (verses 31-32, 34)
Before providing the remedy, Jesus again restates the command, point number 3. Verses 31-32, "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things."
In its basic meaning, the term "Gentiles" means those who are not Jewish. As far as I know, not all but most of you now sitting in left field are Gentiles (physically). However, the way it is used here is in reference to those who do not know God (spiritually), in other words, heathens, pagans.
Those without a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ are not God-seekers (Rom. 3:11). They seek everything but God. They prioritize their god of self. They care first and foremost for their own desires. They trust in their own strength and wisdom. They are self-reliant and self-sufficient. They are self-esteemers and self-lovers. They trust in their possessions and doubt God's provisions.
On the contrary, we as Christians are called to "die to self." We are called to love God and others more than self. We are called to surrender and yield and dedicate ourselves to the lordship of Christ. We are called to trust God with unwavering belief and absolute dedication.
So when we worry we are acting like … an unbeliever! Worry results from over-prioritizing our own needs and disbelieving the care and promises of God. When love for self becomes more important than love for others and trust in self becomes more important than trust in God, we are showing no evidence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Through our disbelief we are dishonoring the One who has already proven His faithfulness through creation and through the Bible and through personal experience. We are acting like pagans. We are acting like Gentiles.
The world is filled with worriers and complainers. However, the teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is clear. God's children will be different than the world. And definitely one of the ways we can be different is an absence on our part from complaint and worry because we reveal a wholehearted trust in the perfect plan of our heavenly Father (Psm. 42:5; 131:1).
As D.A. Carson once wrote, "Would it not be wonderful…[if someone were to say], 'Not a worrier is to be found among those fanatics who call themselves Christians. They cope not only with the pressures faced by other men, but the pressures we put on them as well. And then they go and give comfort to some of us when we worry, whereas our people are constantly gulping down tranquilizers, visiting assorted counselors and mass-producing overweight ulcers" (The Sermon on the Mount, p. 93).
I like the way Sinclair Ferguson put it, "It is only when we want to take our lives out of the Father's hands and have them under our own control that we find ourselves gripped with anxiety. The secret of freedom from anxiety is freedom from ourselves and abandonment of our own plans. But that spirit emerges in our lives only when our minds are filled with the knowledge that our Father can be trusted implicitly to supply everything we need" (The Sermon on the Mount, p. 144).
Look at verse 34. Jesus said, "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Worry accomplishes nothing good for our health and God's glory. Worry often accompanies events that never affect us. Worry is often associated with the "what if" situations in the future. Beloved, trust God's goodness and invest your energies in that which is more productive. Tomorrow will care for itself, but each day is filled with enough temptations and spiritual tests and opportunities to serve others to pray for and keep us busy. Be thankful for the day that God has made, deal with the daily matters God has placed before you, find true peace that transcends the real pain that comes from living in a fallen world and then live each day, one day at a time.
Like the daily manna that God provided the Israelites in the desert, He provides the fresh grace that is sufficient for each day's burdens (2 Cor. 12:9). Entrust the unpredictable future to the predictable grace of Him who promises "your strength will equal your days" (Dt. 33:25-NIV). "(Cast) all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7). Then trust Him for all things. For all things and your life lie in the palm of His wise and loving hands (Pro. 3:5-8). And if His firm grip is upon you, how can you be gripped with anxiety?
Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
4. The Command Redirected (verse 33)
Let move to the remedy, our final point. Do you want freedom from worry?
As of now we have heard the command stated from the negative - Do not worry. Now the command is stated from the positive. Before was the "put off." Now is the "put on." In the place of worry and the way to eliminate worry we are to, verse 33, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
In verse 32 we learned that those without God seek things. That is why they drift aimlessly through life. On the other hand, Christians are firmly rooted on the rock of Jesus Christ (7:24). In Him we have purpose, confidence and direction. Therefore we find our joy in seeking the Giver of things, God Himself. Specifically (verse 32), we seek His kingdom - sharing the Gospel with others, praying for His will to be done and His name to be hallowed and serving to build up the body of Christ. And (verse 32) we seek His righteousness - loving His ways over the world's, faithfully following His Word and living a life dedicated to imitating Christ. Worry only causes tension and anxiety and discontentment, but you remember the Beatitude: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (5:6).
Are you seeking first God's kingdom and His righteousness? Such an attitude reveals a heart that is set on God.
So the more we begin to serve God and trust God and seek God, the less we will worry. Worry is evidence that we desire to serve and trust and seek ourselves. When we find in God our total sufficiency, we will glorify Him in the process and receive the promised peace and contentment that surpasses all understanding. Psalm 34:4, "I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears."
While Mary (in Luke 10) was clinging to the Lord, Jesus said to that stressed-out sister: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Lk. 10:41-42). May we realize that the cure for worry is God Himself and may we always be found seeking Him!