Worry has become an obsession in our modern world. A look at the self-help section in any bookstore will reveal its prevalence. Hospitals and waiting rooms are filled with people who have physical problems caused by overwhelming anxiety. In addition, there are many people whose lives are disrupted or made unenjoyable because of paralyzing fear.
Christians like to hide their worry by labeling it Christian concern. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is intensely practical. He deals with this practical problem of anxiety. If he taught about it, that means he cares about it.
The Jews themselves were very familiar with this attitude to life. It was the teaching of the great Rabbis that a man ought to meet life with a combination of prudence and serenity. They insisted, for instance, that every man must teach his son a trade, for, they said, not to teach him a trade was to teach him to steal. That is to say, they believed in taking all the necessary steps for the prudent handling of life. But at the same time, they said, “He who has a loaf in his basket, and who says, ‘What will I eat tomorrow?’ is a man of little faith.”
Jesus said that worry is sinful. We may dignify worry by calling it by some other name—concern, burden, a cross to bear—but the results are still the same. Instead of helping us live longer, anxiety only makes life shorter (Matt. 6:27). The Greek word translated take no thought literally means “to be drawn in different directions.” Worry pulls us apart. Until man interferes, everything in nature works together, because all of nature trusts God. Man, however, is pulled apart because he tries to live his own life by depending on material wealth.
God feeds the birds and clothes the lilies. He will feed and clothe us. It is our “little faith” that hinders Him from working as He would. He has great blessings for us if only we will yield to Him and live for the riches that last forever.
Mt 25 (NIV) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
There is plenty to worry about (v. 25).
There is no shortage of potential items to worry about. Jesus mentions several matters of common concern.
- Life 2. Health 3. Possessions
We could add our own list of concerns.
- Accidents 2. Aging 3. Weather 4. Criticism
In these ten verses Jesus sets out seven different arguments and defenses against worry.
- He begins by pointing out (verse 25) that God gave us life….surely we can trust him for the lesser things.
- Jesus goes on to speak about the birds (verse 26). 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
- There is no worry in their lives, no attempt to pile up goods for an unforeseen and unforeseeable future; and yet their lives go on. The point that Jesus is making is not that the birds do not work; it has been said that no one works harder than the average sparrow to make a living; the point that he is making is that they do not worry.
- 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? In verse 27, Jesus goes on to prove that worry is in any event is useless…no man by worrying can add the shortest space to his life; and that meaning is more likely.
- 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Jesus goes on to speak about the flowers (verses 28-30), and he speaks about them as one who loved them. If God gives such beauty to a short-lived flower, how much more will he care for man?
- 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
- Jesus goes on to advance a very fundamental argument against worry. Worry, he says, is characteristic of a heathen, and not of one who knows what God is like (verse 32). Worry is essentially distrust of God.
- Jesus goes on to advance two ways in which to defeat worry. The first is to seek first, to concentrate upon, the Kingdom of God. Worry is banished when God becomes the dominating power of our lives.
- Jesus says that worry can be defeated when we acquire the art of living one day at a time (verse 34).
- 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- We worry over things we cannot control…usually do not happen…cause us to lose joy of the day…act as if we do not know God.
Worry is a futile thing It’s something like a rocking chair, It will keep you occupied But it won’t get you anywhere.
It ain’t no use putting up your umbrella till it rains. Alice Caldwell Rice
It is distrust of God to be troubled about what is to come; impatience against God to be troubled with what is present; and anger at God to be troubled for what is past. Simon Patrick (1625–1707)
Read from Psalm 37:1-40 (NIV) …note the word ‘fret’ and apply to the verses