Pastor David Boone continues his series through The Sermon on the Mount by expositing the eternal precepts of Matthew 6:25-34.
part 13 people without worry
In light of our purpose in this series to answer the question what does it mean to be a citizen of the Kingdom I hope to convey in this morning’s message the citizens of the kingdom should be people without worry. Not that we should be care free or free of legitimate concerns, but without worry, free from anxieties that weigh down the hearts of humans.
I came across some statistics on the internet and you know that if it’s on the net it’s gospel truth, so here goes:
40 percent of the things we worry about never happen, 30 percent are in the past and can’t be helped, 12 percent concern the affairs of others that aren’t our business, 10 percent are about sickness–either real or imagined– and 8 percent are worth worrying about.
If we aren’t careful, we can worry ourselves to death or at least worry ourselves sick with ulcers, high blood pressure, loss of sleep, loss of hair, gray hair.
Hopefully, by the end of this morning’s message you will see that even the 8% that are actually “worth” worrying about are not really worthy of our worry.
Turn with me in your Bibles to Matt 6:25ff
We are going to continue in our journey through the SOM where Jesus, the new Moses prepares his new covenant people for life in the new land, the heavenly Jerusalem, in the Kingdom of God.
Matt 6:25ff 25 “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 than food, and the body more than clothes? 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers 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—you of little faith? 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. 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.
Notice that our text starts with a therefore. Anytime we see a therefore, we want to determine, what is it there for? It is a signal to us to read the words in light of what came before. What came before? Our text last week in which Jesus explains that heavenly investments generate greater dividends than earthly investments, that God’s people should be generous givers because a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
There seems to be a natural connection or linkage here. In fact, after the message last week during our Q&A discussion, someone admitted in connection with that passage, “this is difficult and convicting because… I’m a worrier.” There is a natural connection because so much of our anxiety is linked to our finances, our needs, our desires.
It’s as if Jesus is saying “therefore, since life does not consist in abundance of possessions, let’s talk about what you really need like food and clothing.”
As always, I want to remind you of Jesus’ original audience and the relevance that these words had primarily for them. Not long after Jesus uttered these wise words, he prepared his followers for a mission to spread the gospel of the Kingdom. In Matt 10:9-11 9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.
Jesus was essentially saying, “Don’t take extra – trust God to provide your needs.” So these words here in the SOM were very relevant to his original audience.
God does this throughout history to show his trustworthiness in provision
God did this in the original exodus and wilderness wanderings in his provision of their daily bread with Manna.
He did this with Abraham. It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned, Abraham. Go and sacrifice him. He has done it countless times throughout the scriptures. He calls his people to do things that don’t seem rational, but force his people to trust him.
March around the city of Jericho and blow trumpets. If you say so, God. And the walls came a tumbling down.
You know what, Gideon, your army is too big; that’s too many people for this battle. Send home all but 300 so that you will see that it is I who fights on your behalf and you will trust me and not in your own strength. God calls his people to trust him and he gives them opportunities to exercise that faith.
These are faith-building exercises. God calls his people to trust him, put their faith in Him for their provisions, and then he puts them in situations that seem scary. On the other side of those experiences God is proven as trustworthy; they teach his people not to worry. After all, experience is best teacher. Such scary situations are the training grounds for God’s people; they are opportunities to exercise trust and display faith.
I believe this call to trust God and display is still relevant and applicable for us 2000 yrs later. We are still subject to worry and we worry over the same things (needs); we still struggle with anxiety. And I believe that God still calls his people to journey through scary situations that give us opportunities to exercise trust; these experiences build our faith, remind us that God is faithful and in the end, it teaches us not to worry.
Some of us in here have either lost a job or received a pay cut. Our natural inclination is usually to worry. What am I going to do now? In all of those situations, was not God faithful? Did we not come out on the other side looking back, thinking, “Why was I so worried?” When has God failed to provide for your needs?
THE PRECEPT & COMMAND
Again, this text is still relevant to us today. The cross cultural, timeless precept in our text that is as true today as it was 2000 years ago is: God provides for his people. God will provide for the needs of those who call Him Father. God will provide for the needs of those who bow the knee to King Jesus.
Based on this precept of his faithful provision, He gives the command: do not worry.
Not just once; not just twice, but thrice. In the text: do not worry (v25, v31, v34). Why? Because he said so. That alone is enough; it is the decree of the King. But he is gracious enough to provide some reasons, since, like children we like to ask why.
THE REASONS NOT TO WORRY
Let’s look at Jesus’ reasoning here. Why is it reasonable not to worry?
First of all, God cares for his creation. At creation, God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over all the livestock and over all the creeping things that creepeth.” God created mankind in his image and gave humans dominion over the creation. He provides for the rest of creation; how much more will he provide for those, whom he has given dominion over that creation?
He provides for the birds. They don’t sow or reap or store away in barns. They’re just looking for worms, but do they ever say, “I’m really concerned that there may not be a worm out there for me.” God provides for them.
He explicitly says, “Are you not much more valuable than they?” He provides for them; how much more will he provide for you who are more valuable.
And the grass. He clothes the grass. If he was preaching in central Texas, he would say look at the bluebonnets. Isn’t that a gorgeous garment! He clothes the grass like that. Solomon in all his splendor wasn’t dressed like that. Aren’t you more valuable than the grass? Yes, so don’t you think he will clothe you? Don’t worry.
So the first reason that Jesus gives for not worrying about our daily necessities in that God provides for the needs of those less valuable amongst the creation; based on that we should trust that he will provide for his people who are more valuable than they.
WORRY ADDS NOTHING OF VALUE
Another reason Jesus gives for not worrying is that you cannot add anything good to life by worrying. V27 who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? You cannot add time or value to your life by worrying. Worrying resolves nothing; it is not the answer. It’s pointless.
We have a child who whines about everything. Yesterday I heard her whining from the top of the stairs, I came out of my room and asked her why. Because she dropped her ball down the stairs. I said, “Did whining make your ball magically float back into your hands?” No. I said, “what is going to get your ball back in your hands?” If I go get it. Then go get it. Your whining resolves nothing. Not only does it resolve nothing, nobody likes to be around that whining. It has a negative impact on others.
In the same way, our worrying resolves nothing. In the same way, our worrying has the ability to make us less pleasant to be around when it causes us to be more stressed out, irritable, less fun, in a foul mood, aloof, etc.
WORRY IS FOR OUTSIDERS, NOT CITIZENS OF THE KINGDOM
Additionally, Jesus says in V32 For the pagans run after all these things. Your translation may say “Gentiles” another rendering is foreigners. The idea there is that those outside the covenant community worry and run after these things, kingdom people should be different, for we are to be people free of such worry.
They (pagans/outsiders) don’t have a relationship with Jesus and know his promises. They don’t have a rich heritage in which they can see that time and again God provides for his people. We do.
Jesus follows that up in v32 with your Heavenly father knows what you need. That is comforting. God knows our needs and because we have a familial relationship with him (He is our father). After all, even an earthly parent who loves his or her children knows their needs and does his/her best to provide for them.
This is an echo of what Jesus said earlier in Matt 6:8 in his teaching on prayer. Don’t keep on babbling like the pagans/gentiles. For he knows what you need before you ask. Again, don’t be like those outside the covenant community who think they will be heard for their many words, because not only does he know what you need, but he knows before you even ask.
PROMISE TO PROVIDE NEEDS NOT DESIRES
Again, he knows what you NEED; notice the text doesn’t say he knows what you covet, what you want, what you desire, what you lust for. This is a promise to provide for NEEDS.
It is not a promise that you’ll get into med school, win lotto, become a pro athlete, get the girl of your dreams, better job but that God will provide for the NEEDS of his people.
WORRY DISPLAYS A LACK OF FAITH
Jesus says in verse 30, “if that is how God clothes the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – o you of little faith.” Jesus connects worry to a lack of faith, showing that worry is actually a display of a lack of faith.
Is a lack of faith sin?
Romans 14:23 Anything that does not come from faith is sin. The context of that passage is food and drink – it pertains to the first century discussion of what was permissible in light of the inauguration of the New Covenant, as the Old Covenant with its dietary restrictions was made obsolete and would soon pass away. In the first century, the big question was: to what degree do we follow the Law of Moses? Tricky question in light of Jesus teaching in Matt 5:17-20 and Paul’s teaching in Galatians. Paul’s answer: do you have faith that eating this is pork tenderloin is okay? If not, then don’t because if it is not of faith it is sin.
I believe we can apply this precept beyond food and drink due to the span of the Bible’s continual commentary on and commendation of faith.
Recall that the spies who explored the Promised Land returned with an ill report. They lacked faith and said they’re big, we’re small. We cannot defeat them. Their worry displayed a lack of faith and it was condemned because anything that is not of faith is sin.
On the other hand, Joshua and Caleb were commended for their faith. Faith pleases God.
Rahab, the prostitute was commended for her faith when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction. Faith pleases God.
Abraham is commended for his faith in offering his son Isaac on the altar. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Faith pleases God.
Hebrews 11 goes on and on and on about faith.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. Faith pleases God.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith pleases God. Faith in his provision pleases him. If worry displays a lack of faith and without faith it is impossible to please God, then we should not worry.
I have experienced this with my own kids. They are at the age where they are developing a mind of their own. One Friday night I was taking them to the Dollar Tree for their weekly ritual to pick out one toy for being a good girl. We had to run by the Davis’ house first. We passed right by the dollar tree and Anika freaked out because she thought that it would be closed by the time we made our way back. I said Anika, trust me they will be open. Trust daddy. Through tears she said, “I just don’t believe you.” That hurt. And I told her. “Anika, it hurts daddy when you don’t believe me, when you doubt me, when you don’t have faith in me.” I have never been intentionally dishonest with them. I even shoot straight with them about Christmas and Easter. As far as I can recall, I have given them no reason not to trust me.
Of course, we made our way to the Dollar Tree and it was open. I think Anika learned through that experience because since then, every time she might respond with “I just don’t believe you” she looks at me with a big smile and says, “Okay, daddy, I believe you.” And that feels good. It is pleasing to me when she believes me.
Now, I can lie. It’s possible. I can lead my children astray and be dishonest with them and break promises. It is possible for me to be untrustworthy. And yet it hurts to have my child say, “I don’t trust you.” I can imagine how it must feel to God when we don’t trust him, who cannot lie, the God who is completely trustworthy, with a perfect track record. If it hurts me as a fallen human, how does that feel to the God who is the embodiment of truth, the flawless creator. Worry is our subtle way of saying, God, I don’t trust you.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Let’s aim to please God by trusting Him and living as people without worry as it displays a lack of faith in our hearts.
Again, a major theme here is that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. If in my heart I truly believe Jesus, that he will provide, that in his sovereignty, my needs will be met, then I can rest easy. If in my heart I have doubts, I am more likely to worry and be anxious.
WORRY IS AT TIMES DUE TO IMPROPER FOCUS
Jesus closes this section by encouraging his people to focus on the kingdom, not on earthly things. v33 Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Our focus needs to be with a view to eternity, not simply on the here and now, such that the things of God are in view (His Kingdom and His righteousness), not material wealth and selfish pursuits.
Recall Paul’s words to Timothy that we touched on last week in 1 Tim 6:10. The verses that go before state, in 1 Tim 6:6ff 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
God’s people should be focused on His kingdom and His righteousness. He will provide for our needs.
DOES THIS MEAN DON’T WORK?
The concern of our text is God’s provision of needs. It may be tempting to walk away from this with the idea that we shouldn’t even work. After all, the birds don’t sow or reap or store away in barns. Should we quit our jobs and just trust that somehow magically food will appear on the plate and our bills will be paid? NO. That doesn’t square with the rest of scripture and we always want to compare scripture with scripture.
2 Thess 3:10ff 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.
So much for welfare and Obamaphones. Be responsible and make provision so far as it depends on you. I don’t believe that the King of Kings will be honored by laziness, nor do I believe that he will honor laziness. While the earthly state may honor laziness, I believe it has no place in the Kingdom.
While we shouldn’t worry about having our needs supplied, that doesn’t mean we should do nothing. It means that we should do what we can do; do what we’re supposed to do; control what we have the power to control and trust him to handle things beyond our control. Don’t worry about them. Each day has enough trouble of its own; no need to add unnecessary trouble by worrying and creating troubles.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT NEEDS…OR ANYTHING!!!
As I have already stressed, our passage deals with not worrying about NEEDS because God provides for his people. Does that mean that we are justified in worrying about other things beyond needs? Don’t worry about food, drink or clothing, but anything else, you should worry about it. I don’t believe so. The Bible extends context beyond needs into EVERYTHING. Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything. In the Greek, what this phrase actually means don’t be anxious about ANYTHING! But, you have to consider the source – this was from Paul; and the general consensus among scholars is that he was writing this from a luxurious palace where he was sitting on fat stacks of cash eating grapes out of the hands of beautiful women. Uh…no…he was writing from prison. Why was he in prison? Sharing the gospel. So yeah, consider the source.
Paul writes do not be anxious about anything, so in the kingdom, it’s not just don’t worry about needs, but don’t worry about anything.
HOW DO WE OVERCOME WORRY; WHAT ARE THE REMEDIES?
PIETY. Walk in righteousness (so much worry & anxiety can be avoided by doing right)
Seek first his righteousness
- If you lie, anxious about others finding out
- If you cheated on taxes, anxious about the IRS finding out
- If you steal, anxious about others finding out
- If you murder, anxious about others finding the body (unless you hid it really well…but even then there is still that ounce of anxiety that says what if…)
- Gossip, slander…others finding out
- We can avoid so much unnecessary anxiety by avoiding the sin that causes it
Be practical. Use conventional wisdom.
Prioritize: a preacher I highly respect consistently stresses to his people, when you get paid, first give, then save, then spend.
- Good financial planning & stewardship
- Create a budget and do your best to stick to it
- Brian and Neil??? (Body of Christ)
- Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey
Since so many of our anxieties come from finances, we can be practical and proactive to try to avoid the anxieties that come with poor planning. And this isn’t fool proof; we can be as proactive as possible, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get blindsided. The point is, we can take practical steps in the right direction, which is far better than doing nothing and then worrying about it.
PHIL 4:6-7 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There is a transcendent peace that comes from entrusting those anxieties to God. Put it all in his hands. When we put it in his hands, we need to really put it in his hands. When we say Jesus, take the wheel, we need to trust Jesus with the direction he steers our lives and not become that backseat driver that nobody really likes. Especially an excellent driver like Jesus. We shouldn’t say not Jesus, not that way, this way. Put everything in his hands
In closing I’d like to share with you something that illustrates this idea well. I didn’t write this and I’d like to give credit where credit is due, but the author is unknown. It is entitled
IT DEPENDS WHOSE HANDS IT’S IN
A basketball in my hands is worth about $19
A basketball in Michael Jordan’s hands is
worth about $33 million
It depends whose hands it’s in
A baseball in my hands is worth about $6
A baseball in Mark McGuire’s hands is worth $19 million
It depends whose hands it’s in
A tennis racket is useless in my hands
A tennis racket in Pete Sampras’ hands
is a Wimbledon Championship
It depends whose hands it’s in
A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal
A rod in Moses’ hands will part the mighty sea
It depends whose hands it’s in
A sling shot in my hands is a kid’s toy
A sling shot in David’s hand is a mighty weapon.
It depends whose hands it’s in
Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands
is a couple of fish sandwiches.
Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God’s
hands will feed thousands It depends whose hands it’s in
Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse
Nails in Jesus Christ’s hands will produce
salvation for the entire world.
It depends whose hands it’s in
As you see now it depends whose hands it’s in.
So put your concerns, your worries, your fears,
your hopes, your dreams, your families and
your relationships in God’s hands because
It depends whose hands it’s in.
Let’s cast all of our anxieties on him because he cares for us. Let’s take our worries and put them in the hands of our God who provides for his people. As citizens of His Kingdom, we should be people without worry.