Fix your Fears (part 2)
Intro. Near the end of his life, Mark Twain said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” We spent our time this morning looking at this passage from the Sermon on the Mount and we focused almost exclusively on the first sentence, “Therefore, I tell you do not worry.” Tonight I want to broaden our scope just a little bit. I want to look at the rest of the passage, but we must keep in mind what we learned this morning. Remember, we saw the word Therefore and noted that it reminded us to go back to the previous passage about serving two masters. Then, we talked about what Jesus says, “Do not worry.” and how that means that you can stop worrying and you should stop worrying because worry is a sin. We talked about not worrying about the things of this life and then we talked about focusing on the kingdom of God. Tonight we’ll dig into some reasons Jesus gives us not to worry. Let’s re-read that text together.
Matt 6:25-34 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ’What shall we eat?’ or ’What shall we drink?’ or ’What shall we wear?’ 32 "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
The first thing we’ll look at is the first reason Jesus gives. Don’t worry about this life because your life is more than food or clothing. What do you mean Jesus? I mean these are small potatoes in the big picture. These things aren’t worth worrying about. They are too little to be of any concern whatsoever. Jesus gives two examples to help us understand this. First, the birds of the air don’t worry about food and second, the lilies of the field don’t worry about what they will wear. The reason they don’t worry about it is because God takes care of those needs for them. So what Jesus? So, if God takes care of those little things, don’t you think He can take care of your problems? Ok, so you’ve told me not to worry. Why not? We’ll look at four reasons tonight why we shouldn’t worry. Why shouldn’t I worry?
Because, look in verse 27, which of you by worrying can add a cubit to your height or an hour to your life? The obvious answer is that none of us can. In other words, worry doesn’t work. Worry is useless. Worry, Vance Havner said, is like sitting in a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Worry is not active, it accomplishes nothing. It cannot change the past, present, or future and it won’t fix any of our problems. That’s one of the reasons that Jesus forbids us to worry – it doesn’t do anything good for us.
Then Jesus moves on. Look in v. 32. Why shouldn’t I worry? Because it makes me look like those without God. The NIV says that the “pagans run after such things.” I love that imagery. As Heather and I talked about this passage, she commented that running after carried with it the idea of never catching. And isn’t that what the world is like, even today? Always running but never catching? Why would I want to be part of that? And if I’m a Christian, how can I be part of that? You see, as a Christian I have found my sense of peace and security. I am fulfilled in Christ. That means that I get off the world’s treadmill of always chasing but never catching. And if I get back on that treadmill, then how will people know I’m different? Do people around us see that we trust God for our needs? Or are we confused with the pagans because our lives are full of worry and distrust, too? Do we pursue the same worldly values that everyone around us does? Christ tells us not to worry because worry is a sign of unbelief. Worry, at its heart, is a distrust of God. Such distrust might be understandable in someone who serves an unpredictable God, but it is inexcusable in one who has learned to call God Father. You see, many Christians are practical atheists. That means they may profess to know Christ, but if they live their life based on the same values as an atheist and if their lives look just like the life of an atheist, then they are practical atheists. Do you hold to a form of godliness, but deny its power in your life?
The third reason Jesus tells us not to worry is that God knows our needs. In other words, when I worry, I am taking away God’s providence. Don’t miss that here Jesus says For your Heavenly Father knows. God is our Father and He will provide for us. If we are struggling with worry, then perhaps we don’t quite understand what it means to call God our Father. Knowing that we have a Father who is all knowing and all powerful, why should we worry that our needs will be met? Unless we aren’t sure God will meet those needs. If that is the case, why are we unsure? Well, maybe God won’t consider this as important as I do. Then do you need to get that item, or restructure your priorities? Well, what if God doesn’t handle it the way I want Him to? Are you following God or leading Him? When we say that God knows our needs, we should be able to relax and let him fill them, but too often we are consumed by worry instead. There is an old Jewish Proverb that says, He who has a loaf in his basket and says, What will I eat tomorrow is a man of little faith.
The final reason Jesus gives us not to worry is that the future has enough trouble of its own. We don’t need to stockpile our worries. E. Stanley Jones calls worry the interest we pay on tomorrow’s troubles. Tomorrow will have its own set of fears and we don’t need to get ahead. If you think about it, most of our worries center around the future. What will I do? What will I say? Will I have the opportunity to? All of these are future worries. But this isn’t new. Look back at the questions in verse 25 and 31. What will? What will? What will? What shall? What shall? What shall? Worry creates uncertainty about my future. A Scottish Proverb says, “Most of the things I worried about in the future, never came about.” The biggest troubles you face are those that never come to be. Think about how many battles you have fought in your mind that never actually took place. Don’t forget, God has pledged that you will not face a temptation greater than you can bear.
There’s four reason not to worry. I used the letter C in the slides to help you remember them:
I shouldn’t worry because worry:
Can’t change anything
Causes me to look like the world
Cancels out God’s Providence in my life.
Creates uncertainty about my future.
You say, that sounds great David. I know what NOT to do, but what should I do? I believe that we must trust Christ. I mean practically trust Him. That’s the cure for anxiety. I get anxious when I think I am alone and that it all depends on me. I need to remember that one of the names of Jesus is Emmanuel which means God WITH US. I am anxious when I get worried about my needs and how God is going to take care of me. I worry when I think I need to somehow manipulate the circumstances so that I can get my needs met. And when I get anxious, I focus on me. As long as I am worried about whether I will have enough food to eat, I won’t begin to be concerned about whether you have enough. As long as I am worried about my health and my life, I won’t have time to care about your health. If I am worried about my clothes, I certainly won’t be concerned about whether or not you have clothes. The message that Jesus is giving us is simple. If you want to stop worrying, start worrying about other people’s needs. Jesus tells us not to worry about things that we can’t change and about things that God is supposed to provide. When we drop those two items off our list of concerns, I think we’ll all discover that we have a lot more time than we used to. And the way to use that time is in helping other people. That’s the real antidote to worry.
So what are you worried about? What does your future hold? I don’t know, but I know someone who does. God has promised to go with us every step of the way. Would you like that promise? Have you claimed that promise but somewhere along the way you began to be alone? God didn’t move. We stopped following. If you’d like to start following Him or come back to following God, this is your chance. The opposite of worry is faith.