11. "Life Beyond Worry"

Matthew 6:25–34

What does Jesus mean when he tells us not to worry? Why aren't we to worry? The probable answer or explanation is one you may not have considered: Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. When the right time comes, God will help you deal with whatever challenges arise. In 10 verses, Jesus gives us seven reasons why we shouldn't worry.



"Life Beyond Worry"

Do Not Worry!

Matthew 6:25–34 [Click to open, re-click to close, this and all other links.]
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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look 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? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If 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? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

After reading what Jesus tells his listeners in v. 25, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life," we must immediately begin to ask ourselves a number of obvious questions. What does Jesus mean by that command? Why aren't we to worry?

Let's take a look at Jesus' seven logical reasons not to worry that he gives us in this 10-verse passage.

Reason #1: "Worry Is to Miss the Point of Life"  Starting with v. 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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" Jesus tells us that life is far more important than those material things we encounter in our walk. Often, our worries are about relatively unimportant, trivial matters, such as food, drink, clothing, our vacation, a boat, firewood, and trucks and cars.

Do an analysis of TV or magazine ads and you'll find them preoccupied with the very things Jesus told us not to worry about. For example, many ads focus on the body: how to shape it; how to lose four-and-a-half inches; how to make it more attractive; how to look younger; and so on. Jesus says that life is more important than these things; if we seek fulfillment in material things, we're missing the whole point of life. The point of life is to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Worry misses the point of how we should live our lives. Jesus, the bread of life,"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35). will keep you from worrying.

Reason #2: "Worry Is Illogical"  In v. 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?" Jesus goes on to show us that worry doesn't make sense. Is God more interested in his birds than in his children? Certainly not. Birds are kept alive by worms and insects; God's provisions. Jesus' birds example encourages us to see birds as fellow creatures who don't need to worry about finding and storing food. When we, God's children, trust in him (surrender to him), we'll be fed fully and forever. There won't be any need to worry! Worry misses the point of life because worry in God's kingdom is illogical.

Reason #3: "Worry Is a Complete Waste of Time"  By asking a terse question in v. 27,"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Jesus uses sarcasm. Worry is futile, unproductive, and pointless. He reminds us that we cannot "add" something to our lives, such as comfort, endurance, and so on, solely by our own efforts. Worry does understandably "subtract" from our lives, as when it causes tension, ulcers, a coronary thrombosis, etc. Many times, things that we worry will happen never do, and that happens as a result of our trusting, personal relationship with our Lord.

Reason #4: "Worry Is Incompatible with Faith"  Two more pointed questions in vv. 28–30 are asked by Jesus."And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If 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?" We know that faith breeds trust. But introduce worry to faith and that pair becomes a destructive combination. To prevent destruction, trust in God's care and provision. He takes care of the lilies of the field (along with the birds of the air) that don't worry They're wildflowers that had never been planted — their beauty comes from God alone. As Christians, when we learn to walk regularly in a trusting relationship with God, we have no reason to worry.Yes, sin interferes with or compromises this relationship, which often leads to worry. However, when we develop a strong and consistent faith in God and his provisions for us and we "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, . . . all these things will be given to you as well." We thank Jesus that there's no need or reason for us to worry. "Keep the faith, baby!"

Reason #5: "Worry Is for Non-Christians"  We see in v. 32"For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them." that worry is for non-Christians. Jesus indicts unbelievers as having that primary concern with material needs. Some material worries may be modest, such as food, drink, and clothing. But others can be more dismantling, such as worrying when a bigger house, a new car, a better salary, an improved reputation, fame, or power might come to life. But Jesus warns that these are pagan-specific worries because they're self-centered worries that don't bring satisfaction. So, fellow Christians: Instead of worrying, we must trust in our Lord and Savior. He's the provider; our Jehovah-Jireh.

Reason #6: "Worry Is Unnecessary"  It's reassuring to see in v. 33"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." that there's absolutely no need to worry. God promises to provide for our needs once we correct our priorities. Indeed, the Bible provides similar promises. For example, the psalmist says, "No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless" (Psalm 84:11). Apostle Paul writes, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). Sometimes, as Paul and Jesus personally experienced, situations in our lives may become difficult or painful. No matter, God will walk with us and hold our hand, using adversity to build our character.

Prioritizing God and his kingdom might very well result in increased intimacy with God, greater spiritual insight, and/or far deeper faith, which, thankfully, allows us to encourage and affirm others. There's no reason to worry! If you remain unconvinced, here’s one more reason Jesus gives from his Sermon, a.k.a., "the world's greatest talk."

Reason #7: "Worry Contradicts Common Sense"  Finally, we easily see in v. 34"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." that God intends for us to live one day at a time. He's built our lives into 24-hour-per-day units and we should live each unit one day at a time. In order to live a long and fruitful life, we should respect and live by God's biological clock that he's built inside us.

As we pray the prayer Jesus taught us, we ask God to "Give us this day," thankfully receiving one day at a time while looking to him to sustain us with everything we need, whether that be food, shelter, love of family and friends, or courage and hope to face the future. During this thankful time, we can and should joyfully recite the psalmist's words: "This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).


Jesus' Seven Reasons to Stop Worrying

"Worry," he says: (1) misses the point of life; (2) is illogical; (3) is a waste of time; (4) is incompatible with faith; (5) is non-Christian; (6) is a complete waste of time; and (7) contradicts common sense. Jesus tells us in these 10 verses that we must not worry. Instead, we need to change our priorities and our ambitions.

So how do we stop worrying? Jesus gives us his encouraging answer in v. 33, beginning with his attention-getting "But." By way of contrast, he's teaching us a powerful, life-changing lesson: To fill a void in our lives, to eradicate worry, we must direct our minds, focus our intentions, and release our energy on something other than worry. That something is our trust in God and his kingdom through a personal, growing relationship with Christ Jesus.

Here are two v. 33 commands to focus on; two steps to help you stop worrying.

1. Seek First God’s Kingdom
In v. 33 and many times in his parables, Jesus calls us to a higher, nobler ambition; to seek his kingdom. We're to surrender to him and prioritize his rule and reign in our lives, our marriages, our home, our family, our church, and in our daily walk. We're also to prioritize God and his kingdom in the lives of others; our spouse, friends, relations, neighbors, work colleagues, and individuals in the community.

When a worry comes into your mind, don't feel guilty about it. Don't think that your faith is inadequate. Don't beat yourself up. Simply pray, casting that anxiety on Jesus.

2. Seek First God’s Righteousness
In addition to prioritizing God's kingdom, we're to value it in God’s way, not ours, demonstrating God’s "righteousness" in our lives and community. We should strive to see his standards universally accepted, investing our time, energy, and money into this pursuit.

Be passionate about God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. Jesus promises in today's passage that if we get our priorities and our ambitions right, then "...all these things will be given to you as well" (i.e., all the little worries will be dealt with). Lesser ambitions are acceptable, provided we keep them from becoming a top priority. We have Jesus' promise here that, when we accept and adopt his priorities and make them our greater ambition, he'll provide us with everything we need. (So, guys, stop worrying!)

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