Put on a Happy Faith – By Overcoming Worry
In Matthew 6:19-24 Jesus focuses on the attitude toward luxury, the unnecessary physical possessions men store and stockpile for selfish reasons. In verses 25-34 He focuses on the attitude toward what men eat, drink, and wear, the necessities of life that they absolutely must have to exist. The first passage is directed particularly at the rich and the second particularly at the poor. Both being rich and being poor have their special spiritual problems. The rich are tempted to trust in their possessions, and the poor are tempted to doubt God's provision. The rich are tempted to become self-satisfied in the false security of their riches, and the poor are tempted to worry and fear in the false insecurity of their poverty.
Whether men are wealthy or poor or somewhere in between their attitude toward material possessions is one of the most reliable marks of their spiritual condition. Man as an earthly creature is naturally concerned about earthly things. In Christ we are recreated as heavenly beings and, as children of our heavenly Father, our concerns should now focus primarily on heavenly things even while we still live on earth. One of the supreme tests of our spiritual lives, then, is how we now relate to those two worlds.
The heart of Jesus' message in our present passage is: Don't worry-not even about necessities. He gives the command, Do not be anxious three times (vv. 25, 31, 34) and gives four reasons why worry, being anxious, is wrong.
- It is unfaithful because of our Master
- It is unnecessary because of our Father
- It is unreasonable because of our faith
- It is unwise because of our future.
I. WORRY IS UNFAITHFUL BECAUSE OF OUR MASTER
- "For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?" (Matthew 6:25)
- for this reason refers back to the previous verse, in which Jesus declares that a Christian's only Master is God
- He is therefore saying, "Because God is your Master, I say to you, do not be anxious."
- a bondslave's only responsibility is to his master, and for believers to worry is to be disobedient and unfaithful to their Master, who is God
- for Christians, worry and anxiety are forbidden, foolish, and sinful
- in the Greek, the command do not be anxious includes the idea of stopping what is already being done
- in other words, we are to stop worrying and never start it again
- absolutely nothing in any aspect of our lives, internal or external, justifies our being anxious when we have the Master we do
A. WORRY IS THE SIN OF DISTRUSTING THE PROMISE AND PROVIDENCE OF GOD
- yet it is a sin that Christians commit perhaps more frequently than any other
- the English term worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle, or choke
- that is exactly what worry does
- it is a kind of mental and emotional strangulation, which probably causes more mental and physical afflictions than any other single cause
- ILLUS. Meteorologists tell us that a dense fog extensive enough to cover seven city blocks a hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water-divided into sixty thousand million droplets. In the right form, a few gallons of water can cripple a large city.
- Someone has said, "Worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind, which, if encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out."
- every believer should be able to say with Paul, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need" (Phil. 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 6:6-8).
- a Christian's contentment is found in God, and only in God
- in His ownership
- in His control
- in His provision
B. FIRST, A CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE CONTENT BECAUSE GOD OWNS EVERYTHING
- David proclaimed
- "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it." (Psalm 24:1)
- "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth." (1 Chron. 29:11).
- ILLUS. One day when he was away from home someone came running up to John Wesley saying, "Your house has burned down! Your house has burned down!" To which Wesley replied, "No it hasn't, because I don't own a house. The one I have been living in belongs to the Lord, and if it has burned down, that is one less responsibility for me to worry about."
C. SECOND, A CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE CONTENT BECAUSE GOD CONTROLS EVERYTHING
- again David gives us the right perspective:
- “Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone." (1 Chron. 29:12)
- "Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding." (Daniel 2:20-21)
- those were not idle words for Daniel
- when the jealous commissioners and satraps tricked King Darius into ordering Daniel thrown into the den of lions, it was the king, not Daniel, who was worried
- Daniel 18 tells us that slept fled from "the king during the night, but Daniel apparently slept soundly next to the lions, whose mouths had been closed by an angel
D. THIRD, A CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE CONTENT BECAUSE THE LORD PROVIDES EVERYTHING
- the supreme owner and controller is also the supreme provider
- one of His ancient names, Jehovah-Jireh, means "the Lord who provides"
- it is the name Abraham ascribed to God when He provided a lamb to be sacrificed in place of Isaac (Gen. 22:14)
- if Abraham, with his limited knowledge of God, could be so trusting and content, how much more should we who know Christ and who have His whole written Word?
- the Apostle Paul assured the Philippians, and us, "God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19)
- whether the Lord gives us more or gives us less of anything, it all belongs to Him, as owner, controller, and provider
- it is our responsibility to thank Him for what He gives and to use it wisely and unselfishly for as long as He entrusts us with it
II. WORRY IS UNNECESSARY BECAUSE OF OUR FATHER
- "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span? And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?" (6:26-30)
- the basic thrust of these verses is that a believer has absolutely no reason to worry, because God is his heavenly Father
- "Have you forgotten who your Father is?" He asks
- to illustrate His point Jesus shows how unnecessary and foolish it is to worry about food, about life expectancy, or about clothing
A. DON'T WORRY ABOUT FOOD
- "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" (6:26)
- as Jesus says this, it's easy to imagine Him pointing to some passing birds as He says this
- it's a good old fashioned object lesson
- He calls attention to the fact that birds do not have intricate and involved processes for acquiring food
- they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns
- but the Lord has provided them with an abundance of food resources and the instinct to find those resources for themselves and their offspring
- if God so carefully takes care of such relatively insignificant creatures as birds, how much more will He take of those who are created in His own image and who have become His children through faith?
- are you not worth much more than they?
B. DON'T WORRY ABOUT LONGEVITY
- "And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span?" (Matt. 6:27)
- the second illustration has to do with life expectancy
- our culture is obsessed with trying to lengthen life
- we exercise, eat carefully, supplement our diets with vitamins and minerals, get regular physical checkups, and do countless other such things in the hope of adding a few years to our lives
- these things no doubt can improve the quality and productivity of our lives, but they will not force God into extending our life's span
- the gift of life is a gift from God to be used for His purposes, for spiritual and heavenly reasons, not selfish and earthly ones
- our concern should be to obey, honor, please, and glorify Him, leaving everything else to His wisdom and care
C. DON'T WORRY ABOUT CLOTHING
- "And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?" (6:28 30)
- the third illustration has to do with clothing, using flowers as a model
- some of the people to whom Jesus spoke perhaps had little clothing probably no more than one set
- He pointed again to their surroundings, this time to the flowers, to assure them of God's concern and provision
- the lilies of the field may have been a general term used of the wild flowers that grew in great variety in the fields and hillsides of Galilee
- Jesus reminds His listeners that these beautiful decorations of nature make no effort to grow and had no part in designing or coloring themselves
- they do not toil nor do they spin, Jesus said, stating the obvious
- yet, He says, that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these
- it is an indictment of our day that we spend so much time, money, and effort to dress ourselves
- many in our culture have made a god out of fashion, and shamelessly waste money on expensive clothes they will wear but a few times
- to be anxious even about things which we need to survive, Jesus says, is sinful and shows little faith
- a person who worries about those things may have saving faith, but he does not have faith that relies on God to finish what He has begun
- worry is not a trivial sin, because it strikes a blow both at God's love and at God's integrity
- worry declares our heavenly Father to be untrustworthy in His Word and His promises
- to avow belief in the inerrancy of Scripture and in the next moment to express worry is to speak out of both sides of our mouths
III. WORRY IS UNREASONABLE BECAUSE OF OUR FAITH
- "Do not be anxious then, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "With what shall we clothe ourselves?" For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." (Matt. 6:31-33)
- worry is inconsistent with our faith in God and is therefore unreasonable as well as sinful
- Jesus tells His listeners that worry is characteristic of pagan unbelief
- worrying about what to eat, drink, and clothe themselves with are things the Gentiles eagerly seek
- those who have no hope in God naturally put their hope and expectations in things they can enjoy now
- they have nothing to live for but the present, and their materialism is perfectly consistent with their religion
- they don't have gods who will supply their physical or their spiritual needs
- the gods of the Gentiles were gods of fear, dread, and appeasement who demanded much, promised little, and provided nothing
- it was natural that those who served such gods would eagerly seek whatever satisfactions and pleasures they could while they could
- their philosophy is still popular in our own day among those who are determined to grab all the gusto they can get
- their attitude is "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die"
- but that is a completely foolish and unreasonable philosophy for those who have hope in the resurrection, for those whose heavenly Father knows that [they] need all these things
- when we think like the world and crave like the world, we will worry like the world, because a mind that is not centered on God is a mind that has cause to worry
- the faithful, trusting, and reasonable Christian is "anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [lets his] requests be made known to God" (Phil. 4:6)
- within this series of rebukes Jesus gives a positive command coupled with a beautiful promise: But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you
- the cause of worry is seeking the things of this world, and the cause of contentment is seeking the things of God's kingdom and His righteousness
IV. WORRY IS UNWISE BECAUSE OF OUR FUTURE
- "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matt. 6:34)
- making reasonable provisions for tomorrow is sensible, but to be anxious for tomorrow is foolish and unfaithful
- God is the God of tomorrow as well as the God of today and of eternity
- "The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness." (Lam. 3:22 23).
- tomorrow will take care of itself, Jesus assures us
- Jesus expresses the conviction that tomorrow will take care of itself because it is in his heavenly Father's hands
"The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace," Isaiah says, "because he trusts in Thee. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock" (Isa. 26:3 4).