Text Matthew 6:25-35
Preached in Quabbin Vally on 11-19-08
There has been a lot of discussion and worry over the economy lately. We have Wall Street and investors as well as many average persons worrying about what the financial state of America will be. Most really are only worried about their own pockets, but they are still worried.
We have people worried over global warming in fact Al Gore put a whole show together that was all about global warming, huge presentation.
What does it mean to worry?
Worry: “to feel or experience concern or anxiety”
“ feel or cause to feel troubled over actual or potential difficulties.”
Concise Oxford English Dictionary
To worry means to dwell on and be consumed by things that may or may not be real.
Matthew 6:25-34 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? 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 Who 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. 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? 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.
You know it’s interesting to think about what Jesus told us not to worry about. He took two things that are essential to life on earth and said don’t worry about them. Think about it if you don’t have any food or clothing you will die. We need food to live and we need clothing to live. If you are naked and starving you will die and yet Jesus tells us not to worry about them. If there were any two things to worry about wouldn’t food and clothing be them? Jesus doesn’t say don’t worry about a big house or getting a car. He doesn’t say don’t worry about getting a good pair of Oxen or a plowing mule, he says don’t worry about the essentials of life. That means we aren’t to worry about anything.
Jesus says God knows what we need. Jesus uses two examples from nature to help us understand. He says look at the birds they don’t sow, or reap, or store away in barns and yet God feeds them and then he says look at the grass God clothes the grass with beautiful flowers and there is no spinning or yarn or anything like that but God clothes them. The point is God provides for these things. If God cares for the birds and the grass do you think he will let you go without providing for you?
Now Jesus doesn’t say that we should be lazy and that God will somehow miraculously fill our bellies with food or pop food on our tables. He says God will provide but we must still work and do.
God is the one who created the universe and that includes the food we eat, God created the animals and the vegetables and so it is God who provides but it is also God who gives us the breath of life and the intelligence to do our jobs and the strength to do it. So God is the one who provides these things for us but we are to do.
It reminds me of that old illustration.
There is a man who is standing on his porch when some people come by and say you need to leave there is a flood coming and the man says “God is going to save me”. After a few hours the flood has come and it’s up to his first floor and a boat comes by and they say “get it the flood is going to get worse” and the man says “I’m all set God is going to save me”. A few hours later and the man is now on his roof because the flood has gotten so bad and a helicopter comes by and says “get in” and the man says “God is going to save me”. Then the man dies in the flood. When he gets to heaven he asks God “why didn’t you save me?” and God says “I sent you some people to warn you, a boat and even a helicopter”.
The point it God does provide but we are to do. We can’t be lazy but we also are not to worry about these things. To be consumed with fear and anxiety about these things.
Jesus also says not to worry about tomorrow, the future. Fear of the future is a major fear to a lot of people. We can get so wrapped up in things that will never happen.
I remember when Ethan was young and we were told he had Autism. Shannon and I would talk about what that meant and I won’t speak for her but I remember being worried that he would never talk. I would worry about if he is ever going to get married and have children or if he will be able to live on his own and who is going to take care of him when we are gone and what happens if no one takes care of him and he lives in a dumpster behind friendly’s and on and on and on. Guess what Ethan can speak. You know I could be worried that tomorrow aliens are going to come down from outer space and plant man eating fruit in my back yard that are going to eat me. Is that going to happen? No. Most of what we worry about never happens or it never happens that way we think it might. And even if it does happen what have we gained by worrying about it.
One woman who had lived long enough to have learned some important truths about life said, “I’ve had a lot of trouble in my life—most of which never happened!” She had worried about many things that had never occurred, and had come to see the total uselessness of her anxieties.
People speculate over what tomorrow will bring and then that turns into worry and dread and people lose sleep over it and get sick. One doctor said: “We don’t get ulcers from what we eat but from what’s eating us”. He was saying that our fears and worries cause us to get sick.
We are so used to being worried about something that we can often say what Walter Kelly said:
When I don’t have anything to worry about, I begin to worry about that. - Walter Kelly
The problem with worrying about tomorrow is that we are guessing what tomorrow will bring and even if what we think tomorrow will bring comes what can we do about it by worrying? Nothing in fact we make the time we have a time of anxiety and we get in bad moods or shut ourselves up in our houses or rooms and we are miserable.
What do we get, or how can we change anything by worrying? Worrying always makes it worse. Jesus said “who by worrying can add an hour to their life?” No one, in fact worrying can actually take hours away from our lives. The stress caused by worry can break us down. There is a story about a man who meets death on the road.
Death was walking toward a city, and a man stopped Death and asked, “What are you going to do?” Death said, “I’m going to kill ten thousand people.” The man said, “That’s horrible!” Death said, “That’s the way it is; that’s what I do.”
As the day passed, the man warned everyone he could of Death’s plan. At the end of the day he again met Death. He said, “You said you were going to kill ten thousand people, and yet seventy thousand died.” Death explained, “I killed only ten thousand. Worry and fear killed the others.”1502
Worry gets us nowhere. Jesus gave us a remedy for worry.
The remedy for worry is realizing God is in control. If we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness all these things will be added. We will be provided for. If God really is in control and if we are in Christ, what do we really have to worry about? Nothing in this life and nothing in the life to come.
Jesus is not saying that we should not plan for the future if God gives us tomorrow but planning and worry are two different things. I can plan for my son to go to college without worrying if he will go to college. I can plan for the work in Ware and not worry about whether there will be a church in Ware or not. I can plan for whatever I need to plan for without giving into the temptation to worry about it.
If we truly believe that Our God is all powerful, all knowing, and all present. If we believe that he is in control and is the creator and sustainer and if we truly believe we are Christ’s own then we have nothing to worry about.
Worry hinders and doesn’t accomplish anything. We need to rest in God.
Galaxie Software: 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press, 2002; 2002
Galaxie Software: 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press, 2002; 2002
Michael P. Green: 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching. Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Books, 2000, S. 407