Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Intro: discussing All-star games and sports trophies with my grandsons. What is important to you now will not mean a lot later on. As we grow older we learn what matters the most in life – He said, “yeah, like God.” I was pleased with his response. The thought was so simple a child can get it. But it is the greatest challenge of every adult in this room.
- Is God in the center of your life? Is He most important? Turn to Matthew 6 – the middle of Jesus’ public discourse known as the sermon on the mount. He focuses on the concept of making the God, the Father, the priority in all things.
- The activity of the God- centered life: In the first 18 verses He contrasts the religious activity (praying, fasting, doing good deeds,) of one who was man-centered (“to be seen of men“) and one who was God-centered (“in secret,… where your Father will reward you“)
- The aspiration of the God-centered life: What does he want to accomplish? In vs. 19-23 Jesus calls on us to make a heavenly, rather than an earthly investment (“lay up treasures in heaven”). In order to pursue the things of God, and put Him first, we have to be able to “see” spiritually (have “good” eyes). The investments are inherently different. The material-oriented life cannot be made secure, and eventually the person loses it all. But when a person invests in what God provides his investment is secure. No one can steal it, and it does not lose its value. But how does this impact our daily thinking?
- The thinking (mind) of the God-centered life: In Matthew 6:24-34 Jesus makes a practical and personal application to our daily lives. Jesus tells us that our daily state of mind is to be subordinated to seeking after the things of God first. He gives a command here that challenges all of us every day.
I. “Do not worry about your life…” Do you worry? Some of us worry about how much we worry. Jesus repeats this command 4 times in the next 9 verses.
A. What exactly Jesus is prohibiting? Is it sinful to be concerned about my health, my family or my future? Is He prohibiting careful planning or preparation for what happens next?
1. The word used here is merimnao (mer-im-nah’-o) – which means careful thought, or anxious care; to be troubled in thought often associated with an outlook to the future.; to be anxious ahead of time. It is this word used in Philippians 4:6 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in prayer and supplication…” One writer described it as “living with a divided mind.”
2. Notice that Jesus did not just say the Christian does not need to worry – He commands us not to! Anxiety is sinful, and clear evidence that our faith is not what it should be. It is evidence that God is not the center of our lives. This command points directly to our confidence in God’s promise to provide. Every fretful moment is a testimony to our lack of faith in His promises.
3. We need to recognize the disparity between our worries and what Jesus addresses here. Jesus told them, “do not worry, then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’” This kind of worry is not having to decide between Mexican or Italian, or what color shoes to wear with your new outfit. Jesus’ audience were concerned about whether they would have any food or clothing at all. What they worried about makes our concerns pale into insignificance. And if Jesus had to get on them for worrying about the necessities of life, what do you think He would say to us about the things that occupy, distract, and divide our minds?
II. Jesus’ Case Against Anxiety – Read Matthew 6:24-34 – Jesus makes a solid case against our anxious lives. He gives us ample reason to think and act differently by explaining the spiritual truth about anxiety. In doing this He provides a blueprint for living without worry. How can we overcome anxiety? It is rooted in the choices I make…
A. Choose your Master Today… (v. 24) As we mentioned, worry is living with a divided mind. Jesus depicts anxiety as the fruit of a divided allegiance. You will notice the command of v. 25 begins with the word, “therefore”. This points us back to Jesus’ previous point. Matt 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
1. This statement presupposes that everyone will be mastered by something. Some by the world, some by God. But no one can serve both. Why? Because they are both masters, seeking full control. They demand that a person make a committed choice.
2. Jesus depicts this demand for a commitment with the words, love – hate; loyal – despise; depicting the activity of the heart, not just the hand. But you CANNOT serve GOD and MAMMON. (God and things). Just as you cannot seek the glory from men and the glory from God at the same time (vs. 1-18) – You will only get one.
3. When I actively and resolutely choose to serve God each day, I bypass the misery and mental conflict of what to do. I will not be riddled with concern over what people think or if they will be pleased. It will help me decide if I am going to complain and whine, or pray; Serve myself, or serve others; spend my time worrying about money, or thinking on my spiritual goals. Read my Bible or watch the news and wring my hands.
4. Luke 10:38-42 – 38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Martha was “distracted.” This is the same word. Martha was doing a good thing, but there was a better thing that would have freed her from her anxiety. But she had to choose it, as Mary did. Something had be given up in order to pursue the better part. Christians get burdened with all the “important” daily things. The physical needs take over the center.
B. See Life for What it Really Is… (v. 25-30) “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Worry is unrealistic (most of things we worry about never happen) and contradictory to what we see around us. We all know that life is more than just satisfying our basic physical needs. We have spiritual yearnings that are not defined by our physical senses. Who provides for these needs? Who gives us life fully? Do things work out in life?
1. David McClister says that Jesus’ argument takes two forms here:
a. Greater to the Lesser: v. 25 – Life is greater than its physical components (food, clothing, etc.) Since God gave you life itself, He will surely give you the lesser.
b. Lesser to the Greater: vs. 26 – 30; Look at the lesser created things that God provides for – the birds of heaven, the lilies of the field – If God provided for them, He will surely care for the greater created thing – Are you not of more value than they?
C. Do Not Invest in Useless Endeavors… (vs. 27) – NASB reads: “who by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” NKJV reads: “…can add a single cubit to his stature.” The thought is the same. Worry doesn’t work. In fact, anxiety can get in the way of productivity and true solutions. Not just in a psychological framework, but when worry keeps us from seeking spiritual help, we become unproductive. In Jesus’ parable of the soils, He said that the thorny ground represented a heart that was overburdened with the cares of this life, choking out the word of God.
D. Live By Your Faith… (vs. 30-32) We have been able to convince ourselves that the faith that God desires of us is only a theological requirement. We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God, etc. But to believe in Jesus is to trust in His ability to sustain us every day. vs. 30-31 O you of little faith. It seems evident that the word faith here means trust in its most practical sense.
1. vs. 32 – “for after all these things the Gentiles seek…” “The Gentiles” here refers to the unbelieving, the worldly. To worry about and seek after “these things” is to exhibit the very same attitude about life as the unbeliever. What difference is there between us and them? Our ability to exhibit trust and peace in turbulent times may be our greatest testimony to the world around us.
2. On the other hand, when we constantly worry we exhibit our doubt for all to see. Our anxiety is evidence that we do not believe in God’s promise to provide for us. We doubt three things about God:
a. We doubt His love – If we believe that God loves us we should be convinced that He will care for us. The Lord has compassion. He is depicted in the scripture as our sin-bearer because He loved us enough to go to the cross and pay for our sins. Peter describes this in 1 Pet. 1:18-20, as we are redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. We must have faith in that sacrifice, and our salvation is the end of our faith (1:9) But a practical application of Peter’s statements to the Christian of his time is also found in 1 Pet. 5:7 – casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. If you believe that Jesus is your sin-bearer, you must also believe that He is your burden-bearer.
b. We doubt His Wisdom – Is God smart enough to solve your problems? Does He really know what is best for you? Jesus says here…For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things”. God knows.
c. We doubt His Power – Can God really do anything about it? 2 Tim 4:16-18 “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” Paul gets excited as he speaks of God’s power to sustain him and deliver him from his troubles. 2 Tim 1:12 “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”
E. Seek First the Kingdom of God and Righteousness… (vs. 33) This is a call to choose the things of God – His kingdom (church) and His Righteousness ( – living as God directs – 1 Tim 4:8-10 – For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. How concerned are you in obtaining the character of godliness? Do you “worry” about being righteous? Jesus said earlier in this same sermon – Matt 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Are you desiring, more than anything else, to live in the way that pleases God? The promise that follows provides the power of the solution to anxiety. If we seek Him first He will provide. All these things will be added.
F. Focus on Today, not Tomorrow… (v. 34) The Holman Christian Standard Bible reads… “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” It seems some people are so committed to worrying that, if they cannot find anything in the present to worry about, they think about possible problems in the future.
1. Jesus’ promise that tomorrow will worry about itself is not the careless philosophy of the hedonist who lives only for his present enjoyment. It is the conviction of the child of God who knows that tomorrow will take care of itself because it is in his heavenly Father’s hands.
2. John MacArthur writes… God promises His grace for tomorrow and for every day thereafter and through eternity. But He does not give us grace for tomorrow now. He only gives His grace a day at a time as it is needed, not as it may be anticipated.
Conclusion: Another key element in the worry-free life is prayer. Phil. 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The peace that Paul mentions here is the antidote to anxiety.
1. Notice the nothing – everything contrast here:
• Be anxious for nothing (What do you have the right to worry about?
• But in everything by prayer … (What is it OK not to pray about?)
2. God’s peace is not produced through human endeavor or anxiety, but through making our requests known to God in prayer and trusting in Him. Heb. 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”