Freed from Worry

Matt 6:25-34

SS Lesson for 06/06/2021

 

Devotional Scripture: Matt 13:44-46; John 14:1-6

Lesson Background and Key Verse

Background from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

Worry is a universal human experience. Our brains constantly provoke us to evaluate our circumstances and identify threats to our well-being. Threats are many, but even when they are minor, we exaggerate them or imagine threats that do not exist. We leave ourselves with restlessness, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, short tempers, and feelings of hopelessness. Jesus addresses our deep capacity to worry in today’s text. He tells us not to worry, but he does so differently from others. And his conclusions are cause for great faith in God.

 

Today’s text is near the middle of Jesus’ discourse known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Containing some of the best known of Jesus’ teachings, the sermon answers the question raised by Jesus’ announcement of the coming of God’s kingdom (4:17): What is life like under God’s rule? Jesus’ answers touch on the most sensitive areas of human experience. God will bless the weak and lowly (Matthew 5:3-6), those who reflect God’s character (5:7-9), and those who suffer in the name of Jesus (5:10-12). God’s people will be ambassadors of his redeeming truth (5:13-16), fulfilling God’s will with lives that are righteous inside and out (5:17-30). Their integrity and love will reflect God’s own, extending even to those who wish them ill (5:31-48). They will be godly not simply on the outside, where others can see, but also inside, where God alone sees (6:1-8, 14-24). God’s people will let him judge others, as they pursue his righteousness and give help to others in that pursuit (7:1-6). Repeatedly in the sermon, Jesus addressed the problem of worry. Subjects under God’s rule are to pray for God’s will to be done in all the earth, dependent on him to supply the resources, grace, and strength that they need daily (Matthew 6:9-13). They live in confidence that God is a kind, generous Father who gladly gives his children what they need to thrive (7:7-12). Our text is preceded by statements that contrast the trust of a citizen in God’s kingdom with the life of someone who lacks that trust. If God cannot be trusted to provide for us, we must provide for ourselves by accumulating and hoarding possessions. But we know those will fail us in the end. Only storing “treasures in heaven” works in the long run. This happens as we put our confidence in God’s reliable promise to provide (Matthew 6:19-21).

 

Key Verse: Matthew 6:32-33

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.

 

Commentary from the Bible Knowledge Commentary

6:1-4. Jesus first spoke of the Pharisees’ almsgiving. Righteousness is not primarily a matter between a person and others, but between a person and God. So one’s acts should not be demonstrated before others for then his reward should come from them (vv. 1-2). The Pharisees made a great show of their giving to the needy... in the synagogues and on the streets, thinking they were thus proving how righteous they were. But the Lord said that in giving one should not even let his left hand know what his right hand is doing, that is, it should be so secret that the giver readily forgets what he gave. In this way he demonstrates true righteousness before God and not before people, so God in turn will reward him. One cannot be rewarded, as the Pharisees expected, by both man and God.

6:5-15 (Luke 11:2-4). Jesus then spoke about the practice of prayer, which the Pharisees loved to perform publicly. Rather than making prayer a matter between an individual and God, the Pharisees had turned it into an act to be seen by men—again, to demonstrate their supposed righteousness. Their prayers were directed not to God but to other men, and consisted of long, repetitive phrases (Matt. 6:7). Jesus condemned such practices. Prayer should be addressed to your Father, who is unseen (cf. John 1:18; 1 Tim. 1:17) and who knows what you need (Matt. 6:8); it is not “to be seen by men.” But Jesus also presented a model prayer for His disciples to follow. This prayer is commonly called “the Lord’s Prayer,” but it is actually “the disciples’ prayer.” This prayer, which is repeated by many Christians, contains elements that are important for all praying: (1) Prayer is to begin with worship. God is addressed as Our Father in heaven. Worship is the essence of all prayer. (In vv. 1-18 Jesus used the word “Father” 10 times! Only those who have true inner righteousness can address God in that way in worship.) (2) Reverence is a second element of prayer, for God’s name is to be hallowed, that is, revered (hagiasthētō). (3) The desire for God’s kingdom —Your kingdom come—is based on the assurance that God will fulfill all His covenant promises to His people. (4) Prayer is to include the request that His will be accomplished today on earth as it is being accomplished in heaven, that is, fully and willingly. (5) Petition for personal needs such as daily food is also to be a part of prayer. “Daily” (epiousion, used only here in the NT) means “sufficient for today.” (6) Requests regarding spiritual needs, such as forgiveness, are included too. This implies that the petitioner has already forgiven those who had offended him. Sins (cf. Luke 11:4), as moral debts, reveal one’s shortcomings before God. (7) Believers recognize their spiritual weakness as they pray for deliverance from temptation to evil (cf. James 1:13-14). Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:14-15 explain His statement about forgiveness in verse 12. Though God’s forgiveness of sin is not based on one’s forgiving others, a Christian’s forgiveness is based on realizing he has been forgiven (cf. Eph. 4:32). Personal fellowship with God is in view in these verses (not salvation from sin). One cannot walk in fellowship with God if he refuses to forgive others.

6:16-18. Fasting was a third example of Pharisaic “righteousness.” The Pharisees loved to fast so that others would see them and think them spiritual. Fasting emphasized the denial of the flesh, but the Pharisees were glorifying their flesh by drawing attention to themselves. The Lord’s words emphasized once again that such actions should be done in secret before God. Nor was one to follow the Pharisees’ custom of withholding olive oil from his head during fasting. As a result, God alone would know and would reward accordingly. In all three examples of Pharisaic “righteousness”—almsgiving (vv. 1-4), praying (vv. 5-15), and fasting (vv. 16-18)—Jesus spoke of hypocrites (vv. 2, 5, 16), public ostentation (vv. 1-2, 5, 16), receiving their reward in full when their actions are done before men (vv. 2, 5, 16), acting in secret (vv. 4, 6, 18), and being rewarded by the Father, who sees or “knows,” when one’s actions are done secretly (vv. 4, 6, 8, 18).

6:19-24 (Luke 12:33-34; 11:34-36; 16:13). One’s attitude toward wealth is another barometer of righteousness. The Pharisees believed the Lord materially blessed all He loved. They were intent on building great treasures on earth. But treasures built here are subject to decay (moth destroys cloth and rust destroys metal; cf. James 5:2-3) or theft, whereas treasures deposited in heaven can never be lost. The Pharisees had this problem because their spiritual eyes were diseased (Matt. 6:22). With their eyes they were coveting money and wealth. Thus they were in spiritual darkness. They were slaves to the master of greed, and their desire for money was so great they were failing in their service to their true Master, God. Money is the translation of the Aramaic word for “wealth or property,” mamōna (“mammon,” kjv).

6:25-34 (Luke 12:22-34). If a person is occupied with the things of God, the true Master, how will he care for his ordinary needs in life, such as food, clothing, and shelter? The Pharisees in their pursuit of material things had never learned to live by faith. Jesus told them and us not to worry about these things, for life is more important than physical things. He cited several illustrations to prove His point. The birds of the air are fed by the heavenly Father, and the lilies of the field grow in such a way that their splendor is greater than even Solomon’s. Jesus was saying God has built into His Creation the means by which all things are cared for. The birds are fed because they diligently work to maintain their lives. They do not store up great amounts of food, but continually work. And believers are far more valuable to God than birds! The lilies grow daily through a natural process. Therefore an individual need not be anxious about his existence (Matt. 6:31), for by worrying he can never add any amount of time, not even a single hour, to his life. Rather than being like the pagans who are concerned about physical needs, the Lord’s disciples should be concerned about the things of God, His kingdom and His righteousness. Then all these needs will be supplied in God’s timing. This is the life of daily faith. It does no good to worry—do not worry occurs three times (vv. 25, 31, 34; cf. vv. 27-28)—or be concerned about tomorrow for there are sufficient matters to attend to each day. Worrying shows that one has “little faith” in what God can do (v. 30; cf. you of little faith in 8:26; 14:31; 16:8). As a disciple cares each day for the things God has trusted to him, God, his heavenly Father (6:26, 32), cares for his daily needs.

 

Major Theme Analysis

(Scriptural Text from the New King James Version; cross-references from the NIV)

Life Without Worry through Trust (Matt 6:25-29)

 

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.

 

Trust and don’t worry about physical things (25-26)

Food and other physical things do not bring us nearer to God, only our faith (1 Cor 8:8)

But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

Even if we were to work and obtain many physical things, they are meaningless in terms of eternity (Eccl 2:21-23)

21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.

We must realize that our human appetite is never satisfied (Eccl 6:7)

All man's efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied.

As Jesus said, we do not live on bread alone (Luke 4:4)

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.'"

In our physical toil, we must remember what is the most important between it and the words of Jesus (Luke 10:41-42)

41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

We needn’t worry about physical things because God has promised to provide for His righteous people (Prov 10:3)

The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

 

Trust knowing the true meaning of life (27)

It is the Holy Spirit who gives life to the spirit (John 6:63)

63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.

God says that those who want to save their life must lose it in Him (Matt 16:25-26)

25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Life is a loss without God (Phil 3:7-8)

7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Jesus is the life of which everyone who gets it must come through Him (John 14:6)

6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

God controls life, not man (Daniel 5:23)

23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.

 

Trust and don’t worry about financial things (28-29)

We must learn to trust God with our finances and be content with our financial situation (1 Tim 6:6-10)

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Financial things will forsake us, but Jesus never will forsake us (Heb 13:5)

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." 

Be careful of greed, our life does not consist of abundance (Luke 12:15)

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

By trusting God, He promises to bless us beyond our capacity (Mal 3:10)

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

By trusting God, He promises to make us rich in all the right ways (2 Cor 9:11)

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

 

Life Without Worry through Faith (Matt 6:30-34)

 

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.

 

Faith in God because He is the ultimate provider (30-32)

The same God who supplies our physical needs is the same one that supplies our salvation (2 Cor 9:10)

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

God knows what we need before we ask Him (Matt 6:8)

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

God is more than able to provide all things at all times (2 Cor 9:8)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

All wealth and strength comes from God (1 Chron 29:12)

Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.

 

Faith in God through seeking His Kingdom (33)

Commentary on Seeking the Kingdom of God from “Perspectives of Faith in the Kingdom of God” by J. Hampton Keathley III

 

“But seek ye first …”

 

“But” is a conjunction of contrast. In contrast to a world without God and its mad search for happiness in the details of life, there must be a completely different priority for believers.

 

Seek,” the Greek, zeteo, means “to attempt to do something, to endeavor, go about, to inquire after, or desire.” It implies diligence, effort, and focus, a preoccupation with the object sought, i.e., the things of God.

 

Note also that the verb is in the continuous present tense. This must become the goal and pattern of our lives. But by implication there is the warning in this of the ever present pull of the world to get us preoccupied with other things, to distract, divide, and draw us away from the Lord.

 

“Seek first” drives this home as a matter of the highest priority. Why? Because of what is at stake, eternal treasures and the experience of God’s righteousness versus the loss of those treasures and moral degeneracy. When the pursuit of earthly treasures becomes the priority, moral breakdown in society is never far behind.

 

What are we to seek? The divine priority consists of two parts: God’s kingdom and His righteousness and the two are always related as root is to fruit.

 

The word “kingdom” means rule, dominion. To seek God’s kingdom is:

 

To seek His sovereign rule, His will, and authority in one’s life.

 

It is to promote those things that will produce the same in those around us. It means to promote, support, and work for the edification and growth of believers and evangelism and outreach of the lost.

 

We also seek His kingdom when we yearn for His coming kingdom with the return of the King and live accordingly, with a view to heavenly treasures and the glory of God.

 

We are also to seek His righteousness. This in essence means Christlike character. But please note two things: (1) When God is in control of our lives we will experience His righteousness through the ministry of the Spirit. And (2) righteousness is to be a priority objective rather than the cares of a world which has its heart fixed on material possessions. WHY? Remember the principle? Outlook (our objectives) determine output. Where your treasure is there will your heart be also. If we replace God’s righteousness with desires for the physical blessings of the world like position, power, posses­sions, etc., we lose God’s control. We become the slaves of mammon. Mammon becomes our god and that always results, eventually, in unrighteousness—in fraud, in murder, in neglect of family, in a loss of concern for others at the expense of the almighty dollar.

Seeking spiritual things

 

God’s word is like spiritual food and therefore we need to ingest it daily (Heb 5:12-14)

12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

 
We need to trust God by casting all our anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

 
Trust assumes faith (Luke 8:25)

25 "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."

 
God’s grace is more than sufficient for us (2 Cor 12:9)

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

 
We needn’t worry because God will not allow any temptation more than we can bear (1 Cor 10:13)

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

 
We need to trust God because our competence is only in Him (2 Cor 3:5)

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

 
In our time of need, we need to approach the throne of God (Heb 4:16)

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Seeking heavenly value versus earthly value

 
Earthly things have no value because regardless of the amount accumulated, others will eventually reap the benefit (Ps 39:6)

Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

 
Heavenly value is deliverance from eternal death whereas earthly value is worthless (Prov 11:4)

Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

 
Heavenly values result in godly wisdom and understanding (Prov 16:16)

How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!

 
Earthly values are like chasing after the wind (Eccl 2:26)

To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

 
Earthly values are never satisfying (Eccl 5:10)

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.

 
Contentment is one of the virtues of heavenly values (Heb 13:5)

5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." 

 
Remember that our citizenship is in heaven, not on earth (Phil 3:20)

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

 
Our hope is stored in Heaven (Col 1:5)

the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel

 
Our mind should be set on heavenly things, not only earthly things (Col 3:2)

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

 
Earthly values are uncertain, but heavenly ones have a Divine promise (1 Tim 6:17-19)

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

 

Faith in God regardless of troubles (34)

We need to enjoy daily life because we don’t know what the next day will bring (Eccl 3:22)

22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?

We must only think of today because life is too short to worry about tomorrow (James 4:13-14)

13 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Every man’s days are full of trouble (Job 14:1)

"Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.

Jesus showed us how to think of provisions and life – day by day (Matt 6:11)

Give us today our daily bread.

It is only through God’s great love and mercy that we are able to see another day (Lam 3:22-23)

22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

Conclusion and Other Thoughts

Commentary Thoughts from Bob Deffinbaugh

The Practical Implication: Don’t Worry (6:25-32)

As I read this particular section of the Sermon on the Mount, I get the distinct impression that our Lord has come up on our blind side. Most of us are inclined to think of materialism as the inordinate desire to become wealthy for our own selfish ends. In other words, materialism is equated with financial ambition and prosperity. We who do not consider ourselves affluent do not think that materialism is a great problem to us. But materialism has two distinct forms. The first and most obvious is that dealt with in verses 19-24, the love of money which becomes the dominant and all-consuming passion of our lives. Most of us are not so close to the fire of this temptations as we are its converse side. Rather than being absorbed in the hoarding of wealth which we do have, we are consumed with concern about that which we don’t have. The ‘have-nots’ are often more obsessed over material things than the ‘haves.’

Again, we think of materialism as a preoccupation or insatiable desire for more and more luxuries. We get a big house, and we want a bigger one. We get a television and we are not content until we have it in color. Then we want the giant screen and the video tape recorder. This is what we like to think of as materialism. And so it can be.

But the kind of materialism which haunts many Christians is often that variety which dwells upon those things which are not optional, but mandatory; not the luxuries, but the necessities. Notice what Jesus told us not to worry about: food and clothing. Not steak and ale, maybe not even meat and potatoes. Perhaps even a meager bowl of soup, or a second-hand suit for work.

One does not need to look far to see many opportunities for worry. How many of us have given thought to the implications of the possibility of fuel shortages? Have you thought about selling that ‘gas guzzler’ and buying a smaller car with a smaller appetite for gas? Have you considered going to diesel power or avoiding the need for unleaded gas? Well, I have. Those are potential areas for worry. I have observed the price of hamburger, too. And yet, it is here that we find out materialism raising its ugly head. Undue concern about material things. Distracting and devastating worry which undermines our faith and diverts our spiritual energy. This is what our Lord identified as materialism. This is what He called sin.

Due to the unfortunate rendering of the King James Version (‘Take no thought,’ verse 25), it would be well to begin by defining what we mean by ‘worry.’ Our Lord is not discouraging the use of our minds here. Faith is not contrary to sound thinking; rather it is to be rooted in thought. In fact, our Lord is urging us to use our heads and not to panic. We are to consider the birds of the air (verse 26) and the flowers of the field (verse 28). We are shown that worry is both illogical and unprofitable.

Worry is not to be confused with thinking and planning to meet future needs. Worry is not to be confused with genuine concern. Rather, worry is the preoccupation and dissipation of our mental and physical powers with things that are future, hypothetical, and beyond our control. Worry is the antithesis of faith. Faith perceives potential problems with a view to the infinite power and fatherly concern of the God Who has saved us. Worry sees only the obstacles (actual or imaginary) and meditates on all the possible disastrous possibilities, while neglecting the fact of God’s divine care and control in our lives. In verses 25-32 our Lord outlined the reasons why worry is both foolish and faithless.

(1) Worry is a distortion of values and a reversal of priorities, verse 25. “Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25b).

Most scholars inform us that this is an argument from the greater to the lesser. If God is our Creator and He has given us life, will He not also provide the incidentals such as food and clothing. This is the kind of argument Paul employed in Romans chapter 8: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32; cf. 5:10).

Certainly this is a valid type of argument, but I am not convinced that this is the main thrust of our Lord’s words. It seems to me that Jesus is focusing upon the issue of priorities. Materialism, at its base, is a reversal of priorities. It places the temporal above eternal things. It is short-sighted, and misses the long view of matters. It is ‘this world’ centered.

Jesus simply calls upon us to rethink our priorities. Which is more important, life itself, or the food we put in our mouth? Which is of higher value, our body or the clothing we put on it? Worry is preoccupation with matters of lowest priority (as is materialism).

I do not believe that the meal over which we are so distressed is the difference between life and death. It is not our ‘last meal.’ If we were to miss that meal, so what? Our life is not ‘on the line.’ If we do not get that suit or a dress, will our bodies suffer for it? In the vast majority of cases, I think not. Paul gladly suffered deprivation for the sake of the gospel (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:24-27). Worry is a symptom of reversed priorities, and our Lord calls this to our attention.

(2) Worry is a failure to see things as they really are, verse 26. You will remember that in verses 22 and 23 materialism was described in terms of bad eyesight. Such is really true, for it fails to see things as they really are. That is what the Master taught in verse 26:

“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?”

Worry flies in the face of everyday life. Simply look about you. Look up in the skies and look at the birds. Have you ever seen a skinny sparrow? Do they spend hours in worry and anxiety? No, even by instinct they live their lives in thoughtless dependence upon God. Has God failed to care for insignificant birds? If He cares for birds, which are creatures of much less value than man, will He not care for you? To the birds, God is both Creator and Sustainer. To the Christian, God is our Heavenly Father. Dare we doubt His care? Worry does not see matters clearly. It allows our vision of our Heavenly Father to be obscured. It overlooks the providential care of God for insignificant creatures, such as the birds.

(3) Worry is a waste of energy, verse 27. Worry is the most unproductive use of one’s time possible. It accomplishes nothing but unbelief, doubt and fear. It distracts our attention from matters of higher priority and paralyzes us from doing what is needful at the moment. It fears what ‘could be’ rather than follow what should be done at the moment.

We cannot, by worry, add so much as a cubit to our life’s span. In fact, all the evidence would indicate that all we can do by worry is to shorten life and undermine our health.

(4) Worry is an act of unbelief, verses 28-30. Leaving the matter of food the Master proceeded to that of clothing. Such anxiety over what we will wear is surely unfounded. Look around, consider the wild flowers of the field. Do they fret and fume? And yet look at their beauty. Even Solomon’s clothing was no match. Indeed, good clothing can do little but to attempt to imitate nature’s beauty.

And the beauty which God has given these wild flowers is all the more impressive when you realize how temporary and expendable such flowers are. They are magnificent in their beauty for a short while and then they are gone. Men value them so little that they gather handfuls of the dried grass to throw into the ovens to increase their heat. If these flowers are so insignificant and yet God gives them such beauty, will He not care for His own?

The issue, then, is more than one of mere lack of knowledge; it is lack of faith: “… will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30). Worry is a serious sin because it doubts the goodness and the integrity of God. In effect, we disregard the word of God and call Him a liar when we worry. We question His sovereignty, His omniscience, His omnipotence, His tender love and care for His own. Worry is a kind of backhanded blasphemy, totally unbecoming to the child of God. It completely forgets that God is our Heavenly Father.

(5) Preoccupation with food and clothing is the characteristic of the Gentile, verse 32. There is a very shocking statement in verses 31 and 32, “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” (Matthew 6:31-32).

Jesus said that when we worry about what we will eat or drink or wear we are acting just as the pagans do. These are the things which dominate the thinking and the striving of the pagans. And if you don’t believe this just look at the media and its advertising. They try to sell us deodorant to cover our body odor, after shave lotion to make us irresistible, tooth paste which gives our mouth sex appeal, and clothing which makes us look suave and sophisticated. Food, drink and clothing. That’s what the world is into. And when we become preoccupied with these things we are just like unbelievers. We have departed from our distinctives when we allow ourselves to worry and fret over these things.

The Prescription (6:33-34)

Verses 33 and 34 serve as a conclusion to this section, but they also give some specific clues as to how you and I can deal with the sin of worry. Let me draw from these verses and the entire passage several suggestions.

(1) Recognize worry as a sin. Our text makes it clear that worry is no mere human failing; it is willful sin. It is a seldom recognized form of materialism. It doubts God and dims our view of things as they really are. When you fall into worry confess it as sin and ask for forgiveness and victory.

(2) Review your theology. Worry can only co-exist with an unbiblical theology. It cannot tolerate a Sovereign God Who is all-knowing and all-powerful. It refuses to acknowledge God as a loving Father Who knows our every need, and Who brings about every situation to strengthen our faith.

(3) Rearrange your priorities. Worry is a form of materialism, and materialism involves (among other things) the reversal of our priorities involving heavenly and earthly things. Jesus did not say, seek only the Kingdom of God, but rather, “seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Heavenly things must come first in our priorities. We must see our spiritual lives as of primary importance and our material well-being as secondary. Once we have our priorities in order we shall not be so concerned (i.e. worried) about material things.

(4) Redirect your energies. Every one of us is actively pursuing some goal in life. We are all devoted to one thing or another. If we have made our goal the quest for material prosperity then we must redirect our efforts. The Christian life is not a matter of passivity—not at all. We are to be active in the carrying out of God’s will. So when it comes to the matter of worry we must deliberately and purposefully determine that we shall not waste our energies on worry, but that we shall lay our hands on the task immediately before us. It is not wrong to be ambitious and aggressive. It is only wrong to pursue the wrong goals.

(5) Refuse to borrow on tomorrow’s troubles. The Bible teaches us that we must live ‘one day at a time.’ Christians who live godly lives will have trials and testing. That is a normal part of our Christian experience (Matthew 5:3-12; John 15:20; 2 Corinthians 1:3ff; Philippians 1:29-30; James 1:2ff.; 1 Peter 1:6ff.). There will be trials and trouble tomorrow, but these things are beyond our control. God gives us grace and comfort in the time of need. Let us not seek an advance on adversity. We have sufficient troubles today. Let us see to it that we deal with them in such a way that God is glorified.

             (Adapted from URL:https://bible.org/seriespage/fatal-failures-religion-4-materialism-matthew-619-34)

 

Concluding Thoughts from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

Few passages of the Bible challenge us relentlessly throughout life as much as does this one. Do you see all the ways it makes us think about our lives? Trusting God for the future, seeking his kingdom constantly as the first priority, makes us ponder how we use our time, where we place our efforts, how we relate to the people around us, and how we feel inside. Jesus gives his followers a great responsibility in this passage. But we are missing the point if we feel burdened by that responsibility. When we listen carefully, we realize that Jesus is not making our lives harder with these words. Rather, he is making our lives easier. We are free from the burden of worry when we submit to God. Clearly, worry does not keep us alive and well. Only God’s provision can sustain us through the trials of life. And certainly only God can give us a life that triumphs over death. God’s provision is powerful. He provides exactly what his people need. Trusting in God’s provision is the antidote to worry.

 

Concluding Thoughts from the Echoes Commentary

The Curse of Worry - In His Sermon on the Mount/ Jesus specifically addressed worry and urged His listeners to untangle themselves from being overly concerned about daily needs such as food and clothing. Worry means one's mind is overwhelmed by negative, fearful thoughts. It's similar to a relentless army marching back and forth. How do 1 figure this out? How do I fix it? What can I do about this or that? What if "X" happens? These kinds of distractions are unnecessary and contrary to God's desire. When the mind is stressed out, there is very little or no time to meditate on what's on God's heart or pursue spiritual matters.

 

Look at Nature - Jesus drew His audience's attention to nature, the birds, flowers, and grass. Our feathery friends wake up each morning anticipating worms in the ground or fish in the lake. They expect the Father's attentiveness to their needs. In the same way, the heavenly Father longs for His children to share the same expectancy of His care. Aren't human beings worth more than birds and flowers?

 

How to Stop Worrying - But how does one accept Jesus' invitation to worry-free living? Is it possible to stop the persistent habit? First of all, Jesus said, realize anxieties accomplish nothing. It destructively eats away at the inside of one's body. Secondly, ask different questions. Wake up in the morning and seek what the Father is up to that day. Holy Spirit, where will you lead me? Lord, how can I join with You in Your work, building up Your kingdom here on earth? Kingdom work should be God's children's major primary concern. Ask God to transform your thought life, believing each day; the worm is already in the ground for breakfast. So now, my needs are met, I can turn my thinking toward God, what He wants of my day. That's an indication He is the top priority, He's in His proper place as God. Seek Him. He's the one in control.

 


Limit It - And lastly, if you must be distracted with your troubles, limit it to today, not next week, month, or year. It's okay to make plans for the future. It's natural to think back on past mistakes, grieve over poor decisions—but don't dwell in either place. Live in the right now. The key to worry-free living is to seek God earnestly, look to Him, and Him alone, as your source for all things.