Matthew 6: 25-34
By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Why do we Worry?
General Idea: The previous passage warned us how possessions can divide our mind so that they control our direction in life. In so doing, they capture our hearts, and then control our will and aspirations (Matt. 6:19-23). Jesus continues in His discussion concerning those material things, that such pursuits will cause us to worry, and worry will take the place of all else in our life. The results of this control by possessions will create worry, as our attention, our heart, and the identity of who we are become wrapped up in them.
The solution is simple. Put Christ and His will first, everything else, secondary. When we have our hearts centered upon what is really important, our real purposes and plans begin to function correctly, as our perspectives are in line with God's. The secret to a life of contentment is having the right perspective of our place in the kingdom.
As a Christian, we have to have the perspective that all things in life, all that we have, see, and use, do not belong to us. It all belongs to God-period! We did not create them; we are merely the stewards entrusted to care for, develop, and use them wisely, all to His glory, and to progress with His call and His Kingdom upon our hearts and the world. When we think we have ownership, we are deluding ourselves, creating worry and needless stress. We then get ourselves off His plan and Will, because we seek possession and not His Kingdome!
1. Do not worry, we all worry, but, when you think it through, why do we worry? What is it that is so important when compared to our purpose, call, Christ's care and love, or our place in eternity?
a. People throughout history, and most people in the world today, have little beyond their basic needs of food, shelter, and a couple pairs of clothing. They also depended upon the help of others, seasons, and weather, especially, rain to irrigate the crops. Thus, the attainment of goods depended on the environment, weather conditions, and the cooperation of others around them. There were no stores, no supermarkets just around the corner. So, they would have had cause to worry, but Jesus addresses them not to do so! Now, consider all that we have today--much more than King Solomon would have had! After all, he did not have the food, material goods, or entrainment we have today.
b. God is sovereign, and He watches over and sustains all of His creation, including the personal needs of humanity. (Psalm 104:27). Thus, if God is caring for His minor creatures…
i. "How much more" for you, this was a contemporary Jewish argument to understand that God is in control.
ii. Most scholars believe the flowers that Jesus is pointing to are the purple anemones, where they got the purple dye for royal robes. And, these same flowers, when dried, along with weeds were used in fireplaces to heat their homes. This is an image of our mortality and even the best of goods are being merely temporary, eventually rotting and decaying (Psalm 103:15-16; Isa. 40:6-8).
iii. Neither sow or reap, adult birds are not idle. They do not plant or cultivate what they eat, nor, do they sit around waiting for their food as the baby birds do. Birds do not worry. They are diligent, working to gather food, preparing nests, caring for their young, entraining my cat, and other bird things. So, the inference to us is, we are still to do all we can to work using our talents, abilities, and gifts, trusting that He will guide and provide.
iv. If we act as baby birds and do not work, we are as the fool spoken of in Proverbs (Prov. 10:8-23)! But they do not gather more than they need or can use, like the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21)
2. So why do you worry? This was a popular teaching and saying in Jesus time, He is pointing them once again to some of their good insights, while challenging them to not see it as academic, but something to practice!
a. Jesus reminds His listeners then, as well as we who live now, that we can trust in God. He will provide.
i. The cultures around the Jews would gratify themselves with as much pleasure as they could find and endure. And, they would pray to their gods, seeking favors by making contracts of services to them in turn, thinking they would get what they wanted.
ii. The Christian is called to seek God and His Will, not our gratification, which will lead us nowhere. We do not need to bargain with God, or make promises that we know we cannot or will not keep. All we need to do is trust Him, and seek His Will, which is what is best for us.
iii. God delights in meeting our needs! He is not a killjoy, seeking our suffering and sacrifice for His pleasure or entertainment (Matt. 6:8).
b. Worry is a lack of trust! It shows a pointless disregard to our Lord who cares and provides for us (Prov. 16:33)!
c. The word worry means "distracted." Do not let stress about food and clothing distract you from the more important things in life (Martha vs. Mary in Luke 10: 38-42).
d. Stature from the Greek is a figure of speech meaning our lifespan, thus that is in God's control and not ours (Luke 12:25-26).
3. How can worry help you? When we have worry at our side, we will doubt the capability, goodness, care, love, and power of our God (Rom. 8:31-39).
a. We cannot obtain the goals He has for us. We are not seeking Him or trusting in Him. Instead, worry has our attention.
b. How can we counteract worry?
i. As the previous passage taught us--by laying up treasure in heaven (Matt. 19:21; Luke 12:33-34; 1 Tim. 6:17-19).
ii. We have to know that the Christian life is not always safe. There are dangers, and we will have problems and setbacks. We have to be willing to risk it all for His glory, as our life is not here, but our work is! Worry countermands risk, and the fulfilling of our call.
iii. We need to see God as the great Creator and Sustainer--as He is. As He created and sustains the universe, He can also sustain us!
iv. Have faith in God's providence! If God, through His providence, provides for the needs of the birds, will He not do the same for you (Matt. 10:29-31)? How are you more valuable than birds and flowers?
c. How can you prevent worry? By knowing that:
i. We are created in the image of God!
ii. We are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb--His Son!
iii. Worrying about things does nothing to help provide for you! In fact, it will take you further away from help and solutions, as your energies will be so wrapped up in worry, you will accomplish nothing toward providing for yourself!
iv. God has the ability and willingness to provide! Is He not able and willing to do so for you?
v. If we take to heart what Jesus says, then our lives will be like the house built upon a rock (Matt. 7:24-25).
vi. We are not capable of handling tomorrow's worries, because we have no control over the future. Worrying about the future will only distract us from the duties in the present. Trust in God!
vii. People without God naturally have a real need to worry about these things. However, if you have received His grace, and He is ruling in your heart, you do not need to worry!
4. Seek first the Kingdom of God refers to our quintessential quest in life, seeking Christ as Savior and Lord. By Lord, we mean He is ruling our hearts, minds, and actions, including our motivations and desires. So, we seek what is best, as He has our best at hand. When we just look to ourselves, we miss His golden opportunities and goodness.
a. To seek God's Will is our highest priority outside of our salvation. The Will of God is not just a task, or an ends to find, nor is it just a set of goals; rather, it is a hunt, and a journey. The action of seeking Him and His plan is His Will! This is the hunt and the journey that produces the principles that grow and mold us in faith and maturity (1 Pet. 5). It never ends; it is always continuing until we are called home (See our channel on God's Will).
b. God's Will is for us to have a right relationship with Him.
c. We are to recognize His sovereignty over the universe, and our lives.
d. Righteousness, character, and virtue are the main objects in our quest. These are the jewels that we take with us into eternity!
i. Righteousness, character, and virtue must be our essence that spills onto others. If not, we are definitely not in His Will.
ii. When we worry, we cannot grow in righteousness, character, or virtue, because it takes over our lives, leaving no room for growth or maturity.
iii. Worry will cut us off from our faith and growth, because it blocks our focus and concentration upon our Lord (Heb. 11:10).
We have to understand that when we worry about trivial things, lust after goods and riches, even things we need, it will choke from us the life we could have had in Christ (Matt. 13:22). It is our relationship with Him that is important, and that we are to seek. We are to seek His provisions for every aspect of our lives, and work all we can to help fulfill it. If we do not pay attention to Jesus' teachings because we are too busy worrying, we may go through life on earth without His help. Do not let Jesus be a concept, let Him be your LORD!
1. What would your life be like if super markets and fast food restaurants suddenly disappeared (Keep in mind most people in the world have no access to them!)? Can you make a list of all the blessings you have? Now, consider how much more you have than did king Solomon?
2. If the solution is so simple to our worries (seek Him first), why is it so hard for us to do it?
3. Jesus tells us that pursuing material things will cause us to worry, and worry will take the place of all else in our life. How have you seen this true in your life?
4. How do possessions divide our minds so that they control our direction in life? What can you do to prevent this from happening?
5. How have you seen possessions control people and capture their attention, heart, and identify? Have you observed any difference among Christians?
6. We all worry, but, when you think it through, why do we worry? What is it that is so important when compared to our purpose, call, Christ's care and love, and our place in eternity? Make a list of all the things that cause you to worry. Then, brainstorm on how to rid yourself of these, or what you can do to control your worrying.
7. If God is caring for His minor creatures, "How much more" is He caring for you? What can you do in order to realize and understand that God is in control?
8. What is the balance between your trust in Christ to guide and provide for you, and your call to work, using your talents, abilities, and gifts?
9. So, why do you worry? How has it "distracted" you?
10. Why is it when we just look to ourselves, we miss His golden opportunities and goodness?
11. Christians are called to seek God and His Will, not our gratification, because it will lead us nowhere. How would pursuing the things of the world lead you away from Christ? What could you do to prevent it?
12. We do not need to bargain with God or make promises that we know we cannot or will not keep. All we need to do is trust Him, and seek what is best for us. That is His Will. So, why do people, including Christians, try to bargain with God? What are they trying to accomplish?
13. God delights in meeting our needs! He is not a killjoy, seeking pleasure or entertainment in our suffering and sacrifice. (Matt. 6:8). So, how can you take comfort in this?
14. How does worry show a lack of trust and a pointless disregard to our Lord who cares and provides for us (Prov. 16: 33)?
15. Who provides you with life? If He is powerful enough to create the earth and you, what could prevent our total trust in Him to provide?
16. How can you make the number one priority in your life the seeking of His kingdom? Write out a plan to accomplish this!
17. Seeking God's Will is our highest priority, outside of our salvation. Yet, so few Christians spend the time to do this! What can you do to create a mindset for yourself and your church that the Will of God is not just a task, an end to find, or just a set of goals; rather, it is a hunt and a journey? How would this help in your church's faith development and response to Christ's call?
18. How can we counteract worry? How can you prevent worry?
19. We are not capable of handling tomorrow's worries, because we have no control over the future. Worrying about the future will only distract us from our duties in the present. How can this idea help you trust God?
20. How can you develop faith in God's providence, both in His ability and His willingness to provide for you and your church?
Providence (Genesis 50:20; Job. 38:1-41:34; Psalm 103: 19; Daniel 4:34-35; Acts 2:22-24; 14:16; Romans 1:26-32; 11:33-36; James 1:13-17)
Providence is the doctrine that gives us the knowledge and comfort that God is sovereign, and thus, He is in control. We are not mere rats in a meaningless maze, where there is no divine plan or purpose.
God, indeed, is in control. He does, indeed, have a plan; there is no stray molecule in the universe that does not have His hand of control over it. Jesus tells us that God knows when even a sparrow falls to the ground. He knows the number of hairs on our head--or the number of hairs we do not have. Therefore there is no chance, no luck, no gambling, no fate, in the worldly sense, to what if or what may have been or what is, as all things happen according to His plan.
At the same time, we have free choice, and also determination. Somehow, beyond our capacity to reason, these two seemingly conflicting sets of reason come together as friends (St. Augustine and Spurgeon). In theological terms, this is called Concurrence. This is the coterminous relationship between God's decree and our free choice that somehow are shared in our journey through life, that our free will and choices work into His foreordained degrees without assault to our decisions.
Thus, if we do not receive His Grace and Salvation, even though His election exists, it is because we choose to not accept Him, which He sees by His foreknowledge, and applied to His purpose. To what extent this occurs is a matter of hot debate amongst theologians. But, is safe to say, He is ultimately in charge. (Yes, this will "blow out mind:" i.e. your thinking ability!) Even Calvin spent more time defending and explaining human responsibility and our duty to prayer more than any other subject in his writings. So, it is all in His hands, and it is up to us to get to work, trusting and obeying Him.
Providence refers to God's foreknowledge. That means that God sees beforehand, and provides. It is a word we do not see much of today, but it has a rich history amongst the Puritans and Reformers as the great comfort that God is God and LORD over all. God is no clockmaker who made the world, set it in motion, then left it, as the Deists proclaimed. God has ultimate authority and sovereignty over all the affairs of humanity. He is directing, involved, and working through it all, giving us mercy and guidance. He creates, He sustains. The universe is dependent upon His involvement, moment upon moment.
Providence gives us the comfort that He is in charge; there are no accidents or mistakes. If you feel you married the wrong person, well, you did not! Or, you may feel you have made a lot of bad decisions. Well, you have--we all have-but God is still working things out for good (Rom. 8). Therefore, we have no need to dwell upon the past, complain, or play the what if games.
Ultimately, we do not have control over life or death. We make decisions, and we are called to seek Him first (Matt. 6:33). He is our ultimate safety net and security, both in life and eternity. Worry should not even come to our minds, because He is in charge (Matt. 6:25-34). We are in God's provision, and nobody else has ultimate control. All power and authority is His by both direct and indirect means.
So, we need to see our life as being in His hands of love and comfort, that He does have a wonderful plan for our lives, and everything happens for a reason and a purpose. We need to look beyond logic, reason, and scientific explanations that change completely every few years. His truth remains the same. We have to see all that happens in our life--sufferings, tragedies, good times, and all--as opportunities to learn, grow, develop character, and mature. If not, we miss out on what is important in life, causing it to be meaningless!
Suffering for the Church!