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Content And Worry

One morning Death was walking into a city when a man stopped him and asked what he was doing. Death answered, " I'm going into the city to kill 10,000 people". The man replied' "That's terrible that you would kill 10,000 people". Death responded, "taking people when their time has come is my job. Today I have to get my 10,000". Leter, as Death was coming out of the city, the man met him. Again, he was furious. He said, "You told me this morning that you were going to take 10,000 people, but 70,000 died today". Death answered, "Don't get mad at me. In only took 10,000. Worry killed all the rest".

Worry has an uncanny knack for killing people. In Matthew 6:25-34, He says, "Don't worry, be hopeful". Jesus is against high anxiety and unhealthy worry. Consequently, He provides many reasons you shouldn't worry.

What is God's perspective about worry?

1. Worry is a wasteful exercise

Matthew 6:25-30
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?

Jesus promises to meet our needs because He cares for us. He begins this section with a negative command : "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on" (v25). The phrase "For this reason" ties back to 6:24. Jesus' point is : If you can't serve God and money, then you can't worry about the material things that money can buy. The phrase "do not be worried" can be literally translated "stop worrying". Jesus wants His followers to stop worrying over food, drink and clothes because He will meet their needs.

First, don't worry doesn't mean don't plan. This is misleading because it gives the impression that future planning is unnecessary. Jesus is pro-planning! He wants you to work hard and plan for your future. To do otherwise is to be foolish.

Second, don't worry doesn't mean don't be concerned. The root idea of the very "worry" (merimnao) means "to be pulled apart". There's a difference between concern and worry. Concern is when you can do something to help a situation, so you do what you can do. Worry is when you can't do something, but you don't want to leave it up to God. If you are a worrying Christian, you are a sinning Christian. So don't worry, be hopeful.

2. Jesus now gives four reasons why you shouldn't worry

a. God will ensure your survival

Jesus says, "Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" (6:25). Jesus says, "If you are going to worry, at least worry about something important, such as your life". Jesus says, "If God has the power to keep you alive and wake you up tomorrow, then He will see to it that you have something to eat and something to wear tomorrow".

b. God will meet your material needs

Jesus says, "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" (v26). Jesus now moves from the lesser to the greater. Since humankind is created in the image of God, men and women are far more valuable to God than birds. The point is that when Jesus' disciples are responsible to carry out the proper ways of life as ordained by God, God is faithful to carry out his responsibilities.

c. God will grant your allotted days

Jesus says, "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?" (v27). Worrying may actually shorten your life. Are you worrying so much that you're losing sleep? God stays up all night, so why should you? You're the one who needs to sleep! Worry will give us ulcers, high blood pressure and headaches. It will sour our mood and distance our friends and eventually stifle our relationship with God. It not only has physical consequences, it has spiritual consequences as well. So don't worry, be hopeful.

d. God will cover your external appearance

(Matthew 6:28-30). Jesus longs for you to learn a lesson from the flowers and grass. He closes with a rebuke : "You of little faith", which is an expression only directed to Jesus' disciples. It indicates not an absence of faith but deficiency of faith. Jesus is saying, "Trust God to meet your needs". God's trustworthiness is the issue. Did God take care of you yesterday? What about the day before? What about the day before that? Then, how come you're worried today? What kind of Father do you have?

Some people have sufficient faith to believe God will get them to heaven but not enough to believe He will get them throuth the next twenty-four hours. Don't worry, be hopeful.

How do we conclude this matter?

Worry is a demonstration of faithlessness.

Matthew 6:31-34
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.

First, "the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things" (v32). In Jesus' day, the pagans pursued food, drink and clothing because they didn't know God as a loving Father. Jesus is saying that worry is practical atheism.

The second reason not to worry is "your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things" (v32). When you worry, you are saying, "God, I don't really know about you. I'm not sure You are a caring God. I'm not sure You are a providing God. You are good for church on Sunday, but I'm not sure about You. So I've got to take care of this myself". God will take care of you. Don't worry be hopeful.

After providing reasons not to worry, Jesus gives a command in 6:33. Jesus says, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness". This means if you are to be anxious about anything, it should be the affairs of God's kingdom.

In v33, Jesus now moves from a command to promise. He states that if you fulfill the condition of seeking first God's kingdom and His righteousness, "all these things [material necessities] will be added to you". Jesus specifically limits this promise to those who obey (v33). This promise is hopeful upon seeking first God's kingdom.

In 6:34, Jesus hammers the death nail in worry. For the third and final time He says: "So do not worry about tomorrow". Jesus then gives two reasons you should not worry. First, "tomorrow will care for itself" (v34). You must learn to live life one day at a time. God only gives you help you need for today. He doesn't give you tomorrow's help today.

A second reason not to worry is : "Each day has enough trouble of its own" (v34). The lesson is : don't carry to much baggage at once. Learn to make multiple trips instead of one. Jesus tells you to carry today's bag today and make a fresh trip tomorrow.

Tomorrow will have its challenges and trials, no matter how hard you try to prevent them. Leave tomorrow alone. When that day dawns, God will give you the grae and the strength you need for it. At the present time, you have the grace and strength He has given you for today. Don't worry, be hopeful.

Study Questions

1. What do I worry about the most? Why? What does constant worry reveal about my faith? Who will hold me accountable for my worry?

2. What are the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual consequences of worry in my own life? How has worry affected those around me?

3. Has there ever been a time when I have really worried over my material needs? How has God faithfully met all of my needs?