Do you struggle with worry? What is one thing that you find yourself worrying about constantly?
Is it good or bad to worry? Why?
How has worry paralyzed or prevented you from living fully in the past?
We live in a world of so much uncertainty. Not only in our own lives, as we process our own uncertainty about what we are even going to do with our lives when we graduate. But, uncertainty in the entire world around us. We are filled with worry, we are overwhelmed with anxiety, we are frozen by fear. Yet Jesus, in his greatest sermon, speaks more about the subject of worry than anything else. He speaks of a Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, that is one marked by freedom from worry.
How does a life without worry sound to you? Does that seem possible or plausible?
So, what does the Bible say about worry? What does Jesus say to speak into the lives of his followers as they experience their own burdens of worry and anxiety?
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 than food, and the body more 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 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers 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—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.
The beginning of worry is the end of faith and the beginning of true faith is the end of worry.
Jesus on a Worry-Free Kingdom: Matthew 6:25-34
Jesus devotes more words to the subject of worry (25) than he does to any other issue in Matthew 6.
His contention is that worry is incompatible with Christian faith. Jesus calls those who worry about food and clothing you of little faith (30).
Jesus’ argument goes something like this:
God created and sustains our life. Our life (for which God is responsible) is obviously more important than the food and drink that nourish it or the clothing that covers our body.
If God already takes care of the greater issues (life and body), can we not trust him to take care of the lesser issues (food and clothing)?
If God takes care of the needs of lesser creatures like birds and flowers, will he not also care for the needs of his greater creatures, those of us who are his children by faith?
Jesus is not promoting Netflix watching laziness (2 Th 3:10). God provides for us by giving us the opportunity to work and earn money to buy life’s necessities.
We are not promised freedom from work nor the freedom from our responsibility to care for our families. We are only promised freedom from worry.
Jesus’ guarantee is that, when our primary ambition is to spread God’s kingdom (33) and right living everywhere, our material needs will be met.
We will also enjoy the freedom to pursue secondary ambitions such as developing our gifts and succeeding in our careers since those goals are now placed under our primary ambition.
NIV Bible Speaks Today: Notes (London: IVP, 2020), 1307.
What is your primary ambition today? What are the things that you spend time thinking about, worrying about, focusing on?
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow—only today of its strength.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
So, What Do We Do?
It’s easy to say, “Oh, just trust in God and don’t worry.” But the reality is that we are constantly bombarded with reasons to worry.
We have exams coming up, we have relationships to pour into, we have to look for part-time jobs as the Summer comes, show up for lectures and do our homework, rent to pay. We are surrounded constantly by reasons to worry, so is it even realistic to consider a life without constantly worry?
Jesus, in the text we’ve read says yes. He says in fact, that constant worry is an example of ‘little faith’. So, how do we become people of much faith and little worry?
Three Steps Today Toward
Change what we focus on as ultimate: “Where your treasure is, your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21) This is just before Jesus’ teaches on worry.
When we focus on high grades, success in and out of the classroom.
When we focus on our future career and plans constantly.
When we are so addicted to social media and how others perceive us and respond to our posts. Our hearts are not treasuring Christ, we are not focused on God and His presence and work in our world and in our hearts by His Kingdom.
We are focused on ourselves.
Jesus tells us that this absolutely will be a cause for worry. In fact, we are the source of our worry. Our own goals, our own plans, our own insecurity and need for confirmation from others becomes this overflowing worry-machine.
Our hearts become focused on everything but Christ, and so it makes sense that we become overwhelmed with the pressures and worries of life, because we go to every other source BUT the source of ultimate peace.
Step Toward Christ: We must step toward Christ, asking Him by His Spirit, to change the direction and desire of our hearts – on Christ and Christ alone as ultimate. Take that first step today.
Step Toward Christian Community: Finally, we must place ourselves in Christian community to support us in this journey. When we are surrounded by a good cloud of witnesses, fellow believers with their eyes set on Christ instead of the worry-generating world, we find that we begin to function from a well of the peace of Christ.
What does Scripture say about my worried heart and the peace of Christ?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:6
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Kingdom of Peace
This Kingdom, given to us today in and through the life of Jesus, is one that is marked by a perfect peace.
This does not mean that we will never worry, we live in a worried and broken world.
But what it does mean is that when we focus on Christ, His word to us, and surround ourselves with Christ-seeking community, our worries will be framed under the promises that Christ has made to us. That we will not be overcome by worry, but confident in faith – that God is who He says He is.
We can, in this new Kingdom, bring our worries to God and know that He is living and moving and working to meet them full on.