Are you a worrier? Let’s face it that some people are much more prone to worry than others. it seems to be part of some people’s makeup that they are always feeling that something bad is waiting for them just around the corner. It often leads to worrying about what is going to happen. Others are worried sick about things that have happened already in their life and can’t seem to turn loose of the mistakes made many years earlier. It is easy for such worry to turn into guilt and for the guilt to turn to depression and hopelessness. Even though most of us use the word worry from early in life, it is worth thinking about what the word actually means. Like many of the other words Jesus used in the great Sermon on the Mount this is a strong word and goes beyond mere concern or thinking about what might happen that is bad or even thinking about mistakes and how they have affected us. Worry is when that concern has gone too far and is taking over our lives. It has a crippling affect that keeps us from acting to change anything for fear we might make the wrong move.
It amazes me that Jesus spent as much time in this greatest of all sermon to talk about the problem of worry. He had just pointed out that we can’t serve both God and money when he added the application to that point. “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” (Matthew 6:25). That verse introduced the topic that will continue all the way through verse 34 of this chapter.
Focus on the reasons Jesus gives for not being a worrier in life. First, he pointed out that worry demonstrates a lack of faith in the loving care of our God. “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?” God wants us to recognize his love and care for us and to trust his blessings in life. In Philippians 4:6-7 when Paul spoke on the same point he said, “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.” When we present our concerns to the Father in prayer we need to stop the worrying and allow Him to handle the problems that have been haunting us. In verses 28-30 he said, “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor of spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his spender was dressed like one of these. 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.”
Second, Jesus pointed out that we don’t need to worry about things in life because it is useless. “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” One might add that instead we take away hours of life and even the joy that is part of life by spending our time worry about everything. Most of the things we worry about either can’t be changed since they have already happened or they never will happen at all. Those things in the past can’t be changed. They can be repented of and be forgiven by God and others around us. But we can’t undo what has been done. Much of what we worry about with regard to the future, never happens at all. Think about things you worried about ten years ago and how few of them ever happened in any way that we imagined.
Third he said we shouldn’t worry because that is how the pagans live that don’t know the Lord at all. After all God knows what we need before we can even think to ask him. Just think of all the things we do in life to try to protect ourselves from what can happen. Do you remember when cities, churches and groups were building bomb shelters to protect us from the inevitable bomb that was going to fall on us? What about all the storm shelters that are built, usually soon after the tornadoes have hit an area? Think of all the alarms that are put into our homes and cameras everywhere to recognize who is coming on our property. I wonder if these efforts to protect ourselves leads to worry free living or do they call attention to all the things that can happen and lead to more worry than ever. Jesus challenged us not to live like the pagans who don’t know God and don’t understand his care.
But Jesus was never one to simply say not to do something that was bad. He offered the a different plan. First, instead of worrying about everything, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Notice while worry is something that occupies our minds, seeking involves a pursuit that will involve mind, body and soul. We tend to seek many things in life. But Jesus points out that the top priority should be given to the kingdom of the Lord. What does it mean to seek the kingdom of Christ? First, it involves making Jesus the king, the lord and master of my life. Remember earlier in the Lord’s prayer he said to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We become part of the kingdom by being born again of the water and the Spirit. We live in the kingdom by allowing Jesus to rule and guide our lives in everything. But notice it isn’t just pursuing the kingdom, but his righteousness in our life. It involves taking on his heart, character and purpose in life. When we live by faith in Christ we partake in the righteousness of Jesus. Just as Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness, so when we believe God and follow his will the righteousness of Christ is counted to our account as well.
Finally, Jesus said “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Instead of worrying about yesterday or tomorrow, live today. All of us have enough to handle in each day to take up our time and energy. So don’t move into air castles of the future or the worry cellars of the past. Live fully today. It isn’t wrong to plan for the future as long as I understand I don’t have any guarantees that I will be there and I certainly don’t have any guarantees that it will happen as I plan it. Most likely it won’t. But if I live fully today it will better deal with a past I wish I could change and a future that is uncertain.