Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Faith or Worry?

Part 22 of Kingdom Life

Text: Matthew 6:25-34

You can listen to this sermon here.



“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (v. 33). 


An Anxiety Epidemic

It’s been said that worry is “the disease of the twenty-first century.” There’s an anxiety epidemic in our world. People worry about the safety of their children, their finances, their health--the list goes on and on.

Of course, worry is not a new thing. It plagued people of the first century also. [1] To people who struggle with worry, Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on” (v. 25). [2]


The Antidote for Worry

The Greek word translated as “anxious” is merimnao. Sometimes merimnao “expresses an appropriate feeling of intense concern” [3] (e.g., Timothy was “genuinely concerned for [the Philippi-ans’] welfare,” Phil. 2:20). Other times merimnao “expresses intense feelings of anxiety about the issues of life” [4] (e.g., “do not be anxious about anything,” Phil. 4:6). This is the meaning of merimnao that Jesus has in mind when he says, “Do not be anxious.” [5]

Is there an antidote for worry?

The antidote for worry is to daily put our faith in a sovereign God who loves us. 

Faith can either be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the object of our faith. Faith in God is a good thing because (1) he is able to provide what we need (“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”, v. 25), and (2) he cares about us (“Are you not of more value than [the birds]?”, v. 26). We can “[cast] all [our] anxieties on [God], because he cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7).


The Irrationality of Worry

Worry is irrational. You can try to reason with a worrier, but worriers are immune to reason. (They’ll say, “I know, I know, but….”) Jesus asks, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (v. 27). [6] In other words, he’s saying that there’s no benefit to worrying.


Our Priority

Jesus says, “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (vv. 31-32). Unlike the pagan Gentiles, we have a heavenly Father who knows about our needs. They were filled with worry, but we are to be different.

Instead of worrying about the future, we should be doing what's right in the present. 

Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (v. 33). “First” means “above all else.” [7] We are to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (5:6). We can’t control the future, but we can seek to live righteous lives right now.


When the Time Comes

Worriers live in the future, but Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (v. 34). [8] When you catch yourself worrying about something, remember the phrase “when the time comes.” The worrier thinks, “What will I do when [something bad] happens?” God will give you the strength to handle it when the time comes. 

Remember that God is sovereign and that he cares for you. Trust him.


[1] Many first-century workers were paid one day at a time. Most lived from hand to mouth. If a man couldn’t work (e.g., because of illness), his family would have no money for food, drink, and clothing (D. A. Carson, “Matthew” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 171.)
[2] The words “Do not be anxious” are found three times in 6:25-34 (vv. 25, 31, 34).
[3] Michael J. Wilkins, Matthew, 296.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Jesus was not saying we shouldn’t plan for the future or that we don’t need to work. God provides food for the birds (v. 26), but he doesn’t drop it into their beaks.
[6] Actually, chronic worry can be harmful to one’s physical health.
[7] Charles L. Quarles, Sermon on the Mount, Kindle location 5412.
[8] Jesus told us to ask our heavenly Father for our “daily bread” (6:11).