WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO WORRY ABOUT? (Mt. 6:25-30)
Donaghcloney Parish, 26th May 2018
Matthew 6:25-34 CSB
 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?  Can any of you add one moment to his life-span by worrying?  And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these.  If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you-you of little faith?  So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.  Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I think that one of the things I love about airports is watching how different people cope with travel. An airport with all of its intensity and the stress: of checking in, getting through security, not loosing passports and bags and then finding your gate (which always seems to be hidden at furthest end of the airport). Then add onto that the chaos of so many people, from so many different cultures and then often in so many different moods with the added layer of the staff who have faced trying to get thousands of customers onto planes with as little stress as possible. In summary travelling can be a nightmare for those who stress or worry easily.
Personally I don’t mind travelling – I have been through some of the weirdest, busiest and dullest airports in the world. Each come with their own stress, but I have always had the attitude of eventually you will get to where you are meant to be going. However, I do start to become stressed when I am travelling with other people, family or teams. I get stressed when the people I am with start to get worried and, I get worried because I always think that I am going to forget someone or something. Airports are for a lot of people the capitals of worry, when they see them the heartbeat raises. Yet, its not only airports that worry people, life would be good if our biggest stress was travelling or getting to the plane on time. Seemingly no matter what age we are at, what we are doing (whether work, study or just life) there is always something stressing us, causing us to worry about what tomorrow might bring. Corrie Ten Boom would describe worry as:
“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
A WORLD OF WORRIERS
According to a one article we spend on average 2.5 hours a day worrying about things that will never happen. Recently there was a new show about “Worry”, on one of the sky channels. To raise the profile of their show they did a survey that revealed the top worries of Britain:
• Some 39% of people worried about missing a parcel delivery.
• A lot worried about losing their keys or wallet when they where out.
• 30% of people worried about not locking their house windows.
• Others worried about being out and not having Wi-fi or Data.
• The most common worry: A lack of sleep (40%) worried about not getting enough sleep.
Another survey by IPOS called “What Worries The World” a survey of adults from 65 different countries. Showed that worried did not really different based on location. Amazingly 59% (72% in the UK) of people who had been surveyed felt that their nation, was going in the wrong direction.
• There were three major worried globally:
1. Unemployment (Italy 65% and Spain 62%)
2. Financial and Political Corruption (South Africa 66%)
3. Poverty & Social inequality (Russia 53% and Serbia 56%)
So is that what Matthew 6:24-33 is speaking to us about, the simple worries of life? Is it saying that if we claim to follow Jesus, we should not worry: that none of the challenges of life should phase us, make us uneasy. Yes & No! So let’s explore.
A Nation of Moaners!!!
To help understand the passage and what Jesus is teaching I think it is important to look back, right back to the Exodus to help understand the suitors of a people. The context of the context.
So lets jump right back to chapter 14 in The book of Exodus that tells the story of God hearing the cries of a people who were being oppressed and rescues them. One of the sub narratives of the whole book is that even after God heard their cries against their circumstances (and rescued them), he still had to listen to their cries against their circumstances (except they where God-ordained circumstances) Those who had little faith before God, had the same worried about his character, providence and sovereign control over all things. In summary at every point, they worried that their circumstances were biggest than their God. They worried because they thought God lacked.
WHERE IS OUR BREAD! (A HISTORY OF WORRY)
Imagine being a Jew at that point, a third generation slave – the most oppressed people group in an empire. Once admired now oppressed out of fear. With every passing day you are treated worse. You have known nothing but suffering, every day is the same: eat, slave, sleep – repeat. You pray and cry out; not sure if anyone is hearing you, then a man turns up who claims to be speaking for Yahweh. Almost forgotten to a people, the God who claimed to be the only God – all knowing, all powerful and all capable. You have your doubts, it seems to good to be true, how is one man with a stutter going to defeat the most powerful nation the world has ever know.
Then, in amazement and awe you watch as in ten different times God though the work of Moses and Aaron brings a nation to its knees as he displays his supremacy and goodness. You watch as God declares in an infinite display of might that he is in-fact the only God – there is no power that can match him. Then, you arrived at an ocean, which within your culture represented evil, chaos and darkness – but, not at this time as the waters opened and you cross. Then as you looked back as the sea closes on your oppressors. With all of this fresh in your memory, you would think it would be harder to worry about circumstances in comparison to God ever again. Yet, less that one chapter later the Israelites would say these words: “What are we going to drink?” (Exd. 15:24) even after seeing miracle after miracle they were worried about tomorrow, even with what they had just seen today!
Then, just a few verses later as they travelled, their hunger became bigger than their memory of what God had done for them. They worry caused them to long for older, simpler days as they said: “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt!” then to add insult to injury they cried: “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” (Exodus 16:3) strangely, they through that the God who was capable of rescuing them from oppression and slavery was incapable (or unwilling to) of feeding them. They thought that God who did the Hugh task of rescue, was not concerned with the lesser task of sustaining. They were worrying about their tomorrow because they had lost sight of their today, and the one who had brought them their – Yahweh.
Over and over again, Israel and its leaders worry about tomorrow because they are not looking up: they are looking across to the world. Over and over again. Numbers chapter 11 they are worried about their food and complain: “ Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. 5 “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted.” (Numbers 11:4-5)
Or in 1 Samuel when as a nation they are being lead by the God who made the universe; Then as Samuel ages, they start to again worry about the future – “who is going to lead us?” Forgetting that Samuel was an instrument of the ageless God. They look out across the world for hope and a solution to their worry (as we always do) Seeing that everyone else has a (human) king born of a women, not all knowing and not all good. A sinful, broken king who would make stupid decisions. Yet, they look at the world not rejoicing in their own situation (a theocracy)- a nation lead by Yahweh, the King of Kings and God of the universe) but envying that which they don’t have as they cry out: “Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” (1 Sam 8:4)
SERVE LIKE JESUS (6:1-4)
So we read this passage this morning with that history in our mind, then we read with all of Matthew 6 in mind. A chapter that started by reminding people not to look to the world for their worth, security and reward. Especially when they serve the poor, but to God: because, what Gods sees God rewards – not in ways we think but in all the ways we need. Chapter 6 starts by enforcing God is our security not the world then over and over again hammers it home. (Matthew 6:1-4)
PRAYER LIKE JESUS (5-15)
Then, when teaching how to pray Jesus tells all who will listen. “Don’t look to the world to know how to pray, they are hypocrites (false) and they have got the fullness of the reward.” You don’t pray to find something in the world, you pray to find and know more of God so go into a quiet room were no one can see you, because what God sees God rewards (repeating the exact same phrase each time v4, v6.) Jesus declares: “You don’t need to pray like Pagan waffling empty words, because even before you Pray the God who made the heavens and holds the earth in his hands knows exactly what you need!” Even a quick survey of the Lord’s Prayer reinforces that God is all we need, sovereign over all things and concerned with the small details of our lives. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us as disciples of Christ that we dont need to worry because nothing is outside of God’s concern. Something enforced throughout the prayer that Jesus teaches us to use:
• Hallowed be your name: The Name of God is the only thing wothy of Priase, becuase God is all we need.
• Your will be done on Earth as in Heaven: Lord, May you show your sovereign will on earth as you do in heaven.
• Give us today our daily bread: You are concerned with the big things (our salvation) so we know you are concerned with the small as well.
FAST LIKE JESUS
Then Jesus teaches us not to fast like the Hypocrites, because they do it to be seen and noticed. If you are to fast, you don’t need the adulation that might come with it, because God’s blessing is enough as he sees all things. So, look to God not The World.
FIND YOUR VALUE IN JESUS
Finally, in the passage before this bit our main text Jesus challenges the crowd as to what they value, and from that where they find their worth (6:18-24) As he speaks to those in the crowd who horde and gather things on this earth, he says that their worries are a matter of orientation: They are worried about their future because they are trusting insecure things to try and secure tomorrow. Jesus is not rebuking someone who plans or saves, he is challenging all who would listen as to where they place their trust. He declares don’t place your trust in Earthly treasure (because they rust and decay).
The key verse in chapter 6, that underpins everything Jesus has been teaching and shows us why we worry (wrongly): “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”(21)This passage tells us that unless we find our value in God, then you will it in everything else. Its the rich young ruler whom Jesus commanded “Go and see everything you have, give it to the poor and then you will have real treasure!” He will have treasure because he will be dependant on God, freed from the curse of material longing to serve and be dependant on Jesus. He will have heavenly treasure because his worth would not have been in resources that could have helped him, but in Christ who holds today and knows tomorrow:
Riches I heed not, nor mans empty praises,
Thou my inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, the first in my heart.
High King of Heaven my Treasure Thou art!
KNOWING GOD HAS TODAY, MEANS WE DO NOT HAVE TO BE ANXIOUS ABOUT TOMORROW (25-34)
Worrying does not often help us today, and it tends to robe us of tomorrows Joy. The question raised in the last section was simply what do you trust more?
The creator of all things or created things?
The Therefore in verse 25 reminds us how important it is to look back, before looking forward. It could also be translated as “For this reason” meaning that everything following is the logical result of everything that has preceded.
“Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?”
This is a rabbinic style of argument based on the logic of a situation; it reasons, if God is going to do a bigger thing for us (Salvation – The Jewish Exodus, and the Christian Cross) then, by his nature he will also want to do the lesser things as well. Why would he bother will the larger task and leave the lesser task to ruin what he has done? it is a call to true dependence of faith, its not a rebuke against planning for the future . It’s a challenge to the heart of why we act in relation to tomorrow, is our action inspired because we know God is working out all things for our good and his glory, or is our actions in case he will not?
Jesus is saying don’t be anxious about necessary provisions because Yahweh is the one who provides, whether its Water from a rock; Mana from Heaven or the cross for salvation. God has it all. It reasons something like: If God created humankind (the pinnacle of the Genesis creation narrative) then he is going to feed and sustain you! (a Lesser task)
In verse 26 Jesus presents some logical evidence to backup his claims about the goodness of God. The World around them; “Close your ears, do you hear and see the birds that sing? Does it look like they are worried about tomorrow?” Jesus is reasoning that if God seemingly bothers to feed the birds of the sky, then surely he will look after the pinnacle of creation?
Jesus is not teaching something radical, something only found in him in all of scripture: He is not anti-property, he assumes like the whole of scripture that people will own things (it is a good thing, when placed in its right context). He is not anti-employment, Anti-banks, Anti-saving or Anti-investment. He is not dismissing the worry of life sometimes and concern for survival, or calling the church to adopt a radical “chill man” mindset. He is not proclaiming that if we had real faith, then we could sit about all day as food dropped from heaven into our lap. He is saying do lets the worry of the world make you doubt the goodness of God. Our lack is not for Lack of God.
WORRY: ITS UNPRODUCTIVE(27-30)
What good does worrying do? Does it make you live longer? No declares Jesus it is useless and he gives reasons to back it up! (verse 27)
First, worrying does not add to your life: You will live as long as you will live whether you worry or you do not do. Worrying is like smoking, it might feel good for you is some way, but it does nothing good for you! Jesus is not saying that life does not have stress, but he is challenging those people who almost enjoy worrying – if you know God, then you know that no matter what comes He is working in it!
Secondly, it is completely unnecessary: Look down at those little plants! They don’t work or toil – yet God still clothes them. They are here today and gone tomorrow, so will God not look after something greater: You and me! Jesus declares let the world around you declare the goodness of God, as he provides for it he will provide for you.
Jesus is not dismissing that life is hard, or the daily struggle some of us might face. Our daily real worries of: what we are going to do about bills? How we are going to put a meal on our dinner table? He knew the hardships of life as well as any of us. What he is challenging is the moments when we think our worries are greater than God. The worries that cause us to doubt his goodness.
CONCLUSION & APPLICATION: HE’S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS
Jesus begins this last section, by telling us an honest truth. If we are walking around and constantly asking: “What am I going to eat?” “How am I going to pay that bill!” then, we are not living a life that displays the Kingdom of God. Obsession with the temporary, the material – displays the disturbing priorities of the world ( gentiles/pagans those who do not have faith in God). Again, this is not to say that if you are worried about tomorrow you do not have faith, it is saying that no matter how great the problem there is always a solution even when we cant see it right now. It is as Martin Luther would say: “What sort of god is it that is not even capable of defending himself against moths and rust?”The Answer? Not our God.
Life is hard, and at times it can seem overwhelming, yet as followers of Jesus we are called not to worry because we know something greater, something truer – This isn’t it! if whatever time we are here on this earth was all our time, then by all means we should worry, horde and make sure that you can get to tomorrow. Yet, in the Gospel we know that a day is coming when all things will be made new – when God will restore all that is broken. Furthermore, we know that there is nothing that is incapable of out god-ing God – not even death! That any hardship today, in light of eternity is a fleeting moment. This passage calls us to remember that and seek after only that will last: The kingdom of God and his righteousness.
It is a passage that paints a picture of two types of people:
1. The first one is the one who chases after the things of this world: The pagan & The Hypocrite, and as Jesus taught throughout Mathew chapter 6 they have received their reward. They have got all they are going to get, and, yet, they know at some level that its not enough: there is something more. So they keep trying and fretting, hoping that the net new thing they give themselves to. The next new idol they worship will meet the desire of their heart; will give them hope for tomorrow. Attempt after attempt, failure after failure. They are the ones who will worry about tomorrow, because they have no sense of eternity and for them tomorrow might be their all.
2. Then there are those who seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. Jesus declares they who truly pursue God and value his reign over their lives, they can trust him to satisfy their needs. They can sign:
He’s got the whole wide world in his hand
He’s got you and me, brother, in his hand.
He’s got you and me, sister, in his hand.
He’s got the little tiny baby in his hand.
He’s got everybody here in his hand.
So we don’t have to worry because in faith and certainty of what is to come we know!
He’s got the whole world in his hand. But has he got you?
Which is why as Christians we can live and believe:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. verse 34.