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Sermon on the Mount Series: Do Not Worry


Every Christian reading this would agree that the teachings of Jesus are difficult to understand. His wisdom, being the God of Creation, is far beyond our own understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9). In this blog series, we will unpack some of the most difficult teachings from Jesus which come from Matthew 5-7 in the illustrious Sermon on the Mount. Each blog will touch on a different teaching from Jesus within His most famous sermon in an effort to help you apply His teachings to your life as a Christian working in the sport industry.


In our ninth blog of the Sermon on the Mount series, we’ll help you better understand and apply Jesus’ teachings on worry, which are found in Matthew 6:25-34


Why Worry?

It is no secret that humans tend to worry. According to an article in Forbes, anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States, affecting 42.5 million adults. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tackles the issue of worry and anxiety. In Matthew 6:25-28, Jesus tells us why we shouldn’t worry.


“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? 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor and spin.”


Saying “do not worry” and actually doing it are two very different things. It is much easier to say “stop worrying” than to do it. However, Jesus gives us very powerful reasons in these verses for why we should not worry.


In Matthew 6:25, Jesus teaches that we should not worry about the physical aspects of our lives, specifically food and clothing. The point Jesus is getting at is that life is so much more than our physical needs. More often than not, it is our earthly needs that cause us to worry. But Jesus reminds us that our value as humans is not simply in our physical needs, and therefore, we should not drown ourselves in worry over those things.


While our existence is not simply limited to meeting our physical needs, we still need to meet our physical needs. Jesus recognizes this and uses birds to illustrate a key point. The birds of the air do not reap, sow, or store their excess in barns. Yet, God provides them with their needs. The final point that Jesus makes in Matthew 6:26 is that if God cares for the birds, how much more will he care for you? I think we all would agree that human life is much more valuable than the life of a bird, and this should give us confidence that our God will provide for us.


So far, Jesus has given us two reasons for why we should not worry. The first is that we should not worry about our physical needs because our lives are more than simply meeting physical needs. The second is that we should not worry because God will care for us, just as He cares for the birds. In Matthew 6:27, Jesus makes the point that worrying is useless. It does not add a single hour of your life, so what is the point? Not only does worry display a distrust in God, it has no positive effect on the situation that is causing concern.


In Matthew 6:28, Jesus questions why we worry about material things, such as clothing. It is easy to believe the lie that material possessions are of great importance. In this day and age, people are obsessed with material possessions and allow their value to be defined by what they wear and what they have. Jesus flips this mindset on its head and points to the beauty of the flowers to prove that He, in fact, will provide even the material things we need.


Jesus makes it very clear in these verses that God will care for our needs, and that should give us peace. However, Jesus is not teaching us to stand idle and expect to receive our needs from God. If we do not work, we will not be provided for. You may have the ingredients to make a grilled cheese sandwich, but if you do not put in the work that is required to make it, you will not have a grilled cheese sandwich. The same principle applies to how we should approach work. God has provided us with all that we need, but our work allows us to apply those resources to our needs.


Not Even Solomon

Our previous Sermon on the Mount blog mentioned the riches that King Solomon possessed. One can imagine that a man as powerful and wealthy as Solomon was well-dressed,. In Matthew 6:29-30, Jesus says, “Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor 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?


Jesus makes it clear that not even Solomon, in all his splendor was as beautifully dressed as the flowers. God is the ultimate artist, and His creation displays His splendor and glory. If God is intentional with flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, we can trust that God will clothe us even more. This should give us the utmost confidence in our loving heavenly Father. He promises to care for us, just as He cares for even the seemingly insignificant parts of His creation, like the birds and flowers.


Jesus saying “you of little faith” is nothing new here. The Bible has a lot to say about those with little faith. In Matthew 14:25-31, Jesus allows Peter to walk on water. While Peter was walking on the water, the wind caused him to become afraid, and he began to sink. Jesus says in Matthew 14:31, “”You of little faith”, he said, “why did you doubt””


It is not a small sin to doubt God and have little faith. Certainly, it is something that every believer struggles with. But Jesus reminds us in this passage that God will care for our needs. He is trustworthy, and that should give us peace about the many things that cause us to worry.


Seek First…Him!

In the last portion of this text, Jesus closes His teaching with the most important reason why we should not worry. In Matthew 6:32, Jesus points out that the things that often cause us to worry- food, drink, and clothing- are the things that people who do not know God run after. Put simply, we should not be imitating the pursuits of those who do not know God. Because we know God, we should know that earthly things are not our primary concern. God knows that we need to meet our physical needs, but we should not be concerned about physical things.


Jesus drops the mic in Matthew 6:33. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Yes, and amen. But what does it exactly mean to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness?


For so many people, the priorities of this earthly life are the things that they seek first. But, as Christians, this cannot be. Our first and, more important, pursuit is His kingdom and His righteousness. We must pursue the purpose of God and His statutes above every other pursuit.


The key to understanding this teaching is to recognize that Jesus is not simply telling us to not worry but rather that we should replace our concern for worldly matters with Godly matters. If we are pursuing the things that matter to God and that He sees as good, then our fixation and concern with earthly things will greatly diminish. Furthermore, Jesus promises that when we seek His kingdom first, we will be given our earthly needs, as well.


Leave Tomorrow Alone

Jesus closes out His teaching on worry in Matthew 6:34. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” A Scripture that relates directly to this teaching from Jesus is James 4:13-14. “No listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”


It is so natural for us to look ahead to the future. What will I do tomorrow? Where will I be in a year? Where should I go on vacation? We can become so fixated on the future that we become anxious about it. Jesus reminds us that each day has enough trouble of its own. Therefore, we should not allow ourselves to be worried about tomorrow. If we fix our attention on what is presently in front of us, we will have a much greater ability to handle the troubles that life throws at us.


Secondly, it is important to apply the teachings of James to how we view the future, as well. The days ahead are not guaranteed. Therefore, we should not expect to receive them. Our lives are a mist, here in one moment and gone in the next. So, as we think about the future, we should keep in mind that we may not be here to experience it. Therefore, our concerns should not be about the things to come in this life but rather be fixated on what is guaranteed, and that is the things that are eternal.


Conclusion

Jesus takes anxiety seriously. He is not telling us to simply not worry, but rather is shifting our focus to things that are more important than what typically causes us anxiety. Our focus should be on the priorities and purposes of the kingdom and when we do that our anxieties will be eased. The Christian life is not easy, there will always be challenges. But, when we are pursuing the purposes of God’s kingdom, we will find that our peace will surpass all understanding.

 

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