I realize that, in preaching a sermon on worry, different people will hear it differently. DA Carson, in his commentary on Matthew spoke to this. (read pages 88-89 of Carson) Here, Jesus gives 3 arguments against worry. They all matter. Since worry is a cerebral process, his arguments require you to think. My goal is that you will see God in a new light this morning, and that upon seeing God for who He is, you will see worry for what it is.
“There is a sense in which worry is not only good, but its absence is, biblically speaking, irresponsible. There is a sense in which worry is not only evil, but its presence signifies unbelief and disobedience.” DA Carson
Don’t worry: a theological argument.
Therefore—why is the therefore there? Jesus has just made the statement, “You can’t serve God and wealth.” He’s calling the people to a decision between the two. And in his crowd are poor, day laborers. It would be easy for them, at this point, to look around and see the wealthy people, nod in agreement and feel pretty good about themselves.
However, Jesus goes from excess to necessities. He addresses the rich and the poor alike in these statements.
He tells them not to be anxious about food, water and clothes! These are the basic needs of life. No one is excluded from Jesus’ sermon on worry.
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26, ESV)
I’m afraid we read this and immediately focus on our value. However, we cannot understand our value without understanding Jesus’ statement about the Father. He feeds birds.
From D.A. Carson:
- Gs represent gods; the bottom of the diagram is the physical universe
- The arrows coming down represent gods working, but the arrows going up represent people trying to win the favor of the gods
- Everything is in the circle and everything that can be explained is already in the circle.
- Atheistic scientists make this argument
- There is nothing more than matter, energy and space
Alteration to Closed Universe
- At first seems an improvement. God is the center of things. But it isn’t very different because God is merely part of the mechanism.
- Deism: people believe there is a God but he isn’t personal, involved
- Refer to God as “being” or “higher power”
- Everything is found within the circle, along with every other created thing or being
- There are scientific laws to be discovered and a patterned order which supports cause and effect
- The omnipresent God stands both above this universe and in it.
- In this universe God feeds the birds.
Why go into all this? Because I’m afraid our worry is founded in our misunderstanding of who God is. Where do you find yourself? Trying to win his favor? Thinking he’s disinterested? Or maybe you’re a spiritual person and you know He’s involved, but not personally. Any of those positions will lead you to worry.
This is how Christians function as practical atheists or deists without even realizing it.
Don’t worry: God feeds the birds.
Don’t worry: a logical argument.
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (Matthew 6:27, ESV)
Logically, worry cannot accomplish the energy spent on it. You cannot extend your life by worrying. As a matter of fact, the opposite may be true.
An article published by Harvard Health in June of 2017 suggested a connection between anxiety and intestinal, heart and respiratory disease.
Most of Jesus’ audience would have been what historians call the ah-maretz—common people. They’re day laborers who show up in the morning seeking work and get paid at the end of the day. They live day to day. If anyone had reason to worry it would be them. Even in their day-to-day situation, Jesus tells them not to worry.
Why? Worry won’t get them a job tomorrow. Worry won’t put food on their table. Worry can’t add a single hour to their life! If you consider the average lifespan of around 70 years (which was the lifespan in Jesus’ day), then that is 613,200 hours of life. Jesus says you can’t add a single hour to that! That is .00000163 percent. You cannot add that much percentage to your life by worry.
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”–Charles Spurgeon
Don’t worry: it doesn’t work.
Don’t worry: a philosophical argument
Exp. And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30, ESV)
What Jesus employs here was a common philosophical argument in his day: a lesser to greater argument. If God so clothes the grass…will he not much more clothe you.
Jesus has used it already in the argument about the birds: are you not of more value than they?
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32, ESV)
This is why all worry should ultimately lead to the cross. On the cross, Jesus met our greatest need. He who did not spare his own Son. This one sentence tells us that God gave his…
- Best—his Son
- Only—he had no other Son
If God will give his best and his only, then he will give us ALL things. So how do you respond?
Therefore 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. (Matthew 6:31-32, ESV)
Seek after—crave. Epi—over and above seeking
Pagans crave food, drink and clothes. The average American household spends $3,008 a year eating out.
The average American family spends $1700 on clothes annually.
Don’t worry: it doesn’t make sense.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33, ESV)
Seek—It is a present command, meaning an unceasing quest. Notice he doesn’t say, “seek only.” You will, by necessity, seek work, seek to save money, seek to put food on your table, seek to plan—just not first.
The antidote to worry is to seek God first. I know that sounds simple.
Pray first. Respond second.