Worry is a result of sinful unbelief, and needs to be put to death by faith in the promises of God. In this message, Pastor Brian examines Jesus’ teaching Matthew 6:25-34 and reveals 6 reasons Jesus gives for putting worry to death.
Putting Worry To Death
When your alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m., you hit the snooze button, and end up getting up 30 minutes late. Immediately you start to worry about whether you will get to work on time, how bad the traffic will be, and how the weather conditions will affect your drive. You see yourself in the mirror, and worry about how many wrinkles and gray hairs you have. Because you are in a hurry, you let your kids eat whatever they want, and then they go for the Sugar Smacks, you worry if sugar really does cause cancer. As you are taking your kids to school, you realize one of them didn’t do his homework AGAIN, and you worry about whether he will turn out ok. When you drop them off, you worry about them getting involved with the bad kids at school who will influence them to do drugs. While you are at work, you worry about being able to make those quotas and goals that have been set out for you. When you arrive home, you pull up Facebook just to unwind, and see how many of your friends seem to be the perfect parent with the perfect kids, and you worry that you are a complete failure as a Mom/Dad. When you reach up to get something out of the cupboard, you feel that chronic pain in your shoulder and worry about having to have a shoulder replacement surgery. You worry about who will take care of your kids while you are laid up for a month or two. Then you worry that maybe the pain is something worse. Maybe it is cancer located in your shoulder area! Later, you turn on the TV to relax before bed, and as you watch the news you worry about global terrorist activity, North Korea shooting a nuclear missile at the U.S., and your family members in Texas reeling from the latest hurricane. Then you go in and talk with your spouse, and worry about her fatigue that never seems to get any better. As you lay down at night, you worry about the layoffs that are coming at work and whether you will get the hatchet. Can any of you relate with all of this?
Jay Adams writes in one of his books the following fictional account.
“Joe used to worry all of the time about everything. His friends all knew him as a worrier. One day, Bill was walking down the street when he saw his worrying friend bouncing along as happy as a man could be. Joe was actually whistling and humming and wearing a huge smile; he looked as if he did not have a care in the world. Bill could hardly believe his eyes; it was obvious that a radical transformation had taken place. Bill had known Joe from way back as an inveterate worrier, so he had to find out what had happened.
He stopped Joe and asked, “Joe, what’s happened to you? You don’t seem worried anymore; I never saw a happier man.” Joe replied, “It’s wonderful Bill, I haven’t worried for several weeks now.” Bill continued, “That’s great; how did you manage it? What brought about the change?” Joe explained, “You see, I hired a man to do all of my worrying for me.” “You hired a man to do all of your worrying for you?” “Right,” Joe assured him. “Well,” Bill mused, “I must say that that is a new wrinkle; tell me, how much does he charge you?” “A thousand dollars a week.” “A thousand dollars a week? How could you possibly raise a thousand dollars a week to pay him?” Joe answered, “That’s his worry.”
Wouldn’t it be great if you could hire someone to do all your worrying for you, so that you never had to worry again? Well, the truth is, that you don’t need to worry ever again, and it won’t cost you a cent. The Bible exhorts us to cast all our care on God, because He cares for us.
We look at worry as something that is really not that bad. After all, everyone worries! We just expect that we will always worry about something. However, the Bible commands us not to worry. The first thing we need to understand about worry is that it is sin. The New Living Translation puts Philippians 4:6 like this, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.” If we are commanded in Scripture not to worry about anything, then if we do worry, we are sinning against God. Jesus commands three times in Matthew 6:25-34, “Do not worry.” When we worry we are disobeying our Lord Jesus Christ. So, we must take the sin of worry seriously. As Christians we are commanded to put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit (Rom.8:13). Worry is a deed that flows you’re your heart and mind, in which you stop trusting God, and start trying to manipulate your circumstances to your favor.
Interestingly, in a book entitled, Worry-Free Living, by Frank Minirth and Paul Meier, they write, “We suggest setting aside 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 minutes in the evening for active worry. If concerns surface during other times of the day, the person should jot them down on a card and vow to deal with them during the designated period. Worry-free living involves confining the natural worry we all feel into a designated time slot of only 1 percent of a 12-hour day.” Now, I say that is interesting, because Jesus and Paul don’t suggest we worry thirty minutes a day. They command us not to worry at all! That makes about as much sense as saying we only indulge in lustful thoughts for 30 minutes a day! We are to make no provision for worry in our life. Instead, we are to put it to death by faith in the promise of God.
In a study conducted recently it was discovered that the average person worries over two hours a day. That computes to over 5 years of his life!
Worry can be defined simply as “to dwell on fear of what may happen in the future.” It is to run over and over in your mind a situation that you are afraid may happen. Have you ever stayed awake at night, because you couldn’t turn off your brain? It was stuck in ON, as it reviewed endlessly that thing looming in your future. We worry about so many things, don’t we? We are afraid of so many possible things that might happen – terrorist attacks, nuclear war, job security, health, our children’s safety, crime, growing old, whether I’m attractive, whether spouse will always love me, and my financial future.
Well, this morning we are going to continue in our series on Putting Sin To Death, and we are going to deal with the sin of worry. Folks, we have got to become deadly serious about the sin of worry, and determine that we will put it to death by the power of the Spirit.
Let’s turn to Matthew 6, verses 25 to 34. We are going to spend the bulk of our time here this morning. Jesus, in this passage, gives us the most extensive treatment on worry, and how to deal with it, than anywhere else in the Bible.
Jesus states emphatically three times in this passage that we are not to worry.
Mt. 6:25 “do not be worried”
Mt. 6:31 “do not worry”
Mt. 6:34 “so do not worry”
Now, Jesus doesn’t just tell us not to worry, but He gives us solid reasons not to. Let’s examine them one by one.
1. Worry Is Characterized By Irrational Thinking 6:25-30
The Argument From The Greater To Lesser. Jesus says in verse 25, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” God has given you a body, and your life. Your body and your life is worth much more than the food and clothes it takes to sustain it and warm it. If God has given the more valuable, will he not also give the less valuable? Man can provide food and clothes, but only God can provide a life and a body. If He has given the more difficult thing, won’t He also give the less difficult thing? This is exactly the argument of Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” If God has given Jesus Christ for our sins, will he be stingy about these little things we need along the way to heaven? That’s totally absurd! Can you imagine a God who would send His Son to die for you, but wouldn’t pay your mortgage, or provide your daily bread? That’s like buying a house at great personal expense, and then allowing it to be trashed by your kids. If God has done the greatest thing, surely He will do the lesser. If God has given you a body and life, surely He will provide food and clothes for it. So, you don’t need to worry about food and clothes. When you do, you are indulging in irrational thinking.
Argument From the Lesser To Greater. Jesus gives us another example of our irrational thinking, by bringing up two examples from nature – birds and flowers.
- The Birds Of The Air. Jesus says in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” In Matthew 10:29, Jesus says that two sparrows could be purchased for a cent. In Luke 12:6, Jesus says that five sparrows could be purchased for two cents. Evidently, sparrows were of such little value, that when you bought four, they would throw one in for free. But even though birds were of such little value, God still feeds them! Jesus’ point is that birds don’t worry about tomorrow’s food, yet every day find food. No bird was created in the image of God, or recreated in the image of Christ, is a joint heir with Christ, or has a home prepared in heaven. If God provides for worthless birds, surely He will provide for His beloved children! Henry once quipped, “He who feeds the birds will surely not starve His babes!”
- The Lilies of the Field. Jesus says in Matthew 6:28-30, “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” Talk about something being transient & temporary! Men use these grasses & wildflowers to increase temperature in their portable clay ovens. These flowers were used to help a woman heat an oven when she was baking in a hurry. Yet God clothes them with unsurpassed beauty. So, if God gives such beauty to short-lived flowers, how much more will He care for us? You can take most glorious garment ever made for great King like Solomon, put under microscope, and it will look like sackcloth. But if examine petal of flower, you will become lost in wonder. There’s texture, form, design, and color that man with all his ingenuity can’t duplicate!
Do you see how irrational worry is? If God has done greater thing (giving you life and a body) surely He will do the lesser thing (provide for & sustain your life and body). If God cares so lovingly for lesser creatures (like birds & lillies), surely He will provide lovingly for you as well! When you worry, ask yourself, “Am I being rational right now?”
2. Worry Is Characterized By Sinful Unbelief
There are two words we need to meditate on – faith and Father.
Faith. In verse 30, Jesus says, “You of little faith!” Here we get to the crux of the matter. Their worry stemmed from little faith, or to put it differently, from unbelief. This is the central issue. When we faith rises in the soul, worry decreases, and when faith decreases, worry rises. What exactly are we to exercise faith in? The fact that God has promised to provide for our needs. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Ps.84:11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Thus, when I worry I am not believing God. Remember what faith is. It is a coming to God to find satisfaction in Him. Unbelief is a turning away from God to find satisfaction in something else. Worry is a turning away from God to find satisfaction in trying to control my future by my own resources. Faith is a turning to God to find satisfaction in Him controlling my future. God has said something – He will take care of our needs. If we don’t believe that, so try to take matters into our own hands, we are calling Him a liar! Worry is really trying to take matters into our own hands. When we worry we insult God, by calling Him a liar.
Father. Jesus refers to God as “Father” twice in this passage – in verse 26, and in verse 32. “your heavenly Father feeds them”, and “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Have we forgotten what God is like? When my children were young and lived under my roof, they never worried about whether they would eat or have clothes, or a roof over their heads. It never entered their minds. They knew enough about me to know I would provide for them. Well, God is our Father. What do we know about God? We know that He is omnipotent, omniscient, and loving. If we know those 3 things about God, we know enough to banish worry forever! If we worry, it is because we really don’t believe one of those three truths about God. Either we don’t believe He can change things, or we don’t believe He knows everything, or we don’t believe He really cares about us. The best antidote to worry is the knowledge of God!
When we worry we are really saying, “I don’t trust you to run my life. I don’t believe You are really in control. I believe that I need to worry about these things. I really need to do everything I can to take care of myself, because I’m not sure you will. I’m not sure that You really care about me.”
3. Worry Is Characterized By Wasted Energy
Can We Lengthen Our Life By Worry? Jesus teaches us in verse 27, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” The thought is ridiculous. OK, now worry really hard, because the harder and longer you worry, the longer you will live! Of course, the opposite is true. The more you worry, the more damage you are doing to your body in terms of stress, and the shorter you will live. Folks, the day of our death is already known to God. There is a time to be born and a time to die. The date of our birth and our death is fixed and certain. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” The exact number of your days were already written down in God’s book and ordained before you were even born. Worrying is not going to change that. But one of the major areas of worry for people is just this. We worry about dying young of cancer or leukemia, or murder, or nuclear war. But, of course, worrying about it won’t change it at all. Worry is completely unproductive. Either what we worry about will happen or it won’t. If it does happen, our worry didn’t prevent it from happening. If it doesn’t happen, then we have wasted our emotional energy, because it never took place. It has been determined that 80% of the things we worry about never take place! And the 20% of things that do take place, take place whether we worry about them or not. We actually end up suffering twice – once when we anticipate the suffering we may experience, and then when we actually experience it. The anticipation of our suffering can actually be far worse torment than the actual crisis itself.
Nobody looks back on their past and says, “Money was really tight, but worry pulled me through!” The doctor at your bedside never says, “It doesn’t look good. All you can do now is worry!” Of course, everyone intuitively knows that worrying won’t do any good. Then why do we pour so much emotional energy into it? It doesn’t make sense. It’s just a waste of time and energy.
4. Worry Is Characterized By Pagan Behavior:
Gentiles. In the mind of a Jew, a gentile was a heathen, an ungodly man with no saving relationship to God. Therefore, pagans ought to worry. They have no God to trust in for this life. They have no one to provide for them, or to take care of them. They ought to be worried about life and death. Hell awaits them! However, we should not mimic the pagan gentiles. Everything depends on what they can do for themselves. But we are to live radically different lives from mere worldlings. Some us worry so much, we might as well be atheists! We are really living like God doesn’t exist at all. Think about this – when you worry you are acting like a person who doesn’t know God. Is that the kind of testimony you want to have before the world? Rather, we are to live the kind of life in which pagans perk up and take notice of our trust in God.
5. Worry Is Characterized By Misplaced Priorities
Seek First God’s Kingdom. Now, keep the context in mind. The immediately preceding verses in Matthew 6 speak of the fact that we can’t serve God and money. If we are seeking earthly treasure, then we are valuing the things of this world more than the life to come, and we will have divided affections, and blurred spiritual vision. If we try to serve two different masters at the same time it would lead to stress, pressure, trouble, and worry! But if we seek first His kingdom and righteousness and lay up treasure in heaven, we don’t have to worry, becayse Jesus promises all these other needs will be added to us. Your only duty is to put God and His kingdom first. His responsibility is to meet your needs. Think of a slave. His only responsibility is to obey his master. The Master’s responsibility is to provide all the needs of his slave. Worry-free living comes to those who have only one ultimate goal – to do God’s will! If are doing what God’s called you to do you don’t have to worry.
Maybe some of you are wondering, “But what about Christians who have been burned at the stake or run through with the sword? What about Christians who have starved to death? What about Christians who trusted God and died from cancer or accidents. Doesn’t God care about them?” That’s a very valid question, and we need to deal with it. The Bible promises that Christians will face trials, and persecution. Jesus promised His disciples that their family members would deliver them up to death. He promised that all men would hate them because of Him. Being a Christian does not get you a get out of suffering free card! So, can we count on God or not? In verse 32 Jesus says, “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” What things is He talking about? Food and clothing. Why do we need food and clothing? They are necessary to live. So, God will give us food and clothing and everything else we need to live, as long as He wants us to live. And when He wants us to die, it is His right to take them away.
Jesus has never promised us that all our wildest dreams will come true. He has never even promised that we will live to a ripe old age. There is more to life than living a long life. Hey folks, we are all going to die. So, let’s not make it our goal to stay live, because all of us will fail! We are on this planet for more than to just try to avoid death. God will give you all the food and drink and clothes and shelter you need to live, for as long as He wants you to live. And if it is His time for you to die, why would you want to live any longer? When He wants us to stop living, we will stop living, because He is in control of that. We were put on this earth for a far greater purpose than to just stay alive. We were put here to seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. Jesus may not make your life easy, but He will make your life joyful!
My friends, Jesus wants to set us free from all the wrong passions in our life. If your career is your passion, that could go bad. If your looks and beauty are your passion, you could be very disappointed as you age. If your money is your passion, you could end up losing it with an economic crisis. If your health is your passion, you could find yourself more and more depressed. But if you make pursuing God’s kingdom as your passion, you will never be disappointed!
Friends, if you are having a problem with worry, check yourself. Ask yourself where your priority lies. It may just be that you are not seeking the kingdom first.
6. Worry Is Characterized By Tomorrow’s Concerns
Jesus said in verse 34, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Folks, none of us knows what may happen tomorrow or next year. It could be a death of a loved one, a major health crisis, the loss of a job, bankruptcy, or an estrangement between close friends. We just don’t know. But we do know one thing. That thing is found in Lamentations 3:22-23, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Even though your trials are new every morning, the Lord’s compassions are new every morning, and they never fail. So, in the end it doesn’t really matter what tomorrow brings, because the Lord will face it with you together, and in the end, that’s all that matters!
Remember, we kill sin by trusting in the superior promise of God that offers more to me than sin does. Well, what promises of God can we trust when tempted to worry?
[i]1. When you are anxious about a new venture, like going door to door to share the gospel. Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
- When you are anxious about not having the strength to accomplish your work. 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
- When you are anxious about decisions you need to make. Psalm 32:8, ““I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”
- When you must face an opponent. Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?”
- When you are anxious about the welfare of loved ones. Matthew 7:11, “If I, being evil, know how to give good things to my children, how much more will the Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
- When you are anxious about severe trials or poor health. Psalm 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
- When you are anxious about growing old. Isaiah 46:4, “Even to your old age, I shall be the same, and even to your graying years I shall bear you! I have done it, and I shall carry you; and I shall bear you, and I shall deliver you.”
- When you are anxious about dying. Romans 14:7-9, “Not one of us lives for himself and not one of us dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
- When I am anxious that I might make shipwreck of my faith. Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ.”
My friends, this list of promises is just a Starter Kit! It’s not exhaustive. I encourage you to comb the Scriptures to read God’s promises. Start a list in your journal. When you are fighting worry, go the Scriptures, read them, and believe them. Worry will be defeated in Jesus’ name!
[i] I am indebted to John Piper, for this list of promises that He compiled in his book, Future Grace.
© The Bridge
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by The Bridge.