I’ll admit, I’m something of a worrywart.
As a junior in high school, I’d say I’m at a decently unsettling point in my life. After all, in a few years, I’ll be headed off into that black abyss the rest of the world calls “adult life.” That’s a little disconcerting. I’m faced with a ton of decisions right now that will strongly affect the rest of my life. That’s reasonable cause for worry, right?
Let’s take a look at Matthew 6:25-34 to see what we can find out about worry from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. If you want to go ahead and read through the whole passage, that’d be great.
First, to worry is to have a flawed perspective.
I know I only told you to read part of the chapter, but oftentimes we have to look at a passage’s context to find out why the speaker is saying what he’s saying. The first thing that tips us off to look at the context in this section is the very first words of verse 25: “For this reason I say to you…” For what reason? Gotta look at the context! So let’s check out the verses above it. In verses 19 through 24, Jesus is talking about having the proper perspective on wealth. First He tells us that our treasure should be in Heaven, not on earth, but then he goes into this weird analogy about our eyes: “So then if you eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” Again, look at the context! Jesus is saying that if you focus on God, your whole life will be in order, but if that focus is blocked and “darkened” by wealth, your life will be a wreck. Verse 24 is the kicker: “You cannot serve God and wealth.”
So what on earth does this have to do with worry? Verse 25: “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink.” See how He names material things? Worry is focusing on wealth, on the material things of this life. And if we focus on wealth, we’re not focusing on God.
Second, to worry is to doubt God.
After talking about the splendor of the lilies of the field, Jesus says, “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!” Throughout the Bible faith is contrasted with doubt. We see it in the account of Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:31). We see it in the book of James (James 1:6). What else is worry but doubt in God? If you really believe that the supreme God of the universe, the God who spoke the entire world into existence, the God who parted the Red Sea, the God who rescued His people again and again, is on your side and is taking care of you, are you going to worry? Of course not! The only reasonable explanation is that you don’t trust God’s power or willingness to take care of you. Plus, we know that faith can move mountains (Mark 11:23), and according to Jesus, worry is useless (vs. 27 of our passage). I’d rather have faith, wouldn’t you?
Third, to worry is to be like the world.
Look at verses 31 and 32: “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things.” Keep in mind Jesus is talking to Jewish people. The Gentiles were the world, and the Jews generally despised them as barbarians. If there was one thing you didn’t want to be compared to, it was a Gentile. In the same way, we are told countless times throughout God’s word that we are not to be like the world. So, if worry is worldly, we don’t need to be a part of it! Earlier in this same sermon, Jesus talks about being salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). In this world of chaos, how greatly could we stand out simply by remaining calm and not worrying? What an awesome way to be an example to the world around us!
So… if we’re not supposed to worry, what are we supposed to do? Jesus doesn’t leave us hanging. He gives us the much better alternative: “But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (33). It all goes back to keeping the proper perspective; if we focus on God and obey Him, that’s all that really matters. He will cause everything else to fall into place.