Saturday, February 26, 2011

Epiphany 8

Matthew 6:24-34
A Worry Free Life – is this possible?

Almighty and everlasting God, ruler of heaven and earth: Hear our prayer and give us your peace now and forever.”

In the last paragraph of the sixth chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus discusses materialism as a god. It is not possible, He teaches, to hold to this god and to God our heavenly Father. If we would serve the Father, the material side of life – He alone must provide.

In this short passage, the word “anxious” is used six times. It is the key word of the passage. To be anxious is to worry. Jesus teaches His disciples not to worry about the basic needs of life: food, drink, and clothing, nor about the future (v. 34). Now, let me be clear on this matter. Not to worry is not an invitation to idleness and sloth. To have your basic needs met; one must be in partnership with God by planning, working hard, and saving for the future. These things are done by a Christian without the worry of getting enough of the basic needs for today and of having security for tomorrow. The most fundamental principle in Christian stewardship is to acknowledge that God is the Creator of everything. Therefore, He is the owner. We work for Him. We are simply managing His stuff.

Is living without worrying possible? Just read the headlines. There is much to be concerned. The world needs a sermon on how to stop worrying and start living. Who does not worry? It is a universal and constant problem. Jesus faced it in His day and gave the answer. His disciples were to be different from pagans by being free from worry. The secret of not worrying is found in one’s relationship to the Father. Is He your one and only Master? If He is, do you trust Him? If the answers are in the affirmative then life without worrying begins.

How do we live without worry?

1. The bases for worry (Why the world worries).

A. Basic physical needs — v. 25. 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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Three times Jesus says to us “Quit your worrying!” (Vv. 25, 31, 34) This is more than advice. It’s a command. The idea behind the original language is that we have to put to a stop to what we are doing. Stop it! He says. Quit your worrying now! Very quickly, the Savior gives six reasons why not worrying is simple Christian obedience.

1. Choosing not to worry about our finances is an obedience He expects from us. If your treasures are in heaven, they are safe with Him. You have a living hope that will never perish, spoil or fade. Your security is kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1). And if that is your treasure, if that is your true riches, than what we have on earth pales in significance. We need not worry. We need not listen to an earthly tyrant that commands us to worry about our money.

2. Remember who you are. Remember whose you are. If God takes care of all the little things like the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, you who were created in His image, you who are His reputation in this world, how much more will He provide for you!

3. God is your Father. Your heavenly Father is able to provide every need that you have. He who owns the kingdom is giving you all that you need or ask. That’s what he does. He is God your provider. As Paul says in Philippians 4:19, God shall supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ. So quit your fretting. Your life is far more than your body. God will preserve your life.

4. It’s not only the needs of clothing and food, it is also the days of our lives that He provides. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Vs. 27 He numbers our days. Are you the one who is in total control over the number of your days? Some people plan to live until they are 100 years old and they are going to do that they tell us by exercise and diet. Give your anxiety a rest. Don’t worry yourself to death. Your heavenly Father has numbered all of your days. He who is the Alpha and Omega, He who has known us from before the creation of the world knows your coming in and your going out both now and forever more. (Psalm 122).

5. Do not worry. You are a Holy People. In this world you are called to be different. The whole world may run after these things, literally earnestly seek these things, and telling us that they are the most important things to do. But that does not mean that you have to. Live to the beat of a different drummer. Live your lives by a different standard. Live your lives in such a way that when others see your generosity, they will glorify your God in heaven. We have the hope of heaven. We have the guarantee of eternal life. Our Father is pleased to give us the kingdom.

6. Entrust your future to the Lord; He is the one that has your future in His hands. Tomorrow is His concern. It does you no good to waste your energy trying by thought to control what can’t be controlled. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Don’t worry. Set your priorities straight - seek first the kingdom and its righteousness and all these things will be added to you.

B. Nor should we worry about the future — Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own v. 34. Today is of greater concern than tomorrow. You cannot kill to-morrow's anxiety by being anxious about it to-day. And so He says, Each day has enough trouble of its own. Every day that comes will have in it adversity - things calculated to make us anxious. Tomorrow will be anxious. The evil will come whatever you do. Thus, we are lead to pray: Lord, for to-morrow and its needs I do not pray. Keep me, O Lord, from stain of sin just for to-day."

There is nothing ascetic here. You can’t go out and say, Very well, I will be like the sparrow, I will not sow, or reap, or gather - the whole teaching of Jesus is, not that we are not to reap, sow, gather, toil, spin; but that through our toil and planning we are not to be anxious. Through reaping, we are to trust. In our gathering, we are to sing. As we toil we are to rejoice. As we spin, we are to be quiet. It is a call to the life that is frictionless, because by the principle of faith man takes hold upon God, and, submitting, knows what it is to have His power operating through his work, and His life providing for his need.

2. The cure for worry — (Why Christians need not worry).

A. Let the Father be the Master — v. 24. No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. “Trying to love two ain’t easy to do.”* The issue is one of Lords and masters; ones who have control over others. And the issue is this, you can’t have two Lords. You can’t have two masters telling you what to do. God and money are completely opposed. They are opposites when it comes to what you serve. You cannot walk in opposite directions simultaneously. The one commands us to walk by faith and the other demands we walk by sight. The one calls us to be humble and the other to be proud. The one to set our minds on things above and the other to set them on things below. One calls us to love light, the other to love darkness. The one tells us to look toward things unseen and eternal and the other to look at things seen and temporal. You cannot serve both God and Money. Only one will ever have authority in your life.

B. Know that He cares — [For] The pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. v. 32. You need to remember what sort of Father you have. He wants you to believe that He will give whatever is necessary for you. He is a good father and will take care of His children. He is your father. You need not doubt His paternal care. He loves you. He is very interested, and affectionate towards you. Your Father in heaven, who has all things at His command, does whatever He pleases on earth. He knows your needs. He knows everything. He knows all your stresses, your difficulties, your wants and your needs. He knows what is necessary every day. He knows what you cannot do without. It is within His power to provide. Your situation does not go unknown to Him. Nothing is hidden from His eye. You are a dependent. You are dependent upon Him.

C. Trust Him to provide — But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well v. 33. Trust should have priority over worry. A life without worry is the result of having one’s priorities in its proper order. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. God is to come first. Money, wealth, riches, honor, a great job, a nice house, kids that are popular, a new car - these are all nice to have - but that is not your first priority. Trust not in things. Christ alone is to be served. Life is more important than food, drink, and clothing. The things of this world will all pass away.

There is no need to be anxious about material things. The Father will provide them. His hand provides for those who trust in Him. With faith in His provision of our daily needs, we should have no anxiety about tomorrow.

* Trying to Love Two Aint Easy To Do by William Bell
Artwork by Ed Riojas, © Higher Things.
New International Version, ©2010

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