August 10, 2014
If there was any one particular sin that the Lord warned His disciples of many times, it was the distracting worries of the things in life, because worrying about these things puts up a red flag that both your treasure and your heart are stuck in the worldly things. The Lord tells us right […]
If there was any one particular sin that the Lord warned His disciples of many times, it was the distracting worries of the things in life, because worrying about these things puts up a red flag that both your treasure and your heart are stuck in the worldly things.
The Lord tells us right off the bat here in verse 25, “I say to you.” He says it as our Lawgiver and our Comforter. “Don’t worry about your life, what to eat, drink and wear. Take no thought of the matter.” What He’s talking about are the things that disturb our joy in the Lord and dampen our hope in Him. It disturbs our sleep, our relationship with others, and our ability to enjoy what God has given us already.
If you’re into statistics, here are some for you: An average person’s anxiety is focused on:
40% – Things that will never happen.
30% – Things about the past that can’t be changed.
12% – About criticism from others, mostly untrue.
10% – About health, which gets worse with stress.
8% – About real problems that will be faced.
Speaking about that 40% that will never happen: J. Arthur Rank, an English executive, decided to do all his worrying on one day each week. He chose Wednesdays. When anything happened that gave him anxiety and annoyed his ulcer, he would write it down and put it in his worry box and forget about it until next Wednesday. The interesting thing was that on the following Wednesday when he opened his worry box, he found that most of the things that had disturbed him over the past six days were already settled. It would have been useless to have worried about them.
Jesus is telling His disciples to look upon the birds of the air and learn to trust God for food. Note the providence of God concerning them, and receive instruction. There are many types of birds, some of them with ferocious appetites, but they’re all fed and fed with food that’s convenient for them. It’s rare that any of them perish, even in the winter. God knows them all. He says in Psalm 50:11: “I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are Mine.” God knows what you need. He knows what all of His creation needs. And so Jesus tells us, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you. Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
A fine situation we’ve gotten ourselves into that we must be schooled by the birds of the air. Job 12:7 says, “But ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds of the air and they will tell you.” Martin Luther spoke about his favorite preacher: “I have one preacher that I love better than any other; it is my little tame robin, who preaches to me daily. I put his crumbs on my window sill in the evening. He hops onto the sill when he wants his supply, and takes as much as he wants to satisfy his need. Then he always hops to a little tree close by and lifts up his voice to God, and sings his carol of praise and gratitude, tucks his little head under his wings, and goes fast to sleep, to leave tomorrow to look after itself.” Leave it to Martin Luther huh? What a sermon indeed! One paragraph and taught by the same example that our Lord Jesus used, a bird of the sky. Did you happen to notice the chain of events? His food was provided for him each and every day, he ate his fill, he sang in gratitude, and he fell asleep not worrying about tomorrow.
The amazing thing to notice here is that birds do not sow or reap, yet they’re still fed by their Master. The Bible gives us examples of those that do sow and reap; such as the ant and the bee. They make provisions for themselves; but the birds of the air do not, and yet every day, as certain as the sun rises, provision is made for them as God provides food for all His creatures. So look at the logic the Lord Jesus uses here. Are you not more important to Him than they are? Indeed so! You are made in His image! The heirs of heaven are much better than the birds of the air, and by faith, they soar higher! And we are wiser than they are, Job 35:11. Although lately, I’m beginning to wonder. The children of this world that know not Christ are not as wise as the stork, and the turtledove, Jer 8:7. But you are dearer to God and nearer to Him than the birds, even though they fly in the open firmament of heaven. They trust in the providence of God, won’t you? And because their trust is in Him, they have no worries about tomorrow and therefore live the happiest lives of all creatures, singing in the branches, Psalm 104:12, as they praise their Creator. If we were as unconcerned about tomorrow as they are, we would be singing just as cheerfully as they do; because it’s the worries of the world that weakens our faith, dampens our joy, and silences our praise as much as anything.
But be careful not to take away from these verses an incorrect meaning. Jesus wasn’t saying that we shouldn’t work for the supply of our present needs. Paul reminds us: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thes 3:10). The point here is that worrying about the future dishonors God and it’s also an exercise in futility. The Lord demonstrates this with a question: “Which of you by worrying can add one single hour to his life?”
Consider the lilies of the valley. Not only look upon them, but consider them. Note: There is a great deal of good to be learned from what we see every day, if we would only consider it, Prov 6:6, 24:32. Jesus said, “Your heavenly Father knows you have need of all these things,” meaning the necessities of life, food and clothing. He observes what the poorest of all of us have need of. This is another one of our worries, what will we do for clothing? Consider how frail the lilies are; they are the grass of the field. Lilies, even though distinguished by their beautiful colors are still but grass. Man’s best days are still only as grass, here today and tomorrow thrown into the fiery furnace; in a little while the place that knows us will know us no more. The grave is the oven that we’ll be cast into and we’ll be consumed like the grass in the fire, Psalm 49:14. That’s the reason why we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow and what we will wear because quite possibly we’ll have no use for anything tomorrow other than our grave clothes! Just stating the facts here! Tomorrow never has been and never will be promised to us. That’s why you don’t put off accepting Christ for even one moment longer. Consider how free from worry the lilies are. They do not toil as men do for their clothing; nor do they spin as women do, to make clothing. As God provides for inferior creatures, how much more will He provide for us? Should it be that because of sickness or some other infirmity we are unable to toil or spin, God will furnish us with whatever He sees as best for our needs. Consider what these lilies are grown from. The root of the lily is a bulb, which in winter is lost and buried under ground, yet when spring returns, it appears once again. And when they reappear, they are clothed in such majesty that even Solomon in all his splendor was not clothed as magnificently as these. Never was there such a magestic sight, as the richest man that ever lived adorned in his kingly attire. And yet, he still falls far short of the beauty of the lilies. God is the fountain and spring of all blessings.
Our Lord Jesus told us this because He’s teaching us not to care for this type of thing at all; don’t covet it, don’t be proud of it, and don’t make putting on fancy clothes a big deal. If we can’t even compete with the simple lilies of the field, why worry about it? Cliché time: God is in control! Eventually the adorning of the lilies will perish and so will our adorning; they fade in case you haven’t noticed. Such is man in all his splendor (Isa 40:6-7), especially rich men (James 1:10). We are to cast this worry upon God, Jehovah-Jireh (God will provide). Trust the One who clothes the lilies to provide for you as well. If He so clothes the short lived flowers, how much more will He clothe you that are made for immortality? Note the rebuke the Lord gives them: “O ye of little faith.” Great faith will be commended and bring forth great things, but little faith still will not be rejected, even that will procure food and clothing. Even that, will bring forth deliverance in the storm. Sound believers will be provided for, even though they are not strong believers because the babies in the family are fed and clothed, as well as those that are grown up. This was a rebuke to weak faith, even though they are delivered, Mt 14:31. The point being, that if we had more faith, we would worry less.
God genuinely cares for your basic needs and wants to fulfill them. Jesus called out to the disciples in John 21:5: “Friends, haven’t you caught any fish?” Jesus didn’t want them to stay hungry so He told them to cast their nets out again on the right side of the boat this time. God puts His provisions for us in a set place and then instructs us to go reel it in! 153 fish filled a lot of bellies! The way He yelled out to the disciples is the same way He whispers little thoughts into our minds and hearts providing us with instruction. “Cast your net out to the right side! Call this man tomorrow, he has a job for you. Circle this ad.” Or perhaps it’s just, “sit tight for a while, I’ll let you know when the time is right.”
Remember the three F’s: Fret not, Faint not, and Fear not.
- Fret not – He loves you (John 13:1)
- Faint not – He holds you (Psalm 138:10)
- Fear not – He keeps you (Psalm 121:5)
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all of your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” Cast how much? All of it! Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” who would never leave us. When you wake up anxious about your day He whispers, “Don’t worry, I’ve got everything under control.” When you feel like you can’t go on, He holds your hand, stays by your side, strengthens you and says, “I’m right there with you.”
Billy Graham recalls the difficult years he and Ruth had when their sons were away from the Lord. He said, “Ruth and I found out that for us, worrying and praying were not mutually exclusive. We trusted the Lord to bring the children through somehow in His own way in due time.” On a day by day basis, we muddled through it. But God was faithful. Today each of them is filled with faith and fervor for the Lord’s service.” I’ll say! That Franklin Graham spent time away from the Lord is hard for anyone to believe and that has to encourage all of us. He even admitted that he was the cause of his mom’s early white hairs.
Bishop Fulton Sheen said, “Worry is a form of atheism, for it betrays a lack of faith and trust in God.”
And worry wreaks havoc on our health! One doctor said, “You don’t get stomach ulcers from what you eat, you get ulcers from what’s eating you!” Worry is the unseen source of our headaches, heart aches, and belly aches. It produces everything from obesity to obscenity, from constipation to diarrhea, and from impatience to impotence. It gives us knotted stomachs, sleepless nights, high blood pressure, and low morale. It makes our tempers short and our days long. It causes indigestion, irritation, chest pain, and muscle strain. How’s that for an unwanted list? You know, worry is like a rocking chair….it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
Take no thought for tomorrow. Just as we’re not to boast about tomorrow, we must also not worry about it. God has sustained us up to this point, has He not? And He that guards us against the evils we are exposed to each and every day will certainly supply us with the necessities of life. If it were His desire to starve us, do you think He’d have given his angels charge to protect us all these many times?
The conclusion of the matter is that we shouldn’t spend our lives in anxious pursuit of food, drink, and clothing for the future. The godless live for the mad accumulation of material things, as if food and clothing were the whole meaning of life. But it should not be so with Christians, who have a heavenly Father who knows our basic needs. To worry about things of the world is unbecoming of a Christian. Unbelievers seek these things because they don’t know any better. They don’t know the Creator of all things. They have no relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. They’re eager for the things of this world because they’re strangers to a better one. They seek these things because they have no concept of the providence of God. They fear and worship their own idols but have no idea how to trust them to deliver and supply the things they worry about, and that’s why their lives are filled with worry. But that should never be the case for Christians who build upon godly principles and profess a faith that teaches them that God is in control and He’s promised to take care of them. Our heavenly Father knows our wants and needs better than we do and He observes the needs of the least and poorest of us (Rev 2:9), “I know your poverty.” Think about this for a moment, that if you had a good friend that knew about your needs, you would soon have relief. Well, God knows them and He is your Father that loves you and pities you, and is ready to help you; your heavenly Father, who has the ability to supply all your needs! So away with all those discouraging thoughts and worries!
In verse 33, we have the best of all instructions: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” If we would just concentrate more on pleasing God and working out our own salvation, we would be less likely to focus on worldly things. Thoughtfulness for our souls is the most effective cure for a worldly mind. Don’t miss this very important duty of ours: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness!” Our relationship with God must always be #1 on our To-Do-List, our great and principle concern! Seek the comforts of heaven as your goal; press towards it; be diligent in pursuing it; resolve not to fall short of it; prefer heaven and heavenly blessings far more than earthly delights. We must seek the things of Christ more than our own things; and if they ever confront each other, we must remember which one we are to give preference to. “Seek first His kingdom.” That means first thing, every day as soon as you wake. Let those waking thoughts be of God. First things first! The best way to be provided for in this world, is to be focused on another world. We begin our work properly when we begin it with God, and then He will provide as much as He sees good for us, and let us never ask for more than that.
Don’t worry about tomorrow, just leave it to itself. Each day brings along with it its own burdens and fills our plate quite nicely, thank you. But thank God, His compassions are new every morning as well, Lam 3:23. Tomorrow and its needs will be provided for without us. So why do we need to be anxious and worried about something that’s already so wisely cared for by the King of Kings? Again, this doesn’t mean that we don’t make proper preparations. It just means that we don’t worry about difficulties and calamities that may never come. Remember the worry list that we started this sermon with? 40% of them will never happen anyway. God’s got the 60% covered.
We don’t know what evils tomorrow may bring, but whatever they might be, the time to take them on is when they come. It is sheer foolishness to take that trouble upon ourselves today because of fear which belongs to another day, not this one.