Winning against Worry
Text: Matthew 6:25-34
Today we face the opening of our economy and with that, one of the things that I repeatedly hear is, “What is going to happen as we do this?” Worry has become the action of many in the midst of the pandemic that we are in. I would remind you today, that the purpose of the “stay at home restriction” was not to wait out the virous until it is gone, but to flatten the curve so that the medical personal can better handle the number of cases that occur. This means that we need to remember that the opening of the economy is, as our governor said, not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning! This means that we need to remember that the opening of the economy is, as our governor said, the end of the beginning! I would share with you that the leadership team met together this past week and we have a letter coming in the mail that will share with you our plans as we prepare to resume our services.
At the start of our service today, I want to listen to a couple of songs (one at the beginning and one at the end of the message) these songs have been in my head throughout this week, as I have prepared this message. I want to dedicate these songs that I use today, to a couple of friends of mine who are singing in the presence of the Lord today. They are brothers, who have been a real encouragement to me, along with their families. One, is Rick Hunnaman, who was a buddy that I surely miss, his crazy sense of humor has caused me to select my tie today, of the Tazmanian Devil, that was given to me by my oldest son, Jeremy. Together, we have had a lot of laughs together, and many serious moments of sharing. The second fellow, is Rick’s brother, Dale, who used to sing these songs, and as I listen to them I envision Dale’s deep rich bass voice singing along.
The song that I have selected first will prepare our hearts for the message which comes from Matthew 6:25-34. The first song is a song by the Cathedrals, entitled, “I read the back of the Book and we win!” This is a song that I really appreciate, I like to be reminded that when we as believers are going through trials and difficulties in our lives, we find rest in the knowledge, that God has shown us that in the end WE WIN!!!! What a blessing it is to know at the outset of our struggles that no matter what, the victory has already been won in our lives.
But how do we get there, mentally? Today’s lesson is designed to help remind us how to get there. Listen as we start this message.
Before going on I would encourage you to listen to the hymn “I read the back of the book and we win”
Introduction: We can all agree that when it comes to membership in the human race, worry is part of the package. We also know that it is a useless and unhealthy vice. Corrie ten Boom used to recite a little verse: Worry is an old man with bended head, carrying a load of feathers which he thinks are lead. She understood that anxiety is ultimately foolish because it concerns that which isn’t. It lives in a future that can’t be foreseen. It deals in what-ifs and could-bes, speculation and possibility. And as long as we dwell on the worst-case scenario, we guarantee our own misery, for an extensive catalog of calamity is always within reach of the imagination.
The Bible chooses its worry language carefully the basic biblical word has the meaning of “to take thought” or “to be careful” those are good things, at first glance. But the Greek gives us the word picture of a divided mind. The worrier has a mind torn between the real and the possible, the immediate and the potential. They are trying to fight the battle of life on two fronts, and they are bound to lose the war.
The worrier attempts to live in the future, and that presents him with two problems:
1. The future isn’t here
2. The future isn’t ours
Nothing can be done, and no amount of worrying affects the issue one iota. The future is unknown, uncontrollable, and therefore irrelevant in terms of our peace of mind.
Since we have arrived at a point where our Governor is starting to entertain the idea restarting our economy, I have heard many comments about people’s concern about what that means with the spread of Covid-19. Worry is ever present in our society today. We are worried that we can get the virus, and we are worried that we will not be able to survive the economic effects of this virus. We want the economy to open, but we are worried that in opening the economy we will be creating a health issue that will be worse than what we have already faced. Worry, Worry, Worry, How do we control those thoughts and fears.
When Jesus preached the greatest sermon of all history (found in Matthew 5-7), He was very clear on the issue of anxiety. In a nine-verse passage in Matthew 6, He uses the expression “don’t worry” three times. So, if you would like to have the teachings of Jesus on the subject of anxiety, we can state them in full in two words: don’t worry! And the next time you do give into worry, you can ask yourself which section of that teaching you don’t understand. That is the simplistic approach, but we need to take a closer look to understand how to make that happen.
Before we take a close look at the passage in which Jesus discusses worrying, may I offer two simple disclaimers:
1. Don’t worry does not mean don’t plan
a. It is true that in Matthew 6:34 Jesus says, “Do not worry about
– The King James has it as Take therefore no thought for the morrow
– many people seized on that as a prohibition against career ambition,
financial planning, life insurance, or any number of things
b. But no one who takes the time to read the Gospels would say that
Jesus has a problem with planning
– He planned for His ministry after His death, resurrection, and
– He spent plenty of time preparing His disciples for Jerusalem and
– He also taught that we shouldn’t break ground on that new high-rise
until we have done the paperwork (Luke 14:28).
c. to live without planning isn’t pure spirituality; it is pure insanity
2. Don’t worry does not mean don’t be concerned
a. There are those who quote Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing as
an excuse for a careless lifestyle.
– Don’t worry, be happy
– But that is not what we are talking about at all
b. If you are not concerned about your children playing near traffic, you
are a terrible parent.
– If you are not concerned about walking off the roof of a skyscraper,
you will learn the meaning of that old poster that said Gravity: it is not just a good idea. It is the law!
– There are things you need to be concerned about
– there is a difference between carefree and careless.
Realistic concern and restless anxiety are separate matters. So where
is the difference? In short,
- concern focuses on the present; The present is before us, and there are actions we can take.
- worry is attached to the future. The future is out of our hands.
What Jesus is teaching about is the captivity of worry, and in Matthew
6 we will discover what worry is all about and how we can face it.
As we open this passage we are going to explore one of the most encouraging and comforting of all Jesus’ teaching. It is part of the Sermon on the mount, and it is actually divided into two sections. verses 25-32 and verses 33-34. Let’s start by facing the giant of Worry from Matthew 6:25-32 …………..
I. Facing the Giant of Worry (Matthew 6:25-32)
A. Worry is inconsistent (6:25 “Therefore I say to you, do not
worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink;
nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?)
1. Here Jesus is asking,
– Who gave you the body you live inside?
– Who established its requirements – for food, for clothing, for
– Do you think God has gone anywhere?
– Don’t you think that same Provider will see to your needs?
2. In essence, this is an argument from the greater to the lesser.
a. Consider the God who has created us a litter lower than the
angels, ordaining and establishing the miracle of human life in all the beautiful complexity of the human organism
b. then He has fashioned with His powerful hands the heat of the
sun, the revolving world, and the four seasons.
c. He took an awful lot of trouble, didn’t He?
d. Then why would He be careless about these little things – a crust
of bread, a patch of clothing, a dry haven from the storm?
e. A God so tall could never overlook something so small
3. Jesus says Is not life more than food and the body more than
B. Worry is Irrational (6:26 “Look at the birds of the air, for they
neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly
Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?)
1. Jesus first argument is irrefutable
a. The One who gave us life can surely sustain that life
b. But Jesus has anticipated the follow-up question: God can
provide, but will He provide?
2. Jesus attacks this second question from the opposite direction
a. Now He moves from the lesser to the greater – from birds to
b. Sometimes we make fascinating discoveries when we bring two
separate passages of Scripture together.
– Consider the value of sparrows in Matthew 10:29 and Luke 12:6
# Matthew 10:29 – Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
# Luke 12:6 – Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings,
and not one of them is forgotten before God?
* A farthing equals about one penny: So, it is two for a
penny or five for two pennies
* a farthing was worth 1/16th of a denarious
* a denarious was one day’s wages.
* Jesus is saying this: A farthing gets you two
sparrows; two coins get you five. Not even the
free sparrow, who has no market value, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it. He follows every movement, whether it is bird or beggar or baron.
– As a matter of fact, says Jesus, if He knows every sparrow that
falls to the ground, He knows when one of your hairs does likewise.
# Somewhere God has a database that tracks the very hairs
on your head
# If He is so meticulous with the smallest, most incidental
inventory items, won’t He also tend to your deeper concerns?
3. Once again, Jesus gives us an argument we cannot refute, this time
from the lesser to the greater.
a. We must conclude that worry is inconsistent and irrational.
b. But there is another problem with it
C. Worry is Ineffective (6:27 Which of you by worrying can add
one cubit to his stature?)
1. Have you noticed the units of measure in this passage?
a. It is fascinating how Jesus deals with the concept of anxiety by
calling on various lengths and weights and values.
b. It is because when we deal with worry, we are dealing with
matters of perspective and true worth.
c. So we have coin and cubit, hair and sparrow.
2. A cubit, as Noah knew, comes to about 18 inches – the length of
your forearm, since rulers and yardsticks were rare.
a. There are two possible interpretations of Jesus’ point here
– Who can sit back in his chair and worry himself a few extra
inches in height?
# If that were possible, the implications for basketball would
# But it is not possible, I say that with some regret
* When I was younger I wanted so badly to be taller
*But no amount of dreaming, no amount of yearning could
add an inch to my height.
b. Jesus may have been going a bit deeper with this thought
– What if we are talking about days instead of inches – futures
instead of forearms
– Which of you by worrying can add a day to your life?
# The answer of course, is that we cannot add a day, an hour,
or a flickering moment.
# Worry divides the mind and multiplies misery
# It subtracts from our happiness, it never adds
3. Worry is the most ineffective use of our time
– Consider: a pet mouse in a cage with a wire wheel
– They wake up and run on the wheel
– It is said that the average pet mouse, will run nine
thousand miles on such a wheel in his lifetime, and he is still inside the same cage!
b. That is the way worry is – a lifetime of frantic running with
– After a while you run out of the strength God gave you, and you
are still in the cage of worry.
– Someone has said, Worry doesn’t rob tomorrow of its sorrow, it
robs today of its strength.
D. Worry is Illogical (6:28-30 “So why do you worry about
clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?)
1. Have you ever walked through a beautiful garden in the springtime
a. It is very difficult to be weighed down by the cares of the world
when you are surrounded by the majesty of God’s beautiful art.
b. Solomon was a glorious king, Jesus tells us, with the wealth of
several kingdoms at his disposal.
– But all of his sparkling finery pales in comparison to the
simplest lily that God placed beside our feet.
2. Consider this about the lilies:
a. How many office hours have they put in?
b. How many dues have they paid?
c. Have you ever seen a lily suffering through an anxiety attack?
– They neither toil nor spin
– They simply sway in the breeze, reaching heavenward toward
the source of their water and sunshine and sustenance.
d. They do neither more nor less than they were designed to do,
and what they were designed to do is to glorify God
– Would that we could glorify God with the simple eloquence of
that little flower.
3. The greater point is that God values you so much more than
a. The lily is merely something He created for our pleasure, for we
are the one that bears His image not the flower.
b. If He cares for each petal or stem that blooms and fades within a
season, how much more does He care for us
– How much more does He take to heart the things that cause our
4. He took the answer to that question and displayed it on a cross two
thousand years ago
- He would never suffer and die for the same children He planned
b. That is why worry is illogical.
E. Worry is Irreligious (6:31-32 “Therefore do not worry, saying,
‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.)
1. What does irreligious mean?
a. Isn’t it true that the word religion is out of fashion among
b. Jesus’ point is that to worry is to be just like everyone else
– To the Jews of Jesus’ day – everyone else = Gentiles
c. God had spent thousands of years demonstrating that He would
be the God of the Jews, and they would be his people.
– Gentiles had no reason to believe such a thing, and it was
natural for them to spend their lives in anxiety over food and
shelter and clothing
– But God’s people should know better; it was written in bold
letters across the law, proclaimed in their tabernacles, and
should have been emblazoned in their hearts.
2. The goodness of God was the essence of the Jew’s religion, and
worry was a total denial of it
a. Worry denies your Father in heaven and your family on earth.
b. It reduces us to the ways of the pagans who worship blind, deaf,
and powerless idols, who live as if the desperation of a sacrifice at the altar will bring another few drops of rain.
- In the old days that might have been expressed in Baal worship,
but it is just as alive today.
– We have simply removed the stone gods and replaced them
with shiny new ones such as career, materialism, pleasure, and power – all the attainments we worry about in our denial that God will care for our every need.
3. All of us struggle with worry in one form or another
a. Yet, it should be a momentary phase, not a lifestyle
b. Many people make worry so ingrained in their personalities that,
once the old worries are gone, they search for new ones.
– They have become so dependent on worry as a lens through
which to view life, that they have forgotten any other way to live
– Jesus is talking about our unbelief, and yet notice the tenderness of
His words your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things
TS: We find so many inconsistent, irrational, illogical, ineffective, and irreligious
factors when we take a close look at worry. We have as much reason to
avoid it as we do some deadly narcotic – for that is exactly what it is. But
perhaps you have already become dependent upon that drug. Perhaps you
need to become free from its tyranny. How can you do that?
II. Fighting the Giant of worry (Matthew 6:33-34)
- You Need a System of Priorities (6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of
God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.)
- We have seen that the biblical prognosis of worry is a division of the
- It is a mistake to try dealing with the issues of today while
dwelling on the questions of tomorrow.
b. We need all our energy and concentration for the here and now
2. Where do we find Jesus’ words on worry
a. They are right in the center of His teaching on the personal
b. I don’t think that it is a coincidence
c. The great overriding issue, after all, is priorities.
– What is the most important thing to your heart?
– Those who base their lives on the acquisition of things tend to
be the ones saddled with anxiety.
3. Jesus has a simple prescription for anxiety.
a. Seek the things of God first
– Live the life He would have you live
– Focus right there, putting aside every distraction – then let the
chips fall where they may!
b. can this simple formula really work?
– If it does not, then we might as well put our Bible away, for
nothing else in it will stand up.
– This teaching goes to the very heart of the central message of
– If these words are true then life can be embraced with joy and
– It is something to enjoy, not to worry about, and the “what ifs”
no longer have any power over us
4. Most of us know this verse: Living it is another matter.
a. We need to rebuild our system of priorities, with God at the
center of the structure.
- We Need a Strategic Program (6:34 “Therefore do not worry about
tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.)
1. Jesus is saying something quite interesting
a. you won’t sink under the burden of today’s crises, but
tomorrow’s agenda puts you over the weight limit
- Have you ever tried to carry too many bags of groceries at the
– After cleaning the eggs from your driveway, you will know
better and make two trips instead of one.
– Jesus is telling us to carry today’s bag today, and make a fresh
2. Living in the present tense is an art
a. Jesus wants us to live a day at a time
b. There is a reason God placed us withing the moment, bracketed
away from both the past and the future
– The past is closed for good, and the future is still under
– But today has everything we need
c. consider this anonymous poem
All the water in the world
However hard it tried,
Could never sink a ship
Unless it got inside.
All the hardships of this world
Might wear you pretty thin,
But they won’t hurt you one least bit
Unless you let them in
3. What is our Strategic program
a. don’t dwell on tomorrow’s stress
– Take note of these powerful words found in Deuteronomy 33:25
as thy days, so shall thy strength be.
# When the day dawns, God will give you the grace and the
strength we need for it
# Your calendar gives each day its own number. Approach
them in that order. just as God arranged them.
– We don’t totally ignore the future
# We plan and prepare
# but calm preparation and obsessed anxiety are two different
– Mark Twain once said, “I’m an old man and I’ve known a great
many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
b. Don’t dwell on yesterday’s mess
– One thing is always true about yesterday – it is gone
# There is nothing we can do to change yesterday
– This is difficult to deal with sometimes
# Living with the failures of the past can be overwhelming if
we allow them to be
– Guilt is a powerful emotion
# We must be reminded of the infinite forgiveness of God
# He has placed our past sins as far as the east is from the
west from us. (Psalm 103:12)
– We must move on from our mistakes and sins of the past, and
learn from them so that they can help us in the present not to do those things in the future.
c. Don’t dwell on yesterday’s success
– It is possible to feel anxiety about positive things, too
# What if there was a time when everything seemed right in
# When we dwell on these things and lament the good old
days we lose the value of the present.
– Often, we do this in the church, by not allowing ourselves to
enjoy the benefits of today, because we are too caught up with the “way things were”
d. Don’t dwell on Yesterday’s distress
– This could be the hardest thing to do – letting go of our
– Everyone is served their cup of sorrow in season
# There is no avoiding that in this world
# grief and mourning are clean, biblical emotions, but they
are not permanent ones.
– Every extra day of dwelling in those shadows is a day of joy lost
– a day of not seeing the wonderful things God wants us to see.
Conclusion: I want to leave you with some weapons you can use – four verses to help you when your mind is prone to anxiety, and six words to rally around. Copy them and keep them handy, better yet, commit them to memory:
Psalm 50:15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee,
and thou shalt glorify me.
Psalm 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee:
he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
I Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for He cares for you.
Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer
and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
What are the six words of Wisdom for Worriers?
Worry about nothing – pray about everything!
Make those words your battle cry as you take on the giant of worry.