By Don R. Hastings
Jesus said, “Be not anxious for your life.” The New King James Version reads, “do not worry about your life.” This is a command that most of us have failed to keep. It is easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but it is very different to keep ourselves from worrying. We can learn from God’s word how to overcome anxiety of mind! What a great and wonderful accomplishment! Jesus would not command us to do something that we didn’t have the ability to do. It can be done. We must do it!
Anxiety is forbidden because it is evidence of a great lack of faith in the goodness and care of our heavenly Father. While we claim to believe that the word of God is truth, our minds being troubled with apprehension and anxiety proves that our faith is either very weak or dead (Heb. 11:6). How can we rely on the mercy of God in the hour of death if we are afraid to trust him in life?
Jesus is not forbidding our giving thought to obtaining the necessities of life. We must provide for our own (1 Tim. 5:8). We should give some thought and care to the physical body. Jesus is forbidding our being overly concerned, full of care, troubled and upset with dread, so that: we do not have peace of mind; we are not able to rest; all joy is taken out of this life; we are blinded to our blessings and, therefore, fail to give thanks for them; our spiritual life is choked out and we are made useless in the Lord’s service. “The worry which wears out the mind wears out the body along with it. Worry affects a man’s judgment, lessens his powers of decision, and renders him progressively incapable of dealing with life. Let a man give his best to every situation – he cannot give more – and let him leave the rest to God” (The Gospel of Matthew, William Barclay, Vol. 1, p. 263). We must have the proper view of life and that is being far more concerned about our spiritual life than our earthly life (Col. 3:14).
Jesus had just told his disciples not to lay up “treasures upon the earth” and not to let riches be their master (Matt. 6:1924). Some of you may be thinking, “I am not in bondage to riches. I possess very few material riches.” Jesus points out that we are a bond servant of riches if we are worried about possessing them. Our great concern to possess them makes us their servant. We are giving our time, energy and thought to obtaining them. Are riches your master?
In our text, Jesus gives us seven valid reasons which prove why we must not worry. We must not be anxious because:
I. God Has Given Us Our Lives and Our Bodies (Text; Acts 17:24; Gen. 2:7)
Jesus asked, “Is not the life more than the food, and the body more than the raiment?” The answer is, “Yes.” Jesus reasons from the greater to the lesser. Since God has given us our life and body, we can trust him to give us food which will sustain life and clothing to cover the body. Do you trust him for these things (Phil. 4:4-6)?
II. God’s Consideration of Inferior Creatures Assures Us of His Great Concern for Us (Text)
Birds are not worried about the future, but sing cheerfully. Elizabeth Cheyney penned this poem, “Overheard In An Orchard”:
Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about, and worry so?”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
They have no heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.”
The birds do not serve “mammon,” or riches. Since God doesn’t forget even the sparrows, but feeds them, surely we can count on him to give us our “daily bread” (Lk. 12:6,7). Brother A.W. Discus wrote these words, which he set to music, “Lord, I believe, yes, I believe, I cannot doubt or be deceived; The eye that sees each sparrow fall, His unseen hand is in it all.”
Jesus asked, “Are not ye of much more value than they?” The answer is, “Yes.” We are made in his image (Gen. 1:26,27). We are the recipients of his redeeming grace (Psa. 111:9). He sent his Son to die for us (Rom. 5:8-11).
III. Worrying Is Useless (V. 27 KJV and footnote in ASV)
Worrying about your height is vain; it won’t help you grow taller. It wouldn’t do any good to worry about it. I am 5’8″ and I have always been short. I tell people, “Dynamite comes in small packages.”
Some people worry themselves into a state of depression because they are not content with their appearance. It is senseless to be overly concerned about our physical appearance. It is senseless, for regardless of the attention, time, or money spent on our bodies, they will return to the dust of the ground (Gen. 3:19; 2 Cor. 4:16). It is the beauty of the heart that is important in the sight of God (1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Pet. 3:3,4). Jesus asked, “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” The answer, “No one.”
IV. The Father Beautifully Clothed The Flowers Which Live Only For A Moment (Text)
“To the Jew, he (Solomon) was the highest representative of earthly grandeur, yet he was surpassed by the common lily of the field” (The Fourfold Gospel, J.W. McGarvey, p. 258). Solomon was outdone by the lily.
The flowers are not servants of riches and yet they are beautifully clothed. “The glory and beauty of the flower is natural and hence is made directly by the hand of the Creator without the instrumentality of man, which shows the ability of God to accomplish the utmost in the field of adornment and clothing” (Bible Commentary, E.M. Zerr, Vol. 5, p. 23). Flowers and grasses were burned in ovens in Palestine. In many places, there is not much wood. Jesus gives the reason why we worry over material things – “O ye of little faith.”
V. Worry Is Something Which The Gentiles Do For They Do Not Know What God Is Like (Text)
How shameful it is for children of God to come down to the level of the heathen. Of what value is our religion if we are distressed, depressed, and weighted down from the cares of this world like the atheist? Don’t you believe that God cares for you? Then you must stop being overly anxious (Matt. 7:7-11; 1 Pet. 5:7; Psa. 46:1-3; 145:14-21; Rom. 8:28-32).
VI. There Is No Need To Worry Over Material Things For The Father Knows Our Needs
And Will Satisfy Them (Text; Matt. 6:8; Phil. 4:19; Psa. 37:25)
“Worry is essentially distrust of God. Such a distrust may be understandable in a heathen who believes in a jealous, capricious, unpredictable god; but it is beyond comprehension in one who has learned to call God by the name of Father. The Christian cannot worry because he believes in the love of God” (The Gospel of Matthew, William Barclay, Vol. 1, p. 261).
Instead of worrying over material riches, you should 64seek ye first the kingdom of God.” That which should come first in occupying our time, energy and thoughts should be: being a citizen in the Lord’s kingdom; being loyal to the king; and being righteous in his eyes.
Are you seeking “first his kingdom and his righteousness” when you: forsake worshiping him because you are gathering material goods or protecting those you have already obtained; are afraid to be honest because it might reduce your income; stay in a sinful relationship because you are afraid you won’t have food and raiment if you don’t; make yourself sick from stress over worldly matters; are angry and bitter over financial losses, etc.? Do you believe that “all these things shall be added unto you”? (Text)
VIII. It Is Foolish To Worry Over The Future When We Do Not Know What The Future May Bring Us And When Worrying About The Future Doesn’t Change It (Text)
Worrying about future events robs us of the strength we need for today’s problems. Mark Twain said, “I’ve had a lot of troubles in my life, most of which never happened” (Christianity, Vol. 3, No. 9, p. 30). My father, Olin Hastings, wrote in a sermon outline, “Worry does not empty tomorrow its trials, but empties today of its strangeth and comfort; does not enable us to escape future trouble, but makes us unfit to cope with it.” Learn to live one day at a time (Text; Matt. 6:12). Someone said, “Don’t cross your bridges until you get to them.” Whatever the future holds in store for us, God will still be in control and will give us sufficient grace to overcome all adversities of life at that time. Because of David’s great trust in God, he knew that “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (Psa. 23:6, KJV). Do you have the faith of David?
Jesus has proven that worrying is needless, senseless, useless and faithless. Will you seek diligently to stop worrying over this life? You can find peace of mind and comfort of soul through faith in the promises of God (Isa. 26:3; 2 Pet. 3:9; Heb. 10:23). If we have wasted our time on earth, because we filled our hearts with anxiety, worry, fear, etc., the Lord will rebuke us in the judgment and send us away from him. You should be far more concerned over your spiritual well-being and the salvation of others! Don’t permit Satan to distort your proper sense of values! Become one of God’s children and know the peace of soul that comes from complete trust in him.