March 8th, 2015
Matthew 6:25-34 (Isa 26:3-4; Lk 12:22-34; Phil 4:6-9; 1 Pt 5:6-7)
Service Orientation: We worry because we have invested poorly. We invest poorly because we fail to have faith in the God of the Universe. We can eradicate needless worry and anxiety from our lives if we would but know and trust the God of the Universe.
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. — 1 Peter 5:7
Def. Worry = To cause to be anxious. To feel or express anxiety.
Def. Anxiety = 1)- Painful or fearful uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated event. 2)- A strong concern or desire mixed with doubts and fear.
- In Mt 6:19-24 Jesus focuses on the attitude toward luxury, the unnecessary physical possessions men store and stockpile for selfish reasons. In verses 25-34 He focuses on the attitude toward what men eat, drink, and wear, the necessities of life that they absolutely must have to exist. The first passage is directed particularly at the rich and the second particularly at the poor. Both being rich and being poor have their special spiritual problems. The rich are tempted to trust in their possessions, and the poor are tempted to doubt God’s provision. The rich are tempted to become self-satisfied in the false security of their riches, and the poor are tempted to worry and fear in the false insecurity of their poverty. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 417-8)
- (1) There is a sense in which worry is not only good, but its absence is, biblically speaking, irresponsible.
(2) There is a sense in which worry is not only evil, but its presence signifies unbelief and disobedience. . . . The first sort of “worry” is simply the concern of the follower of Jesus to be faithful and useful in his master’s service. Even a casual reading of the Pauline corpus makes it clear that Paul lived and ministered with a certain intensity, a throbbing commitment not only to become more Christ-like himself, but also to fight spiritual battles on behalf of an exponentially increasing number of other believers. His commitment cost him the hardship and sufferings detailed in 2 Cor 11:23ff. “Besides everything else,” Paul adds, “I face the daily pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” (2 Cor 11:28f.). (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 90)
- Worry (merimna) is the antithesis of the practical trust in God which is the essential meaning of faith (pistis) in this gospel (8:10; 9:2, 22, 29; 15:28; 17:20; 21:21). Those who worry show their “lack of faith.” (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 266)
- The teaching in Mt 6:25-34 is calculated to act as an antidote to worry. (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 142)
- Always ask yourself, “What are the therefores there for?”
- (v. 25) Jesus gives three reasons, marked by a three-fold repetition of the word therefore or so (the same word in Greek) in verses 25, 31 [so – NIV], and 34. In each case, the “therefore” points back to what came immediately before. In other words, because of the truth in verse 24, we should not worry; because of the truth in verses 26-30, we should not worry; and because of the truth in verses 32 and 33, we should not worry. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 106)
- (v. 25) For this reason [therefore – NIV] refers back to the previous verse, in which Jesus declares that a Christian’s only Master is God. He is therefore saying, “Because God is your Master, I say to you, do not be anxious.” A bond slave’s only responsibility is to his master, and for believers to worry is to be disobedient and unfaithful to their Master, who is God. For Christians, worry and anxiety are forbidden, foolish, and sinful. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 419)
- (v. 25) There is a kind of double vision, a looking in two directions at one and the same time, and therefore not really seeing anything. That is what it means to be anxious, to be worried, to be “taking thought” in this sense. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 381)
- (v. 25) The English term worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle, or choke. That is exactly what worry does; it is a kind of mental and emotional strangulation, which probably causes more mental and physical afflictions than any other single cause.
It has been reported that a dense fog extensive enough to cover seven city blocks a hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water–divided into 60,000 million droplets. In the right form, a few gallons of water can cripple a large city.
In a similar way, the substance of worry is nearly always extremely small compared to the size it forms in our minds and the damage it does in our lives. Someone has said, “Worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind, which, if encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 419)
- (v. 25) When this translation [KJV] was made, the word thought [NIV – worry] meant something different from what it means today–it meant anxiety, restless, carking care; it meant that penetration of fear which upsets the balance of life and turns the whole soul into moods of dejection and wearing anxiety. The word thought meant this in the time when the English Bible was translated–hence one of the historians says, “Queen Catharine died of thought.” (Joseph Parker, The Inner Life of Christ, Studies in Matthew 1-7, 173)
- (v. 26) Has not Jesus already taught the heirs of the kingdom to pray, “Give us today our daily bread”? And will this prayer, taught by Jesus himself, be mocked by the Almighty? (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 93)
- (v. 30) Klibanos (furnace) is better translated “oven.” Such ovens were made of hardened clay and were used primarily for baking bread. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 424)
- (v. 32) The word seek means “to scrounge.” So it could read, “After all these things are the heathen scrounging.” (Bob Yandian, Salt & Light, The Sermon on the Mount, 102)
The question to be answered is . . . What does Jesus have to tell us about worry, stress and anxiety; the trifecta of American wellness disorders?
Answer: Take a good, long, hard look at why you worry. Ask yourself, “Does it really help at all?” Worry is for pagans who do not know the Lord. Know God, know peace. No God, no peace.
In the decades that have followed I have learned much more about the fight against anxiety. I have learned, for instance, that anxiety is a condition of the heart that gives rise to many other sinful states of mind. Think for a moment how many different sinful actions and attitudes come from anxiety. Anxiety about finances can give rise to coveting and greed and hoarding and stealing. Anxiety about succeeding at some task can make you irritable and abrupt and surly. Anxiety about relationships can make you withdrawn and indifferent and uncaring about other people. Anxiety about how someone will respond to you can make you cover over the truth and lie about things. So if anxiety could be conquered, a mortal blow would be struck to many other sins. (John Piper, Future Grace, 53)
Seeking security in this world and its possessions is a recipe for producing anxieties, rather than relieving them! The more we gather possessions in order to feel secure, the more we feel we need them in order to be secure and then the more we need to guard them to maintain our security. Therefore, the less secure we are! (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 137)
Someone has called anxiety “fear in search of a cause.” Kierkegaard once wrote, “No Grand Inquisitor has in readiness such terrible tortures as anxiety.” (James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount, 219)
We must recognize that all the promises Christ makes in the Sermon on the Mount are for Christians only. If you are not a Christian, or are uncertain whether you are a Christian or not, you must begin by straightening out this question. (James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount, 222)
The heart of Jesus’ message in our present passage is: Don’t worry–not even about necessities. He gives the command, Do not be anxious three times (vv. 25, 31, 34) and gives four reasons why worry, being anxious is wrong: it is unfaithful because of our Master; it is unnecessary because of our Father; it is unreasonable because of our faith; and it is unwise because of our future. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 418)
The Word for the Day is . . . worry
Why does Jesus say we shouldn’t worry?
It is true that Jesus forbids his people to worry. But to be free from worry and to be free from trouble are not the same thing. Christ commands us not to be anxious, but does not promise that we shall be immune to all misfortune. On the contrary, there are many indications in his teaching that he knew all about calamity. (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 167)
I- God gives us life. In spite of the FWS He’ll provide for His investment. (Mt 6:25-26, 30; see also: Ps 55:2; 84:11; Jn 14:27; Rom 8:32; Eph 1:18-19; Phil 1:6; 2:12-13; Col 3:1-3; 1 Tm 6:6-19; 1 Pt 5:6-7)
It is not ordinary, prudent foresight, such as becomes a man, that Jesus forbids; it is worry. Jesus is not advocating a shiftless, thriftless, reckless, thoughtless, improvident attitude to life; he is forbidding a care-worn, worried fear, which takes all the joy out of life. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 255)
If God gave us life, we can trust him for the things which are necessary to support life. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 256)
Worry is taking upon yourself responsibility God never intended for you to have. — Bill Gothard
For your life makes the command all-inclusive. Psuchē (life) is a comprehensive term that encompasses all of a person’s being–physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Jesus is referring to life in its fullest possible sense. Absolutely nothing in any aspect of our lives, internal or external, justifies our being anxious when we have the Master we do. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 419)
You can worry yourself to death, but not to life. Dr. Charles Mayo, of the famous Mayo Clinic, wrote, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands and the whole nervous system. I have never met a man or known a man to die of overwork, but I have known a lot who died of worry.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 423)
An exclusive preoccupation with food, drink and clothing could be justified only if physical survival were the be-all and end-all of existence. We just live to live. Then indeed how to sustain the body would be our proper first concern. So it is understandable that in emergency famine conditions the struggle to survive must take precedence over other things. But for this to be so in ordinary circumstances would express a reductionist concept of man which is totally unacceptable. It would downgrade him to the level of animals, indeed to that of birds and plants. Yet the great majority of today’s advertisements are directed towards the body–underwear to display it at its shapeliest, deodorants to keep it smelling sweet, and alcoholic beverages to pep it up when it is languishing. This preoccupation prompts these questions: is physical well-being a worthy object to which to devote our lives? Has human life no more significance than this? The Gentiles seek all these things. Let them. But as for you, my disciples, Jesus implies, they are a hopelessly unworthy goal. For they are not the “Supreme Good” in life. (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 162)
God provides for his own. This in no way reduces our responsibility to share what we have; rather, it enhances it, for God’s most common way of meeting the material needs of his poor children is by laying such needs on the hearts and consciences of others among his children. (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 100)
It is a medical fact that he who laughs most lives longest. 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. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 259-60)
It is God Himself who gives us life, and the body in which we live it; and if He has done that we can draw this deduction, that His purpose with respect to us will be fulfilled. God never leaves unfinished any work He has begun; whatever He starts, whatever He has purposed, He will most surely fulfill. And therefore we come back to this, that there is a plan for every life in the mind of God. We must never regard our lives in this world as accidental. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 385)
I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath—these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely—these are my native air. A John Hopkins University doctor says, “We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact.” But I, who am simple of mind, think I know; We are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality. (Dr. E. Stanley Jones, Transformed by Thorns, 95)
To be “of little faith” means, first of all, that we are mastered by our circumstances instead of mastering them. That is an obvious statement. The picture given in this entire section is of people who are being governed by life. There they are, as it were, sitting helplessly under a great cloud of concern about food and drink and clothing and many other things. These things are bearing down upon them and they are the victims of them. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 398-9)
All the purposes and the promises of God are meant for us and designed with respect to us; and the one thing we have to do, in a sense, is just to realize what God has told us about ourselves as His children. The moment we truly grasp that, worry becomes impossible. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 401)
Worry is something that is due to an entire failure to understand the nature of life in this world. Our Lord seems to picture life like this. As the result of the Fall and sin there is always a problem in life, because when man fell, he was told that henceforward he was going to live and eat his bread “by the sweat of his brow.” He was no longer in Paradise, he was no longer just to take the fruit and live a life of ease and enjoyment. As the result of sin, life in this world has become a task. Man has to labor and must meet trials and troubles. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 417)
Even as Christians we are sometimes caught up in the world’s idea that we live because of our bodies. And since we think we live because of our bodies, we live for our bodies. We know better, of course, but that is the way we often act. Our bodies in themselves are not the source of anything. They do not give us life but are given life by God, who is the source of all life–spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 421)
It is significant that each of the four other times Jesus used the phrase “O men [or “you”] of little faith,” it was also in relation to worry about food, clothing, or life span (see Mt 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Lk 12:28). “You believe that God can redeem you, save you from sin, break the shackles of Satan, take you to heaven where He has prepared a place for you, and keep you for all eternity,” Jesus is saying; “and yet you do not trust Him to supply your daily needs?” We freely put our eternal destiny in His hands, but at times refuse to believe He will provide what we need to eat, drink, and wear.
Worry is not a trivial sin, because it strikes a blow both at God’s love and at God’s integrity. Worry declares our heavenly Father to be untrustworthy in His Word and His promises. To avow belief in the inerrancy of Scripture and in the next moment to express worry is to speak out of both sides of our mouths. Worry shows that we are mastered by our circumstances and by our own finite perspectives and understanding rather than by God’s Word. Worry is therefore not only debilitating and destructive but maligns and impugns God.
When a believer is not fresh in the Word every day, so that God is in His mind and heart, then Satan moves into the vacuum and plants worry. Worry then pushes the Lord even further from our minds. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 424-5)
Not only is the life more important than the food which sustains it, but is also consists of much “more.” A life which is dominated by worry about food is missing out on that “more,” which will be spelled out in v. 33 as the pursuit of God’s kingship and righteousness. A life which does not give priority to these higher concerns has fallen prey to materialism, as the third type of seed in the parable of the sower will illustrate (13:22). It is a life enslaved to mammon (v. 24). (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 267-8)
This also applies to stress, which can promote all the risk factors for CHD. Stress can contribute significantly to hypertension, elevated serum lipids, diabetes and cigarette smoking. An increased incidence of coronary morbidity and mortality is associated with such psycho social stresses as poverty, loneliness, rapid sociocultural change, crowding, and having little control over one’s life, especially in the workplace. Similarly, there is a wealth of literature linking stressful emotions such as depression, suppressed anger and hostility to various coronary events. And there can be little doubt that stress can precipitate angina, congestive failure and sudden death. There is also support from the salubrious cardioprotective benefits afforded by various stress reduction approaches, and the buffering benefits of a strong social support system, firm faith, and other examples of eustress. Thus, there is a great deal of evidence to support the contention that stress can contribute to coronary heart disease. However, evidence is quite different than proof, and contribute is quite different than cause. See Stress and Heart Disease, Type A Behavior and Heart Disease. (Www.stress.org 12-02-08)
II- God provides for mere birds and flowers. He’ll certainly provide for the pinnacle of His creation. (Mt 6:25-26, 28-30; see also: Ps 23:1; 29:11; 104: 10-15, 27-30; Lam 3:22-23; Phil 4:12-19 )
If God so carefully takes care of such relatively insignificant creatures as birds, how much more will He take of those who are created in His own image and who have become His children through faith? (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 422)
The implication of the text is that worrying about material and temporal things is the source of all anxiety. Such anxiety causes one to avoid the responsibility of work, which is in cooperation with God’s way of making provision for us. (Edward Hindson and James Borland, Matthew: The King is Coming, 76)
The flowers had but one day of life; and then they were set alight to help a woman to heat an oven when she was baking in a hurry; and yet God clothes them with a beauty which is beyond man’s power to imitate. If God gives such beauty to a short-lived flower, how much more will he care for man? Surely the generosity which is so lavish to the flower of a day will not be forgetful of man, the crown of creation. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 257-8)
God created and now sustains our life; he also created and continues to sustain our body. This is a fact of everyday experience. We neither made ourselves, nor keep ourselves alive. Now, our “life” (for which God is responsible) is obviously more important than the food and drink which nourish it. Similarly our “body” (for which God is also responsible) is more important than the clothing which covers and warms it. Well then, if God already takes care of the greater (our life and our body), can we not trust him to take care of the lesser (our food and our clothing)? (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 163)
The point that Jesus is making is not that the birds do not work; it has been said that no one works harder than the average sparrow to make a living; the point that he is making is that they do not worry. There is not to be found in them man’s straining to see a future which he cannot see, and man’s seeking to find security in things stored up and accumulated against the future. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 257)
It will not do, I think, to say rather glibly that God does look after his own children, and that the poor who lack adequate food and clothing are all unbelievers outside his family circle, for there are certainly Christian people in some drought- and famine-stricken areas of the world in very severe need. It does not seem to me that there is a simple solution to this problem. But one important point should be made, namely that the most basic cause of hunger is not an inadequate divine provision, but an inequitable human distribution. The truth is that God has provided ample resources in earth and sea. The earth brings forth plants yielding seed and trees bearing fruit. The animals, birds and fish he had made are fruitful and multiply. But men hoard or spoil or waste these resources, and do not share them out. It seems significant that in this same Gospel of Matthew the Jesus who here says that our heavenly Father feeds and clothes his children, later says that we must ourselves feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and will be judged accordingly. It is always important to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. The fact that God feeds and clothes his children does not exempt us from the responsibility of being the agents through whom he does it. (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 166-7)
These beautiful things come and go, and that is the end of them. You, however, are immortal; you are not only a creature of time, you belong to eternity. It is not true to say that you are here today and gone tomorrow in a real sense. God hath “set eternity” in the heart of man; man is not meant to die. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 393)
I commend to your study, as a matter of great interest and vital importance, the frequency with which that argument [lesser to greater] is used in the Scriptures. We have a perfect illustration of it in Rom 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” It is a very common biblical argument, the argument from the greater to the lesser, and we must always be watching for it and applying it. The Giver of the gift of life will see that the sustenance and support of that life will be provided. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 384)
We must spend more time in logic, and we must never think of faith as something purely mystical. We do not just sit down in an armchair and expect marvelous things to happen to us. That is not Christian faith. Christian faith is essentially thinking. Look at the birds, think about them, and draw your deductions. Look at the grass, look at the lilies of the field, consider them. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 399)
Then think of His great love. The tragedy of our position is that we do not know the love of God as we should. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 402)
Yet no bird is created in the image of God or recreated in the image of Christ. No bird was ever promised heirship with Jesus Christ throughout all eternity. No bird has a place prepared for him in heaven. And if God gives and sustains life for birds, will He not take care of us who are His children and who have been given all those glorious promises? (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 422)
It is an indictment of our day that we spend so much time, money, and effort to dress ourselves. Lusting after costly, stylish clothes is sinful, because its only purpose is to feed pride. The number of clothing stores we have today, and the vast amounts of clothes we find in them, is staggering. Many people have made a god out of fashion, and shamelessly waste money on expensive clothes they will wear but a few times. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 424)
Does God really provide so bountifully for the birds, which die or are killed in huge numbers every year, often for lack of suitable food, and many of which face the probability of extinction in our shrinking world? Even more pertinently, how are we to maintain the relevance of this teaching to those large numbers of human beings, many of them devout disciples, who simply cannot obtain enough food and die through famine while the affluent part of the world lives in excess? It would be a grossly insensitive and blinkered expositor who would dare to suggest that it was simply because they did not trust God enough. This teaching seems to envisage the world as it should be rather than the world as it is, and while it is true that much of both human and animal suffering can be blamed on human selfishness and greed and our disastrous mismanagement of God’s world, it is not easy to trace a human cause for every famine or disaster, ancient or modern. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 266)
As Luther famously put it, God provides food for the birds, but he does not drop it into their beaks. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 268)
It would, of course, be pressing the rhetorical language too far to find in this saying a promise that all God’s people may expect to be more magnificent than Solomon. The point is rather that such a God, author and sustainer of a lavishly beautiful universe, can be trusted to meet his disciples’ essential needs. Those who cannot exert such practical trust in God’s care and provision are oligopistoi, literally “of little faith,” a term used especially in Matthew for those who are afraid instead of trusting God to provide for their survival or need (cf. 8;26; 14:31; 26:8). (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 270)
The disciple is promised survival, not affluence; this is no carte blanche. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 272)
Christ’s argument–from the less to the greater, contrast verse 25–amounts to this: If the birds, who cannot in any real sense plan ahead, have no reason to worry, then certainly you, my followers, endowed with intelligence, so that you can take thought for the future, should not be filled with apprehension. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 351)
The force of the emphasis is on “you” to indicate covertly how great is the value set upon your personal existence and the concern God shows for you in particular. It is as though he were saying, “You, to whom he gave a soul, for whom he fashioned a body, for whose sake he made everything in creation, for whose sake he sent prophets, and gave the law, and wrought those innumerable good works, and for whose sake he gave up his only begotten Son.” (Chrysostom, “The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 22.1″)
III- Worry is useless. (Mt 6:27; see also: Prv 6:6-11; Eccl 11:10; Mt 13:22)
The biggest troubles you have got to face are those that never come. Worry about the future is wasted effort, and the future of reality is seldom as bad as the future of our fears. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 259)
A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.
Worry may damage our health, cause the object of our worry to consume our thoughts, disrupt our productivity, negatively affect the way we treat others, and reduce our ability to trust in God. Worry may, in reality, take time away from our span of life rather then adding to it. It accomplishes nothing. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 124)
There may be greater sins than worry, but very certainly there is no more disabling sin. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 261)
Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all others thoughts are drained. — Arthur Somers Roche.
Worry is the darkroom in which negatives are developed.
Jesus goes on to prove that worry is in any event useless. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 257)
It is Jesus’ argument that worry is pointless anyway. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 257)
On a birthday a person will sometimes say, “I have reached another mile-post.” On his seventieth birthday this individual will have reached his seventieth mile-post. Adding a cubit to seventy miles, or even to ten miles, would certainly be hardly worth mentioning. It would be “a small thing,” but even such a small thing, says Jesus, no one is able to accomplish by means of worrying. A man may “worry himself to death”; he cannot worry himself into a longer span of life. See also Ps 39:4-6. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 351)
A great teacher now living has well said that if any friend of ours had told us one hundredth part of the lies our fears have told us, we never would have allowed him to speak to us again. We would have said, “Get thee behind me, thou lying man.” But our fears come every day and tell us exactly the same lies, and we give them exactly the same confidence. Is that religion? It is, but only the religion of paganism. The religion of trust, love, faith, rests in the Lord and waits patiently for him; forms a grand and loving expectation, directs it often in speechless prayer to the generous and over-arching heavens, and calmly awaits the revelation and the whole answer of God. (Joseph Parker, The Inner Life of Christ, Studies in Matthew 1-7, 174)
Anxiety: It is not work that kills men; it is worry. Work is healthy; you can hardly put more upon a man than he can bear. Worry is rust upon the blade. It is not the revolution that destroys the machinery, but the friction. Fear secrets acids; but love and trust are sweet juices. —Henry Ward Beecher
Worry is like a rocking chair—it will give you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere.
Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from doubt.” -Dr. Charles Mayo
A group of Finnish researchers have done a study with 942 patients and those who worried a lot and had a sense of hopelessness were 20% more likely to develop heart conditions. The study said that worry was as bad for your heart as smoking 1 pack of cigarettes per day. (Rush Limbaugh, 9/23/97)
Stress related illnesses: Heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression, gastrointestinal, Alzheimers, accelerated aging, death. (Webmd.com 3-5-15)
Why are you such a worrier” don’t you know there is nothing acceptable about it? To Jesus it smells like secondhand smoke. He outlaws it. He bans it in his kingdom. Why worry? You can’t add an hour to your life; in fact, you might take a few away. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 178)
IV- Worry about food and clothing is for pagans (unbelievers, gentiles). (Mt 6:31-32; see also: Ps 94:19; Mt 8:26; 14:30-31; 16:8; Lk 8:23-25; Phil 4:6-12; 1 Thess 4:13)
Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God. (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 61)
Worry is telling God, “You can’t be trusted with these circumstances.” — DeEtta Trainor
Worry is inconsistent with our faith in God and is therefore unreasonable as well as sinful. Worry is characteristic of unbelief. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 425)
Worry, he says, is characteristic of a heathen, and not of one who knows what God is like (v. 32). 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. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 258)
If you want to increase your faith, the first thing you have to realize is that to be worried and anxious about food, and drink, and clothing, and your life in this world is, in a sense, to be just like the Gentiles. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 405)
All worry is caused by calculating without God. —Oswald Chambers
Worry is faith in reverse.
By definition, to forget God is to assume the place of God in your life and the world. Now, what is so bad about that? Oh my goodness, think about that for a second. What do you think worry is? Let me tell you what worry is. Worry is a frustrated aspiration to omniscience. Worry is saying exactly what James says we cannot say. You are eaten up with worry to the degree you say, “I know. I know what tomorrow holds. I know what is right. I know what has to happen. I know how history has to go. I know. Now if you say that, you will be eaten up with worry because you are aspiring to omniscience. (Tim Keller sermon, “Worry”)
If we do value “mammon” as normal people seem to think we should, our fate is fixed. Our fate is anxiety. It is worry. It is frustration. (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 209)
Those who have no hope in God naturally put their hope and expectations in things they can enjoy now. They have nothing to live for but the present, and their materialism is perfectly consistent with their religion. They have no God to supply their physical or their spiritual needs, their present or their eternal needs, so anything they get they must get for themselves. They are ignorant of God’s supply and have no claim on it. No heavenly Father cares for them, so there is reason to worry. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 425)
Thoughtfulness about the world is a heathenish sin, and unbecoming Christians. The Gentiles seek these things, because they know not better things; they are eager for this world, because they are strangers to a better; they seek these things with care and anxiety, because they are without God in the world, and understand not his providence. They fear and worship their idols, but know not how to trust them for deliverance and supply, and, therefore, are themselves full of care; but it is a shame for Christians, who build upon nobler principles, and profess a religion which teaches them not only that there is a Providence, but that there are promises made to the good of the life that now is, which teaches them a confidence in God and a contempt of the world, and gives such reasons for both; it is a shame for them to walk as Gentiles walk, and to fill their heads and hearts with these things. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 85)
Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it. —Lily Tomlin
Verse 32 adds: For the Gentiles seek all these things. This shows that in the vocabulary of Jesus “to seek” and “to be anxious” are interchangeable. He is not talking so much about anxiety as about ambition. Now heathen ambition focuses on material necessities. But this cannot be right for Christians partly because your heavenly Father knows that you need them all, but mostly because these things are not an appropriate or worthy object for the Christian’s quest. He must have something else, something higher, as the Supreme Good which he will energetically seek: not material things, but spiritual values; not his own good but God’s; in fact not food and clothing, but the kingdom and the righteousness of God. (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 169-70)
One great feature of paganism is living for the present. Let the pagan be anxious if he wants to; he knows nothing of a Father in heaven. But let the Christian, who has clearer light and knowledge, give proof of it by his faith and contentment. When we are bereaved of those we love, we are not to “grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Thess 4:13). When we are tried by anxieties about this life, we are not to be over-careful, as if we had no God, and no Christ. (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 46)
CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: What is Jesus’ remedy for such a widespread illness?
“O ye of little faith.” That is the ultimate cause of the trouble. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 395)
- Seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness first and foremost. Not things. (Mt 6:33; see also: Ps 139:23; Mt 11:28-30; Lk 10:38-42; Heb 13:5)
The secret of freedom from anxiety is freedom from ourselves and abandonment of our own plans. But that spirit emerges in our lives only when our minds are filled with the knowledge that our Father can be trusted implicitly to supply everything we need. (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 144)
Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered on anything short of God and His will for us. — Dr. Billy Graham
All men want peace, but do not seek those things that bring peace. — Thomas à Kempis
Anxiety can never be cured by getting more of what we have already. Many people make that fatal mistake. Anxiety can be cured only by the assurance that all our needs will be met by our King. For this reason, the chief drive in our lives should be to live under the authority of the king and to see his kingdom extended in every possible way–morally, socially, and geographically, as well as personally, inwardly, and spiritually. (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 146)
Our ambition, then, is to seek first his kingdom, to cherish the passionate desire that his name should receive from men the honor which is due to it. (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 170)
It does not matter very much to Satan what form sin takes as long as he succeeds in his ultimate objective. It is immaterial to him whether you are laying up treasures on earth or worrying about earthly things; all he is concerned about is that your mind should be on them and not on God. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 379)
Faith means refusing to think about worrying things, refusing to think of the future in that wrong sense. The devil and all adverse circumstances will do their utmost to make me do so, but having faith means that I shall say: “No; I refuse to be worried. I have done my reasonable service; I have done what I believed to be right and legitimate, and beyond that I will not think at all.” That is faith, and it is particularly true with regard to the future. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 423)
[Seek first] It comes from the Greek word protos, which here does not indicate the first in a series chronologically. In other words, Jesus is not saying that we are to seek the kingdom first and clothes second and a house third, and so on. Rather, He is talking about priority. Jesus is saying that the most important thing we can do is to seek His Father’s kingdom and His righteousness. Set your heart on that, and everything else will take care of itself. The number-one priority of the Christian is seeking after the kingdom of God. (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 186)
Why do people become anxious? In part, for the same reason they become hypocritical: they focus on self rather than on God. In the case of the hypocrite, the concern is to be seen by others. In the case of the anxious person, the concern is to supply his own needs. The hypocritical person and the anxious person probably have something else in common. Neither has really grasped the fact of the grace of God. (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 135)
God transforms our lives by the renewing of our minds as we study and submit to the teaching of Scripture! In it, God’s Spirit opens our eyes to understand spiritual things. We gain a right perspective (God’s perspective) on the world and our activities in it. Scripture has the very practical purpose of “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tm 3:16). (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 142)
To concentrate on the doing of, and the acceptance of, God’s will is the way to defeat worry. We know how in our own lives a great love can drive out every other concern. Such a love can inspire a man’s work, intensify his study, purify his life, dominate his whole being. It was Jesus’ conviction that worry is banished when God becomes the dominating power of our lives. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 258)
Worry is essentially irreligious. Worry is not caused by external circumstances. In the same circumstances one man can be absolutely serene, and another man can be worried to death. Both worry and serenity come, not from circumstances, but from the heart. Alistair MacLean quotes a story from Tauler, the German mystic. One day Tauler met a beggar. “God give you a good day, my friend,” he said. The beggar answered, “I thank God I never had a bad one.” Then Tauler said, “God give you a happy life, my friend.” “I thank God,” said the beggar, “I am never unhappy.” Tauler in amazement said, “What do you mean?” “Well,” said the beggar, “when it is fine, I thank God; when it rains, I thank God; when I have plenty, I thank God; when I am hungry, I thank God; and since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases him pleases me, why should I say I am unhappy when I am not?” Tauler looked at the man in astonishment. “Who are you?” he asked. “I am a king,” said the beggar. “Where then is your kingdom?” asked Tauler. And the beggar answered quietly: “In my heart.” (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 260-1)
Worry presents us with the dual temptation to distrust God and to substitute fear for practical action. Worry means paying attention to what we cannot change instead of putting our energies to work in effective ways. Jesus made it clear that worry takes away from life rather than adding anything to it. We can counteract worry by doing what we can and trusting where we can’t. When we work for God and wait on his timing, we won’t have time to worry. When we seek first to honor God as king and conform our lives to his righteousness, worry will always find us otherwise occupied. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 123)
Jesus’ followers must settle the question of priorities. They must be different from unbelievers whose priorities are comfort, security, money, fashion, etc. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 125)
So learn what you have to do with that great power of anticipation. It is meant to be the guide of wise work. It is meant to be the support for far-reaching, strenuous action. It is meant to elevate us above mere living from hand to mouth; to ennoble our whole being by leading to and directing toil that is blessed because there is no anxiety in it, labor that will be successful since it is according to the will of that God who has endowed us with the power of putting if forth. (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 317)
God gives us power to bear all the sorrows of His making; but He does not give us power to bear the sorrows of our own making, which the anticipation of sorrow most assuredly is. (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 323)
Ambition concerns our goals in life and our incentives for pursuing them. A person’s ambition is what makes him “tick”; it uncovers the mainspring of his actions, his secret inner motivation. This, then, is what Jesus was talking about when he defined what in the Christian counter-culture we are to “seek first.” (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 160)
We cannot sit back in an armchair, twiddle our thumbs, mutter “my heavenly Father will provide” and do nothing. We have to work. As Paul put it later: “If anyone will not work, let him not eat.” (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 165)
Poor Martha was “distracted”–that is the real meaning of the expression; she did not know where she was nor what she really wanted. Mary, on the other hand, had a single purpose, a single aim; she was not distracted by many things. What our Lord is warning us against, therefore, is the danger of thus being distracted from the main objective in life by care, by this anxiety about earthly, worldly things, by looking so much at them that we do not look at God–this danger of living the double life, this false view, this dualism. That is what He is concerned about. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 381)
There is a direct correlation between our anxiety and our efforts to live up to the false image of who we or others think we ought to be. — Steve Brown
If you lie awake at night for hours I can tell you what you have been doing; you have been going round in circles. You just go over the same old miserable details about some person or some thing. That is not thought; that is the absence of thought, a failure to think. That means that something else is controlling your thought and governing it, and it leads to that wretched, unhappy state called worry. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 399-400)
The Christian is seeking righteousness, seeking to be like Christ, seeking positive holiness and to be more and more holy, growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord. This is the way to increase your faith. It works like this. The more holy we are, the nearer we shall be to God. The more holy we are, the greater will be our faith. The more sanctified and holy we are, the greater will be our assurance and therefore our claims and our reliance upon God. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 412)
So the concern is good, but Jesus is counseling us against worry that is self-centered and has at its root a lack of trust in God. No good architect does a good job of building a bridge without sometimes waking up at night and checking his figures, the quality of his metals, and the quality of his design. No great athlete performs to his or her best without some concern about what he or she is doing. The distinction is sometimes very subtle. A preacher might be honestly concerned about his sermon–that it be true to the text, practical, spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit and in love. Or he might simply be worried about his reputation. The first is healthy and godly, the second is not. (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 220)
The cause of worry is seeking the things of this world, and the cause of contentment is seeking the things of God’s kingdom and His righteousness. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 426)
To seek first God’s kingdom is to pour out our lives in the eternal work of our heavenly Father. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 426)
In effect, Jesus answers that just as earthly possessions can become an idol which deposes God by becoming disproportionately important, so also can earthly needs become a source of worry which deposes God by fostering distrust. Loyalty to kingdom values rejects all subservience to temporal things, whether that subservience be the type which accumulates endlessly, or the type stamped by a frenetic, faithless, and worried scurry for essentials. (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 87)
There is little justification in Scripture for picturing the Christian life in terms of constantly effervescent joy, unbounded peace, unbroken serenity; and still less is there warrant for irresponsibility toward the Lord in the use of his gifts. Joy and peace and freedom there are, but only within the matrix of unadulterated commitment to Jesus, along with all the pressures such commitment must inevitably bring.
None of these “worries” is purely selfish. Moreover, such concerns (a less emotive term than “worries”) are essentially God-directed. That seeking to ensure that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The absence of such “worries” is irresponsible. (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 90)
One must pray for the coming of God’s reign (6:10) because it is God who will bring it into being. Such prayer is, or course, part of the “seeking” here required. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 271)
It may be the most important verse in the entire Sermon on the Mount. Jesus does not tell us to forget about our concerns but rather to focus our concern and thoughts on His Father’s kingdom. All the things that are added to us will be the consequence of our focusing our desires on His kingdom. (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 185)
Then Jesus says, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” In this sentence he clearly shows the difference between a good that ought to be sought as an end and a value that ought to be seen as a means. Our final good is therefore the kingdom of God and his justice. We ought to seek this good and fix our aim upon it. Let us perform all our actions for the sake of it. Yet, since we are waging war in this life in order to be able to reach that kingdom and since this life cannot be maintained unless those necessities are supplied, he says, “These things shall be given you besides, but seek you first the kingdom of God and his justice.” (Augustine, “Sermon on the Mount 2.16.53)
When he said that the one is to be sought first, Jesus clearly intimates that the other is to be sought later–not that it is to be sought at a later time but that it is to be sought as a thing of secondary importance. He showed that the one is to be sought as our good, that the other is to be sought as something needful for us, but that the needful is to be sought for the sake of the good. (Augustine, “Sermon on the Mount 2.16.53″)
Our worries and concerns are expressions of our inability to leave unresolved questions unresolved and open-ended situations open-ended. (Reaching Out, Henri J.M. Nouwen)
If you are hoping and trusting in the Lord, and suddenly your health, wealth or future are taken from you and your hope is gone. Then, you need to confess that it was not the Lord you were hoping in. It was what you have just lost. Hope in the Lord NEVER disappoints. — Pastor Keith
- Trust God one moment at a time. (Mt 6:34; see also: Ps 4:8; Isa 26:3-4; Lk 12:11; 2 Cor 4:16-18)
I have had many troubles in my life. Most of them I never experienced. —Mark Twain (Alister Begg sermon, “Why Worry, God is in Charge”)
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. —Corrie Ten Boom (Vernon Brewer, Why?, 64)
The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety. —George Muller
Worrying does not enable you to escape evil. It makes you unfit to cope with it. The truth is, we always have the strength to bear the trouble when it comes. But we do not have the strength to bear worrying about it. If you add today’s troubles to tomorrow’s troubles, you give yourself an impossible burden. (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 224)
If only we had some dim, vague conception of the purposes of God with respect to us, worry would be impossible. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 400)
And what does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow, brother, of its sorrows; but ah! it empties today of its strength. It does not enable you to escape the evil, it makes you unfit to cope with it when it comes. It does not bless tomorrow, but it robs today. For every day has its own burden. Sufficient for each day is the evil which properly belongs to it. Do not add tomorrow’s to today’s. Do not drag the future into the present. The present has enough to do with its own proper concerns. We have always strength to bear the evil when it comes. We have not strength to bear the foreboding of it. (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 322-3)
Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster and belief in defeat…worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles. — Walter Kelly
Can you not see that, in a sense, you are mortgaging the future by worrying about it in the present? (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 417)
An Angel says, ‘Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn’t happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.’
Worry is the advance interest you pay on troubles that seldom come.
It seems some people are so committed to worrying that, if they cannot find anything in the present to worry about, they think about possible problems in the future. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 427)
It is as if Jesus recognizes that there will be some unavoidable worry today after all. But let’s limit it to the concerns of today! Our gracious God intends us to take one step at a time, no more; to be responsible today and not fret about tomorrow. (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 102)
We must remember that this power is working for us. We have seen it in Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians: “The exceeding greatness of his power” (1:19). He “that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (3:20). In the light of such statements is not worry ridiculous? Is it not utterly foolish? It just means that we do not think; we do not read our Scriptures, or, if we do, we do so in a perfunctory manner, or are so controlled by prejudices that we do not take them at their face value. We must face these things and draw out our mighty deductions. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 403)
It is a poor type of Christianity that has this wonderful faith with respect to salvation and then whimpers and cries when confronted by the daily trials of life. We must apply our faith. “Little faith” does not do this. I trust that, after looking at this mighty argument of our blessed Lord, we shall not only feel convicted, but shall also see that to be worried is an utter contradiction of our position as children of God. There is no circumstance or condition in this life which should lead a Christian to worry. He has no right to worry; and if he does he is not only condemning himself as being a man of little faith, he is also dishonoring his God and being disloyal to his blessed Savior. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 403)
Jesus says that worry can be defeated when we acquire the art of living one day at a time (v. 34). The Jews had a saying, “Do not worry over tomorrow’s evils, for you know not what today will bring forth. Perhaps tomorrow you will not be alive, and you will have worried for a world which will not be yours.” If each day is lived as it comes, if each task is done as it appears, then the sum of all the day is bound to be good. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 258)
Jesus chides his disciples, calling them “you ‘little-faiths’” (v. 30). The word used, oligopistos, occurs only five times in the NT, four of which are in Matthew. It describes the believer whose actual confidence in God falls short of what we could reasonably expect. (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 62)
Faith, according to our Lord’s teaching in this paragraph, is primarily thinking; and the whole trouble with a man of little faith is that he does not think. He allows circumstances to bludgeon him. That is the real difficulty in life. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 399)
Taken out of its current context, this could, then be read as simply a piece of cynical advice to live only for the present–the attitude condemned by Paul in 1 Cor 15:32 (following Isa 22:13; cf. 56:12), and indeed also by Jesus in Lk 12:19-20. In speaking of “tomorrow worrying” and of “troubles” as the likely experience of each day v. 34 strikes a more pessimistic (or at least realistic) note than the preceding verses. By including it along with vv. 25-33 Matthew has perhaps deliberately put a sobering question mark against an unthinkingly euphoric attitude which vv. 25-33 might evoke in some hearers. God’s care and provision are assured, but that does not mean that the disciples’ life is to be one long picnic. Each day will still have its “troubles”; the preceding verses simply provide the assurance that by the grace of God they can be survived. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 272)
Why fidget yourself, why fret and annoy yourself, why go out and throw yourself into a bed of stinging nettles merely for the sake of doing something? I would not anticipate tomorrow anymore than I would anticipate death. Death is abolished; there is no dying for the man who is in Christ. Let the child close his eyelids; he will open them in heaven. Let a pagan call that death if he likes; the Christian calls it eternal life. Nothing wrong can happen to me if I am really rooted in God, and if my eye be set towards him with the one anxiety of receiving his light. (Joseph Parker, The Inner Life of Christ, Studies in Matthew 1-7, 175)
There are two days in the week about which and upon which I never worry. Two carefree days, kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension. One of these days is Yesterday . . . And the other day I do not worry about is Tomorrow. (Robert Jones Burdette, The Golden Day)
Chapter V – Of Providence
- God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.
- Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
III. God in his ordinary providence maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.
- The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God; who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.
- The most wise, righteous, and gracious God, doth oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption, and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.
- As for those wicked and ungodly men, whom God as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden, from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts; but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had, and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan: whereby it comes to pass, that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.
VII. As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures; so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof. (Westminster Confession of Faith, 33-38)
Worry is a misuse of the imagination. — Dan Zadra
B1- God owns all. (1 Chr 29:11; Ps 24:1)
When you hoard and you put away, you’re always trying to protect against the evil which might come tomorrow. Hoarding is motivated by fear. Don’t fear the future; God is God of tomorrow as well as today. Worry is always future. Faith says, “God has provided my needs every moment until now,” but worry says, “Ten minutes from now, it’s all going to go under.” Just live for today. (Bob Yandian, Salt & Light, The Sermon on the Mount, 103)
You don’t get ulcers from what you eat. You get them from what’s eating you. — Vicki Baum
B2- God controls all. (Dt 10:14-17; 1 Sm 2:6; 2 Chr 20:6; Ps 115:3; Isa 40:22; Jn 16:33; Acts 17:24-25; Rom 8:31, 37; 1 Cor 10:13)
Why worry when he has your life in his hands? Your worry is a sign that you do not adequately know him, or that you do not trust him, or have not yet yielded to him as you ought. (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 144)
Don’t try to be God. First, you are under qualified. And second, the stress you end up putting on yourself to try and do a job you are not the least bit qualified to undertake, will kill you.
The Bible clearly teaches God’s providential control (1) over the universe at large, Ps 103:19; Dn 4:35; Eph 1:11; (2) over the physical world, Job 37; Ps 104:14; 135:6; Mt 5:45; (3) over the brute creation, Ps 104:21, 28; Mt 6:26; 10:29; (4) over the affairs of nations, Job 12:23; Ps 22:28; 66:7; Acts 17:26; (5) over man’s birth and lot in life, 1 Sm 16:1; Ps 139:16; Isa 45:5; Gal 1:15, 16; (6) over the outward successes and failures of men’s lives, Ps 75:6, 7; Lk 1:52; (7) over things seemingly accidental or insignificant, Prv 16:33; Mt 10:30; (8) in the protection of the righteous, Ps 4:8; 5:12; 63:8; 121:3; Rom 8:28; (9) in supplying the wants of God’s people, Gn 22:8, 14; Dt 8:3; Phil 4:19; (10) in giving answers to prayer, 1 Sm 1:19; Is. 20:5, 6; 2 Chr 33:13; Ps 65:2; Mt 7:7; Lk 18:7, 8; and (11) in the exposure and punishment of the wicked, Ps 7:12, 13; 11:6. (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology)
When we trust the power of God, we experience peace, not panic.
Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. —Natalie Goldberg
The man who feeds his heart on the record of what God has done in the past will never worry about the future. Worry refuses to learn the lesson of life. We are still alive and our heads are still above water; and yet if someone had told us that we would have to go through what we have actually gone through, we would have said that it was impossible. The lesson of life is that somehow we have been enabled to bear the unbearable and to do the undoable and to pass the breaking-point and not to break. The lesson of life is that worry is unnecessary. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 260)
A Christian’s freedom from anxiety is not due to some guaranteed freedom from trouble, but to the folly of worry (to which we shall come later) and especially to the confidence that God is our Father, that even permitted suffering is within the orbit of his care, and that “in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 167-8)
Worry has an active imagination, and it can envisage all sorts and kinds of possibilities. It can envisage strange eventualities, and with its terrible power and activity it can transport us into the future and into a situation that is yet to come. And there we find ourselves worried and troubled and borne down by something which is purely imaginary. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 416)
There are cases where this condition is undoubtedly the result of the work of evil spirits; we can see clearly that there is another personality at work. But even short of direct possession we must recognize the fact that our adversary, the devil, does in various ways, through using a lowered physical condition or taking advantage of a natural tendency to overanxiety, thus exercise a tyranny and power over many. We have to understand that we are fighting for our lives against some tremendous power. We are up against a powerful adversary. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 416)
B3- God provides all. (Gn 22:11; Job 12:7-10; 38:41; Ps 147:9; Dn 2:20-21; Phil 4:19)
Worry is always a stab at the integrity of God’s love.
Your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of those things: that is, “All those persons who are so anxious about food, give no more honor, than unbelievers do, to the fatherly goodness and secret providence of God.” (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVI, 343)
The chief reason we are so preoccupied with our possessions and with acquiring more of them is that we worry about the future and do not trust God to care for us. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 106)
I never think about my clothing; God always supplies my clothing. The world is not my source: God is. And God is going to keep on supplying and supplying. (Bob Yandian, Salt & Light, The Sermon on the Mount, 99)
By wondering where it is going to come from, you’re looking at yourself as the source. By putting it off on the Lord, God is the source and you don’t have to worry about it. (Bob Yandian, Salt & Light, The Sermon on the Mount, 100)
It is time to sum up Jesus’ exposition of the world’s false ambition. To become preoccupied with material things in such a way that they engross our attention, absorb our energy and burden us with anxiety is incompatible with both Christian faith and common sense. It is distrustful of our heavenly Father, and it is frankly stupid. This is what pagans do; but it is an utterly unsuitable and unworthy ambition for Christians. So just as Jesus has already called us in the Sermon to a greater righteousness, a broader love and a deeper piety, he now calls us to a higher ambition. (John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 169)
“To see God’s providential hand with true certainty it is necessary first to know God Himself, to know Him in the outworking of His revealing and reconciling purpose in Jesus Christ, to know Him at the focus and center in the light of which His ways in providence may be discerned. The ‘smiling face’ of God is in the first instance the face unveiled at the cross and the empty tomb, where the God who seems to have averted His face from the sin-bearing Savior is the very God who is well pleased with the Son (Mt 3:17), who is well pleased with us in Him (Eph 1:5f.), and who has here worked out, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, the good pleasure of His grace. This God is also the God who preserves and overrules all creation with a view to the fulfillment of His gracious purpose. Hence we may be confident that even if providence is frowning, behind it is the smiling face of God.” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; Vol. Three, 1025)
Worship Point: Worship the God of the Universe who is so powerful, so knowledgeable, so loving, forgiving, kind, compassionate, merciful and gracious that we don’t ever have to worry. All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes. (Rom 8:28)
Things happen to us, and immediately, as we put it, we are “bowled over,” we are mastered by them. That is something which, according to Scripture, should never happen to a Christian. The picture given of him everywhere in the Bible is of one who is above his circumstances. He can even “rejoice in tribulation,” not just stand up to it with a stoical kind of fortitude. He does not give way or whimper; he is not simply, to use the common phrase, “grinning and bearing it.” No; he rejoices in the midst of tribulation. Only one who has true faith can look down upon life in that way, and can ever rise to such a height; but that, according to the Bible, is possible to the Christian. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 399)
THE CHRISTIAN’S PERSONAL IDENTITY:
I believe that in Christ Jesus my sins have been fully and freely forgiven, and I am a new creation. I have died with Christ to my old identity in Adam. I have been raised with Christ to a new life. I am seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. God has given to me the full righteousness of Jesus Christ. I am joined with angels, archangels, and all the saints in heaven. God is my Father, and if He is for me, who can be against me? Because of who I am in Christ, I am more than a conqueror. In fact, I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. Christ Jesus is my life! Everything in my life here on this earth is working out for good according to the purposes of God. Christ Jesus Himself dwells within me. I have been called according to the purposes of God. These things I believe and confess, because God, my Father in heaven, says they are true. Amen! (Don Matzat; Christ Esteem, 96)
Gospel Application: The Good News of the Gospel is that all the promises of God are made possible through faith in Jesus. By having faith in Jesus we need never worry again.
Our Lord is speaking here about Christian people who have only saving faith, and who tend to stop at that. Those are the people about whom He is concerned, and His desire is that they should be led, as the result of listening to Him, to a larger and deeper faith. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 396)
A little faith is a faith which does not lay hold of all the promises of God. It is interested only in some of them, and it concentrates on these. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 397)
Little faith, if you like, can also be described as a failure to take scriptural statements at their face value and to believe them utterly. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 400)
“Little faith” really means a failure to realize the implications of salvation, and the position resulting from salvation. That is clearly our Lord’s argument and reasoning here. Half our trouble is due to the fact that we do not realize to the full the implications of the doctrine of salvation which we believe. That is the argument of every NT Epistle. The first part consists of a doctrinal statement, which is designed to remind us of what we are and who we are as Christians. Then comes a practical second part, which is always a deduction from the first. That is why it generally starts with the word “therefore.” That is exactly what our Lord is doing here. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 400)
Jesus says that the root of anxiety is inadequate faith in our Father’s future grace. As unbelief gets the upper hand in our hearts, one of the effects is anxiety. The root cause of anxiety is a failure to trust all that God has promised to be for us in Jesus. (John Piper, Future Grace, 54)
Most–if not all–illicit worries indicate an acute shortage of confidence in God; and therefore to some extent they are self-centered. Most are bound to temporal categories; and where they are not, as in the fearful brother who fears God’s grace is insufficient to pardon him, all the rich promises of the gospel are available to quell them. (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 91)
Spiritual Challenge: Don’t worry. Be happy. You can be happy when you recognize your poverty of spirit, your mourning over your sinfulness and your hungering and thirsting for righteousness; for then it means you can no longer trust yourself for your salvation but you must trust Christ and have faith in the promises He has for those whose who believe. Are you not happy, but fearful and anxious? Where is your faith?
Our Lord is not speaking about everybody in the world. The Christian message really has no comfort and consolation to give to people who are not Christian. Words like these are not addressed to everybody; they are addressed only to those of whom the Beatitudes are true. They are, therefore, addressed to those who are poor in spirit, and those who mourn because of their sense of guilt and of sin, those who have seen themselves as truly lost and helpless in the sight of God, those who are meek and therefore hungering and thirsting after righteousness, realizing that it is only to be obtained in the Lord Jesus Christ. They have faith; the others have no faith at all. So it is spoken of such people only. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 395-6)
Similarly, “Humble yourselves…casting your anxieties on God.” One way to be humble is to cast your anxieties on God. Which means that one hindrance to casting your anxieties on God is pride. Which means that undue worry is a form of pride. Now why is casting our anxieties on the Lord the opposite of pride? Because pride does not like to admit that it has any anxieties. And if pride has to admit it, it still does not like to admit that the remedy might be trusting someone else who is wiser and stronger. In other words, pride is a form of unbelief and does not like to trust in future grace. Faith admits the need for help. Pride won’t. Faith banks on God to give help. Pride won’t. Faith casts anxieties on God. Pride won’t. Therefore the way to battle the unbelief of pride is to admit freely that you have anxieties, and to cherish the promise of future grace in the words, “He cares for you.” (John Piper, Future Grace, 96)
If, in the face of Jesus’ teaching, we remain anxious, it is either because we do not yet understand him, or we do not yet trust him. In either case, the fault is ours, not his. For he not only diagnoses the cause of worry; he provides its cure. He is its cure. (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 147)
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
That they have no heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.”
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Men. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Jesus now concludes this section of his discourse (Mt 6:19-34) with another touch of humor. “You have no need to be anxious about what will happen tomorrow,” he says. “You can do your worrying about tomorrow tomorrow.” (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 212)
If you are a Christian, and you worry . . . shame on you. You have nothing to worry about. If you are not a Christian; then if I were you I’d start to worry. Because you have everything in the world to worry about.
Quotes to Note:
To the Philippians Paul writes: “have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). Evidently one sign of deficient prayer is anxiety. (Richard F. Lovelace; Dynamics Of Spiritual Life, 160)
Never think of faith as something put inside you to work automatically; you have to apply it. Faith does not grow automatically either; we must learn to talk to our faith and to ourselves. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 423)
“Little faith” does not really take the Scripture as it is and believe it and live by it and apply it. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 398)
Our Lord, here, is urging us to think, and to think in a Christian manner. That is the very essence of faith. Faith, if you like, can be defined like this: It is a man insisting upon thinking when everything seems determined to bludgeon and knock him down in an intellectual sense. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 399)
Every man in this life, as the result of sin and the Fall, has his problems. Problems are inevitable; existence in itself is a problem. I shall therefore have to meet and face problems but I am not to allow myself to be dominated and crushed by that thought. The moment I am dominated by a problem I am in this state of worry and anxiety which is wrong. So I may take reasonable thought and care, and make reasonable provision, and then think no more about it. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 420-1)