A Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, 09 October 2011
6:25 On account of this, I’m telling y’all, stop caring [so much]
about your life (What might you eat? and What might you drink?)
and about your body (How might you clothe yourselves?).
Isn’t life about more than food and the body than clothing?
6:26 Start looking at the birds of the sky,
that are not sowing seeds neither are they reaping harvests, nor are they gathering into storage, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Aren’t you yourselves more valuable than them?
6:27 And who among y’all, by being careful, is able to add one cubit onto his stature?
6:28 Also concerning clothing, why are y’all caring [so much]?
Start studying the lillies of the field;
how is their growth? Theirs is neither to labor nor to spin [threads].
6:29 Yet, I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory wrapped himself like one of these!
6:30 Now, if God thus dresses the grass of
being [here] today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow,
won’t He rather more you, you barely-trusting ones?
6:31 Therefore, don’t start caring [too much],
saying, ‘What might we eat,’ or ‘What might we drink?’ or ‘What might we wrap up in?’,
6:32 for all these things are what the nations are eagerly seeking,
and your heavenly Father sees that you are in need of every one of these.
6:33 But continue seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added onto you.
6:34 Therefore don’t start caring [too much] concerning tomorrow,
for tomorrow will care for itself.
The bad stuff in each day is enough on it’s [own].
When I moved to Manhattan over 5 years ago, I was brand-new as pastoring, and I was anxious about a lot of things. I struggled with it because I knew I shouldn’t be stressed out over everything I didn’t understand, but it seemed like I couldn’t help it. One day, I was in my front lawn, and I noticed a piece of paper, so I picked it up to throw it away. I noticed that it had handwriting on it, so I looked at it to see what it said. It said, “Anxiety is unbelief in disguise.” The handwriting did not match anyone’s in my family. I have no idea where that piece of paper came from, but I believe God wanted me to take in that message. I’ve kept it on my desk ever since. [Show paper]
· In v.30, Jesus calls His anxious disciples “oligopistoi” oligos=few + pistos=trust “ye of little faith” “barely-trusting” Because they did not believe God would take care of their needs, they were anxious. With this friendly rebuking name, Jesus confirms that Anxiety is unbelief in disguise.
· In this sermon, I want to focus on Jesus’ prohibition against worrying and the five reasons He gives against worrying. Next week, I want to focus on the two things that Jesus tells us – at the end of Matt 6 – to do instead of worrying.
1. Mat 6:25 Διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν, μὴ μεριμνᾶτε τῇ ψυχῇ ὑμῶν τί φάγητε [καὶMaj/ηB,f13,it τί πίητε]-f1,א,Vg, μηδὲ τῷ σώματι ὑμῶν τί ἐνδύσησθε·
6:25 On account of this, I’m telling y’all, stop caring [so much] about your life (What might you eat? and What might you drink?) and about your body (How might you clothe yourselves?). Isn’t life about more than food and the body than clothing?
2. Mat 6:28 καὶ περὶ ἐνδύματος τί μεριμνᾶτε;
6:28 Also concerning clothing, why are y’all caring [so much]?
3. Mat 6:31 μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε λέγοντες, τί φάγωμεν ἤ τί πίωμεν ἤ τί περιβαλώμεθα; 32πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπιζητουσιν· οἶδε γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος ὅτι χρήζετε τούτων ἁπάντων.
6:31 Therefore, don’t start caring [too much], saying, ‘What might we eat,’ or ‘What might we drink?’ or ‘What might we wrap up in?’, 32 for all these things are what the nations are eagerly seeking, and your heavenly Father sees that you are in need of every one these.
4. Mat 6:34 μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε εἰς τὴν αὔριον· ἡ γὰρ αὔριον μεριμνήσει [τὰ]-B,L,K,W ἑαυτῆς· ἀρκετὸν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἡ κακία αὐτῆς.
6:34 Therefore don’t start caring [too much] concerning tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself...
s Why does Jesus repeat Himself? In v.31 He says, “Don’t worry” and then three verses later He says again, “Don’t worry.” Do you think he’s trying to emphasize something?
s Six times in 10 verses Jesus uses the word “worry/anxious/obsess with care.” He’s trying to drive this point home with repetition. Are you getting it?
Well, it should be clear by now that we are not supposed to worry, but what exactly does it mean to worry? I’ve already mentioned a relation to a lack of faith. Let me do a word study so we can see a fuller breadth of what this word means and doesn’t mean:
What becomes obvious from studying the use of this word throughout scripture is that this word can be used positively – that this manner of thinking can be a good thing in certain circumstances, and that in other circumstances it is a bad thing.
Ex. 5:9 Pharoah
said, "Let the labor be heavier on the men, and let them work at it so
that they will pay no attention to false words." (NASB)
Should the Israelites have gotten excited about Moses’ proclamation that it was time to leave Egypt? Yes! They should have cared about what God had to say to them through Moses. Pharoah was trying to get them to stop caring about what they should have cared about. That is the strategy of a wicked man. It is a Satanic strategy to get people to act cool about important things that they should be excited about.
7:10 "I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will
plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed
again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, (|| 1Ch 17:9) (NASB)
Here, God says it’s a bad thing to have too many cares resulting from not owning property and being afflicted by wicked men. These are cares that God wants to relieve from His people when it is time to bless them.
Psalm 38:18 For
I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin. (NASB)
Was it a good thing that David cared about his sin? Yes! In this case, caring about what is important led David to repent of sin and get right with God.
Ezek. 16:42 Concerning
sending Israel into captivity, God said, "So I will calm My fury
against you and My jealousy will depart from you, and I will be pacified and angry
no more. (NASB)
Here it says God was full of care about something to the point of anger. Can God do wrong? No, it must be right for God to care – or worry, if you will – about anything He wants.
10:19 “But when they hand you over, do not
worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that
hour what you are to say.” (cf. Luke 12:11)
Here Jesus says that if we are unjustly persecuted for following Him, then worrying about how to defend yourself in court is not something you need to do. Why? Because He will give you the words to say.
10:41 But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha,
Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; (NASB)
Was it right for Martha to care so much about the dinner preparation during Jesus’ teaching time? No. That was the wrong time to care about dinner and the logistics of serving staff.
12:22-32 And He said to His disciples, "For
this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat;
nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For
life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have
no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the
birds! And which of you by worrying can
add a single hour to his life's span? If
then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about
other matters? Consider the lilies, how they
grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his
glory clothed himself like one of these. But if
God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow
is thrown into the furnace, how much more will
He clothe you? You men of little faith!
And do not seek what you will eat and what you will
drink, and do not keep worrying. For all
these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that
you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and
these things will be added to you. Do not be
afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the
In this parallel passage in Luke, Jesus compares worrying (which he prohibits) with fear (which He also prohibits).
1Cor. 7:32-34 Now,
I want you to be free from cares. The unmarried man cares about
the things of the Lord – how he may please the Lord, but the married man cares
about the things of the world – how he may please his wife, and his [attention]
is divided. Both the unmarried woman and the virgin cares for the things
of the Lord in order that she might be holy in the body and in the spirit, but the married woman cares about the
things of the world – how she may please her husband. (NAW)
It is right to care about the things of the Lord? Yes. Is it the right thing to do to care for your spouse if you are married? Yes. It is proper to simplify your cares by choosing not to marry? Sure, if God leads you in that direction.
1Cor. 12:24b-25 Now,
God has mixed together the body, having given extraordinary honor to the one
that lacked, in order that there might not be a division in the body, but
rather that the members might care the same for each other. (NAW)
Once again, just as it is proper for a husband to care for a wife, so it is proper for the members of a church to care for each other. This kind of care is good and right in the eyes of God.
+ Phil. 2:20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. (NASB)
Do not be anxious about anything, but rather in everything by prayer and
petition with thanksgiving, let you requests be made known before God. (NAW)
Here we are back to the kind of care which is wrong and which is to be left up to God.
Why should we not become obsessed with cares over what should be left up to God?
· The first reason is in the transition words of v.25 Διὰ τοῦτο “Therefore/for this reason/ because of this.” Because we cannot serve both God and Mammon/Wealth, we should not worry about material things. We should not worry, because caring too much for material needs would interfere with serving God as our only master.
· μεριμνᾶτε – root meaning “to divide” or “distract.” Worrying is the opposite of the singleminded integrity we talked about last week, it is dividing your attention.
· Worrying is a symptom that we are in that awkward predicament of trying to serve God and Wealth.
· When we feel that downward tug of worry, let it pull you to your knees in confession, “Oh God, please forgive me, I have allowed this thing that is worrying me to take your place of importance in my life and I have become more preoccupied with it than I am with You, Lord. I want to turn away from caring so much about it and return to a Christ-centered focus for my life!”
Jesus gives us a second reason at the end of v.25
Mat 6:25…μὴ μεριμνᾶτε
τῇ ψυχῇ ὑμῶν…
οὐχὶ ἡ ψυχὴ
τῆς τροφῆς καὶ
τὸ σῶμα τοῦ ἐνδύματος;
6:25 …stop caring [so much] about your life... Isn’t life about more than food and the body than clothing?
s In Greek, when a question starts with “ου” instead of “μὴ” the author is indicating that the answer to the question is “Yes.” Here Jesus asks the question, “Isn’t your life more than food and clothing?” and He starts the question with “ou” indicating that the answer is, “YES, my life/soul is more important than food, it is a bigger thing than just what I put into my mouth to eat.
s My body is more than an item to put clothes on, I am a person created to look and act like God! I am a representative of God on this earth. I am an ambassador for Christ reconciling the world to God and bringing creation under His dominion. I am not a clothes-hanger!
s You might say, “Wait a minute, food and clothing are important! Without them I would die!” Yes, it’s true in that sense that they are important, but the point is that there are other important things too – some of them even more important that food and clothing.
s If you did die of starvation or exposure, your soul would live on for an eternity, and some of the other important things will really come to the forefront during that eternity, like, did you seek the kingdom of God, or were you focused on the things of this world that were stripped away from you at death?
Don’t worry because 1) You can’t serve two masters, 2) Don’t worry about food and clothing because there is more to life than that, and now v. 26-30 gives us a 3rd reason: You are valuable!
s Jesus makes several statements affirming your personal worth:
a. Mat 6:26 ἐμβλέψατε εἰς τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ… οὐχ ὑμεῖς μᾶλλον διαφέρετε αὐτῶν; 6:26 Start looking at the birds of the sky... Aren’t you yourselves more valuable than them?
· For the second time, Jesus asks a question starting with the Greek negative “ou” that anticipates a positive answer. “Aren’t you more valuable than birds?” And the answer is, “Yes, of course, you are more valuable than birds!”
Contrary to what the New Age
environmentalists say, humans have intrinsic value to our creator God which is
greater than the value God places on animals. It’s because we were made in His
image and we have a unique role of walking in a personal relationship with
Him, a relationship which no other creature can have. We are special!!
Mat 6:30 Εἰ
δὲ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ, σήμερον ὄντα καὶ αὔριον εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον, ὁ Θεὸς οὕτως ἀμφιέννυσιν, οὐ πολλῷ
μᾶλλον ὑμᾶς, ὀλιγόπιστοι;
6:30 Now, if the grass of the field, being [here] today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, God thus dresses, won’t He rather more you…?
· Here again, Jesus asks a 3rd question starting with the Greek negative “ou,” indicating that the answer to the question, “Won’t God rather more dress you than He dresses the grass?” is, “Yes, of course God will dress you more than He dresses the grass!”
Is He going to treat you like He
treats the grass? Is He going to make it snow on you and leave you with no more
covering than you had during the summer? No! You are His child under His care.
You are valuable to Him. He loves you; He is paying close attention to you
(whether or not it feels like it), and He will take care of your needs.
Mat 6:31b …τί φάγωμεν ἤ τί πίωμεν ἤ τί περιβαλώμεθα; 32πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπιζητουσιν· οἶδε γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος ὅτι χρήζετε τούτων ἁπάντων.
6:31 …‘What might we eat,’ or ‘What might we drink?’ or ‘What might we wrap up in?’, 32 for all these things are what the nations are eagerly seeking, and your heavenly Father sees that you are in need of every one these.
· Jesus created your body and He lived in a body like yours for a few years too.
· He is perfectly aware that you, like every human being, need each of those three basics of food, water, and shelter for the preservation of your body.
· He knows you need them, and He will take care of those things. Don’t you worry.
In v.27, Jesus gives us a 4th reason not to worry. He reminds us that worry is not an effective strategy for reaching the goal of having our needs provided for. It won’t add anything to your height or lifespan. Worry doesn’t work!
Mat 6:27 τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται προσθεῖναι ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ πῆχυν ἕνα;
6:27 And who among y’all, by being careful, is able to add one cubit onto his stature?
s halikian: translated “stature” by KJV, and “life” by modern versions.
o Strong’s lexicon defines halikian as “maturity” and Thayer explains that it can indicate either “increase in age or in size.”
o In the New Testament we see that “Jesus grew in wisdom and halikian and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52),
o and that Zaccheus had trouble seeing Jesus and climbed a tree because his halikian was small (Luke 19:3).
o The parents of the blind man who was healed by Jesus didn’t want to get involved in a court case, so they told the Jewish leaders that their son had halikian and could speak for himself (John 9:21).
o (for references to age/maturity, see Heb. 11:11, Eph 4:13)
s pekun: KJV translates “stature” and modern versions translate “life.” Of the 233 times this word is used in the Bible, it always refers to a cubit – a unit of linear measurement, not to age, so I’m with the KJV on this one.
s STORY of Mr. Weddle’s friend who stretched up an inch to avoid the draft – Mark Weddel, a local financial consultant, told my sons the story of a time when a very tall friend of his was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. The guy was brought in to the Army office for his physical, and, as the nurse measured his height, she commented that if he were half an inch taller, he would be too tall for the Army to use him. That night, his friends stretched him out on the couch so that his spine would relax and make him taller. The next day, his friends kept him in a lying-down position and loaded his couch on a truck and brought him back to the Army office. This time the nurse measured him and said he was too tall to be drafted!
s Now, you might be able to add half an inch to your stature, but you can’t add a whole cubit, which is an arms-length. You can take great care to eat health food, avoid GMO’s, eat organic, and you can worry and fret about it all you want, but you’re never going to change your height that much.
s Worrying doesn’t work to bring you what you need. In fact, it actually works against you. Anxiety causes absentmindedness, lack of dexterity, sickness, and heart disease – it actually makes you less productive.
s apotithemi: you can’t “add on” by worrying (v.27), but you can “get added onto” (same word in passive) by seeking first the kingdom (v.33)! I plan to look at that next week.
So we should not worry because 1) We can’t serve God and Mammon, 2) There is More to Life than Food and Clothing, 3) You are too valuable to God to be neglected, 4) Worry doesn’t work, and finally:
Mat 6:34 μὴ οὖν μεριμνήσητε εἰς τὴν αὔριον· ἡ γὰρ αὔριον μεριμνήσει [τὰ]-B,L,K,W ἑαυτῆς· ἀρκετὸν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἡ κακία αὐτῆς.
6:34 Therefore don’t start caring [too much] concerning tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. The bad stuff in each day is enough on it’s [own].
s The basic idea of this word “worry” in Greek is to “care.” There are positive uses of this word, because there are certain things we should care about: we should care about God’s word and our sin, we should care about our work, and we should care about the welfare of others in our home (spouse), in our church, and in our community. These are all responsibilities which God has given us, but at the same time, we have to balance that care with not caring too much, not obsessing over things that are not our responsibility. If Jesus owns your body, and if He told you to pray “Give us this day our daily bread,” then it is His responsibility to care for your body and give you your daily bread, and it is not a provision that you should ever allow yourself to become obsessed with.
s In the Psalms, we see a reason why we shouldn’t obsess over getting our basic needs met: That is God’s job: (Quotes from Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint speaking of God and food)
o Psalm 65:9 Thou hast visited the earth, and saturated it; thou hast abundantly enriched it…thou hast prepared their food...
o Psalm 104:27 All wait upon thee, to give them their food in due season.
o Psalm 111:5 He has given food to them that fear him: he will remember his covenant forever.
o Psalm 136:25 Who gives food to all flesh; for his mercy endures for ever.
o Psalm 145:15 The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their food in due season.
o Psalm 146:7 who executes judgment for the wronged: who gives food to the hungry…
o Psalm 147:9 and gives cattle their food, and to the young ravens that call upon him.
o This is in the NT too: Acts 14:16-17 "In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; 17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." (NASB)
s God might not provide you with haute cuisine and designer apparel, but it will be enough to live with and glorify Him.
o This is the second place where the words for “food” and “clothing” appear in the Gospel of Matthew. The first occurrence is in the description of John the Baptizer in 3:4, “Now this John had his clothing of camel’s hairs and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.”
o Earlier in this chapter we have addressed the need to be content so that we do not commit the sin of covetousness. Believe that what God is providing you today is enough and thank Him for it.
s What if it looks like you will not have enough to eat or wear today?
o Keep doing the work you are supposed to be doing and keep trusting in God’s provision. Quitting productive labor (and that includes not only work, but also sleep when it’s time to sleep) and worrying exacerbates the problem.
o The next verse in the Bible where the words for “worry” and “food” occur is when Jesus sends his disciples out on their first preaching tours and tells them not to pack money or a change of clothes because “a worker is worthy of his food.” In other words, it is possible to have your basic needs met while serving and trusting God, even when you have no material resources to provide for yourself.
o In the case of the truly impoverished and the Gospel laborer, there are means within the church body to provide the needed food and clothing.
The main point of these last 10 verses is “do not obsess over your basic needs.” Jesus starts v.25 by saying “do not worry” and ends the paragraph in v.34 with the same “don’t worry” – the only difference being that the prohibition in v.25 is in present tense “stop your worrying” and it is an Aorist in v.34, with the sense of, “and don’t you ever worry again!”
Remember these 5 reasons not to worry as well, for, in Matthew Henry’s words: “It will be worth while to take pains with our own hearts, to argue them out of their disquieting cares, and to make ourselves ashamed of them. They may be weakened by right reason, but it is by an active faith only that they can be overcome.”