To worry and not to worry

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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."

Let's pray.

In Matthew chapter 6 v25, Jesus says…

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?"

v34…

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

It's not hard to see what Jesus is teaching us in our passage this evening is it?! Do not worry. Do not worry, he says, about what you eat or what you drink or what you wear. Why? Because life is more important that food and the body is more important than clothes.

Do not worry, he says, about tomorrow. Why? Because today has enough trouble of its own.

He isn't saying forget about those things. He isn't saying, 'Stop going to the supermarket because life is more important than food.'Or, 'Don't plan ahead because today has enough trouble of its own.'

He not saying, 'You should forget about what you eat or drink or wear or do.' He's saying we should stop focusing on them. Don't let those things become the things that consume you. Don't worry about them.

And yet, so often, if we're honest, that's exactly what we do isn't it? It's exactly what we do because it's exactly what the world around us does. In fact, it's exactly what the world around us tells us we should be doing. 

Just look at the front cover of a row of magazines, next time you're in a shop. What are they all about? What we eat, what we wear, what we drive, where we live. And they assure us that we really should be worried about all of those things, because if we're not, well then we won't have the latest and the best and the smartest and the fastest, and then we'll be missing out.

That's the world we live in. And Jesus says, v25…

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?"

Jesus says we need to stop worrying about those things. And for some of us here this evening, I suspect that if we put Jesus' words into practise then our lives would start to look very different.

But I suspect there are others of us here who would dearly love to put Jesus' words into practise, and to stop worrying about those things, but we find it very hard not to. In fact, for some of us, just hearing Jesus' clear command to stop worrying only makes us worry just a little bit more!

So what can we do? Why should we stop worrying about those things? And, how can we stop worrying about those things?

Well, I think in vv 25-32, Jesus gives us 4 things to remember to help us to live lives that are… 

Free from worry, vv 25-32

And the first is this; remember that…
1) God cares for you, v26
Look at v26…

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

When you are tempted to be worried about what you will eat or drink, Jesus says, just look at the birds. Just look out the window. The birds of the air, Jesus tells us, are wiser than we are! Why? Because they do not worry about their food and drink.

And why do they not worry? Because God cares for them. He designed our world with trees and plants and seasons and fruit so that they have nothing to worry about.

And why should that thought comfort us? Because you and I are much more valuable to God than the birds.

You're are so valuable, so precious to God, that he sent his one and only Son to live and die to save you. And, as we heard from our reading in Romans 8 earlier, if God loves us so much that he gave his only Son to save us. Well then, won't he also in addition to that, give us all things?

If God sent his Son to die for us when we were his enemies, now that we're his children, do you really think he won't take care of our everyday needs? Of course he will.

You can live your life free from worry, Jesus says, if you remember that God cares for you. Which leads him onto the second thing that we need to remember if we want to befree from worry, and that is…

2) God is in control (and you're not), v27
Look at v27…

"Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"

Has anyone, ever, achieved anything by worrying about it? Has worrying ever changed or improved a thing? We know the answer, don't we? In fact, it's so obvious that Jesus doesn't even tell us.

We know that worrying doesn't accomplish anything. And yet, that doesn't stop us worrying. In fact, sometimes, without a shred of irony, it makes us worry even more, because we realise that there's nothing we can do!

But Jesus says that recognising that you're not in control can actually set you free from anxiety, as long as you don't stop there.

We're not in control, that much is true. But what is also true, is that God is. Look at what David says in Psalm 139, talking to God he says…

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

God, David realises, has already planned every day of our lives. 

Ephesians 1 says…

"In [Christ] we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will"

Every day, every hour of your life has already been designed and decided by God, and there is nothing that we can do to alter them, least of all by worrying.

Now I know that is not an easy concept to get our heads around. When we face the fact that we're not in control of our lives, our first reaction can often be fear and not comfort! But it is a comforting thought, if we're also clear on the fact that God is in control, and it is comforting if we know that the God who is in control, loves us more than we could possibly imagine and is working all things together for our good and His glory.

You can start to live a life free from worry when you realise that you are not in control, but that the God who loves you so much that he sent his only Son, Jesus, to die for you, is in control.

Thirdly, you can be free from worry when you remember that…

3) God's love is lavish, vv 28-30
At first glance it seems that in vv 28-30 Jesus is saying something very similar to what he said back in v26. Just as God feeds the birds of the air, even though they're only birds, so he clothes the flowers of the fields, even though they are only flowers, which are here today and gone tomorrow.

But I think there's more going on in these verses, look again at vv 28-30…

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?"

If we stop worrying about what we eat and drink, and what we wear, and where we go on holiday, and what we drive and what kind of house we live in. If we stop caring about those things so much, and stop focusing on those things so much, to focus on what is really important in life. If we stop worrying about those things. Well then sometimes we think, won't we be missing out?

Sometimes we think that if we stop worrying about our food and clothes and holidays, well then we'll miss out, and that makes us sad, because we love those things.

And this is where it gets both difficult and wonderful. Because what Jesus is saying, both last week and this week, from v19 to v34, is, Stop loving those things! Stop loving those things, not because they're bad in themselves, but because there's something so much better and greater and more rewarding to love. 

Stop loving those things because they don't satistfy, and only ever actually make you more anxious. But most of all, stop loving those things because you can't love them AND God!

And yet, here in vv 28-30 we also see something amazing.

When we stop loving those things, Jesus says, we won't miss out. If we stop focusing on what we eat and what we wear and what we drive and what job we do, Jesus says we won't miss out and never eat nice things again or go to nice places again or see amazing things again, because God doesn't just give us what we need, he loves to lavish us with wonderful things!

Don't believe me? Well then, just look at the lilies in the field.

Think about it for a moment, God could have made all flowers beige! Or he could have made them just plain red, or blue or pink. But he hasn't. He has made them spectacularly beautiful, incredibly intricate and astonishingly delicate. Why? Just for his pleasure and for ours, because that's the kind of God he is!

Do you see the point? God doesn't just clothe the flowers of the field, he clothes them with more splendour and beauty than the greatest fashion designer ever could!

Some of us hold onto our worries because we think, if I stop worrying about what to eat or drink or wear, then I'm going to miss out. If I take this Christian thing too seriously and really live my life for Jesus, and really give up everything for him, the I'm going to miss out.

But do you see, that is a lie. That is the same lie that the devil has been whispering in our ear since the Garden of Eden.

The truth is, God loves to lavish us with good things. If you give up everything for him, he won't just supply your everyday need, you will find that he loves to give you wonderful things, that's just the kind of God he is!

In Mark 10, Peter said to Jesus…

"We have left everything to follow you!"
"Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

If you give up worrying about things, and chose to give your life and energy and money and time to the important things, you won't miss out. Because God's love is lavish.

And finally he says, you can live your life free from worry when you remember that…

4) God knows what we need better than we know ourselves, vv 31-32
vv 31-32…

"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them."

Twice in this passage, in v26 and again here in v32, Jesus reminds us that the God who is in control of our lives, who has planned every day, and who loves us, is also our heavenly Father.

In chapter 7 he'll make this point even more clearly, but what he's reminding us of, is that God knows us and cares for us, like a father. And like a Dad with his son or daughter, God knows what we need. And so, whatever comes to us in life, we don't need to worry, because it comes from God. And he knows what we need better than we know it ourselves.

Four reasons. Four truths that, if kept in mind, can help us to live lives that are free from worry. Four things that will stop us from being anxious about things in life that aren't important.

But that's just the start. Because if we are no longer focused on those things, well then we are free to start focusing our lives on the things that are truly important. And that's where Jesus goes next in v33.

Jesus says that if we are free from worry, then we can be…

Free to love God, v33

That's really what this whole section of the Sermon on the Mount is all about. Jesus is calling us to love God above and beyond all the other things in our lives. To put him first. But when we worry about our food and drink and clothes and whatever else, it shows that in our hearts we still love those things and not God.

So, he's reminded us of four things that can set us free from worry, and set us free to love God.

What does that kind of life look like? Well, he tells us in v33…

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

A heart that has been set free from worry, and is free to love God, first of all seeks God's kingdom.

God's kingdom is wherever God is King and given the glory that he deserves. And if we no longer love the things of this world, but love God. If we are anxious not about the unimportant things in life, that are here today and gone tomorrow, but instead care most of all about the things that are truly important and will last for eternity. Well then, we will use our time and our money and our effort and our energy and our gifts and our opportunities to do whatever we can to make God's kingdom grow.

If you and I stopped worrying about what we eat and drink and wear, well then, we'll find we have more money to give to Church, and to our mission partners and to Christian charities. We'll find we have more energy to prepare our Sunday School lessons, or to volunteer at Mums and Toddlers.

If we stopped worrying about tomorrow, we'll find that we have more time to spend listening to the needs of others today, and inviting people on the fringe of church to come round for Sunday lunch or go out for a drink.

And secondly, if we have been set free from worry, then you and I are free to love God, by striving for godly obedience in our lives. Not obedience that is fuelled by fear, But obedience that is motivated by love for the one who loves us and has saved us.

You and I need to remind ourselves every day that God cares for us. God is in control and we are not. God's love is lavish. And God knows what we need better than we know ourselves. If we remind ourselves of those things then we can live a life that is free from worry, and a life that is free to love God.

Let's pray.

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