Don't Worry about Dumb Stuff Matt. 6:25-34
Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 6:25–6:34
A Plan for Successful Living
Mt. 6:25 - 34 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I hope everyone had a wonderful christmas. We were very blessed. All 6 grandsons in one place at one time, playing together, enjoying each other and alternately clobbering each other is quite a sight.
All of them have real moms and real dads who love them, and each other. That's a rarity, and a blessing. And then there's the 7 month old baby girl. And the doctor says if you could put how she thrives into a bottle, you'd be rich.
So, it's hard to imagine how we could be any more blessed.
It's wonderful to be back in Matthew. Back on the train track rolling forward.
That's one of the biggest blessings you've been gracious to me with. I love working my way through a book. Never having to worry much about what to talk about next week.
And what we've got this morning, and how it aligns with a new year just at the threshold is truly a God thing. We can look at 2015 just a half a handful of days away, and think about how Jesus says to live in the coming year.
Of course this was how we were supposed to live in the previous year too. And the one after the coming one. Simple stuff. Simple and so profound that most of us will miss it.
The passage is about Anxiety. Worry. Care.
This is the normative human condition. We wake up in the morning and the human thing to do is to focus our attention on our goals. That's what we do.
Most of the folks I listened to taught this passage as don't worry. Stop worrying. Stop being anxious about surface stuff. Health. Food. Clothes.
I think that ultimately misses what's going on here.
We are human. We can't help but be focused on something. Humans get up in the morning and our brains focus on what we deem important for the day. We get to work and the boss calls a meeting and his goal is to refocus a bunch of people that are riding off in all directions madly, to a common goal that needs everyone to focus on as a team and accomplish.
That's how we roll. Unless you're a skid row addict who wakes up occasionally and focuses on how to dis-engage his consciousness . . again. But even that is a focus. That guy will focus on committing some crime to get a few bucks to buy the substance that's going to get him back to dis-engaged status.
The human condition is to be focused on some short term and some long term goals, and that's what Jesus is going to talk about here.
He's going to say, don't waste your time focusing on all the stuff the world is focusing on. You're above that. That's what the unbelievers do. You need to focus on where you're at in the spiritual battle of being a Kingdom person in a non-Kingdom world. X2
Look at your Bibles and follow with me as I outline the highlights of what Jesus is going to say, and then we'll go back and look at each verse with some depth.
He states His premise in Vs25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Then He goes through His illustrations. Birds. Flowers. etc.
Then at the end of Vs. 30 He says, You spiritual idiots! You of little faith!
Then He gives us the corrective; 31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; That's what the unbelievers do!
You! Live on a higher plane. Don't live like the rest of fallen humanity. Life is MORE than what the unbelievers are focused on.
for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
Here it comes. This is how we live, above what the rest of the world focuses on. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
That's our outline, so let's walk through it again a little more slowly and stop to smell the spiritual flowers as it were.
Go back to Vs25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life,
psychÄ" SuKay. The word is used for the being of a person. The aliveness, if you will, of the soul. We englishize the word today as Psyche. Psychology is the study of wellness of the human soul. And if you ever want to get submerged in confusion, take a look at where that study winds up after you jettison revealed truth in this book. Hopeless confusion.
Now, Jesus isn't saying anxiety is bad. This isn't "Don't worry. Be happy." because He's going to qualify this first statement. He isn't saying don't be worried. Some of us need to worry more! A lot more! He's just saying don't be worried about the dumb stuff.
Vs25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.
Don't waste your life, your psyche, focusing on your next meal or what you will wear.
You've got bigger fish to fry than that. The word used for 'life' here, psyche is the same word that the septuagint translaters used when they translated the Shema, from hebrew into greek.
Dt. 6:4 - 5 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.…
That's your focus. Not food. Not clothing. And then He asks the rhetorical question; Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
And the answer is obvious. It's in the question. Your life is to Love the Lord your God with. Your body is to Honor the Lord your God with. Don't waste your life with lesser things. Food. Clothes. 401K's. Fast cars. Curb appeal. Sex appeal. Whatever it is.
We're all in this verse somewhere, aren't we. We focus on something, it gets very complex in our modern society, but our focus, our anxiety of living is . . somewhere else.
In our falleness, that's the norm. We're wired, broken since the fall, to focus our energy, our love, our life, our strategy, our goals, on things in this world.
That's a bummer. Jesus says that's dumb.
He's going to give us 3 illustrations. Then He's going to tell us we're spiritual light weights.
No. 1 Vs26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
In philosophy, this is called an ah fortiori argument. You argue the logic of the lesser thing, and it is strengthened when applied to the greater. God takes care of birds. Will He take care of you? Of course! You're worth much more than birds!
Interesting that He mentions birds. Birds have a prominent place in the Bible. Partly because the land of Israel, and particularly the region of Galilee is a global crossroads for birds.
All of the regional birds that fly north to south, fly over galilee. There's the mediteranean sea on one side and desert on the other, so Israel becomes a 'fly zone'. There are a lot of birds there.
It's also true for East West traveling birds. They come up through Israel or come down through there like a big funnel.
Then you'll recall in Revelation 19:17 - 18 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, "Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great."
This is a great irony. The worlds greatest most important people, the commanders and the kings of the earth, will be spread all over the earth, as bird dung.
So in this case at least, God not only gives the birds their food, He specifically calls them to a great supper.
If God has that kind of control over the birds of the air, and what they eat, how much more will he feed you and have control over all the silly things you're anxious about.
No. 2 Vs27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
Here the word translated life is hélikia. It means life span. The root is maturity. Who can add an hour to his alloted time? His old age? Sovereign God decides when your life on earth will end. To the second.
Exercise programs. Diets. 401K's. Blood pressure medicine. Whatever else. They do add good years. It would be silly to say they don't.
The ant adds to his storehouse so he can make it through winter. We do the same. But tell that to Mother Joan. You can't can you. Her time was up. She prepared for the winter, but the winter never came. God is in control of your last breath. He knows when that will be. He doesn't tell you. But He does tell you not to worry about it.
It's OK to prepare for winter. But don't waste your life focusing on that. You have no ultimate control.
I'm getting into an age group where the winter of our lives is a major topic of conversation. That's what the baby boomers are talking about. When can you retire? How's it going to be for you. What have you got stored up that's going to kick in? How well is your psyche going to be able to eat drink and be merry?
That's become a whole industry. Neither Pam or I chose our parents very well, but at least Pam did a little better job than me. When her dad's house was sold and all the smoke cleared, we took that little bit of money and hired an advisor to put it all in different cubby holes and we made a bunch of projections and looked at charts and graphs, and we decided we'd work 5 more years.
Ask me how many times a day I think about that. It's way at the bottom of my chart. I know exactly what Jesus said here. I think about the black '38 Ford coupe more often than I do about my hélikia. My lifes span.
I also think about the condition of all the financial markets and what will happen if the house of cards tumbles down. The bubble pops. In fact I think about that more often than actually being able to enjoy a long retirement.
Poof, it's all gone. This passage is my cushion, not the markets. I'll get fed, just like the birds. I don't have a worry in the world.
But when I do think about it I worry, my anxiety, my focus is on how am I balancing doing the ant thing, storing for winter, and storing up treasure in heaven. Should I be giving more away to feed little black babies half a world away? That's a balance. I worry about if I'm getting that right.
Saving to live like a prince of Egypt while little ones are starving. I do worry about that.
No. 3 Vs28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?
This one is fun to think about. The "lilies of the field" is not an identifiable botanical group. Most scholars think, and I'm no scholar, but it's fun to think about since I've been to that beautiful spot in the world, that he was sitting in the side of a large bowl shaped area, and it just so happened, by God's providence, that it was the very day that the wild flowers were at their peak.
I can just picture a carpet of oranges and purples and yellows on those lush green hillsides.
I grew up in Southern California, and to this day, if it's a big year for wildflowers, we try to take a trip and just go drink in that beauty.
Here again the argument is lesser to greater. God clothes the hillsides in splendor that the richest man that ever lived couldn't dream of duplicating, and 2 weeks later the scythe comes and the grass and the flowers are piled up together, and become fuel.
How much more will He care for you! You're worth more to Him than hillsides. More than flowers. Don't waste your life focusing on your clothes!
And then He adds a most alarming little sentence in Vs. 30b right at the end. You of little faith! In the greek this is one compound word. I'm going to read a couple of paragraphs right out of the greek english dictionary.
[oligópistos (from /olígos, "little in number, low in quantity" and /pístis, "faith") – properly, few occurrences (applications) of faith. (oligópistos) occurs five times in the NT, each time with Jesus rebuking the problem of failing to hear His voice.
"Little-faith" (oligópistos) describes someone dull to hearing the Lord's voice, or disinterested in walking intimately with Him. dis - interested in walking intimately with Him. In contrast, the goal of life is to receive (obey) the Lord's gift of faith in each scene of life. ]
What a perfect fit. Again, where is your focus. What is the focus of your life. If your life's focus is all the same stuff the world is focused on, you're right here in this word. Your spiritual blood count is low. Your spiritual corpuscles are anemic. You're a spiritual weakling.
Don't be a "little faith". A spiritual version of the wimpy guy on the beach that's getting the sand kicked in his face. A spiritual wimp. oligopistos. Jesus looks around and says, what a bunch of spiritual light weights! Listen up!
31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’
Therefore. That little word 'then' in the previous sentence does the same thing as a 'therefore'. Based on the arguments just given, therefore, Move your focus beyond the spiritual weakling stuff.
Get past the stuff the wimps are wasting their life focus on. Food. Water. Drink. Clothes. All the normal stuff we focus on earning a living to buy. There's no spiritual gain there.
You, let your heavenly Father worry about that stuff, and you gird on your armor and go do some spiritual battle. Be a big faith. It's about time we moved a mountain or two!
Now, He's going to shame us one more time. He's going to talk about two opposing life focus scenarios. Two different paths to spend your life focus seeking. Listen to Jesus;
32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things;
This is how the world acts. This is what all the citizens of Satan's kingdom do. Indeed, what else would they do? This is all they've got. Think about it. Joe Bag 'o-chips citizen of the world. What else would you expect him to do except look out for number one.
But we're supposed to be different. We're supposed to be citizens of another world. Outcasts in this world. Citizens of another kingdom, that hasn't fully come. I love what it says in; Lamentations 3:45 You have made us scum and refuse among the nations.
Does anyone see that line of distinction? Are we different from the world. Or do we fall in line with all the other gentiles who eagerly seek all these things.
That's a slap in the face. If God looks out of heaven and can't tell the difference between us and them . . that's a disaster. Then He adds; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Duh. Of course He does. He knows better than I do what I need.
And there-in may lie a problem. What if my wimpy faith says, I'm not so sure I want to live at a standard God may choose for me. Like Paul.
We read Pauls recounting of how his heavenly Father took care of him and we take another look at wimpy faith. Listen to Paul recounting how Jesus words worked out for him.
2Cor. 11:23 - 27 Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
Paul didn't have 2 houses. A retirement house he was building and dreaming about and a regular house with a comfortable bed and thermostat for heating and cooling. He didn't have a 401K and a couple of other pensions he was counting the days to begin using.
Paul's an extreme case. A slave who rose every morning to do his master's bidding with no thought to himself.
Or . . . is that the norm that Jesus is describing here, and we've all missed it?
We'll have to wear sun-glasses in heaven to shield the glare of Paul's heavenly reward some day if we stop by Paul's mansion for a visit. The weight of glory will so far outweigh the discomfort that Paul endured. Yet we count the cost and say . . I guess wimpy faith will have to do.
Slavery is a perfect parallel to what Jesus is describing here. The apostles and new testament authors introduced themselves more often than not as slaves. Dulos. Try as you may, you can't make the word mean anything else. "You have been bought with a price." 1Cor. 6:20 and 7:23
Slaves don't worry about what they'll wear. Their master sees that they have what they'll need in order to do the work he wants them to do. Slaves don't worry about having steady meals. Their master makes sure they have proper food.
Slaves don't set style standards. They have one job. Please their master. It's a perfect fit with what Jesus says here. Never mind your food or your clothes. Get busy doing the Master's bidding. He'll take care of the necessities.
Jesus finishes his argument with a statement that should define our lives. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
What does it mean to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness?
It means exactly what we've been saying as we taught through this passage this morning. It means living apart from this world and all of it's stuff that it's citizens are working for. It means a radical departure from what this world calls Normal.
It means getting up every morning and saying, it's Jim, your slave, reporting in Sir. What can I do with your help today that will further your glorious kingdom in this world.
That's where I should be focusing my life's energies. Not on building a glorious future of my own devising. Not on food. Not on clothes. Not on any of the stuff the gentiles are all worked up to have.
For most of us, that means working quietly at our jobs, waiting for those appointments God has made for us to speak about forgiveness and the kingdom of God that seperates us from the rest of this world.
Jesus has one final word for us; 34“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This is for the worry warts. It's a waste of time. You spend all day worrying about things that might happen tomorrow, and it's just a lot of wasted worrying, because Jesus knows the transmissions going to fall out of your car tomorrow, not the other thing you wasted time worrying about.
Worry about the kingdom of God and what He's doing in it that you can join Him in, today. Forget about tomorrow's problems that you don't have a clue about yet. Quit trying to borrow trouble from tomorrow.
Take each day as a gift from your heavenly father and focus your energy on how to glorify Him in it.
More in The Gospel of Matthew
March 26, 2017The Authority and Commission of Jesus Mt. 28:16 - 20
March 19, 2017Jesus IS Alive! The Tomb is Empty Mt. 28: 1 - 15
March 12, 2017The Burial of Jesus Mt. 27:55 - 66 pt. 2