3The Greatest Sermon Ever 13 - On Worrying –
Matthew 6:25-34 New International Version (NIV)
Do Not Worry
25 “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? 26 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30 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? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Tonight is Jesus’ application from what we saw last week. As you will see in the text this passage starts with “Therefore” connecting it to what Jesus spoke about before.
Now to do a recap, we saw how insidious greed is and how it captures our heart without us even being aware of it. We saw that the only hope to overcoming our Greed was to love God, to serve God, because we are greedy because we worship money, or at least we find in money things that only God can actually give us.
Now church, to understand tonight we have to understand the human heart and by implication human nature in general. Humans are worshipers by nature. We cannot help it! Phycologists, neurologist etc. have concluded that the idea of God and thinking about God is hardwired into us. You can see this most obviously in your constant pursuit of the “perfect”. We want the perfect day, the perfect date, the perfect meal, the perfect holiday. But it would take a two second look around at this world to realise that nothing in this world is perfect, nothing in this world can satisfy that which we long for. We are desperate for something that this world cannot satisfy. And as Lewis says; if we have desires that nothing in this world can satisfy maybe we were not made for this world.
Now because we are worshipers by nature we want to worship (seems obvious). But there is a problem, we were actually only made to worship one thing; God! Everything else cannot satisfy us in the way that God can. We long for perfection because He is perfect.
The problem is that because of sin and our alienation of God we want to worship God on our terms, we want the idea of God but not the demands of God. This is why you will hear over and over, I believe in God, I just don’t buy into all that religious stuff. Sin in us drives us to have a god on our terms. God being God, and holy, will not and cannot comply with out desires.
So we want to worship, we are made to worship. God is the only one who can satisfy that deep need we have, but we don’t actually want God, because we will have to come to him on his terms and not our own. So, church, we make our own gods.
Romans 1: 21-24
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
John Calvin wrote the “The human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual forge of idols.” In other words church, because we can’t have God on our terms, we make a god in our own image.
Now, I have to warn you because you might think this is only for unbeliever, once you believe then you are totally satisfied in God and your heart perpetually runs to him and away from idols right? No, unfortunately, these “idols” remain in our hearts long after salvation, and it is the work of the Spirit in then to reveal them to us, and their hollowness so that we can give them up for the real joy of our souls; which is God himself.
Now, we saw last week that Jesus revealed the idolatry of money, and tonight we will see how when we worship money we give ourselves over to two more idols; materialism and hedonism, or finding life’s joy and purpose through what we can attain and what we can experience.
Let’s look at these two idols:
1. The two idols
So Jesus do not worry, the word there in the Greek is do not concern yourself, with food and clothes.
Now Jesus is not saying food and clothes are bad things. In fact He says the exact opposite; he says your father knows that you need these things. What he is trying to break in us, or at least identify in us, is how we make what we can attain (clothes) and what we can eat or experience (food) or meaning for our being.
We take a good thing like clothes (or the things we can attain) or food (or the things we can experience) and we make them our everything! We worry about them!
You have experienced this; there is something that you want, that new dress, that new gadget, that new thing, and you think about it all the time, you go to sleep thinking about it, you wake up thinking about it, in fact everything else in your life seems to be less important than having that thing! And then you buy it! and life has meaning, your body rushes with endorphins, you are alive… for about a day. But the feeling wears off, the rush fades and so you jump to the next pursuit.
You have concerned yourself (or worried) about what you will wear or what you will eat (what you can get or what you can experience). Jesus answers us and gives us a great response to our idolatry.
2. The one response
He says; don’t worry. Isn’t that the best thing to hear when you are worried; don’t worry. Instantly you hear that when you are worried about something; and you thank the person for the insight; because all this time I spend worrying and stressed, I never thought once, don’t worry!
But Jesus; doesn’t just tell us not to worry; he gives us a reason; his response to our idolatry and worry about these things is found in verse 25;
“Is not life more than food, and the body more important than clothes.”
Essentially, Jesus’ response is that you were not made for these things; they promise fulfilment, satisfaction and joy, but they simply cannot deliver. This is why we can never have enough, we always want the latest gadget, we always think that if we just get the next thing; then we will be happy. But we won’t, and these things cannot help us; or fulfil us. We were not made for them!
Jesus is telling us not to waste our lives in the pursuit of things that cannot and will not ever fulfil us. Your life is more than anything you can experience. We think if we could just travel the world, see the great sights, experience the great food of the world, fall madly in love, etc then life will make sense. But it doesn’t it cant. Because you were not made for these things, travel and I mean really travel, see the greatest sights in the world, and you will always long for the next thing. Fall in love, and I mean head over heels, marry the person of your dreams, and you will want more. Taste the best food and you will want greater experiences.
These things all point to perfection but are not what we are looking for. We were not made for them, and so our happiness, our fulfilment, our satisfaction cannot ever be found in them!
You are more than what you can attain! You can adorn yourself in the greatest clothes, achieve the greatest level of success, buy the most expensive things and still be empty. You see this with people who are truly wealthy and successful. They are far from content, in fact I would argue that rather than being fulfilled they are tormented. Because after attaining all that they can and giving their lives over for success, wealth, or power they arrive at the top with the same despair and hopelessness of hollowness that everyone has.
Jesus says we are made for more, your fulfilment lies in one person alone: God!
3. The ultimate desire
Throughout this passage Jesus calls us to remember the goodness of our father, he calls the hearer to look at the birds and look at the grass. These inconsequential things are deeply cared for and tenderly by the love of the Father; aren’t you worth more to your Father than birds and grass.
Of course you are. And that is the point! The things we are running after for fulfilment, the things that we are clinging to, to give our lives meaning are the very things that are the illustration of where our heart should be.
Look at what you want! Look at what you desire, see that it points beyond itself to the one who gives all gifts. To the one you were made for.
C.S. Lewis writes in mere Christianity;
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world…Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
Church you were made for God, your happiness, satification, fulfilment, hope, meaning, identity are grounded in him and him alone! Jesus seek his Kingdom, His righteousness. Because these point to Him and the only means to finding Him.
Now I want to say it is not simply a mental recognition of okay God you are my meaning. This is a radical restructuring of your life. A redefining of what makes you you. And I would argue that this happens in and through the daily experience of the gospel.
You see church when Jesus says we must seek his kingdom and his righteousness; on the surface it looks like I must live a good life and then I will get all the other stuff that Jesus was talking about. But that is not the emphasis. Jesus uses two defining attributes of what we must seek; His kingdom, and His righteousness. To put it in another way, the fact that He is King and the fact that He is holy.
This is a problem to us humans, because we do what we like (we don’t respect Him as King) and we do not follow his laws (we don’t respect his holiness) therefore, let us ask.
how do we find our meaning in him if we naturally don’t seek him and cannot live up to His standards? And that is the point; we can’t! We are creatures who have abandoned the one who gave us meaning; in the pursuit of our own meaning and have become completely lost in the process. The answer church, is someone loved you enough to do it for you.
Jesus loved you with an unquenchable love and lived the perfect righteous life that you could not live, so that in Him and only in Him we can come back to wholeness. Church, it is in Christ (his love, his gospel) that the meaning of life is found, that our fulfilment is met, that our peace is discovered, and our joy is secure. Only there in Him in the peace and love of the gospel is our alienation dealt with. And it is only when we go to him and are filled that the idols of our hearts become less. Until he become our king again and until in Christ we find His righteousness our hearts will produce idols to bow down to. But the more we centre ourselves emotionally, intellectually physically in Christ the less the idols have a hold.
Church let the longings of your heart lead you to the true longing of your soul Jesus!