Monday, May 19, 2014

Three negative truths about worry

Matthew 6:25-26 “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?"

Introduction: The three-legged stool of Powerful, Practical Christianity
The vision of the powerful, practical Christian life given by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6 outlines for the reader the three-legged stool upon which the Christian life rests.  The first leg is that of the doctrinal in Matthew 6:1-15. Jesus unfolds the heart of prayer as he teaches the disciple's, upon their request, what an effective prayer-life looks like, sounds like and acts like. The second leg that the Christian-life rests upon is the supernatural leg, as seen in Matthew 6:16-24. Jesus points his listeners to the supernatural provision of fasting that God's people can practice in making more room for God in their life.  Without doctrine, the supernatural cannot be explained and without the supernatural, doctrine becomes dry.  However there is a third equally important leg that enables Jesus' listeners to act on both - the practical leg in Matthew 6:25-34. In applying sound doctrine and relying upon God's supernatural power, Jesus gives His listeners exhortation on how to avoid worry.  These three legs: the doctrinal, supernatural and practical comprise Jesus' vision for the powerful, practical Christian life in Matthew 6. 

Zeroing in on Jesus' warning not to worry
With that introduction, we now zero in on Matthew 6:25-34 to consider the subject of today's post: Three negative truths about worry.  As we just mentioned, this comprises the practical realm of Jesus' address on the powerful, practical Christian life.  The word translated worry in Matthew 6:25,27,28,31 and 34 speaks quite literally of a person's mind being pulled in all sorts of different directions.  In today's post we aim to look first of all at worry itself, with tomorrow featuring four antidotes to worry that we find in this text and throughout God's Word. 

3 negative truths about worry
1. Worry is worthless. Matthew 6:25-26
Matthew 6:25-26 is where Jesus points out the worthlessness of worry.  Could you imagine a bird sitting in his nest with his wing propping up his head and his brow furrowed, wondering where he is going to get the next worm? It is proposterous to think about - which is Jesus' point.  Worry is worthless. David reminds us in Psalm 127:2 "It is vain for you to rise up early,To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors". For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep." But notice what else Jesus has to tell us about worry....

2. Worry doesn't work. Matthew 6:27-30
Jesus states in Matthew 6:27 "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?"  The rhetorical question posed by Jesus has a very clear and self-evident implication: no one, because worry doesn't work? Then Jesus gives a second illustration from the realm of nature or general revelation - the flowers of the field coupled with a scene from the special revelation of the Bible - Solomon in all his glory.  Solomon, the richest and wisest man who ever lived (with the exception of Jesus) was adorned in robes of wealth, and yet the fields, full of weeds, have dotting their hills and meadows vibrant colors far more vibrant than Solomon's jewels.  Worry has never once added anything to life - but only taken from life.  It doesn't work and it is a worthless exercise but notice thirdly what Jesus says about worry....

3. Worry's wages. Matthew 6:31-32
Jesus says in Matthew 6:31-32a "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....". Jesus lists three typical problem areas that people think they will solve by worrying: "What will we eat? What will we drink" and "What will we wear for clothing?" Adrian Rogers has noted that worry is the interest we pay today over the debt of anxiety that we have about tomorrow. Worry does not add to your life, it subtracts. 

Those are the three negative truths about worry. Tomorrow we will consider the four antidotes to worry.  

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