Do Not Worry – Matthew 6: 25-34
In this lesson we’ll address the issue of worry.
25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (HCSB)
The central theme here is “worry,” occurring six times in this passage. The entire passage focuses on God’s provision of food and clothing and our worrying over these basic needs. These two areas were key concerns for the first century. However, we shouldn’t focus on just these two items as they are two examples to teach us a broader principle regarding God’s provision. We could place any basic need that makes us worry here, such as shelter, community, job, etc.
There’s an old saying that is applicable here. If you’re worrying, you’re not trusting; and if you’re trusting, you’re not worrying.
Some translation start verse 25 with “Therefore,” defining the relationship between a kingdom servant and the king. In the previous passage, Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus called for total devotion from His followers. Now Jesus is saying that when we enter into this type of relationship with Him, He will take care of our needs (not wants). It is a mutual commitment established by the covenant relationship between Jesus and His followers. Those who are totally committed to the King do not need to worry.
If God gave us life, surely we can trust Him to provide for our basic needs; food and clothing.
Birds don’t worry. They don’t store up food for the future, and yet their lives go on. They aren’t concerned with hoarding material wealth. They are content with their daily provision. At the same time, this is not a promotion of being lazy.
- Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:10 In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.”
We need to be careful here to differentiate between those unwilling to work and those not capable because of a handicap or injury. Under those circumstances, the Christian community should help the brother or sister who is unable to provide for themselves.
The original Greek phrase reads, “add one forearm length (pechys) to his age/stature (helikia).” The word helikia usually denotes a measure of age or maturity as in Hebrews 11:11, but occasionally it is used for physical stature as in Luke 2:52. In the context of this passage, it must refer to a measure of time. Jesus’ followers are not to worry as that won’t age any time to their lives. Most likely, the opposite would happen. Worry and anxiety would shorten their life.
In verses 28-30, Jesus talks about the flowers and how beautiful they are. If God gives beauty to something as short-lived as a flower, won’t He care for us in a much greater manner? If God bestows beauty and love on a flower, won’t He give even greater care and love to people who are created in His image?
Jesus’ use of “you of little faith” in verse 30 is not meant in a derogatory manner. It only occurs in the New Testament here and in Matthew 8:26, 14:31, 16:8, 17:20, and Luke 12:28. The term can be confrontational but can also be used in an endearing context. Jesus’ tone is not scolding but coaxing with an arm around our shoulder. Jesus is not belittling the disciples; He was encouraging them.
Another reason Jesus’ followers are not to worry is that worry marked the habits of the pagans (idolators) in verse 32. Worry marks those who don’t truly know and understand God. Worry is, in its most basic understanding, distrust of God and sinful behavior.
This verse is the climax of the passage. The word “seek” does not mean to search for something that is not present. Jesus has already announced the arrival of His Kingdom. In the context of this passage, it means that Jesus’ followers are to make the heavenly kingdom a continual and central priority in their daily lives. Jesus’ followers have already entered the heavenly kingdom and are to live with that understanding as they follow God’s design for their lives. By doing this, they “seek…His righteousness.”
To build on this understanding, we need to go back to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in verse three, where Jesus points out our spiritual bankruptcy and complete lack of righteousness apart from God. Righteousness comes as a free and merciful gift, grace through faith.
Ephesians 2:4-10 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
The first reference to righteousness appears in Genesis 15:6 Abraham believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.
Paul confirmed this in Romans 4:2-25.
The New Testament is clear that the righteousness of God comes to us through faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 3:22-24 22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Jesus speaks to this in John 3:3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
However, it is logical to ask the question of why so many Christians throughout history, even to our present day, suffered deprivation and even starvation. There are several possible solutions.
- The promise is for the period after Christ’s return. However, the hole in this argument is why Jesus would tell His followers not to worry in the present age.
- The proper understanding is that Jesus’ followers have not correctly applied Scripture throughout the ages.
- Luke 12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
- Mark 10:30a who will not receive 100 times more, now at this time
- Acts 2:44-45 Now all believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had need.
- Jesus’ teaching implies the sharing of goods within the Christian community. When Jesus’ followers corporately seek first His priorities, they will take care of the needy within their local fellowship communities.
Jesus concludes this passage by encouraging daily dependence on God but also stating that it will never be completed in this age because of daily worry (evil) that exists. This is also a trust issue. If we truly trust God, we won’t worry about tomorrow. We are to live in the present and trust God for the future.
- Does worry control you or even affect your daily living? That’s an indicator of a lack of trust in God and the truth of His Word. Repent of that sin and trust in the promises of God. Remember that pagans are controlled by worry and try to appease their “gods.” As Christians, we have a loving and merciful God who we don’t need to appease.
- Are there people around you who are controlled by worry? Pray for them and talk to them about the promises of God. If they aren’t believers, it is a perfect opportunity to share your testimony about how God has changed your life and how you now live worry-free.
- Remember that righteousness comes from an understanding of being spiritually bankrupt apart from faith in Jesus.
- Be generous with what God has blessed you with and help those less fortunate in the body of Christ.