There is a saying that goes something like this, “Yesterday is just a memory, tomorrow is only a wish. All we really have is today. It is a gift, and that is why we call it the present’.” It is a cute little saying, and true to life. The reality of every day life is that we often times find ourselves wondering and worrying about the future. If we are wise, we make plans for the future, but if we are realists, we know that the future is uncertain and unseen.
For some people this gives a sense of adventure to everyday life. The future becomes a canvas upon which they can paint the story of the desires of their heart. For others, the hidden dangers of things not yet seen can themselves become a dark cloud of doubt and anxiety. Fear, worry, doubt- all troubles of the heart, rob us of the joy we are intended to experience. We do not need to continue in fear and worry. Jesus has given us the keys we need to rise above anxiety and enjoy His abundant life.
I would like to share with you six lessons that Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:25-34 about a right response to anxiety:
- “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matt. 6:25). First of all, Jesus commands us not to be anxious. Specifically, he tells us not to worry about food or clothing, which is typically not the main concern here in America. As an affluent nation, our concerns are usually for other things, but even if we lived in an impoverished third-world nation the command remains- do not be anxious. Jesus then follows with solid reasons we can rest quietly and wait for Him.
- "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matt. 6:26) God provides for the animals of the earth. He gives them food, water, and various shelters. If he cares for them, will He not also care for us who were fashioned as the crowning peak of His creation, made in His image?
- "And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matt. 6:27). Here Jesus points out the utter futility of anxiety and worry. Concern for the future may be beneficial if that concern becomes action to make diligent provision for the future, but when we just sit and allow worries to overwhelm our thinking, we effectively rob ourselves of the very joy we long for.
- "And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matt. 6:28-30). Much of our culture in America has moved away from the enjoyment of the simple and profound beauty of natural things. Being content with simple beauty removes us from the endless pursuit of things that only have temporary value.
- "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:31-33). God knows what we need. We tend to focus on what we want. God tells us to seek Him, and He will take care of what we need.
- "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt. 6:34). We have enough to do each day to be diligent, work well, be at peace with our neighbors, and enjoy the gift of life. There is no need to borrow trouble from tomorrow.
I would like to invite you, if you don’t already have a church home, to visit with us some Sunday at Northwood Community Bible Church. You can find out more about us at www.cbcnorthwood.org. Have a great summer!