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Sermon on the Mount: Cure for Anxiety
“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? 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? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 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! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:25-34 NASB1995
After Jesus warns us, in three different ways, about not treasuring material things and loving money more than God, He tells us that all of that fretting and chasing after those things results in endless worry and anxiety that is completely unnecessary if we seek FIRST His kingdom and righteousness.
I am a natural-born worrier. I have worried about the future, about extremely unlikely catastrophes that could occur, about travel plans, about various aches and pains that I suffer (especially if they are new). When I was working, I was constantly chewing my nails about my performance or about my ability to get things done in a timely manner. When I was swamped with work many times, I had a tendency to be pretty short-tempered if more was expected and under unreasonable deadlines. I have worried about family relationships and friendships and things that might have been said. I have worried about the other driver on the road or the attention span of the pilots on a long flight. Quite honestly, I have (at least in the past) made myself almost physically sick with anxiety and worry.
Well, my dear God and Savior is telling me in no uncertain terms to cut it out. He has made a creation of incredible variety that instinctively trusts in Him, like the millions of creatures we see (and the birds he uses as an example), and He has lavished our world with transient beauty that maybe no one ever sees, like gorgeous flowers in a remote forest. He will do infinitely more for His beloved humans that are made in His image; we just have to have faith and trust! I am slowly learning to let go of worry; it does not add a single hour to my life!
Turning to the wonderful Dutch Christian activist and humanitarian Corrie ten Boom again (I used her example of forgiveness a few devotionals ago), she has these pithy things to say about worry:
Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.
Worry is an old man with bended head, carrying a load of feathers which he thinks are lead.
Worries carry responsibilities that belong to God, not to you. Worry does not enable us to escape evil; it makes us unfit to cope with it when it comes.
By the way, the birds that are provided for by God actually work for the sustenance they need at the moment they need it and don’t sit around waiting for it to be dropped into their mouths (unless they are baby birds). God doesn’t want us to hope for a heavenly lottery. He wants us to work for the Kingdom and leave the temporal worries to Him. We don’t know if we have tomorrow, but when you have eternal life, then tomorrow is not even measurable in comparison.
My next Sermon on the Mount devotional dives into the final chapter of Matthew devoted to this blueprint for living. Matthew 7:1-5 discusses judging and is probably one of the most misunderstand passages in the Bible.
Corrie ten Boom quotes are from A-Z Quotes.