“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?
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? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life (Matt. 6:25-27)?”
This passage (Matthew 5-7) is part of an entire Sermon on the Mount that Jesus preached on. It includes important subjects such as the beatitudes, filling the law to the fullest, overcoming evil with good, righteous living, replacing worry with trust, judging fruit, and building on a firm foundation. All these topics were given on the mountainside to a large crowd.
I love how Jesus included anxiety and worry within one of His most important sermons. He knew this sinful tendency transcends both time and culture. Every nation, tribe, and tongue from multiple generations have struggled with stress. Think about King David, who cried out in Psalms 42:11:
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Ps. 42:11
He was a righteous man who served the living God. He was the King of Israel and yet he struggled with anxiety and depression.
What about Elijah. A mighty prophet of God. He had many great victories over the pagan nations. He called fire down from heaven against the prophets of Baal. In the midst of his lofty achievements, he had great fear and anxiety. Elijah worried so much about Jezebel that he fled away into the desert and became depressed.
More can be said about Job, Jonah, Moses, Hannah and other men and women of God who struggled with anxious thoughts.
Let’s think for a moment about this verse in Matthew 6. Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat or drink or about the type of clothes we will wear because life is much more than that.
Most of us who live in the United States do not worry about the basic necessities of life. We have access to clean water and food. But the same deeper condition is there. We all have a fear of being neglected.
But it’s important to realize that in biblical times, people had a real fear of not having enough food from the harvest. Poverty was a common part of life in ancient times, and people did starve from a lack of resources. The threat of not eating or drinking was real. The possibility of not having warm clothes to shelter one in the cold was a genuine concern.
Jesus, however, is telling them not to worry about food or clothing. Why? Because life is more than our physical needs. It includes our spiritual connection with God. This is the reason why we exist.
Furthermore, Jesus assures the crowd that if the birds are fed, which are of lesser value than humans, how much more will God provide the resources for people to have plenty. In all this, the messiah tells the people not to worry.
The Son of God then states: “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” In other words, worrying is not practical. There is no benefit. It’s like rocking in a chair. It requires energy but gets you nowhere. Similarly, worrying can not benefit you one ounce.
In today’s world, there are many things we worry about. Let me just name a few of them: work, money, health, relationships, diet, growing old, being late to meetings, and public speaking. If you think about it, the same concept is still there: We worry about losing our comfort.
It gives us comfort and security when we are financially stable. If our health is stable, we find joy–this gives us comfort too. When our relationships are strong, we feel supported. This breeds comfort and reassurance. In essence, God is getting to our hearts. We try to find comfort in this world, but our ultimate comfort should be found in God.
The opposite of anxiety and worry is joy, comfort, assurance, and certainty. But essentially, the key thread that binds all of this together is finding something or someone who can give us ultimate trust, comfort, and satisfaction. That’s why when we don’t feel comforted, we run to the opposite end of the spectrum: worry and anxiety.
At the end of this passage, Jesus gives the answer that will heal our anxiety and worry. He says in Matthew 6:33:
“But seek first the kingom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
When we seek God’s approval over our friends or relatives, we will be fully satisfied. If we trust that God will never leave us or forsake us, we will not try to find comfort in money or possessions. These finite things can only temporarily protect us, but they can never bring to fruition the type of security we have with knowing God.
Having a relationship with God gets rid of our anxiety. Communicating with the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting Father, The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords is what will eliminate our anxiety. Why? Because He is our rock. He is our comfort. When we face trials, He will lead us into victory. Think about it. Jesus defeated our greatest foe: death. He swallowed it up in victory when he rose again from the dead!
No amount of money can buy true happiness. Even our greatest relationships on earth pale in comparison to communing with our heavenly Father. Prestige or success will never fully satisfy your inner cravings.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Money, relationships, success, and food are all good gifts. God desires that we excel in all these areas. He wants us to be blessed and happy. But never to exchange our temporary possessions with the eternal king. He wants our hearts. He loves us so much He died on the cross for our sins. He is a jealous God. He wants our full adoration and attention because He is worthy of it all.
Let’s give him all the glory and praise. When we do, our anxiety flees. It’s a win-win situation. Will you pray with me?
Heavenly Father, teach us to love you above all else. When we our anxious, remind us to run to you, the author and finisher of our faith. Lord, if the temptation of worry takes root in our hearts, please cut it out. Refresh us with your Holy Spirit. Restore unto us the joy of our salvation. By seeking your kingdom and righteousness daily, anxiety and worry will flee from us. I pray this in the almighty name of Jesus our Savior. Amen.