Sermon on the Mount - Don't Worry
(Part 1)

(Matthew 6:25-30)

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Sermon on the Mount, Sermon on the Mount (Bible Study)

  • Jesus continues to speak about undistracted, focused discipleship.
  • He begins: “Therefore, I tell you….” “Therefore” connects this segment with his previous comments about serving only God.
  • Assuming the disciples have made the commitment to serve God, Jesus says, “…take no thought for your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”
  • This translation doesn’t really reflect the negative prohibition in the Greek. The words are very emphatic.
  • An appropriate modern translation would be: “Stop doing what you are doing. Don’t do this anymore.”
  • “Take no thought” really means “don’t worry.”
  • It can refer to simple concerns, but in this case relates to extreme anxiety over life issues.
  • For poorer people, having adequate food is truly a daily struggle.
  • In its most basic form, worrying shows a lack of trust in God to provide for these needs.
  • Jesus is calling on them to be committed disciples and to allow God to provide for them.
  • Now some see this as the real root of the mammon problem – letting someone else be in charge of daily needs.
  • Jesus makes clear that if God gives “life,” He can surely support that life.
  • If God gives bodies, He can surely clothe those bodies.
  • So what does it mean to say, “Stop worrying?”
  • This is not a command, first of all, about others.
  • This is meant to take our eyes off ourselves, regarding our desires for ourselves, and it attempts to turn our eyes from ourselves to God.
  • If disciples do their part, God will do His.
  • Jesus says, “Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”
  • This is a typical Rabbinic argument, going from the greater to the lesser. Life and bodies are very, very great. Food and clothes are not.
  • If God can do the greater things, the life and bodies, don’t they think He can do the simpler things like food and clothes?
  • The point is made clearer with a metaphor of the birds of the air.
  • Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”
  • Taking care of birds is very difficult.
  • Birds don’t plant food; they don’t water their gardens; they don’t do any kind of harvesting; they just eat. Every day, and often!
  • Jesus is not advocating for idleness; he is speaking about focus. Birds work hard; they just don’t worry about anything.
  • The reality is that if God can take care of them, which is very difficult, how much easier is it to take care of people who do work, plant, water, and harvest?
  • Here, the argument goes from the lesser to the greater. If God can care of birds, He can take care of his children.
  • His children are so much more valuable than birds.
  • If His children do His work, God will keep up His end of the agreement.
  • This is also saying that God not only sees our private spiritual life, but superintends it.
  • He is Father of heaven and earth.
  • And it is in precisely these natural matters that we find God’s relevance.
  • Jesus asks, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
  • Worrying doesn’t add to our lives at all.
  • It becomes rather ironic in light of the latest studies that show that anxiety probably shortens our lives.
  • Some translations have “add one cubit to your life span.”
  • A cubit is generally 18 inches in length. No one can add inches to his/her life or height.
  • Let’s talk about the lilies. What do they contribute to their own beauty? Nothing.
  • They don’t toil; they don’t spin; their life is brief, yet they have a glory beyond the historical glory of Solomon.
  • Again, “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace. Will He not much more surely clothe you, O men of little faith?”
  • “Men of little faith” are those who fall short of what is expected.
  • This is another argument from the lesser to the greater.
  • God provides so tenderly for the lilies whose lives are short-lived.
  • How much more will He care for his children!

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