“Therefore I tell you, do not worry…” Matthew 6.25From David King
When I preach. I like to think and pray about the people who will hear the sermon. I don’t just mean in a general way (although that is good), but to think through who will be listening: what is their context; what are their struggles; what are their areas of spiritual wrestling.
So when I was preaching on Matthew 6.25-34, one of the questions in the back of my mind was: “If I am someone who struggles with worrying a lot, how might I hear this passage and this sermon?” In this case it was relatively easy, as I am that person! The first thought which I had was that I would find it hard to hear that Jesus commands me not to worry. I would find it hard because that means that when I let worry get a grip of me, I am being disobedient to Jesus. The good news is that we should never be afraid of discovering that we have gone wrong, as the gospel gives us the total assurance of sins forgiven through the cross and the power to change through the Spirit.
The second thought I had was that, as a worrier, I might feel like a second-class Christian compared to those who don’t worry so much. This is something I’ve struggled with. Since Jesus links worrying to a lack of faith, am I just a hopeless Christian?
Can I encourage you with the following:
- If you find yourself worrying more than another Christian it might be linked to your past and its impact on your personality. This is certainly true of me. That’s not an excuse to give up, but a reminder not to compare where you are with where others are. Instead compare where you are with where you were when you first started following Jesus
- A lack of worry is not necessarily a good sign. The Christian who doesn’t worry, isn’t necessarily fully of faith in the Lord. They may simply be full of (misplaced) faith in the things of this world or as Jesus puts it, the things of Mammon (6.24): their money; their ability; their relationships; the NHS; their insurance etc.
On the other hand, the fight against worry leads to growth – it is one of the ways in which our Lord deals with false faith in our lives. Worry comes about when our eyes are opened to the realisation that these things cannot keep them safe and so we turn to our Lord. This leads to the third point…
- The fight against worry leads to intimacy with our Caring Heavenly Father. This passage talks about how our heavenly Father values us and knows our needs. The fight with worry will lead us to treasure him more. We will increasingly sing, as the psalmist does: “Whom have I in heaven but you and earth has nothing I desire besides you” Psalm 73.25-26. And as you discover this, the Lord will become increasingly precious to you – he will become your treasure.
Every Christian is in a war. The battle is fought out in our world, but also in our hearts. It is a battle between God and Mammon (Matthew 6.24). In the heart of the worrier, that battle is particularly fierce. But where the battle is fiercest, the glory is greatest.
So, if you are a great worrier, know you have the opportunity to be a greater warrior for the Lord. Keep fighting the enemy, whenever it launches attacks. Do not let your shield of faith arm droop and keep your sword of the Spirit, the Word of God sharp and always in your hand.
If you are not a worrier, be warned – it might simply be that you are living peacefully behind enemy lines.