How Not To Worry (Matthew 6)

We are living in new times, temporarily strange and different times. So many things we rely on cannot be relied on. Restaurants are closing. Gyms. Malls. Sports stadiums. Empty.


Yet our hope is not meant to be in the these things, but in the LORD alone.


May we continue to hope in God and to pray that He causes this virus to pass swiftly and with fewer casualties than projected. May we be wise and loving in our work and relationships.


Realize that this is neither a surprise nor a threat to God.


This is part of the pain and suffering of a fallen world which has long been infected with sin.


In our current sermon series on God's Glory and OT Events, we've seen how our LORD responds to truly existential threats. He intervenes when the threat is truly existential. We saw that with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). The global flood (Gen 6-8). And how He dispersed mankind his separate ways at the time of the Tower of Babel (Gen 11).


When the threat is less than existential, but nonetheless ominous and scary, our LORD provides a way through crises, that we may endure and escape as we trust His lead.


When Jesus lived here, He faced all kinds of threats to His life. Yet He never gave into His fears.


Jesus never panicked. He never worried.


And yet, we're not all there.


As we face this coronavirus threat, we all react differently to this. So, some of us are worried.


Yet we're often the last to see this or to admit, even to ourselves that we're worried.


If we're watching more than our share of the news. If the coronavirus is keeping us up thinking about this at night. If we're watching the stock market every day and our finger nails show it. If we can't not think about our elderly parents or immunocompromised loved ones.


We do not have peace. We are worried.


Jesus gets this, more than anyone else. He gets you. And He wants to get you through this.


What might Jesus have to say to us? How might our LORD move us past panic shopping to embrace generous living? How might Jesus move us from worrying about this to worshiping God?


I know, Jesus never lived during a coronavirus pandemic, but He did live during leprosy outbreaks, which seem far scarier to me.


Jesus showed fearless courage and gentle compassion.


One woman had an embarrassing bleeding disorder, which landed her in quarantine. When Jesus was in her community, she covered herself well and broke out of quarantine snuck up and she covertly touched Jesus with faith that she would be healed, just by touching Him.


When she touched Him with such hope and trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit responded to her faith and healed her. Jesus was aware of this. Just what did He say to her?


"Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." And she was.


Jesus also dealt with starving crowds and demon possessed people without fear. Not because He was God. But, because He trusted God the Father. Though Jesus Christ was God in the flesh, He lived among us humbly as a Man (Phil 2).


Jesus lived His life among us as we can, full of faith in the Father and fully reliant upon the Spirit.


So He told frightened people you too need not fear, and He told anxious people you also need not to worry.


In a time of high anxiety and worry, Jesus told His disciples,


Matthew 6:25 "… Do not be worried about your life… nor your body… 26 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?


Let's learn from Jesus.


First of all, as we face this time, as we are tempted to worry, Jesus reminds us of God's character.

Actually, Jesus was more intimate that that. He reminds us of "YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER'S" character.


Think of "your heavenly Father," how sovereignly, faithfully, carefully, He cares for the animals. He even provides for common birds. Birds don’t have pantries, they don't rent storage units each winter. Yet, "your heavenly Father feeds them."


Next, Jesus reminds us of how much each of us mean to the Father,


"Are you not worth much more to your heavenly Father than the birds are?"


If you are frightened or worried for your body, your life, your loved ones, or how you're going to pay your bills, let me join Jesus in reminding you that "your heavenly Father" is compassionate and generous, and His heart is big and wide open for you to take courage in His Son.


I also want to remind you that it means something really significant that you can call God your Father—for you are a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and you are declared righteous before God by His grace in Christ, and that you are cherished—loved and cherished by the Father!


He knows all about this! He knows all about your secret worries and your not so secret fears.


Jesus knows that you can trust your heavenly Father to do right through this.


It is Jesus who encourages us, "Do not worry about your life; do not worry about your body."


Obviously, He's not suggesting that we shirk all safety concerns and live irresponsibly.


No, He doesn't say that, but He does tell us, "Do not worry."


He's not even telling us this virus isn't dangerous. He just tells us, "Do not worry."


How?


By giving up any notion that you can control this through social distancing and stockpiling resources.


Do these things. Wash your hands and maintain suggested 6 ft. boundaries. Yet TRUST that God is in control, REST your fears in your heavenly Father's sovereign care, and HOPE in Him.


Then Jesus asked a poignant about the value of worrying,


Matthew 6:27 "Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?"


It's a serious question because when we worry, we actually do think worrying about this can extend our life. We might not be aware of this. And it sounds silly when Jesus asks this. But when we worry, we do think, "I CAN extend my life if I worry and wash my hands and make everyone else wash their hands too." "I CAN extend my life if I horde all the food and groceries I'll need for three months."


Then Jesus points to the green grasses and flowers of early spring and asks,


Matthew 6:30 "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!"


Some may bristle at Jesus' implication here. Yet Jesus makes it clear that worry is a faith issue!


What we are going through is a test of faith.


The antidote to worry is not "control" but "trust" in God's faithful love toward you!


If you examine your fear, you may realize that you are not in the moment trusting that God will do what is right here.


Jesus doesn't shame us for this!


But when we worry, He reminds us that God can be trusted to do what is right. See how He cares for the birds, and remember how much more significant and personally valuable you are to Him.


Rather than worry, pray to our LORD for the rapid containment of the virus.


Rather than worry, trust God for His care for you and in that trust emerge with new hope to encourage others.


Rather than worry, love your children. Phone a friend in need of encouragement or love, or visit a neighbor in need of toilet paper. How you'd know that, I'm not sure but that would show a high level of trust—or desperation. Either way. Minister out of a heart of courage and hope in Christ.


Be positioned in your heart and life to bless others.


Don't treat everyone like they're unclean. Or better, treat others just as Jesus treated the unclean.


And always be ready to love, fearlessly if He leads you to love them.


Let us trust in Him first, that we may act in ways that witness to our Lord and bring grace to others.


Matthew 6:31 "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things [people who don't trust God naturally worry about] all these things; but your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."


Great points. While we're in lockdown, seek Christ and pray for His kingdom to come and know His personal care and power toward you today. Seek intimacy with Him, while trusting Him with the rest.


The church and the world will be stronger and blessed when believers take Jesus up on this.


There's a great verse in James 4. I'm taking it out of context, but both points work for us today.


James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners…


These are the two things we can do. 1) Wash your hands. Live responsibly. 2) But trust God. Draw near to Him through this. He will draw near to you.


Then act with Christ, and by His Spirit. Ready to love. To live generously. To live as Jesus in His day.