A Word for the Anxious
Anxiety is deadly in the Christian life. When you’re anxious about finances, it can lead to coveting, greed, hoarding, or stealing. Anxiety about succeeding in life can make you irritable or unthoughtful. Anxiety about relationships can make you uncaring or irresponsible. Anxiety about what someone might think of you might lead you to lie, exaggerate, or cover-up the truth.
God knows the human heart. He knows us. You may think you know who you are. Others may think they know who you are. But God actually does know who you are. He really does. Take comfort in that—God knows you.
He knows what you’re anxious about. He knows what keeps you up at night. He knows what you’re worried about. His Word to you is not, “Well, that’s life. Get used to it.” Or, “bummer.” His Word to you in Matthew 6:25-34 is “Do not be anxious about your life.” He doesn’t just leave it at that. I see at least 6 reasons why we need not be anxious, as found in this text. We will look at three in this devotion and three in the next devotion.
1. There Is More to Life Than Mere Survival (6:25)
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?
Now, why would Jesus bring up food and clothing? I would venture to say these are items you and I, by and large, take for granted. They’re basics—they constitute mere survival. So why would he tell us not to worry about them? I think he tells us this not because we’d be “fine” without them. We all need food and clothing. Jesus himself says in verse 32 that we need them. Rather, I think Jesus is telling us not to worry about these things because there is more to life than mere survival. I think that’s why he says, “is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Don’t you realize I have you alive today for something greater than just existing? Just getting by? There is a reason I created you!
When you worry about merely surviving, you are vainly grasping for control. When you’re anxious about your life, your whole life is devoted to maintaining that control. I have to do ______ to maintain my family’s lifestyle. I have to do ______ to stay comfortable. Life quickly becomes only about existing comfortably.
And Jesus responds: If your life is consumed with anxiety over stuff: you have lost sight of one of the greatest blessings in life: enjoying God. The old catechism tells us that the chief end of man is to: glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Notice it didn’t say, “the chief end of man is to merely survive.” Rather, the chief end of man is to thrive by enjoying God!
A life enslaved to fashion and feasting is so cheap. It’s so trivial. A life consumed with worry over mere existence misses why God put you here! This is why Jesus’ warning in the preceding verse to our passage is timeless: (v. 24) “You cannot serve God and money.” Church, don’t settle for survival. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Now, Jesus didn’t just forget about those necessities we need. So, if you find yourself in a position where it literally is a matter of “making ends meet” that is causing you to have sleepless nights, the Lord is telling you that you need not worry. He will meet your needs.
2. You’re of Great Value to God (6:26)
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?
Do birds farm? Do they plant crops, or make bird grocery stores stocked with worms they like? By and large, a bird is an insignificant creature that doesn’t have the capacity to farm or to store as we do. And yet, God provides for them. How much more will He provide for you—you are of far greater value to God than the birds.
Let that truth sink in a moment—you are of great value to God. Humans are the pinnacle of God’s creatures. What makes us unique from the birds and every other animal? We are made in His image. The rest of Scripture is not a story of God’s relationship with pigeons but with people. Don’t be anxious about your life, dear people—for God will provide. He has, and He will.
3. What Good Will Worrying Do Anyway? (6:27)
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
I love this third reason—it’s so practical. What good will worrying do, anyway? Will it prolong your life? This is a powerful statement for any of you walking through or who have a loved one that is walking through health problems right now.
Several years ago, there was concern that my sister may have leukemia. That was all it took: one word for my stomach to start churning and my nights to get progressively shorter. Not to make light of a serious situation: but my worrying did nothing to help her diagnosis. Nothing. All it did was demonstrate how weak my faith in God was. Thankfully, her diagnosis was not leukemia, but rather lupus—which is no walk in the park, but that experience taught me to cling to Jesus’ words: “which one of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
Brothers and sisters, do not be anxious about your life. There is more to life than mere survival. You are of great value to God. Besides, what good will it do anyway? Next time we will see three more reasons why we ought not worry.
Dr. Kyler Smith, Senior Associate Pastor
Hickory Grove Baptist Church