Allen Raynor Weblog: “Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 2)
(Nov. 7, 2018)
Worry is not only ill-advised, it is simply unnecessary. It does not help and, in fact, it actually hurts the one doing the worrying. It adds stress to our lives, stress to our bodies and to its various functions. Most important of all, worry is sinful. Worry is a failure to trust God. In worrying we offer a poor witness for our Savior as believers. An unbeliever might legitimately ask of a believer why he/she should receive Jesus as Lord if they are going to still have the same old worries?
In Matthew 6:26-30 Jesus taught “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Have you ever seen a bird begging for food? Have you seen a lily pulling its pedals out over a bad color job? God provides for them! And they are not even said to be made in the “image and likeness of God” such as are human beings. Can a person add to their stature? “Stature” used here probably means “length of life,” or “age.” The word “cubit” then means a “length” of time not a “distance.”
Commentator Douglas O’Donnell gives a great illustration in his commentary on Matthew at this point by using the pyramids. We think of Egypt when we think about them but, in reality, there were/are elaborate pyramids in China, France, Greece, India, Italy, Cambodia, and the Americas. The oldest and largest of the Egyptian pyramids was the Great Pyramid of Giza (one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World). Architecturally it is a wonder, but theologically it is a colossal blunder. Important and wealthy people were buried with their treasures because they believed they could somehow take them to the afterlife with them. Now, many centuries later, as they are excavated we see the foolish reality of how they worried about treasure. In fact, they look ridiculous for putting so much work into something that was impossible to achieve. O’Donnell writes “The only purpose the pyramids serve would be centuries later when they were excavated by overly educated explorers, only to display their contents in some museum where day after day cranky schoolchildren are pulled along by their teachers to help them gain an appreciation for history and civilization. The pyramids are just big illustrations of how right Jesus was and how foolish people can be.” (Douglas Sean O’Donnell; Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and on Earth; 181) People in ancient times worried and fretted about taking their “stuff” to the afterlife. It was important to them to maintain their royal status in the next world. Not surprisingly when these pyramids have been explored all things are as they were when they were put in there, minus of course the things stolen by grave robbers over the centuries.
The possessions, and the cares and concerns they bring, often capture people. In Matthew 6, the question is raised, why would, for instance, people possibly worry about something as mundane and unimportant as clothing? Clothing was a necessary item, however it was seen in very basic terms by people in antiquity. To us, by contrast in the 21st century, clothing is much more of an idol. We are told in this passage that even King Solomon, in his wealth and splendor and glory, was not adorned as fancy as how God decorates the landscape with beauty. Every beast and every undesirable creature like snakes and insects are provided for by God! And even possess a certain beauty and unmistakable intricacy.
How many people worry about money/incomes/jobs/ being able to pay bills, etc? Yet God is providing for insects, plants, snakes, lizards, etc! Jesus knew people would worry themselves crazy over things like they do – money and the things money can buy. The New Testament has much to say about money. John MacArthur writes “Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables of Jesus deal with money. One out of ten verses in the New Testament deal with that subject. Scripture offers about five hundred verses on prayer, fewer than five hundred on faith, and over two thousand on money. The believer’s attitude toward money and possessions is determinative.” (John MacArthur; Matthew Vol. 1; 418) Is there really any need to worry about money and the things money can buy? No. Someone wrote a short poem that makes a very powerful point about the foolishness of worrying about simple things beyond our control. “Said the robin to the sparrow; I would really like to know; why these anxious human beings; rush around and worry so. Said the sparrow to the robin, Friend, I think that it must be; that they have no heavenly Father; such as cares for you and me.” (Taken from Charles Allen; The Sermon on the Mount; 143)
Abstaining from worry, as much as possible, is one of the biggest keys to happiness. When we keep everything God has promised in perspective it becomes much easier not to worry. Michael Green cites a great illustration portraying the sort of perspectives believers should have. “There is, in the life of the fourteenth-century German mystic Johann Tauler, a remarkable story that shows something of the attitude Jesus was looking for in his disciples. One day Tauler met a beggar. ‘God give you a good day, my friend,’ he said. The beggar answered, ‘I thank God I never had a bad one.’ Then Tauler said, ‘God give you a happy life, my friend.’ ‘I thank God,’ said the beggar, ‘that I am never unhappy.’ In amazement Tauler asked, ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Well,’ said the beggar, ‘when it is fine I thank God. When it rains I thank God. When I have plenty I thank God. When I am hungry I thank God. And since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases him pleases me, why should I say I am unhappy when I am not?’ Tauler looked at the man in astonishment. ‘Who are you?’ he asked. ‘I am a king,’ said the beggar. ‘Where then is your kingdom?’ asked Tauler, the beggar replied quietly, ‘In my heart.’” (Michael Green; The Message of Matthew; 105) The only possible way a person could have an attitude anything similar to this beggar is to be a totally dependent Christian who has truly trusted God with everything. This is what we are all called upon to be, but so few really are. Do we believe God’s promises or not? If Jesus is living in your heart you have what it takes to depend on Him this way. If not, you need to trust Him as your Lord and Savior.
Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor