“Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 3)
(Nov. 14, 2018)
During the bombing raids of WWII, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them ‘Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.’ (Taken from Jeannine K. Brown; Matthew; TTTC Series; 75) We read in Exodus 16 of how God provided manna (bread) for the children of Israel in the wilderness. They had to go out and gather it up daily because God wanted them to remember daily to depend on Him. God desires for us to remember Him and what He has done and what He is doing. He is “Jehovah-Jirah” our provider; therefore we have no need to worry or fret! We are told in 1 Peter 5:6-7 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
In Matthew 6:31-32 we read “Therefore do not worry saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” All too often worry betrays our faith. We want to be strong and not worry, but worry is so tempting. Worry is simply irresistible at times.
The opposite of worry is confidence. Remember how last time it was mentioned that worry comes from an old German word that means to “strangle” or “choke?” Worry tends to strangle or choke out our confidence in God and His promises. Sadly, worry just seems to be a part of most people’s lives- maybe yours. Many walk around, spiritually speaking, with a collar of worry that is way too tight. The very idea of a Christian “worrying” would be almost laughable if it were not a sad reality. Someone expressed the foolishness of worry through a little humor that brings home the point. Maybe you have heard this little ditty about worry before “I’ve joined the new ‘don’t worry club,’ in fear I hold my breath, I’m so afraid I’ll worry, I’m worried half to death.” (Taken from Charles Talbert; Reading the Sermon on the Mount; 129)
Jesus is teaching, for example, that it is unprofitable, even foolish to worry about what you will eat, drink, or wear. These are the type of mundane things the pagans/Gentiles worry about; not those who know and trust the one true and living God.
Today young people worry about having just the right athletic shoes, jeans, and backpack for the first day of school. People worry about whether their neighbors own a nicer car than the one they own. Studies have shown that one of the biggest worries people have these days is being “unfriended” on Facebook! We might as well be worrying about the price of eggs in China as to worry about some of the things we do worry about! Jesus is saying to all of us, ‘Don’t Worry; I’ve got you covered!’ Why then would we continue to worry so much?
Worry stems from having misplaced priorities. When we worry, the care/concern for whatever we are worrying about becomes a focus, perhaps a fixation, and we are therefore taking our focus or fixation off God and His Kingdom. We are not putting it first. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” The world has no idea how to put God first, but strangely, and sadly, even many believers are not putting His Kingdom first either.
To seek the Kingdom is to seek the King; to love Him as Savior and Friend, to bow to him as Lord, to trust the God who has redeemed us. To seek the Kingdom is to evangelize, that is to point others toward the Kingdom. It is to introduce them to our King and Lord. To seek the Kingdom is to submit personally to God’s reign by obeying Him. We seek the Kingdom when we obey God at some level of personal cost. A Christian business owner, for example, seeks the Kingdom when he closes his stores on Sunday, even though it is a good day for sales, so that he can worship and rest and model the same for his employees. Chick-fil-A restaurants are a prime example of a successful business where following Godly principles are elevated above serving the bottom line. “Black Friday” retailers serve as examples of those not putting God’s Kingdom first. In fact they have found a way to put a serious damper on two major holidays; Thanksgiving, by using it only as a launching pad for their sales extravaganzas and Christmas by totally misrepresenting the meaning of the holiday which is actually about celebrating the birth of the Savior and the hope He brings to mankind.
There are many practical ways that God’s Kingdom should be given first place. These include things such as voting for candidates, on every level, that demonstrate real concern for God’s Kingdom and His righteousness and vote against candidates that demonstrate little or no concern for God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. To seek God’s Kingdom first means to consistently look beyond this world to the millennial reign of Christ which is far, far better than anything we now know. To seek God’s Kingdom first means we invest in things of eternal value and do not waste time, money, or effort in doing things that really have no eternal value/significance. To seek God’s Kingdom means to put God first, others second, and ourselves last. To seek God’s Kingdom means to put basic fundamental things like church, Sunday School, prayer meetings, Bible reading, prayer, witnessing, etc. above our personal comfort or personal list of things to do.
Commentator Daniel Doriani writes “The context [of Mat. 6:33] suggests that seeking the Kingdom especially means dethroning wealth and possessions as our first pursuits. We must not hoard treasures or live for pleasure, but put our treasure in heaven by giving to kingdom causes.” (Daniel M. Doriani; The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of the Kingdom; 180-81) All too often, money makes our decisions for us as we go through life. Is money your Lord? Is it what you worry about? You may say, of course not, but a closer, more honest examination may reveal otherwise. To seek God’s Kingdom first means all else must be dethroned in our lives and the pursuit of God and His Kingdom must reign supreme. This is the formula Jesus gave for how not to worry. Simply seek God’s Kingdom first. Make it your top priority and worry will quickly fade.
Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor