READ SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:25-34 NIV
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Today, we are beginning a 3-week series on stewardship. This is an important topic for us to focus on because everything we have is because of God and is God’s. We are really just stewards of the resources we have been given.
When we talk about stewardship, we are talking about the wise utilization of the resources that God has given us.
Many times, people hear stewardship, in the church, and automatically think about money. This is a good part of stewardship. But we also can easily neglect the other aspects of what it means to be a good steward. We ask the question of how we spend our money; but we also ask, where does our time gets spent, how is our energy spent, how do we use our talents God gave us.
Stewardship is much more than just money. It is also about the talents and energy God has given us. It is about the physical materials God has given us. It is about God’s creation we care for.
The truth is, when we talk about stewardship, people tend to get antsy and edgy because the thought is this, “You can’t tell me how to spend my [money, time, talents, etc]!” Why do we tend to default to this kind of thinking? I think some of this feeling is because we are worried that God is not happy with our lives, or other people would not be happy if they found out what we did with the resources God has given us.
This is one of the areas of our life we will try to “earn” God’s favor and the favor of people. We can focus on showing what we are doing because we like to appear generous. The point of all of this is to break free from the worry of how other people view us. The point is to keep striving for the Kingdom of God.
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is Jesus giving a long sermon about how people live in the Kingdom of God. What it means to break free from the kind of life the world around us offers and live as free, joyful, peaceful people in God’s Kingdom, God’s eternal presence.
The passage on not worrying is good for us to look at and remember this aspect of living so our minds are not clouded and jaded toward the world we live in. If we stay in the mindset of worry, it becomes like a self-fulfilling prophesy: we will see what we are worrying about come to pass.
When we read the word “worry”, in the passage from Matthew 6, it is the Greek word merimnao. This word is much more than just every day, little worries such as. This Greek word talks about being anxious, to brood over the situation.
This is why the passage in Matthew 6 about not worrying is so important. If we can break free from anxiety and brooding over things we don’t really have control over and focus solely on what it is God wants us to do with the resources we have been entrusted with, then
we can be free to be the people God has created us to be.
What do you get anxious about?
Why do you think you get anxious about it?
There are many things I worry, get anxious about. SOME of them are:
- Not saying what I need to say in the right way
- Offending people
- Am I doing enough for my family
- Not having enough financially to provide for my family
There are always things that get us worked up with worry and anxiety. The key is to always keep in focus the Kingdom of God and the reason behind why we share the faith of Christianity in the world.
God never promises us an easy life, but he does promise to give us everything we need. When we worry, we tend to have our mind clouded with negativity. This can cause our thoughts to go “rogue” on us and begin to think negatively. Then the thoughts we have tend to control how we act.
Think about that. What we watch. What we read. Everything we take in through our senses can cause us to be filled with joy, happiness, life, negativity, despair, worry, etc. So, when we have thoughts that bring worry to our lives, I like to remember specific verses in scripture:
2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV, “We demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Galatians 2:20 NIV, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
John 1:5 NIV, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Psalm 119:105 NIV, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light on my path.”
These are some of the verses I call to mind when I am facing worry or anxiety. They help, me personally, remember the grace that God has bestowed up me, upon the world. Sometimes it takes times for the negativity to leave my mind; but when it does, the light of Christ shines through.
Over the course of these next three weeks, I’m going to challenge us to rethink how we spend the resources we have. We’ll bring up the challenge to fully tithe (giving 10% to the glory of God). Let’s talk about this briefly.
Financial tithing is important. But many people say they cannot give 10% of their income because that is too much. The reality is, I think most people give away 20% or more of their income and not really think about it. So, we do tithe. Just not in the places that will bring about eternal transformation. We instead focus on things that will last only a week or so before it has to be restored, rebuilt, torn down.
Why is tithing important? First of all, we remember that everything we have is because of God. Everything we have is God’s. Psalm 24:1 says “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” The truth? We are really giving back to God what is already God’s.
Tithing (giving God 10%) is also an act of worship and devotion to God. My wife, Amanda, had a great point the other day. We were talking about tithing (which we do) and she said, “The whole point of tithing is to prove money does not control us. It’s about giving to God without reservation and then fully trusting that what remains is enough to provide for your family.”
How many of us go through the month and not worry about money?
What are some other things we tend to worry about?
I have noticed people worry about:
- Whether they are liked
- Whether they are getting what they “deserve”
- Whether they really have what they need
- How we are going to get to do what we want
- How we’re going to pay for colleges/weddings
- We worry our money/time/talents will be spent on things we do not believe so we hold back and try to control where the money goes.
Notice what all of these “worries” point to – SELF!
Behind all of this is a sense of anxiety because we know we are not doing what we need to be doing. But we have to be careful because it is not about “checking the box” to get things done. It is really about Christ coming into our lives and transforming us from the inside out.
What causes us to “worry”?
The underlying cause can be several things: feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, pride.
But the truth is
THERE REALLY IS NO NEED TO WORRY.
Jesus tells his followers, in the Sermon on the Mount, “do not worry…but seek first his kingdom and righteousness.”(Matthew 6:25,33b NIV)
Christ calls us to continually seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. We are given the word to seek after Christ, to seek after his Kingdom. Not only is Kingdom; but his righteousness as well. Some of the ways we seek the Kingdom is to call to mind scripture, find the good around us and in us, be kind when we don’t feel like it, thank God for everything (even the hard times because he is with us).
The beauty of it is, it is not us who earns righteousness, or even life everlasting. It is Christ who freely gives. It is by the grace of God that we do not have to let anything, except the Kingdom of Heaven, fill our minds and hearts.
Christ is saying to not let worry or anxiety fill our lives, but instead to allow the Kingdom of God to fill our lives. It is then we will realize everything God is giving us because of his love for us. Because of grace.
If we are worrying and allowing anxiety to rule our lives, we are really looking after ourselves. But, if we are seeking the Kingdom of Heaven, we see there is no need to worry because God is taking care of us.
Think about your life. Maybe you had an easy childhood, maybe now. Maybe things have gone well for you professionally. Maybe not. Maybe your life is exactly like you wanted. Maybe not.
But God has given us everything we need because he has given us talents/gifts to take care of ourselves and family and to work in the world for transformation.
God has given us encouragement through certain people he has placed in our lives.
God has given us wisdom to know how to handle situations and people.
God has given us himself because he loves us so much that he wants to dwell within us through the Holy Spirit.
All of this is because of grace. See, it is grace we have what we have. It is becasue of grace we can do incredible work in the world. It is grace that we are able to breathe.
We know all of this intellectually, but it is not easy to live fully.
The challenge I have for us all is to continually seek the Kingdom of God first in all areas of our life.
Let us all allow God to break us free from the worries/anxieties of earth and help us experience his kingdom more and more each day.
Psalm 51:6-9 NIV is a great starting prayer for us as we begin this journey over the next few weeks. “Yet you have desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me now, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out my iniquity.”
It is challenging, but let’s let go of the feelings of worry and anxiety. God has given us all we need and is continually with you and me. God is doing great things.