This is an article on worry and anxiety based on Matthew 6:25-34. Worry can be dissipated by focusing less on self and instead looking to your heavenly Father.

2012. 6 pages. Transcribed by Diana Bouwman. Transcription started at 3:58 and stopped at 35:40.

What Do You Mean, Don’t Worry? Lessons on Anxiety Series: Part 1

Read Matthew 6:25-34

Worrying or being anxious is kind of like blowing up a balloon. The more you blow up a balloon, the more the pressure rises inside the balloon; the more you worry, the pressure rises inside. You may deflate a balloon in a couple of different ways. After you blow it up, you could poke it with a pin. Of course, that destroys the balloon. Or you may just allow the air to escape from the balloon and allow the balloon to deflate. If you worry and fret, it can have physical difficulties. There will be physical consequences, and you break. So it is better to allow worry to deflate. The text before us in Matthew 6 gives you directions for allowing worry and anxiety to deflate. In the end, I think this is the lesson. And the principle way of seeing worry deflate in your life is to look to your heavenly Father and to trust your heavenly Father. So this is the point: deflate worry and look to your heavenly Father. Simple, right? Maybe not.

The text interestingly enough gives the command three times: “Do not worry.” Look at Matthew 6:25: “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life.” Do not worry. Verse 31: “Do not worry then.” Do not worry! Verse 34: “So do not worry about tomorrow.” Do not worry. “Right…”—this is generally the response, isn't it? Well, let's just back up for a moment. We may not all of us be able to readily define worry, but we all experience it: our minds just going and going and going and going and going. Because of a situation at school with one of the professors or a teacher. Because of a situation at work with a fellow employee or someone with whom you are trying to work. Or because of illness. Because of a lack of healing as illness has progressed. Your mind just dwells on the situation, and in your mind it is almost like a video that is continually going. When you lay down at night, your eyes are like saucers and you are ready to go to sleep, but no way, because your mind is just churning and going!

This worry can devolve into fear. You look at the situation and it is no longer just worry but there is fear as to the outcome. The worry is exacerbated. And in desperate circumstances, often fear turns to panic, and panic attacks are on the horizon. There is a breakdown in the mind and in the heart. This is a cycle through which many individuals progress.

But note, dear friends in Christ, the command once again: do not worry. This command sounds much like other commands we find in the Bible, like commands in the Ten Commandments. Do not commit adultery. Do not lie. Do not steal. These commands that are given to us by our Lord in the Ten Commandments are not commands that are meant to trip us up. They are not commands that are given to you and to me so that God can step back and say, “Aha, I’ve got you now! You are not going to be able to do that!” No! That is not the objective of the commands. In fact, part of the objective of the Ten Commandments is to give you and I a vehicle for showing God that we love him and we love our neighbour. The commands are given to us to give us directions for life. And they are not out of reach by grace through faith. This is part of what we have to realize. The command “Do not worry” is not out of reach by grace through faith. So this is the place to begin: to understand that worry in life can be deflated.

Focus Less On Self🔗

The problem is that we begin to think too much about ourselves. This is this is part of the difficulty. Look at these verses again. Matthew 6:25: “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life.” Why are you so consumed about your life? Why are you centring so much on yourself? This is part of the problem that our Lord is addressing. Matthew 6:31: “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’” What will we eat? “Hey mom, what are we going to have for supper? Oh, is it that? Why can’t we…” What will we eat? We are consumed with ourselves in many respects. Matthew 6:27: “Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” This is bearing down on the individual. “Am I going to be able to extend my life? This is why I am exercising. This is why I am taking supplements. This is why I am watching my diet. This is why I am watching my weight. I want to be able to extend my life.”

We get caught up in these things! The church even gets caught up in this spiral about thinking of self. Evangelical pastors even encourage this sort of thing! The Bible says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). [Some people say], “Recognize that if you are going to properly love God and you are going to properly love your neighbour, you have to learn to love yourself, because the Bible says, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'” You have heard that, I am sure. No! That is not what the Bible is teaching—that you need to learn to love yourself! The problem is that you already do love yourself! That is the problem! You need to learn to love your neighbour at least as much as you already love yourself! That is what our Lord is telling us. So do not misunderstand the Scriptures here. And the next step is: recognize this sinful self-centeredness and repent of it.

Let's get a little context here in the text that we are talking about. Go back to Matthew 6:2:

So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men.Matthew 6:2a, NASB

Here is the self-centeredness within the church! That we act and give so that we will be recognized by others in the church. That is our motivation. We want to be recognized by others. And we get nervous, we get concerned, we worry if we are not properly recognized by others, and often we go out of our way to be recognized by others and to get the compliment.

When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men.Matthew 6:5a, NASB

Here is a vital Christian duty: prayer. But it can be performed with a poor motive. “Oh, you pray such wonderful prayers”—that is not the objective, is it? The objective of prayer is not to receive plaudits because you pray well. Jesus Christ is the centre of prayer and he is the focus for prayer. But it is easy to be self-centred! Some would say, “Well, it takes one to know one!” Yes, it does, and pastors have to be careful about this. [For example], guys that write books want their books to be read by others and to be well-known and to be well-received. We all have to be careful about these things.

Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting.Matthew 6:16a, NASB

The objective of fasting is building a stronger relationship with your Lord, not so that you will be commended by others. The whole idea of being commended by others undercuts the whole meaning of the fast! So you see, Jesus is saying, “Watch it.” Cut down the self-centeredness. Don't think so much about yourself.

Look to Your Heavenly Father🔗

Think about the heavenly Father. Let your focus be on the heavenly Father. You can almost sense the shift as we make that little shift in thinking. So there is the negative side: get rid of self-thought and self-centeredness. And then the positive side: look to your heavenly Father. Seek the Father and his kingdom. He will feed you. He will feed you!

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 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?Matthew 6:25-26, NASB

Observe the birds! If you are like me, you like to watch the birds in the backyard. After a hot day you put out the sprinkler, and then the birds come. They are poking around in the grass and getting bugs and pulling out worms, and then they go over to the corner of the yard where you just put in some grass seed and they are eating all the grass seed. Our neighbour has a bird feeder. A lot of people have bird feeders. The heavenly Father is feeding those birds! And the Heavenly Father is using means in many cases to feed those birds. He is using you and me as means to feed those birds.

Jesus is saying, “Look to your heavenly Father. Your heavenly Father will feed you.” And he will use means to feed you. When you are ill, there are people in the church that will come and bring you food. And often week after week after week the food is brought. Your heavenly Father is taking care of you! It may be family or friends that does the same. Maybe you have hit a bad spot in life, so a group in the community fills your pantry—your heavenly Father is feeding you! He is taking care of you.

Look to your heavenly Father. This is the lesson. Look to your heavenly Father. Matthew 6:26 says, “Are you not worth much more than they?” Are you not different than the birds? That is really getting into what the text has to say. Are you not different than the birds? Yes! And the way that you are different from the birds is that the image of God is stamped upon you! And since the image of God is stamped upon you, God your heavenly Father sent his Son into the world to die on a cross to save you from your sins! Your heavenly Father loves you and cares for you. There is no redemption for the birds. There is no redemption for the fallen angels. When they have sinned, they are doomed! But not people like us. Praise God! Your heavenly Father cares for you and he will feed you.

Matthew 6:33: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Seek first—the first priority is his kingdom. Seek the Father. Seek your heavenly Father, because he will clothe you. He will clothe you!

(Transcription of audio file from 23:48 to 24:30 and 25:12 to 25:33 omitted.)

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 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!Matthew 6:28-30, NASB

Will he not much more clothe you? When the trees and the foliage is in its prime in the fall, it is gorgeous! The colours! The reds and the yellows and the orange and the green and the wild flowers in the fields—it is gorgeous! God is clothing the fields. Calvin says in his commentary on Genesis in the very first chapter that he put Adam and Eve in the Garden as in a theatre, so they could just look at the creation and observe its beauty and its splendour. And that was before the fall—imagine the glory of it!

And Jesus says,

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace…

It is just used for fuel!

…will he not much more clothe you?Matthew 6:30, NASB

And the answer expected is: yes! Yes, he will clothe you! In the beginning he clothed Adam and Eve. He gave them garments. He clothed them. And he clothes the likes of you and me also. How good it is!

Our oldest daughter, working in a school with kids from troubled families and who are adopted and have attachment disorder and all sorts of other difficulties, took one of the boys out to a second-hand store to get him a pair of jeans. When his mother found out that Gail bought jeans at a second-hand store for her son, she was indignant: “I won't have my son wear second-hand jeans!” What are we worried about? Our heavenly Father will clothe you!

And clothing has significance. Clothing really does have significance. Nurses wear one type of clothing. Police officers wear another type of clothing. Men in the military wear a different type of clothing for different branches of the military. Businessmen often have a uniform that they wear. Clothing identifies people. You think God is not concerned about clothing? He is concerned about clothing! This is one of the reasons he uses clothing as an imagery for the work of his Son, because in the end the clothing that you and I receive is the righteousness of Christ! We are clothed. This is the imagery that the Bible uses: We are clothed with the righteousness of Christ so that we have fellowship with the Father. The principal relationship is the relationship that you and I have with our Father. Don't worry about clothing! Don't worry about food! Look to the Father! Look to the heavenly Father. This is the lesson.

And don't worry about the future! Look at Matthew 6:27: “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Are you going to lengthen your life by even one hour outside of the plan and the purpose of God? Doubtful! God has all this under control. Your heavenly Father has your life in his hands. And friends, that is the best possible place for you to be: in the hands of God. He has the day of your entrance into the world marked and the day of your departure from this life marked. You and I are to look to him and to trust him.

Matthew 6:34: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Don't worry about tomorrow! Are any of you already worried about tomorrow or thinking about tomorrow? Don't be worried about tomorrow. If you accomplish properly the tasks that God gives you today, that is sufficient. Take care of the tasks that you have for today. That is what the Bible is teaching. God is your sovereign today, so do not worry about food or clothing or the future. Look to your heavenly Father and worry will dissipate. Worry will deflate.

Several years ago, before we came into the Reformed Presbyterian Church, we moved to Hutchinson, Kansas. We moved to Hutchinson, Kansas because we wanted to put our children in a Christian school there. We had a two year window because of the finances that were at our disposal. We had a two year window, and we had no idea as to what was going to transpire at the end of that two year period. No idea whatsoever. Don't worry about the future. Don't worry about what you will eat. Don't worry about what you will wear. Look to your heavenly Father. Close to the end of that two year period, I received a call from the pastor of the Sterling Reformed Presbyterian Church. He said, “Denny, before you get it in the grapevine, I want to tell you personally that I am resigning from the pastorate here.” I preached there on occasion at Sterling, and then because I was available they asked me to supply the pulpit. At the end of that two year period God called us into the pastorate in Sterling Kansas. Don't worry about tomorrow. Don't worry about the food you will eat, the clothes you will wear, or the future. Look to your heavenly Father, and worry will dissipate like air going out of a balloon. Do not worry. Look to your heavenly Father.

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