I’ve been thinking a lot about worry this past week. No, I’m not anxious. I’m not unduly concerned. I’m not worried or frazzled. I’m concerned because worry is the topic of my sermon this week. I’m preaching on Matthew 6:25-34 where three times in the passage, Jesus says, “Do not be anxious, worried, overly concerned (insert your favorite word for worry).”
As I thought about the passage and the topic, I kept coming back to the question, “What’s the point? What is Jesus trying to communicate? Why is he addressing this issue in his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7)?”
I think that chapter 5 is focused on what a follower of Jesus Christ looks like. Jesus describes the character (3-12), the impact (13-16), and the heart attitude (17-48) of a true disciple. Chapter six then describes the potential distractions that try to keep us from following Christ–worship (1-18), wealth (19-24), and worry (25-34). Worship is a distraction when we are more concerned about who is watching than who we are worshipping. Wealth blurs our vision by making us think our worth is determined by our bottom line. Worry keeps us tied up in knots instead of focusing on God’s agenda.
The point of 6:25-34 is not that worry is bad for us. It is true that worry can shorten our lives instead of lengthening our lives (6:27). The point is not that we should cast all our cares on God because he cares for us (6:26-30; 1 Peter 5:7). Yes, God values us even more than his creation because we are created in his image, but that is not the point here.
The point of the passage is that we should stop worrying so we have the time and energy to pursue God’s kingdom. When we are consumed with worry, life is all about us. When we get caught up in living for the next meal, shopping spree, vacation, car, tool, job, relationship, or any of a number of wants and desires, we have no time or energy to be concerned, let alone active in pursuing God’s kingdom purposes.
We need to understand that God takes care of the basic needs of life so that we can focus on what is more important. Rather than be consumed with worry, we are to pursue the things that God is concerned about.