Do Not Be Anxious – Matthew 6:25

How is it possible not to worry about tomorrow? Some people are more prone to worry than others, so that reading this passage will make you feel a little guilty for being anxious (or overly spiritual if you are one of those chill people who never seem to worry about things). Like most things in the sermon, Jesus is describing the ideal disciple who finds balance between having the basic necessities of life and one who is driven by the pursuit of wealth.

The problem Jesus addressed in Matthew 6:25-34 was excessive worry caused by misplaced loyalty. In Matthew 6:19-24 Jesus described the ideal disciple as “storing up treasure in heaven.” It is impossible to serve both God and money, and it is dangerous to be stingy with any wealth God has given to you. “Therefore,” Jesus begins in verse 25, “do not worry your physical needs in this life.”

The problem with wealth (treasures on earth) is that the quickly become an end to themselves rather than the means to an end. The danger of accumulating wealth is found in the Old Testament, Jewish Wisdom Literature, and virtually every culture which has stopped to consider the dangers of wealth.

Ecclesiastes 5:11 (ESV) When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes?

1 Baruch 3:18 those who schemed to get silver, and were anxious,  but there is no trace of their works?

“The more property, the more care.” Hillel, m. Aboth 2:7.

“Poor man wanna be rich, Rich man wanna be king, and a king ain’t satisfied, ‘til he rules everything.” Badlands, Bruce Springsteen

“It’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.” Mo Money Mo Problems, The Notorious B.I.G.

Jesus is not recommending his disciples not prepare for the future or take the time to prepare for the next day. “For the contemporary person who has grown tired of the constant Christian justification of possessions and who is suspicious about the emphasis on the supreme value of work, the text offers a glimpse of an alternative way of life” (Luz, Matthew 1-7, 348).

But when the basics of life consume the disciple with anxiety, then they are wholly distracted from what they ought to be seeking, the kingdom of God and the righteousness of God. For the people following Jesus in Galilee, it is likely they were living in poverty. They likely did worry about how they would feed their family or how they would pay their taxes.

Jesus has already said his disciples ought to be storing up treasures in heaven. If the disciple of Jesus doing that, then there is no need to be anxious about the basics of life. The verb “be anxious” (μεριμνάω) refers to being unduly concerned over things. The object of the worry is “your life.” This refers to every aspect of life, including the physical aspects Jesus mentions. Most importantly it includes the mental and spiritual processes crippled by worry. Jesus is saying the disciple should not be so anxious over things which God has already provided for.

Both Paul and Peter make similar warnings against worry (Phil 4:6-7 and 1 Peter 5:7). For Paul, worry is the opposite of contentment. Philippians 4:6-7 says the follower of Jesus should not worry about anything, but present those worries to God through prayer, with thanksgiving. Writing from a Roman prison in a situation which might very well end his life, Paul models the balance between worry and contentment.

McKnight points out the anxiety and agitation of Martha in Luke 10:41. She is so concerned about proper hospitality she has forgotten to sit at Jesus’s feet and be taught, as her sister Mary was (Sermon, 218). Some people are like Mary (not worried about anything but Jesus) and other are like Martha, concerned with all the things which need to be done they miss out on what Jesus wants to teach them. To have no care at all about personal needs is as foolish as being consumed with worry.

Jesus makes the shocking statement, at least by contemporary standards, that life is more than food and clothes (6:25) Jesus offers three illustrations of “earthly cares” (food, drink, and clothing). These are the basic necessities of life. For Jesus’s original listeners and the original readers of Matthew, basic daily needs were not guaranteed. The readers Matthew are Jewish Christians who will be soon undergoing persecution and their basic necessities are in jeopardy. Tomorrow they may not have a home, the next day they might not be able to afford food.

In the context of modern western life, these things seem minor since we have all our basic needs met. We are more likely to worry about making a car payment. Bur for the majority world, many do not know where their next meal is coming from, or do not have access to clean water, or may only own a few items of clothing. Have modern western Christians developed “misplaced loyalties” because they have so much wealth? I realize the average college student feels they live in poverty, but they have shelter and food (and often gain that freshman fifteen!) Yet people are anxious about everything! How does this teaching of Jesus work speak to the problem of worry and anxiousness even in the western world?

9 thoughts on “Do Not Be Anxious – Matthew 6:25

  1. This teaching of Jesus applies directly to the western world. Compared to the rest of the world, the United States is among some of the wealthiest people in the world. There are millions of people who live on less than a dollar a day and die of starvation. Westerners are blessed. No way around that fact. What is interesting is the fact that Jesus lived a life in basic poverty. His family was able to eat, have shelter and clothes, but otherwise had nothing else and little money. Simply knowing these facts can make the western church feel guilty, hypocritical and hopefully thankful and repentful. Jesus did not preach these words to shame necessarily, but rather to provide comfort in the reminder that God provides for his children. There should be no worry because one cannot worry and fully trust God at the same time. As Jesus speaks his long passage in Matthew 6:26-34, he is reminding his audience that God provides for all creation. God provides for the creation that is not made in his image, so how much more would he want to care and provide for his beloved children? Trusting God is the number one way to absolve anxiety, as God is the provider of all things.

    • This is very true. America is one the wealthiest places, yet we still need more. We have a place of shelter, food to eat, and clothes to wear, but we still need the best of the best and nothing is good enough for some people. God provides for us in every way and we need to thankful for all that we have.Trusting is a good way for us to control our anxiety. We can pray to him and spend alone time with him and give God our fears and anxiety. McKnight says, “Again, Jesus prohibits anxiety or worry” (McKnight, pg. 221).

  2. McKnight points out that the word here used for worry has multiple underlying descriptors such as agitation, disorder, and disturbance. Guelich defines the term as ” an anxious endeavor to secure ones needs.” In the
    women’s bathroom stall at Grace, there are changing signs that ask a different question every week. One of the questions this week was; “If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be.” The answer that was written down more than once was anxiety. I know that there are actual anxiety disorders and what not, but it puts into perspective that this is a prevalent issue among college students. My thought is that the anxiety is not about whether or not they will eat this month, but more anxiety about getting their assignments done well and turned in on time. Money may be a source of anxiety, but as you mentioned this is likely more in the form of school payments, phone payments, and car payments. When we are feeling disturbed and need for security in our lives, it is very difficult to get out of that state of mind as it seems to define our future. Whenever I am feeling anxious I always come back to the fact that at the end of the day there is still salvation in Christ, and if God has been faithful thus far in my life, why would He leave me now? I agree that most importantly we need to keep our mind on the kingdom of heaven as God has declared in 33 that God knows everything we need and if we seek His kingdom he will provide those things we need.

  3. Anxiety is a huge problem in today’s society. There are many things that surround us and cause us to be afraid. As a college student money is a huge concern for us. We have school, sports, friends and then somewhere in between all of that we need to find time for a job so that we have money. But we need to not be worrying about this. It is important to be aware of our needs, but we should not be consistently worry about them. “Deep in the heart of the biblical story is the conviction that the creator God provides” (McKnight, pg. 216). God will take care of our needs. We also need to remember that what we have is so much more than what some others have. We need to be thankful for what God has provided for us and trust that he will continue to provide and not worry. We are Gods disciples and he will take care of his disciples. God puts us in certain situations on purpose. “As Job teaches, sometimes God withholds blessings in order to test” (McKnight, pg. 216). He tests us and sees how much we can handle. He also wants us to go to him when we are struggling. We cannot do life without God.

  4. Anxiety is a huge issue for many people, especially college students. We have become so comfortable with our parents providing for us that when we are forced to provide for ourselves, it causes a lot of anxiety. I know that I just generalized “college students,” and it may not be true for everyone, but for a good majority, anxiety has a big effect on society. Often times, the things that people in the United States stress about are luxuries compared to the rest of the world. We have definitely misplaced our priorities in this world. We are here to further the Kingdom of God, not build the biggest kingdom we can while we are here. Changing your mindset on this world can help you to not be so anxious about everything.

    Jesus’s teachings clearly show that he did not want us to be anxious about anything. There are many verses in the Bible that talk about anxiety, a few of which you allude to in your post, and they all tell us to not be anxious or worry about the things of this world. McKnight talks about how money and basic necessities do matter, “but the kingdom matters even more” (p. 223). When our focus is on the Kingdom, rather than on our own luxuries, it takes a great deal of anxiety away from us. This is an important thing for Christians to keep in mind while they live on this temporary earth.

  5. Anxiety is such a hot topic right now in society. I think that a lot of it stems from self reliance. We do not trust what God says that he is going to provide for us so we must try and do it ourselves, but we are only human and can do so much. We would never be able to amount to that in which God can work and do in our lives. You also pointed out that our loyalty can lie in other places such as earthly treasures. It is true. It is hard for us to invest in something that we cannot tangibly see directly in front of us. So, we turn to investing in our earthly treasure. The ironic thing is that, if we are not in denial, we are fully aware that they are of no eternal value and will not save us in anyway or matter in the end of the grand scheme of things. We can link anxiety with what or who we are really serving. We need to be sure that we are serving God, and not our earthly possessions, circumstances, lives, or people. McKnight said it well when he said: “Anxiety is a barometer of one’s God: those with anxiety about “life” worship mammon, while those without anxiety worship the providing God” (McKnight, pg.217).

  6. It’s very hard to live a life stress and anxiety free. There is so much that drives us over the top and creates a life that is full of stress which makes us struggle with anger, sadness, etc. Jesus reminds us in the book of Matthew to not be anxious in life, especially not about tomorrow because there is enough to worry about aside from our future. Surrendering a life to Jesus Christ will make our reasons to worry go away because Jesus promises to take care of us. 365 times He tells us “Do not fear”. One for each day of the year – that tells me that it’s important for us not to worry about today, tomorrow and the rest of our future. Many different examples in the OT and NT give us lessons and encouragement to not worry about our future. Worry is hard for us to get rid of and is often portrayed in a way that allows us to give ourselves a reason to struggle. God has promised us a life safe in His arms because of our faith and new life in Him. Our obligation is not to anxiety and fear, but to hope and joy. All we must do is change our perspective. Jesus Christ has gives us new life to choose joy and to experience freedom through Himself, not more reasons to worry. Many accounts in the NT walks us through why we have no reasons to worry. First, Jesus conquered sin and death, and most importantly, Jesus resurrected us into new life with Him. A life that anxiety and fear do not have a right to. Our response is living a life confident in Jesus Christ and to choose hope and joy because of what He has done.

  7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).” How often have we heard this verse and yet we still worry about things. Yesterday I was talking with my Dad on the phone and we were talking about my college scholarships and loans. He was getting anxious about whether I would have enough money to comeback next semester. While that thought is serious I told I wasn’t going to worry about that right now I’m just gonna focus on today right now and worry about that when the time comes. I’m worried I might not have the resources to come back to college next semester, but I remembered this verse “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 (Matthew 6:25)?” Jesus was preaching that all things come from God and that we shouldn’t rely on ourselves but God. Because he will provide for us. “The Christian faith affirms that all life in the entire cosmos is from God and is sustained by God. God, then, is actively at work in all of life (McKnight pg.216).”

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