Proverbs 28:1 "The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion."
The Bible says that in the last days men will be fainting from fear (Luke 21:26). There's been a lot going on recently that a lot of the world is worried about, fear is definitely increasing.
There's a lot of temptation to dwell on "what ifs" and "what's going to happen" these days, for us, for our children, etc. But I was reminded how Jesus gave so much encouragement to His disciples not to worry, specifically in the last half of Matthew 6.
Jesus took a lot of time to emphasize: don't worry, don't worry, don't worry! 3 times He gave the command; in the first of that section (25), the last verse (34), and in the middle in verse 31. And amidst all of that, He gave many VERY SPECIFIC reasons not to worry.
I believe that a word from the Lord at the right time is like wings - it allows us to rise above the problems at hand, even without removing them. And when I read what Jesus said here in Matthew 6 verse by verse, there's whole truckload of encouragement in there that can help us to fly (spiritually) and rise above worry, if we meditate on what Jesus said and obey it.
1. Starting from verse 25, the first reason Jesus gave not to worry:
"Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"
In other words: The things we tend to worry about aren't what matter the most.
Jesus was saying, don't worry, because the things we tend to worry about are not the most important things. God wants us to have PERSPECTIVE, to see things like He sees them - to consider, what’s really most valuable? That's worth worrying about the most.
We need food and clothing to life, but LIFE itself is so much more than food and clothing! Food, clothing, a roof over our head, a job to provide money for all these things, - they're all just a means to help us keep living life, they're not what life itself is all about! Sometimes focusing on these things and being anxious about them can blind us to what's really important.
Life is more than any physical need or concern - our eternal life with God forever, fellowship with Him where we are like Him unhindered by any sin, our name is written in Heaven, God loves us - that's far more important than any physical conern. If we could see the vast difference in the value and importance of physical concerns versus spiritual ones like God sees it, then worry would fade away.
A small quarter can block be blocking our view of the sun if we hold it close enough! In the same way, real life is a lot more than the small things on this earth.
Why don't we need to worry about the things of this life? The first reason Jesus gave is because the things here - EVERYTHING WE CAN SEE - those aren't the things that will matter when we soon leave this earth.
All the material things in this life are like a Monopoly game. We can be like kids kicking and screaming for the little houses and fake money, and nice clothes so we can win the game - But pretty soon it's all going to be folded up and put away.
The rich, the poor, the good looking, the average looking, the strong, the young, the old - for every single person alive on earth today - one day death will make everyone equal with regard to earthly things. The poor soon will have exactly the same amount of money as the rich, the ugliest person will be just as good looking as the best looking Hollywood star, and we'll be left with what was really important, what life was really about: How close were we to the Lord (Matt 7:23)? Are we pure like Him (1 John 3:3)? What did we live for? Is the treasure that we laid up for all our decades on earth eternal lasting, or are we leaving it behind? (Matt 6:19-20)
So that's the first reason I see Jesus said not to worry - put things in perspective.
2. The second reason I see that Jesus gave is in verse 26:
"Your Heavenly Father feeds the birds" -
Don't worry because: "God is a good Heavenly Father. And not only that but He's YOUR Father!! And not only that but He's so caring, that He cares even for little birds!
I notice that Jesus used in passing here the phrase "Your Heavenly Father"
I used to look at the sermon on the mount as a lot of very high commands. But one time I wondered - how did Jesus encourage?
We've learned - encouragement and love is the main way God builds us up - the kindness of God leads us to repentance. Does that exist in the sermon on the mount?
But then I saw - Jesus gave the best encouragement, I'm sure none of those people ever heard from a preacher or pharisee or scribe before. The encouragement was: "God is your Heavenly Father."
We hear it so much, but I don't know if those people ever heard that before! I was blessed to imagine myself in the shoes of those people, hearing it for the first time.
Jesus was saying - "God isn't just some far off random God" He's your Dad!!! Even with all the high standards against sin that Jesus preached, Jesus was the greatest encourager. And I saw - that's how He did it - by emphasizing, God is your Dad.
By saying those three words "Your Heavenly Father", Jesus was saying much more. He was saying: "You're not alone. You're cared for. You have a Father, He will take care of you. You have eternal hope, your Father loves you not just now but forever!"
It's amazing to go through the sermon on the mount and see all the times Jesus used that phrase.
And then He said - this Heavenly Father is full of such love and mercy, that He cares even for birds!
There's an important reason why Jesus used such a picture of little birds: It means that He cares for every little detail of your life.
I was blessed by a paraphrase I heard of Matthew 10:29
Matthew 10:29 says "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father."
The paraphrase of it I heard was: "God attends the funeral of every sparrow."
Can you imagine the humility and love God has to pay attention and give care for, in a sense - attending the funeral of every single sparrow that passes away? Taking notice of every random bird that dies in the forest that no person ever has seen or ever will see?
I believe God is like that - nobody else may know or care for some little detail of your life, it's a hidden burden for you. But God is there, He shows up for it to help. Nobody else may show up, but God does.
And that’s a reason not to worry.
3. In the next verse (27) we can see reason not to worry #3:
"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?"
Jesus' third reason not to worry was: Worrying doesn't do anything to help any situation. Worrying is a waste of time.
This doesn't mean that we shouldn't be concerned about anything, or that we shouldn't plan for the future. Being concerned and planning is different from worry. We should be concerned and plan for the future. For example, if my child is lost in a store - I should definitely be concerned! And take action. Another example is, it's wise to save for the future, for our retirement, etc as much as we are able (one piece of advice that's helped me is to setup a plan where I can "set it and forget it", I can have auto payments to put away savings and I don't have to look at it, so it can free up my mind to think about more important things).
But worrying is different. There's no end to worrying, there's no 'set it and forget it.' Worrying will constantly check the bank account, fearing it may drop.
Worrying is a long lasting panic about tomorrow, that consumes my mind and sucks out my thoughts from what really matters today.
Worrying is an inward panic that lasts until the problem is over, with no hope - it could be days or it could be years on end.
Recently there were some decisions being made at my work that would be decided on that could effect my job. I was tempted to dwell on them and think a lot about "well if this happens, then I can do this, and if that happens, then this... what if that happens?" And I felt the Lord put on my heart - I don't need to think about that yet, nothing may happen! If it does then I can cross that bridge when I get there.
POWER TO FORGET
So I got peace and I felt God give me strength not to think about it anymore. The Lord gave me the strength to cast it out of my mind.
He can do that - He gives us the strength to cast things out of our mind - it's a great power of the Holy Spirit to help us do that - to choose to not think about things, not be consumed about them. I've seen how He helps me do that with the strength of His Spirit.
I heard a saying, probably by an old wise man, who said, "I've suffered many things in my life - most of which never happend" Because he spent so much time worrying - he experienced the suffering for all these things that never happened, just as if they happened! What a waste!
Worrying doesn't do anything for us, but distracts us from what's really important.
FEARING A PLANE CRASH
I was on an airplane flight once, and in mid-air the plane started making some really weird loud sound, something I've never heard, and people were wondering 'what is that?' I know there's no promise in the Bible that my plane won't crash. So my mind started thinking, "What's that sound...?"
I found comfort in this: JUST ASSUME THE BEST because God's a Dad that cares, I don't think God will allow me to get into a plane crash. And worrying about it wouldn't have done anything to help the plane not to crash! But let's say He did. There have been faithful Christians in plane crashes before. What if God lets my plane crash? I believe the comfort comes from His Word that He would turn that crash into such a good thing (eternally) that I'll look back after I die and say "Lord, your plan was perfect - I would choose the same thing." He does all things well (Mark 7:37).