What Are You Worried About?
I have a pretty dry sense of humor—a little dark even. It’s part of how I cope with the disappointments of life. I try not to take myself too seriously. Like sometimes I describe what I do for a living as a professional Christian who tells people things that they’re gonna ignore—probably the worst way to say it. That’s funny to me. Might not be funny to you — maybe because you’re one of the people who’s not supposed to be ignoring me. I’m like that gym membership you pay for but barely use. I get extra points if I say something that I think is funny but you don’t know I’m joking—extra joke points, but I’m the only one keeping score.
God does have a sense of humor, though. Jesus said a lot of funny things—it’s just that most of them just get lost in translation. We’ll talk about a couple of them today. Humor is a powerful and divisive thing—If the politically correct police had their way, there wouldn’t be any such thing as comedy anymore. You really want to live in a world without humor? That sounds awful to me. I think we need to lighten up. Everyone’s taking everything way too serious these days—worried about everything.
If I had to blame my almost cynical, dark sense of humor on anything—I think I’d blame it on Mad Magazine. I grew up reading these things. Nothing was sacred. Nothing was off limits. Politics, religion, TV shows, Movies—even food. Here’s a list of McDonalds secret menu items according to Mad Magazine: A Sausage McMuffin with the kitchen sponge they used to wipe the griddle clean, a strawberry shake blended with Filet-o-fish tartar sauce called the Grimaces’s Lament, Something called the Chicken McFlurry featuring vanilla ice cream and chicken McNuggets with barbecue sauce drizzled on top. Mmm.
The philosophy of Mad magazine was that everything is stupid and life makes no sense, so you might as well laugh at it—to think critically and skeptically about whatever the man is telling us. The mascot was a red headed grinning imp named Alfred E. Neuman. It’s hard to say whether he’s supposed to know what’s going on and is judging the ignorance of the world or if he’s just another fool going along with all the lies he’s being told. His famous tagline is “What, me worry?” The implication is that he’s not worried—but maybe he should be. After 67 years, Mad magazine will print its final issue this August. So maybe he should have been a little more worried about the impact the internet would have on the publishing industry.
We’re continuing in our series looking at the Sermon on the Mount called “The Teaching of Jesus,” and today we’re gonna take a hard look at what He has to say about worrying.
Prayer: Father in heaven, open Your Word to us today. Show us what it means to trust You and seek You. Teach us how to be thankful for what You’ve given us. Help us to spend our time thinking about and doing the things You’ve given us to do instead of just worrying about what’s going to happen next—all those things that are completely out of our control. We pray in Jesus’ name, AMEN.
Last week we talked about how God gives us everything we have—not so we can hoard it and turn our hearts black with greed—but so we can worship Him and love other people. He tells us to spend our money and our time faithfully. Blessed to be a blessing and all that. This week Jesus continues building on that idea...
In Matthew 6:25–34 He says,
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:25–34
What are you worried about? So, what are the things we tend to worry about? Money and the future, bills, work and job security, school, our health, the health of people we love, relationships and what people think about us—struggles with friends and family members. It’s only natural to worry about all these things.
My mom was a big worrier, like to the point of seeing a psychiatrist about her anxiety and taking meds. I remember saying to her one time, “Mom, it doesn’t do any good to worry about things.” She said, “Well, there's nothing else I can do about it.” She was a “worry warrior.” Nothing else I can do about it. As if worrying was actually doing something.
You ever been a passenger in a car with a driver that you didn’t quite trust? They’re driving through traffic and you’re digging your fingernails into the dashboard. Every now and then you slam your foot on the invisible passenger side brake pedal — ever done that? I think worrying is like trying to stop a car with that nonexistent passenger side brake. You might feel like you’re doing something, but it’s not really helping anything. You’re just freaking yourself out. Probably everyone else, too.
All worry is rooted in worrying about the future. Jesus says not to worry about the future—not because there won’t be any trouble in the future, but because today’s got enough problems of its own. Things we could actually be doing something about.
He’s saying don’t worry, but He’s not saying, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Jesus isn’t some Norman Vincent Peal power of positive thinking your best life now if you only had enough faith Pollyanna. He’s just saying “today’s problems are enough for today.”
He’s wants us to live in the moment. There’s nothing easy about it, but that’s what He wants us to do. To be here. To not live in the past, angry and resentful for the things that happened to us before now. Or spending our time holding onto some kind of glory days so it ruins what we’re doing now. He doesn’t want us to live in guilt and shame over the things we’ve done to ourselves and other people in the past. He wants us to live in the present. We don’t really have any choice, there’s really only now, but we can ruin every moment of our life by either dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. This moment—the moment that we’re currently living in—it’s the only time we really have. That what Jesus is telling us here.
Worry is the opposite of faith. Instead of worrying, He wants us to trust God and figure out what He’s doing in our life. To not worry about all those things we spend so much time worrying about—but to trust Him and let it be. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Trust that God is in control—seek the reign of God—which means figure out what He wants you to do NOW. What He wants you to do today. This is God’s promise: That you’ll have everything you need, to do whatever it is you need to do—He’s gonna provide what you need to get it done today.
I said God has a sense of humor. I think I see evidence of God’s dark sense of humor in this text. Jesus has a funny way of teaching His disciples not to worry about everyday things like what to wear and what to eat.
We worry about what to wear because we think the right clothes will cover up our insecurities. The Mad Magazine mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, has splotchy freckles, protruding ears, ridiculous cheekbones, gapped teeth—and he doesn’t worry about it! He seems to be oblivious to his funny looks. He helped generations of adolescents get over themselves by laughing at the absurdities of vanity.
Purposeful Absurdity. Jesus asks the disciples if they’ve ever seen a bird planting and harvesting their food. It’s a funny image. Birds pushing a plow, putting up scarecrows to keep the other birds out of their garden. It’s purposeful absurdity. Then He talks about how flowers don’t read fashion magazines and design their own clothes—they don’t work in a sweatshop spinning fabrics for the spring lineup. These goofy images are meant to drive home the point that birds and flowers don’t worry about that stuff but God takes care of them anyway. There’s plenty of food for the birds and flowers are more beautiful than King Solomon in all his splendor.
And yet—here’s the dark part—they had all seen dead birds. They’d seen dried up withered flowers. If Jesus really wanted to convince them not to worry, He could have picked something a little less fragile—a little less temporary. Like, I don’t know, He could have said, “consider the mountains, how their permanent beauty lasts from age to age, even though they never worry about how they look or what to wear.” Or the stars and the heavens. But He chose birds. Here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow flowers. How’s that supposed to help us not worry? That’s why I think God has a dark sense of humor.
But then He asks them a rhetorical question, “Don’t you think you’re more valuable to God than a bird?” “Don’t you think you’re more important to Him than wildflowers?”
The answer is supposed to be yes. We’re not supposed to actually wonder if God might think birds and flowers are more important than people. God doesn’t work for the EPA.
So, because you’re more valuable to God than these things—don’t you think He’ll certainly take care of you? O you of little faith. It’s kinda lost in translation but Jesus is joking with them again, He’s teasing them by calling them “Little-Faiths.” It’s a made-up compound word—Like calling them “Man-Babies.” He’s saying they have faith, even if they’re just little-faiths—so maybe instead of running around worrying about what they’re gonna eat and drink? Instead of worrying about where their clothes are gonna come from.
Those are important things. Things people need to survive. They’re not just things they want, they’re not just luxuries. Human beings have an uncanny ability to confuse wants and needs. To turn necessities into luxuries and luxuries into necessities that we waste emotional time and energy worrying about.
Most of us don’t really need to worry about food and clothes. We live in wealth and comfort like the world has never known. Solomon was not only not as pretty as a flower, but in all his glory he never had it as good as you and me—he never sat in a La-Z-Boy recliner, in an air conditioned room, eating ice cream while looking for something to watch on Netflix. We have a lot to be thankful for. We live in comfort that kings and queens of the past couldn’t even imagine.
We have been given so much, so many material things—in the history of the world there’s never been anything like it. But instead of making us happy and worry-free, it’s pretty much wrecked us. As a culture, we’re not thankful and we torture ourselves with worry and anxiety. There’s also never been a time when people were more unhappy and medicated as they are now. It’s a problem.
The solution isn’t to worry more. It’s to seek the God who created everything. Seek Him and be thankful for everything. Jesus says, “O you little-faiths,” you worry like unbelievers. We’re gonna need to look to God and seek Him.
There might come a day when God takes some of these things away and we have to learn how to be thankful with a lot less—that won’t be easy for us. For us “Little-Faiths.” I mean, if we can’t learn how to trust God now when we have so much, how are we gonna be able to trust Him if some of those things are taken away? Our luxuries, our comfort, our health. We need to prepare our hearts so that, no matter what, we’ll be thankful and acknowledge that God is good and He provides generously for all our needs in this life and in the life to come. Preparing for those hard times, that’s what our faith is for.
Jesus didn’t tell us to stop worrying because there’s not gonna be things to worry about. There’s plenty to worry about. Bad stuff is gonna happen. He said, “In this world you’re gonna have trouble.” Birds are gonna die and flowers are gonna rot and be thrown in the fire. There’s gonna be war and famine and hurricanes—we’ve all either just been through something terrible, or we’re about to go through something terrible. That’s just life on planet earth. In this world there’s going to be trouble but Jesus said to be of good cheer—don’t worry—because I have overcome the world—and I will be with you. That’s a promise.
Hold onto that promise by faith.
Worry is the opposite of faith—we need to trust God and figure out what He’s doing in our life today. Don’t waste today worrying about tomorrow. God’s given you everything you need to accomplish what He has for you to do today. Your whole life has been leading up to this moment. You are perfectly trained and equipped to do exactly what God wants you to do right now.
Sometimes the only thing to do when we catch ourselves worrying about something is to recognize what we’re doing and stop. Repent. Confess our sin of worrying, and receive God’s forgiveness. Then just go on with our life.
What Jesus is talking about in this teaching is how to go on with our life. He invites us to remember that we’re living our life under the Father’s care. He gives us these fun little images of birds working in a garden and flowers making clothes to help us see that God’s gonna take care of us—that we’re more important to Him than birds and flowers. We need to trust Him. Not let our worries drive our heart—that’s what our faith and trust in God should be doing—our faith should drive our heart. Don’t let all those things we’re tempted to worry about become our god. We can’t serve two masters. Instead of worrying about all these things, trust that it’s all just the daily bread He told us to pray for. He’s gonna provide for you.
What Jesus did for us. Jesus didn’t just come to earth and tell us to stop it. Stop worrying about everything. He actually did something about the biggest problem we had. The thing we actually should be worried about. The fact that the God who feeds the birds and clothes the flowers is the same God that we’re gonna stand before some day to give an account of everything we’ve said and done. See, that would be terrifying and something to truly be worried about if it wasn’t for one glorious and amazing bit of information. Jesus took care of it for you. He made it okay. He hung there, in your place, on the cross. When you stand before God someday, you won’t have anything to worry about. When it comes to that big day in the end when you stand before God. Let that peace, which comes from what Christ has done for you fill your hearts—rule in your hearts. That’s what it means to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Because of Jesus, His righteousness is your righteousness. Receive it by faith.
Worry is the opposite of faith. Worry is the opposite of trusting what Jesus has promised you. What are the things you were worried about again? Money, health, relationships? All those “how comes” and “what ifs.” How things are gonna play out tomorrow. Next week. Next year. Worry is the opposite of faith. What, you worried that you’re gonna die someday? You are, but you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Jesus said worrying about it isn’t gonna add a single moment to your life, anyway. But He also promises to give you eternal life. Until then He promises to give you what you need every day so you can do whatever He’s called you to do in the here and now. Every time. You don’t need to worry. Just trust God and figure out what He’s got going on in your life today. Worry is the opposite of trust. Get your foot off that invisible passenger-side brake. Don’t waste today worrying about tomorrow. Be in this moment. Be here and now. Spend today being thankful for everything you’ve been given—spend every day seeking the kingdom of God, the reign of God. Do the things that you can do today. Walk by faith that tomorrow—even with all it’s trouble—will be beautiful, joyful, meaningful, full of hope. If you ever find yourself in a situation that’s not okay, then you know the story isn’t over yet. This is all going somewhere good. Hold onto that hope and keep walking by faith. Don’t worry. God has promised that He will certainly take care of you and give you everything you need because of Jesus. AMEN