Matthew 6:25-34 & Flourish to Wilt

Notice how Jesus deals with worry – He’s logical. Now if you know anyone that struggles with worry you know how insufficient logic is to battle anxiety. Statistics give no strength for the worrier. He only reasons, “I could be the one.” But Jesus isn’t simply logical, He is theo-logical.

Three times we are commanded not to worry in this text, and all three times Jesus introduces the command to worry with “therefore”. In light of what Jesus teaches, you are commanded not to worry.  His teaching should result in you not worrying. This knowledge should result in you not worrying. Jesus does not exhort you to pray for deliverance (you should, but this is not the primary way to deal with anxiety). Jesus does not tell you to seek an experience. Jesus tells you to think. The worrier may riposte that thinking is exactly what he has too much of. But when you worry, are you really thinking? Are you controlling your thoughts, or are your thoughts controlling you? Lloyd-Jones expresses this well when he writes,

I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this [the man in Ps. 42]; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you’….The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself.

Now why is thinking so crucial? Why does Jesus call us to think, and then abandon worry as a result? The answer lies in another question. What is Jesus calling us to think about? We are to consider the character of the Sovereign God, our Master and Lord, who is also our Heavenly Father.  If I lack anything it is not because He is unloving or incapable. God is to be my Treasure, my Vision, my Master, and my Ambition. Worry therefore is God-belittling, that is, blasphemous, as it doubts His providence, and idolatrous as it reveals what we fear and therefore what we love, value, and treasure.

Worry wars against faith; big worry, little faith, big faith, little worry (Matthew 6:30). You fight against worry by fighting for faith. It is true that we cannot make faith happen, it is a gift of God. But God does use means that we can avail ourselves of to increase faith, namely His Word (Romans 10:17) coupled with prayer (Psalm 119:18). Why does the Word increase faith? Because there God speaks to us of Himself. Our faith is not ethereal, it has an object – God. Our faith is in Jesus Christ and all that God is for us in Him. By thinking God’s own thoughts of Himself, given to us in Scripture, we gather wood for the fire. The Spirit sovereignly ignites faith in our chests using the logs of Scripture as fuel. Faith flourishes as it looks to Christ and all that God is for us in Him. Jesus here is directing our gaze to God, who  is our Father in Him (Ephesians 1:5) so that our faith might flourish and our worry wilt.

The theological bedrock that you are meant to stand firmly on in this text is not that you will never hunger, but that God always cares. In Christ He is your Father.

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