Jesus Christ, on several occasions, advised His first-century disciples: “Don’t worry!”
As Christ’s disciples today, we, too, should heed this admonition. We all have to contend with problems and challenges, especially in trying to separate ourselves from the diabolical, Satan-influenced society that surrounds us. None of us are immune to the nagging worries, fears and concerns of this life (Luke 21:34-35).
Surely, no one had more pressures, demands, responsibilities, problems and confrontations to deal with than Jesus Christ did! If ever anyone had something to worry about, it was our Messiah. His entire life was a roller-coaster ride of exhilaration and hard work, testing and trials.
Consider: As an infant, Jesus topped wicked King Herod’s “hit list” (Matthew 2:16). Throughout boyhood and His teenage years, He had to keep Himself unspotted from the temptations and pitfalls of youth (Luke 2:40-52). Even after baptism, He had to meticulously avoid saying or preaching anything that His adversaries could use to entangle or otherwise destroy His ministry (Matthew 22:15). Yet He astonished them with His powerful, authoritative words (Mark 1:22).
At the end of it all, our sinless Savior died an agonizing death, the most unjust and cruel execution ever suffered, with the added bitterness of humiliation, betrayal, rejection and loneliness (Isaiah 53:3-4).
No one else has ever faced the razor’s edge that Christ endured. Yet through it all, Jesus Christ, the Pioneer of our salvation, set us a marvelous example of faith. He maintained full control of His emotions His whole life and never allowed worry to defeat Him! How did He do it? How can you and I overcome worry?
In His Sermon on the Mount, Christ enumerated several principles, or guidelines, for beating worry. Let’s notice what they are.
1) Decide not to worry. Jesus says: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25; New King James Version throughout).
Think about it. The advertising industry would like us to believe that if we don’t have a swimming pool in our backyard, a shiny new car, new clothes and a two-week vacation at the beach every year, we’re really missing out on life! However, those who succumb to the perceived need to “keep up with the Joneses,” and who get into debt so they may live “high on the hog,” are usually consumed by worry and wonder how they will afford to pay their monthly bills!
Happiness is not synonymous with riches. We ought to be thankful for what we have, rather than be anxious or worried about how we can get more. Here, Christ is helping put our values in perspective.
2) Discover your worth to God. Christ then says, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (verse 26).
In other words, What are you so worried about? If God is concerned about tiny birds, and even knows when a sparrow dies (Matthew 10:29), don’t you think He is concerned about us, His children? Of course He is!
3) Realize that worrying doesn’t help. Christ’s next comment on the topic of worry is a big question. “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6:27).
We are utterly incapable of adding even a single hour to our life. So, does worry change things? Christ says, in effect, “No.”
Many of the affairs we worry about are infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things. I remember worrying often about trivial matters during my junior high and high school years. When I would discuss them with my mother, she would sometimes ask, “Well, Eric, these problems seem hopeless right now, but will they really matter in 20 years?” To this day, I am thankful that Mom constantly encouraged me to see the big picture instead of being so focused on the insignificant.
4) Recognize that God knows our needs. Jesus continues: “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (verses 28-30).
Since God knows our needs and problems, what should we do with them? Simply talk to God about them! Apply Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Moreover, we should cast all our cares and anxieties on God (1 Peter 5:7). Although He already knows our needs before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8), He still wants us to ask for His help in tough situations.
5) Seek God’s Kingdom above all else. Christ’s next statement is one of the most meaningful verses in the Bible: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
We need to make that our number one goal, and God will look after the details of our lives. This principle is one of the surest cures for the anxiety, worry and tension that can afflict all of us.
I once heard of an Ambassador College student who was so eager to learn and apply the principle of Matthew 6:33 that he would set his alarm clock for 6:33 a.m. every day! Thus, upon rising from bed each morning he was immediately reminded of the overall goal every Christian should have—to qualify to reign with Christ in the Kingdom of God. He would promptly drop to his knees and put that goal into action by addressing Almighty God in prayer before going about anything else!
6) Concentrate on your problems a day at a time. Christ said: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (verse 34).
Here’s a final, practical, guideline from this passage: Prioritize. Take care of first things first. Handle the troubles that need immediate attention first; don’t be overly concerned about problems that might (or might not) crop up. In other words:
7) Exercise relaxed faith! Worrying about past or future concerns, which we have no control over, can give us ulcers, sap the vitality out of living, and drive us to an early grave. Worry shows lack of faith in God and keeps us from assuming responsibilities and developing holy, righteous character.
Numerous other biblical references cover the subject of worry, but the main point Christ wants us to remember from Matthew 6:25-34 is that our concerns are not really ours, but God’s. If we look to Him, He makes them His concerns, and He handles them for us! How futile, for us to try to handle God’s concerns on our own.
Armed with these collective principles from Christ’s inspired Sermon on the Mount, and with the understanding of the overview of God’s key of David vision that Mr. Gerald Flurry continually points us to, we can press on, growing in faith—and overcome worry!