“Resolutions For A New Year, Part 2” Matthew 6:19-34 January 3, 2010
SI: A new year is an occasion for examination, recommitment to the Lord,
and resolutions to change and grow spiritually.
Last Sunday studied first part of passage—the same truth from another direction.
INTRO: I saw several news stories this past week about 2010 worries.
The usual suspects—unemployment, inflation, healthcare, energy, terrorism—
things to be anxious about.
Three times Jesus tells His disciples—Do not worry.
Do not worry about your life. Do not worry about what eat, drink, wear.
Do not worry about tomorrow.
Notice how Jesus begins His teaching about worry in verse 25—“Therefore”
Tells us that there is a logical connection between what going to say about worry
and what he said just before about storing up treasures on earth.
What is that connection?
“Storing up treasures on earth” means worshiping good things God has given you
instead of worshipping God Himself.
It’s not acquiring things—it’s idolizing things, putting your hope in them,
trusting them to give you what God alone can give.
Trusting your money, possessions, success to give you security, worth, identity.
When Jesus moves from the topic of storing up treasures on earth to worry,
connection is very logical.
Jesus is saying is that worry about the passing things of this life is just as
harmful as worshiping the passing things of this life.
Two aspects of the same spiritual condition—a preoccupation
with the passing things of this life that robs a Christian of his
joy, peace, and purpose.
Could look at this from the position of the Enemy.
Devil doesn’t care if you fall into the trap of worshiping your money
or fall into the trap of worrying about it—the end result is the same.
If your mind is preoccupied with these things, aren’t communing with Christ.
In one of David’s Psalms he says this about his walk with God:
“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.”
But that’s not true of Christian who is worrying.
He wakes up and his mind runs in circles through the watches of the night.
Worry about passing things makes you just as ineffective and unproductive
as worshiping them.
So Jesus warns disciples—Do not worry about you life.
Do no worry about what you will eat, drink, wear. Do not worry about tomorrow.
But Jesus does not stop with the negative—Do not worry.
Jesus says that your worry has to be replaced with something.
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
It’s almost as if Jesus is saying:
Do you want something to worry about?
I’ll give you something to worry about.
Be anxious about bringing every department of your life under my Lordship.
Your marriage, family, work, money, you thoughts, you affections—
examine every area and bring them into submission to me.
Be anxious for spreading the Gospel
To your children, relatives, colleagues, neighbors, friends.
Be anxious for the health and growth of Christ’s church around the world.
holy worry, this passionate seeking after
that will finally overcome petty worries over what going to eat, drink, or wear.
So that even in the midst of troubled times, when it is hard to sleep,
you are able to say:
“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
Hope you see how significant this is for the new year.
Nothing could be better for this coming year than to resolve to seek first
God’s kingdom and righteousness.
Nothing could be worse than being consumed with worry.
Let’s look at this teaching of Lord and Master more carefully—work out details.
Two headings. One negative and one positive.
1. Do not worry about your life.
2. Seek first the kingdom of God.
MP#1 Do not worry about your life.
What’s the last thing Jesus says before introducing subject of worry?
He says: “No one can serve two masters . . . can’t serve God and Money”
His point is that money can be an idol that masters people.
It promises you things if you serve it. It threatens you if you don’t have it.
As an idol it drives people and controls their thoughts.
So when Jesus turns to subject of worry, there is the same sense of mastery.
He’s saying that worry can grip a person just as powerfully as money can.
Worry can drive a person. It argues with you. It threatens. It bullies.
It’s a powerful and destructive spiritual force.
Maybe you have experienced this when you are trying to encourage a fellow
Christian who is in a troubling situation.
The person comes to you and says I’m worried about this problem, this situation.
Listen to him, consider it, get out you Bible and say.
You know the Lord is in control. Listen to this Bible verse.
You read them a wonderful verse. Maybe Psalm 121. Romans 8:28.
They respond by saying: “Yes, but . . .”
Yes, I know that’s true, but you don’t understand.
Then person lists reasons why these comforting words don’t amount to much.
Worry is a destructive spiritual force that argues against any relief
that God’s word and God’s people can give.
Sometimes it even leads people to that strange condition where it seems like
they don’t want to be relieved. Nothing you say comforts them.
Another thing worry does—maybe you have experienced in yourself.
If worry can’t present any real facts, makes up facts
It does so by transporting you into the future.
You imagine all kinds of scenarios that might occur—some very bizarre
And there are no solutions, mind just goes around and around,
always covering the same ground and finding no satisfying answers.
When this happens—drains mental and emotional, even physical energy.
The power of worry nothing compared to power of Word of God and Holy Spirit.
But don’t think worry is easily dealt with by some psychological tricks.
It’s a master. It enslaves.
Jesus goes on to say that you have to understand what causes it.
It’s caused by inadequate faith.
He says to his disciples: “O you of little faith.”
Not, O you of no faith. But you of little faith. He’s addressing believers.
Jesus is saying that a Christian can have saving faith but not apply it to daily life.
“Little faith” is faith that is limited to one sphere of life—salvation of your soul,
but it doesn’t extend to all of your life so you fall apart when troubles come.
A Christian with little faith can say with absolute conviction:
I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to forgive me of my sins.
I believe that Jesus Christ is preparing a place for me in heaven.
I believe that my soul is secure, nothing can snatch me from God’s grace.
But that same Christian worries when he’s faced with money problems,
or job problems, or relationship problems.
Because he has little faith. Faith has not extended to all of life.
Little faith leads to preoccupation with the needs of your body.
What will I eat? What will I drink? What will I wear?
There’s nothing wrong with bodily needs.
God created the body. He created needs of body.
Jesus Christ in his incarnation took on a real body with the needs of a body.
He had to be clothed and fed, even as the Son of God.
Jesus never taught that holiness comes from denying needs of body.
He taught us to pray: Give us this day our daily bread.
But preoccupation with needs of the body is wrong.
Jesus says—The pagans run after these things.
A pagan is a person without revelation from God.
A person with no divine revelation doesn’t know about God, soul, eternal life.
So this material existence all there is.
The needs of the body are of ultimate importance.
Jesus point is that when a Christian is preoccupied with needs of his body,
and his faith doesn’t include God’s promise to care for those needs,
then practically speaking, that Christian is no different from a pagan.
You’re living as if you don’t have a Father in heaven who takes care of every detail.
You’re living as if the sole purpose in life is to care for this body which will die.
Well, if little faith is the cause of worry, then greater faith is the cure.
Worry is cured by extending your faith in Christ to cover things worrying about.
In Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ commentary on this passage he has a fascinating definition
of faith. He says: I know this isn’t going to sound very spiritual.
But faith is thinking.
He goes on to explain it this way. Many people would say that faith is not thinking.
That it’s leaving behind your mind and reason.
But nothing could be farther from the biblical view of faith.
Let me show you how Jesus teaches this.
Jesus says to you—Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink.
Doesn’t stop there. “Look at the birds . . .”
We have some robins who come back every year to same nest.
Can see in from back porch. Add to it. Bring worms to the babies.
They are very busy and food is always provided.
Jesus says—Look at the birds, then think!
If God has created ways in nature for birds to be fed, isn’t He going
to do the same for you? Doesn’t God love you more than birds?
Aren’t you much more valuable than a bird?
You are tremendously valuable—made in God’s image.
Jesus says don’t worry about body, what you will wear.
Doesn’t stop there. “See how the lilies of the field grow.”
So you look—see beautiful. More beautiful than Solomon’s robes.
Jesus says—now think.
If God created beautiful flowers, last a few days, then gone forever,
won’t he take care of you? You are made for eternity.
Lloyd-Jones says that for a Christian, faith is thinking. Worry is not thinking.
Worry is being irrational. Letting circumstances control you.
Faith will not grow if you sit and expect it to happen, must discipline mind.
Take teachings and promises of God’s word, apply them to situation.
Take self in hand and say, Self, this is what God says.
I feel like panicking—but I’m not going to panic because Father is in heaven.
Martin Luther: “It is a great and abiding disgrace to us that in the Gospel a helpless sparrow
should become a theologian and preacher to the wisest of men.”
Charles Spurgeon: “Lovely lilies, how you rebuke our foolish nervousness.”
Perhaps someone here, facing crisis.
Feel like saying: If you knew what I was facing, this teaching about birds
and flowers is silly. It’s hollow. Doesn’t help my worry
Let me remind you what Jesus was facing when he preached these words:
He was facing the painful and shameful death on the cross.
He was facing something that was much worse than your greatest trouble.
My friends, this is good teaching.
It is reasonable to trust your heavenly Father’s love,
even in times of great trouble, because Father’s love is proved in death of Christ.
MP#2 Seek first his kingdom
And that brings us to the next big teaching of our Lord.
After giving this warning not to worry, Jesus gives us a positive command.
“But seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness.
The opposite of worry is not simply to quit worrying and have more faith—
It is to seek God’s Kingdom.
That means trying to bring every part of your life, every person and place
your life touches under the reign of Jesus Christ.
It is to seek God’s Righteousness.
That means trying your hardest to live an obedient, holy life.
With this command is a promise:
“and all these things will be given to you as well.”
All the needs of your body will be provided. What you will eat, drink and wear.
Like we said a moment ago, God cares about all of those things.
If Jesus had not included this command to seek kingdom and righteousness of God.
Disciples might have gotten some relief from worry for a while, but not full cure.
Because there is a sense in which you have to have something to worry about.
Every person needs something to set his heart and mind on and care for deeply.
You are made to need something to be concerned about and give yourself to.
The Big question is—What is that thing going to be?
What are you going to seek? Everybody is a seeker of something.
When it really comes down to it, there are just two choices.
Something temporal or something eternal.
You can devote yourself to what you are going to eat and drink and wear.
Or you can devote yourself to the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
One preacher said it this way:
What are your ambitions? Everyone has desires for things. A little boy wants to be cowboy or a firefighter. An adult man wants this job or this promotion or this home. But at the last there are only two ambitions, all the rest is but a variation on a theme. There is the ambition to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness and there is the ambition to seek this world and its rewards.
Search you hearts. What are your ambitions? Is it to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ in every way? Is it to live a holy life to the praise of your God and Savior? Is to demonstrate in various important ways that Christ is your Lord and Master and you love it that he is? Is it to have a powerful, persuasive witness to the unsaved? Is it to be a faithful churchman, serving the church because it is the apple of Christ’s eye? Is it to be a man or woman of prayer? Is it to be a loving husband, father, friend, whose attitude and conduct adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is it to live a warriors life, to live by faith in Christ a life of victory over the very temptations that the people of this world find impossible to resist? Is it to live so that everyone can see that you have your eye set on the world to come? Is it to be a person whose daily life is characterized by the love that God has poured out in your heart?
Are those your ambitions? Well, if they are, say so. Tell the Lord, tell yourself, remind yourself every day what your real ambitions are. And then look up. It can all be yours. It is amazing what a human being can become and what he can accomplish if only God will bless his ambition.
When I was in seminary, most of the students were my age, young,
recently out of college. But there were a few older men.
One of them had been a successful attorney.
He came to the conviction that he should go to seminary.
Had enough money saved to pay for seminary and put children through college.
So he quit his law practice and moved to St. Louis to begin seminary studies.
He became the janitor at a large PCA church in St. Louis.
And then, after he graduated he kept the janitor job because it gave him
time to serve as the unpaid director of a small, very focused missionary agency.
He recruits American pastors to go on short-term mission trips
to teach seminary classes in eastern Europe.
The church he serves in as a janitor provides him with office space for missionary
agency. He runs it on a shoestring and he and his wife live a very simply.
It’s a long way from the prestigious life as a high-priced attorney
to a janitor’s closet at a church. But he and his wife have lived it happily.
Isn’t that one of the glories of the Christian faith?
That so many good men and women through the ages have done the same thing.
They’ve left positions of wealth and comfort
and lived with cheerful indifference to worldly things.
Think of Lilias Trotter leaving the London society home of her parents and her
promising art career and going to Algeria to be a missionary to the Muslims.
William Bordon, heir of a family fortune, graduating from Yale with a heart
for China and leaving that fortune behind and dying far from home.
We don’t have time to even list the many others just like them.
Were any of these men and women distracted by worry about food and clothing,
about income and necessities of life? Not at all. They lived without worry.
And in so doing the forced unbelievers to see the power of faith in Christ.
I’m not saying that you must do the same thing.
I’m not saying that if you are really serious about seeking God’s kingdom
and righteousness that you have to give up your familiar life,
and go into full-time Gospel work or become missionary to China.
But what I am saying is that you must completely understand why some
Christians choose to do it. And you must absolutely agree with their decision.
And that you must carefully consider your own ways and be sure that the very same
motivation and the very same loyalty to the Lord is at work in your life.
And when Jesus prompts you to make changes and sacrifices, you do it gladly.
We live in a world given over to love of money and worry about money.
We live in a society that is obsessed with what we will eat and drink and wear.
Obsessed with having the right things and right experiences.
As a Christian you can’t be pulled into that or you will become an idolater and
a worrier. You’ll be ineffective and unproductive in the Christian life.
Make this your New Year’s resolution:
To seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Lots of your worries will disappear when that becomes your ambition.
Lots of money worries will disappear if your spending and saving and giving
reflects a heart set on God’s kingdom.
Lots of things this consumption crazed culture of ours tell you that you have
to have will lose appeal to you.
As a Christian you should be eager to expand your opportunities
and extend your influence—and for many that means money and wealth.
But not to boost your ego. Not to build your empire.
Not to spend it on your craving. Not to hoard it for your security.
But to bring glory to God and to Jesus Christ.
That is the true cure to worry, bringing all of life under Lordship of Christ.
Working for His glory.
Be open to the Lord this year as he challenges you in new ways
to seek his kingdom.