This section of the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most famous. Three times in this short span of verses Jesus exhorts us “do not worry.” Dale Bruner calls this a “comforting command.” Jesus sees the human heart, knows the kind of world we live in, and understands with compassion our propensity to fret and fear the future. This is especially relevant in our own time when anxiety is higher than it has ever been, despite our mastery over much of creation in a way that the ancients could never have imagined. We are more in control than humans have ever been, yet more out of control when it comes to worry and fear.
How does Jesus counsel us? First, he reminds us that we have a good Father. He invites us to open our eyes and look at creation and observe the ways that God the Father is intimately involved in our lives. While we tend to believe that we are on our own and it’s up to us to secure our futures, Jesus points us to our place of dependence on a Father who knows our every need and promises to care for us.
Second, Jesus invites us to re-order our lives around his Kingdom. While he does not dismiss our physical and material concerns, he warns us of a life that is completely preoccupied with our own well being and advancement. The more consumed we are with ourselves, the more anxious we will be. Instead, Jesus exhorts us to seek first his Kingdom of righteousness, which means to be overwhelmingly preoccupied not with ourselves but with the priorities of God’s Kingdom.
In preparation for worship this week, try reading through the whole Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) in order to see this passage in its context of Jesus’ sermon. Do some journaling about what you worry the most about, and ask Jesus to meet you in worship.
Our weekly worship guide can downloaded here.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Throughout this series, we’ll be creating special Meditation Guides to help you reflect on each week’s question.
Download the meditation guide for this week’s question: Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?
John Ortberg, “Good News for Worriers,” sermon preached at Menlo Church, 2.18.18.
“Prozac Nation is Now the United States of Xanax,” NYTimes, 6.10.17
Tim Suttle, “Do Not Worry,” sermon preached at Redemption Church, 3.16.14
Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism (Portfolio, 2019).
Matthew Croasman, Let Me Ask You A Question (Upper Room, 2018).