Matthew 6:34, when we look at this verse, may we remember and keep in mind that our Lord wants us to enjoy this life. So this may counterbalance what the Lord told us to do or not to do in Matthew 6:34. But there are many pleasures that God has given us in this life. Think, for example, of the fact that God gave us taste buds. Why did he do that? Somebody might say that that is so we will eat the right things. And yet, they don’t work that way. What is bad for us is what tastes good and what is good for us is what tastes bad. So that theory doesn’t work. Why did God give us taste buds? Could I suggest that the reason for taste buds is that God wanted to give us pleasure in this life? He wants us to enjoy some of the things in this life.
If there is an enemy in our lives to pleasure and enjoyment, it would have to be worry. And as some translations have it here in verse 34, "being anxious." It is amazing how much we worry in this life, even when we know that it accomplishes nothing. We still keep on worrying.
I read a little poem that I guess summarizes the way most of us go through life. But it describes how futile it is to worry. It says:
Worry never climbed a hill,
Worry never paid a bill,
Worry never dried a tear,
Worry never calmed a fear.
Worry never fixed a heel,
Worry never cooked a meal,
Worry never composed a song to sing,
Actually, worry never did a worthwhile thing.
And we know that. In spite of that, we continue to worry about things and to be anxious about things in this life. I thought it would be interesting to look up the word "worry" in the dictionary. So I took the Webster’s Tenth Collegiate Dictionary, and before they give a definition of a word, they give the etymology, or the background and where the word came from. It was shocking to find out that our English word worry actually comes from the old German word wurgen, which means "to strangle." In fact, they give some examples here from ancient literature. For example, a terrier dog worrying a rat. That is, catching a rat and strangling and choking that rat to death. That is the way the word used to be used. When we think about worry, it is a case of us choking ourselves, strangling ourselves.
The modern definition for worry reads this way, "to afflict with mental distress and agitation, to make anxious." It goes on to say that worry implies an incessant goading or attacking that drives one to desperation. Most of us can identify with that particular definition.
There are all kinds of things to worry about. If we don’t have money, we worry about having money. Once we get money, we worry about keeping it. And then we worry about how we are going to spend it. We worry about our health. We worry about various other things in our lives, our economic situation. We worry about our jobs. We worry about life and we worry about death.
Did you know that politicians actually commission survey companies to find out what people are worrying about? Once they find out, they design their speeches to appeal to those worries. If people are shown to be worrying about pollution, then politicians will talk about how they are against pollution. If they are worried about drugs or racism, whatever it is, then they will design their approaches to the public based on those surveys.
It is interesting, in Western Civilization, we have made incredible progress in technology. When I look at those computer ads, and I see that you can get computers for the office and these computers have 6 gigabytes. That is incredible. It is hard to imagine the size of a gigabyte, and yet they have 6 gigabytes for a personal computer for the office. And yet, in spite of all that technology, science does not have a cure for worry.
And yet our Lord does. He addressed that subject in the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew, chapters five, six and seven. And here, just about in the middle of this sermon, chapter 6, verse 34, our Lord made a statement, which is in my opinion, easy to understand. Yet it is just about the hardest thing that He ever told us to do. Notice please, Matthew 6:34:
"So do not worry about tomorrow. For tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Let’s go back to verse 25 and notice the background leading up to verse 34. Notice please, how our Lord prepared us for this hardest of all commandments, by giving us these words beginning in verse 25:
"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life. As to what you will eat, or what you will drink, nor for your body as to what you will put on. Is life not more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow nor reap nor gather away into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow, they do not toil, nor do they spin, and yet I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today, and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will he not much more clothe you of little faith? Do not worry then, saying what will we eat or what will we drink or what will we wear for clothing? For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Notice there that the Lord gave a series of logical arguments leading up to verse 34. Back in verse 25, He told us correctly that life is more than just eating and drinking and putting on clothes. I guess there are some people who are caught up in eating only gourmet food and eating at the finest restaurants and maybe drinking only bottled water or other specialty drinks like that. The Lord said life is more than that. It’s more than the food that we eat or the water that we drink. It is more than just wearing clothes with designer labels on them and making sure the clothing is of the latest fashion. The Lord is saying that life is more than these things. Therefore, stop worrying about the food and what you drink and about the clothing.
Here’s an example in verse 26. And that is, God takes care of the birds of the air. We know that God has furnished these good tasting worms for the birds to eat. And he has even made us feel sorry for the birds. In fact, have you ever seen a hungry bird? I don’t know about your house, but we now have four bird feeders in our yard. There are no hungry birds on the East side of Crystal Lake anymore. Not only do we have four bird feeders that are kept busy every day, but we also have three nice comfy bird baths where they can clean themselves off. We have a birdhouse that they use as a motel and there is no reason for there to be a hungry, dirty homeless bird in Crystal Lake. There are plenty of places in our backyard where they can go to for help.
Have you ever known of a bird that committed suicide because the stock market crashed? Have you ever known of a bird that had ulcers because of worrying about the future? Have you ever known of a bird that died of a heart attack? The Lord is saying here that God loves the animals. God made the animals. He made them entertaining to us. He made them funny to watch, and instructive and educational. God is taking care of the animals.
The point, though, is not about the animals in verse 26. The point is, aren’t we worth a lot more than the animals? In other words, in the order of creation, which would rate closer to the top, mankind or birds? Well, mankind rates at the top, therefore, God takes care of the birds. He will also supply those needs that we have. It is as David said in Psalm 27:35, "I have been young and now I am old and yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or His descendants begging bread."
Notice in verse 27, the Lord goes on to another argument, and that is what good does it do to worry anyway? As he says here, who can worry himself into living longer? In other words, if we see death approaching, can we worry to the point that we will extend our lives an hour? Of course not. If a person is short and wants to be taller, can he worry to the point that he can grow an extra few inches? No, worry does not accomplish anything good like that.
In verses 28, 29 and 30, the Lord spoke of the lilies and the grass that grew in that part of the world. Just down the street from where we live, there is an abandoned lumberyard, and nobody is maintaining it. When you look into that old lumber yard, you see day lilies blooming there. Who takes care of them? Nobody except God. Nobody goes in there and trims around them. Nobody fertilizes or waters those day lilies. God is supplying what they need. They are beautiful to behold in that abandoned lumberyard. That is what the Lord is talking about here. The lilies and the grass of the field depend upon God for their sustenance.
In verses 31 and 32 we are told not to be like unbelievers, those out in the world. They are the ones who worry about having the best food and the best to drink and the best clothing to wear. Really, verse 33 identifies the only concern that we ought to have in this life. And that is putting God’s work first. That is what we ought to be devoted to. That is the direction our lives ought to be taking, putting the Kingdom of God first.
Then we come to verse 34. Based on all those arguments, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. As we look at verse 34, would you notice, please, that it is divided into two parts. In the first place, Jesus said do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will care for itself. Just for a moment, can you think of in your mind, as I think in mine, of all of the terrible things that might happen tomorrow? Think of the worst things that could possibly take place tomorrow. We might think of the fact that Russia has a lot of old missiles still in their silos. Some of those missiles are no longer in Russia’s control, but in the control of the Ukraine republic. There are lots of articles about how someone is accidentally going to launch one of those missiles. Suppose a missile gets launched and is pointed toward the United States. That would be a worst case scenario for what could happen tomorrow.
Maybe an asteroid could hit the Earth, just like in the movies. Maybe people around the world would suddenly lose faith in this paper money that the United States has printed and is circulating around the world. Once they lose faith in that paper, then the economy might collapse. That could happen tomorrow. Maybe the bubonic plague might get started in the United States tomorrow. Maybe it’s resistant to antibiotics and millions and millions of people will be killed. There are all kinds of "what ifs" for tomorrow. There are financial "what ifs". There are family "what ifs". What if there is trouble at church? What if there is trouble with the traffic tomorrow? What if there is a war that starts tomorrow? What if we are rejected by our friends tomorrow? What about being rejected by strangers? What about our enemies? What about the weather? What about schedules? What about on and on it goes, all of the "what ifs" that could take place tomorrow.
I am reminded of one lady who said, "I always feel bad even when I feel good, because when I feel good I know it will not be long until I feel bad again." A lot of people think along those lines. Let me read you something that Abraham Lincoln wrote many, many years ago about an experience he had in his younger years as a lawyer here in the state of Illinois. Mr. Lincoln wrote these words.
"Years ago when I was a young lawyer, and Illinois was barely settled, except along her southern border, I and other lawyers used to ride with the judge from County seat to County seat looking for business. Once after a long spell of rain had flooded the whole country, changing small streams into rivers, we often stopped by these streams and crossed them with great difficulty. And still ahead of us was the Fox River, which was the largest of all. And we could not help saying to each other that if these streams give us such trouble, how shall we cross the Fox River? Darkness fell before we reached the river. We all stopped at a log inn and resolved to spend the night there. Here we were right glad to fall in with the Methodist presiding elder of the circuit, Peter Cartwright, who rode this area in all weather. He knew the Fox River in all its ways and could tell us all about the Fox River. We all gathered around and asked him if he knew about the crossing of the Fox River. 'Oh, yes,' he replied, 'I know all about the Fox River. I have crossed it often and understand it well. But I have one fixed rule in regard to the Fox River. I never cross it until I reach it.'"
That is the message of our Lord in the first part of verse 34. If we are going to worry about things, let us at least not worry about tomorrow. God wants us to concentrate on today.
Well, somebody might say that if we aren’t supposed to worry about tomorrow, then is it a sin to plan for retirement? Does this mean we cannot put money aside to purchase something a few months from now and save for a goal and so forth? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. It means that we are not to worry about tomorrow. We are not to lie awake at night worrying about all the terrible things that might happen tomorrow. Things that might happen to our family tomorrow, to our country, to the planet, to the Lord’s church here in Crystal Lake. We are not to worry about tomorrow.
Let’s look at the second half of verse 34. Notice the Lord said, "Each day has enough trouble of its own." Our goal, therefore, is to deal with our problems, one day at a time. We are to make sure that we are doing the best today to take care of our families, to lead the right kind of life in front of our children. We are to look after the needs of our older parents. We are not to be consumed by the problems of today, but we are to try to work out the problems of this day and deal with this day only.
Two months ago, I ordered a book through the Crystal Lake library on an inter-library loan. I read a review about this in the Tribune newspaper, and it sounded like an interesting book to read. It is a book make up of suicide notes. It is entitled To Be Or Not To Be from Hamlet, in the works of Shakespeare. I thought it would be interesting to read this. Several years ago, a lady called me. She was going to commit suicide. I don’t know if I talked her out of it or not, but there never was an obituary notice in the paper the next few days that seemed to match her situation. I thought it might be good to read upon this to see if there is any pattern to people who are threatening to commit suicide.
So here is a book made up of actual notes left behind by those who have killed themselves. I started reading the book. I only made it about a third through the book, because all of the notes were the same. They all said basically the same thing, just in different words. They all said nobody likes me. My family hates me. They hate me at work. They hate me in my neighborhood. There is nothing good that is taking place in my life. Everybody is against me. And on and on like that where they had exaggerated how bad things were in their lives. They read basically the same through the rest of the book.
Really, isn’t suicide just worry that is taken to its logical conclusion? People become so burdened with their personal problems that they cannot deal with life on a day to day basis. God is not a part of their lives. They do not understand that the providence of God can help them to work things out and they end up, because of the extensive worry that they are doing, taking their own lives. As Christians, we ought not to behave that way. We understand, as Christians, what Paul meant in Romans 8:28, when he said, "We know that God causes all things to work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Therefore, Jesus says don’t worry about tomorrow. Concentrate on today. Try to deal with the situations that you face today without worry. But nevertheless, let us try to the resolve the problems of this day.
We understand that there are some problems of today that we can resolve. But we also understand that many times there are situations that we face where we cannot resolve those problems. Where we have to say, "Lord, I have done all that I can do. You will have to take over at this point and work out a solution." In Romans 8:28, we have the assurance that God will work out some kind of solution. In may not be the one that we thought should have been done, but it is going to be a solution that will be consistent with His will.
Let’s keep in mind that there are some things that God cannot change. When it comes to dealing with a person who has gone astray from the truth, God cannot make that person return to the Church. If that is what we are worried about, then even God cannot resolve that problem. God cannot destroy free will and freedom of choice. And so if that is the situation, then we certainly don’t need to worry about that anymore. The person has to make the decision himself or herself to return to the truth and to get their life straightened out again. But with God’s help, consistent with His will, He says He will work things out in your life for good. Therefore, Jesus is saying do not worry about tomorrow. Deal with life on a day to day basis and understand that God is with you, with us, and will help us through these problems.
What is really the source of worry? I think that basically worry gets back to the sin of pride. We think that we are so smart that we should we able to solve our problems by ourselves. And when we cannot do so, then we start worrying. So it's the sin of pride. We are so intelligent. We are so talented. We have money at our disposal. We have power. We have contacts with important people in this life and we are wise enough to deal with this problem. But it doesn’t work out that way and so we lie awake at night worrying about the situation.
The second part of verse 34 is telling us that we need to trust less in ourselves and more in God. The coins that are minted by the United States today all have a statement on there that we should take seriously, "In God we Trust." Do we believe that? If we truly believe that, then we will stop worrying about tomorrow. And concerning the problems of today, we will do the best we can to resolve them and turn them over to God for His providence and understand and believe that some good is going to come from even these problems.
We have a promise later in the statements of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He wants us to live a peaceful life. In John 14:27, the Apostles were so worried that Jesus was about to leave them. He was going to depart. He was going away. All of the worry, the turmoil, the anxiety in their hearts, Jesus said to the Apostles, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
As Christians we have the assurance from here in Matthew 6, from Romans 8:28, from John 14:27, and other scriptures, that we are to stop worrying. Deal with life on a day to day basis and turn these problems over to God and trust in Him, that He will help us through a solution that is consistent with His will.
I hope that this study will encourage all of us to worry less and be less anxious about the future. Next Sunday morning, the Lord willing, we will look at another passage that is extremely easy to understand, and yet extremely difficult to practice. So I hope you will be present at that time. The promises of God that we have gone over this morning apply only to Christians, not those who have not obeyed the Gospel. There are some here who have not yet been baptized into the Body of Christ. If you would like these promises of the providence of God to be carried out in your life, then you must be willing to be immersed in water for the forgiveness of your sins, be brought into the family of God, and you can trust in these promises also.