Overcoming Worry and Anxiety
Are you wrestling with worry and anxiety these days? No doubt there’s plenty to worry about in this world; yet, in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes very clear that He does not want us to worry about life. (Matthew 6:25-34). In fact, He tells us three times in this passage, “Do not worry.” On the heels of His teaching about what He wants us to treasure in life, where to fix our eyes in life, and what or who we serve in life, Jesus teaches us how to overcome worry and anxiety.
What are you pursuing in life? What is your ambition in life? What are you aiming for in life? There are lots of things we may pursue in life…
Wealth/Possessions…to get or accumulate as much as we can.
Success/Achievement… to reach the highest level in our vocation or education.
Status/Recognition… to be lauded and applauded for our life’s work.
And, to be clear, there is nothing necessarily wrong with pursuing any of these things, except when these cultural ambitions trump, usurp or replace our Godly ambitions. Jesus commands us to: 33 …seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, Matthew 6:33a. In other words, make your primary ambition, your utmost pursuit, your aim in life, not cultural ambitions, but Godly ambitions… to know God, to honor Him, and to serve Him.
A lot of times, when this passage in Matthew 6:25-34 is taught, it isn’t taught in the context of the previous passage; but it’s really important to consider what Jesus is teaching here in relation to the alternatives He laid out for us regarding the treasures we store up (Godly or earthly), the condition of our sight (healthy or unhealthy) and the master we serve (Christ or culture).
This passage starts with these words, 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, Matthew 6:25a. Jesus is teaching, with a Godly perspective regarding treasures, sight and masters, we do not need to worry.” The implication is clear: When we’re consumed with culture, we’ll be filled with worry and anxiety. 32 For the pagans run after all these things, Matthew 6:32a
Worry is a problem for those who don’t yet believe, or for those who believe but have become distracted by culture - the pursuit of earthy treasures, darkness, money or any other idol. Culture can stress and overwhelm us in life. As He has throughout His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offers clarity about what He wants us to do and be as His followers. We,as Christ-Followers don’t pursue culture, we pursue Christ, His kingdom and His righteousness. When we do, life works; when we don’t, it doesn’t. When we’re pursuing Christ, His kingdom and His righteousness, we will have all we need in life!
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
Why does Jesus forbid worry?
Worry is Unproductive - It doesn’t add anything to our lives… 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27 In fact, worry, not only adds nothing to your life, it can cut your life short! Worry has all kinds of negative physical effects, including raising your blood pressure, causing headaches, ulcers, and making you not much fun to be around!
Worry is Unnecessary - Your heavenly Father already knows what you need. 32 …your heavenly Father knows that you need them. Matthew 6:32b. God says, “I’ve got this… don’t worry!”
Worry is Unworthy - To be preoccupied with our physical well-being, what we will drink and eat and wear, is a hopelessly unworthy endeavor for Christ-Followers. These are things that pagans may concern themselves with, but not Believers; yet companies spend big advertising dollars trying to keep us focused on these things.
What is Jesus not endorsing when He commands us: “Do not worry;” and how can we overcome worry and anxiety? For answers to these questions and much more, click here to listen to: Sermon on the Mount - Part 10 - Overcoming Worry and Anxiety.