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 not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?—Matt. 6:25
For Christians to worry is to be disobedient and unfaithful to God. Nothing in our lives, internal or external, justifies our being anxious when God is our Master.
Worry is basically the sin of distrusting the promise and providence of God, and yet it is a sin Christians commit perhaps more frequently than any other. In the Greek, the tense of Jesus’ command includes the idea of stopping what is already being done. We are to stop worrying and never start again.
The English term worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle, or to choke. That’s exactly what worry does—it’s a type of mental and emotional strangulation that probably causes more mental and physical afflictions than any other single cause.
The substance of worry is nearly always extremely small compared to the size it forms in our minds and the damage it does in our lives. It’s been said that worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind that, when encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.
If worrying is a pattern in your life—stop now. In the days to follow you’ll learn why you should trust your Father and stop worrying.
|Would you categorize yourself as a worrier? If so, what do you think has driven you to choose the perceived relief of worry over the actual relief of trust in God? If not, what has tipped your heart in favor of less worry and more confidence and contentment?|
6:25 In this passage Jesus strikes at the tendency to center our lives around food and clothing, thus missing life’s real meaning. The problem is not so much what we eat and wear today, but what we shall eat and wear ten, twenty, or thirty years from now. Such worry about the future is sin because it denies the love, wisdom, and power of God. It denies the love of God by implying that He doesn’t care for us. It denies His wisdom by implying that He doesn’t know what He is doing. And it denies His power by implying that He isn’t able to provide for our needs.
This type of worry causes us to devote our finest energies to making sure we will have enough to live on. Then before we know it, our lives have passed, and we have missed the central purpose for which we were made. God did not create us in His image with no higher destiny than that we should consume food. We are here to love, worship, and serve Him and to represent His interests on earth. Our bodies are intended to be our servants, not our masters.
25. Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious about your life, what you are going to eat or what you are going to drink, nor about your body, what you are going to wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
The word “Therefore” shows the connection with the preceding. On the basis of what has gone before and in connection with what follows, the meaning is probably this: Since transitory earthly treasures do not satisfy, and setting the heart on them implies forfeiting the enduring pleasures of heaven (verses 19–21), and since the yearning for such earthly riches blurs mental and moral vision (verses 22, 23), and finally, because a choice must be made between God and Mammon (verse 24), do not continue to set your heart on the latter, that is, on earthly things, such as food and drink, to keep alive, or on clothes, to keep dressed. After all, it is your heavenly Father who gave you your life and your body and will sustain them. He who has provided the greater, namely, life and body, will he not also furnish the lesser, namely, food, drink, and clothes? Is not life more important than food, and the body than clothes? Do not, then, confuse priorities!
What we have here, therefore, is an argument from the greater to the lesser, somewhat on the order of Rom. 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also graciously give us all things?”
“Do not be anxious,” says Jesus. Since the present imperative is used here, the meaning seems to be, “Do not have this bad habit.” It may, however, also mean, “If you have already fallen into it, then break this habit: stop being anxious.” Compare with verse 31, where the exhortation is, “Do not become anxious.” The word used in the original for being anxious means being distracted, as was, for example, Martha, whose attention was divided to such an extent that she, for a while, forgot about “the one thing needful” (Luke 10:38–42; note verse 41, “you are anxious and troubled about many things”).
Worry is Unfaithful Because Of Our Master
For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? (6:25)
For this reason refers back to the previous verse, in which Jesus declares that a Christian’s only Master is God. He is therefore saying, “Because God is your Master, I say to you, do not be anxious.” A bondslave’s only responsibility is to his master, and for believers to worry is to be disobedient and unfaithful to their Master, who is God. For Christians, worry and anxiety are forbidden, foolish, and sinful.
In the Greek, the command do not be anxious includes the idea of stopping what is already being done. In other words, we are to stop worrying and never start it again. For your life makes the command all-inclusive. Psuchē (life) is a comprehensive term that encompasses all of a person’s being-physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Jesus is referring to life in its fullest possible sense. Absolutely nothing in any aspect of our lives, internal or external, justifies our being anxious when we have the Master we do.
Worry is the sin of distrusting the promise and providence of God, and yet it is a sin that Christians commit perhaps more frequently than any other. The English term worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle, or choke. That is exactly what worry does; it is a kind of mental and emotional strangulation, which probably causes more mental and physical afflictions than any other single cause.
It has been reported that a dense fog extensive enough to cover seven city blocks a hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water-divided into sixty thousand million droplets. In the right form, a few gallons of water can cripple a large city.
In a similar way, the substance of worry is nearly always extremely small compared to the size it forms in our minds and the damage it does in our lives. Someone has said, “Worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind, which, if encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.”
Worry is the opposite of contentment, which should be a believer’s normal and consistent state of mind. Every believer should be able to say with Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Phil. 4:11–12; cf. 1 Tim. 6:6–8).
A Christian’s contentment is found in God, and only in God-in His ownership, control, and provision of everything we possess and will ever need. First, God owns everything, including the entire universe. David proclaimed, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Ps. 24: 1). He also said, “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth” (1 Chron. 29:11).
Everything we now have belongs to the Lord, and everything we will ever have belongs to Him. Why, then, do we worry about His taking from us what really belongs to Him?
One day when he was away from home someone came running up to John Wesley saying, “Your house has burned down! Your house has burned down!” To which Wesley replied, “No it hasn’t, because I don’t own a house. The one I have been living in belongs to the Lord, and if it has burned down, that is one less responsibility for me to worry about.”
Second, a Christian should be content because God controls everything. Again David gives us the right perspective: “Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone” (1 Chron. 29:12). Daniel declared, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding” (Dan. 2:20–21).
Those were not idle words for Daniel. The events of Daniel 2 and 6 were separated by many years. When the jealous commissioners and satraps tricked King Darius into ordering Daniel thrown into the den of lions, it was the king, not Daniel, who was worried. “Slept fled from” the king during the night, but Daniel apparently slept soundly next to the lions, whose mouths had been closed by an angel (6:18–23).
Third, believers are to be content because the Lord provides everything. The supreme owner and controller is also the supreme provider-as indicated in one of His ancient names, Jehovah-Jireh, which means “the Lord who provides.” That is the name Abraham ascribed to God when He provided a lamb to be sacrificed in place of Isaac (Gen. 22:14). If Abraham, with his limited knowledge of God, could be so trusting and content, how much more should we who know Christ and who have His whole written Word? As the apostle assures us, “God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
The needs that Jesus mentions here are the most basic-what we eat, what we drink, and what we put on. Those are things that every person in every age has needed; but because most western Christians have them in such abundance, they are not often worried about.
Throughout Bible times, however, food and water could seldom be taken for granted. When there was little snow in the mountains there was little water in the rivers, and inadequate rainfall was frequent. Shortage of water naturally brought shortage of food, which seriously affected the whole economy and made clothes harder to buy Yet Jesus said, do not be anxious for any of those things.
Those things are important, and the Lord knows and cares about our need of them, as Jesus goes on to explain. But, He asks rhetorically, Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? All three of those necessities pertain to the body, and Jesus says that the fullness of life is more than merely taking care of the body.
Yet taking care of the body has always been a common obsession with men. Even when we are not starving or thirsty or naked, we still give an inordinate amount of attention to our bodies. We pamper the body, decorate it, exercise it, protect it from disease and pain, build it up, slender it down, drape it with jewelry, keep it warm or keep it cool, train it to work and to play, help it get to sleep, and a hundred other things to serve and satisfy our bodies.
Even as Christians we are sometimes caught up in the world’s idea that we live because of our bodies. And since we think we live because of our bodies, we live for our bodies. We know better, of course, but that is the way we often act. Our bodies in themselves are not the source of anything. They do not give us life but are given life by God, who is the source of all life-spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical.
Therefore, whether the Lord gives us more or gives us less of anything, it all belongs to Him, as owner, controller, and provider. It is our responsibility to thank Him for what He gives and to use it wisely and unselfishly for as long as He entrusts us with it.
25 “Therefore,” in the light of the alternatives set out (vv. 19–24) and assuming his disciples will make the right choices, Jesus goes on to prohibit worry. The KJV’s “Take no thought” is deceptive in modern English, for Jesus himself demands that we think even about birds and flowers (vv. 26–30). “Do not worry” can be falsely absolutized by neglecting the limitations the context imposes and the curses on carelessness, apathy, indifference, laziness, and self-indulgence expressed elsewhere (cf. Carson, Sermon on the Mount, 82–86; Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 165–68). The point is not to worry about the physical necessities, let alone the luxuries implied in the preceding verses, because such fretting suggests that our entire existence focuses on and is limited to such things. The argument is a fortiori (“how much more”) and not (contra Hill) a minori ad maius (“from the lesser to the greater”) but the reverse: if God has given us life and a body, both admittedly more important than food and clothing, will he not also give us the latter? Therefore fretting about such things betrays the loss of faith and the perversion of more valuable commitments (cf. Lk 10:41–42; Heb 13:5–6).
 MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 168). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1226). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 348–349). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 419–421). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 214). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.