“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25 ESV
Being completely transparent here, sometimes I get anxious. When I am in a store and suddenly there are so many people in the aisle that I cannot pass through I start to feel anxiety creep in. I get short of breath and my head starts to feel like a New York city freeway. I have to make a decision to either talk myself through it or leave my cart where it is and remove myself from the store altogether.
The anxiety I get is mild compared to how my daughter suffers . Her anxiety is a life – stopping fear that must be treated with medication and counseling. There are varying degrees of brain stimulated anxiety and this must be treated by specialized physicians in order that the sufferer can live a productive life. This is not the anxiety Jesus is talking about in Matthew 6:25; the worry that Jesus is addressing is worry by choice.
We are going to break down some of the worry that Jesus is talking about in Matthew. When I look at the temptations Jesus faced before He started His ministry in Matthew 4, there seems to be a premonition of the worries we would face. In verses 1 – 3
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
Satan knew that Jesus was hungry so his first temptation was for Jesus to eat. I can just hear him now, “Come on Jesus, You don’t have anything to eat. I know You’re worried about that. What in this world do You need? Ah, yes, let’s look at how blessed others are and then you can turn these stones into food and show them!” But Jesus had no need to worry, He knew that when He was in need, His Father would provide and His hunger was a temporary situation.
When we look at Jesus words in Matthew 6:25, he tells us to not be anxious, or worried, about what we will eat or drink. When He was tempted by His lack of food, Jesus responded with God’s Words in verse 4:
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Yes, Jesus was hungry, He was thirsty, and honestly, He probably didn’t really know where His next meal was coming from, or when. But He was not anxious, He knew His Father in heaven would provide what He needed because Jesus walked with God. We are to do the same.
In verses 5 – 6 Satan tried to get Jesus to worry about His health:
“Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You, and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.”
Bear with me in this very loose interpretation. “Hey, Jesus, why don’t you concentrate on your health, what your body can bear, and throw Yourself down to test and make sure God will take care of You.” Satan wants nothing less than to fill our minds with “self preservation” and “what ifs” so that we lose focus on God. If he tempted Jesus with this, you know he is going to tempt us. But again, Jesus used scripture to bring His mind back to God the Father and His provision:
“Jesus said to him, ‘Again, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
We are not to worry about our health. We are not to test God by our fears. Have you ever been in a group setting where the people are comparing with each other how much medication they are taking and/or the ailments they have? It’s almost as if they prepared ahead of time to outdo each other’s health issues. I know people who spend 90% of their time worrying about their health and writing it on social media to make sure the world is aware of how miserable they are. And their thoughts are always destructive: “What if I get high blood pressure?” “What if this mole is cancerous?” “What if it’s COVID and not just a cold?” What if………? Jesus said in Matthew 6:27:
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
We are going to have periods of illness in our bodies. And there are going to be times when these “What if” thoughts cross our minds. The mental quality of our lives depends on us. Now, I hear some of you saying that the quality of life is diminished if we have cancer, or asthma, or lupus, or any number of other diseases. But I’m talking about how we face living. I can’t change the fact that I have COPD and osteoporosis that is deteriorating my back. But I can exercise, eat right, and take my medications, use my inhaler and walker when needed, and smile as I do these things because God is giving me one more day to live for Him. One more day to be a testimony to my family about the goodness of God. I can only stress myself into heart failure by worrying about what tomorrow holds. And I refuse to let worry have my life.
I’m not saying that we should be pretentiously happy all the time. There are absolutely times when we are going to need others around us to help in times of illness and often we are not going to physically feel like smiling or even talking with people. We have to choose to accept where we are in life and be wise. We can play with our grandchildren, but we may need to rethink going snow boarding. I doubt that I ever go zip – lining again, but I have that experience to remember and smile. Accepting the life we have been given. Loving Jesus. Relying on God.
I guess I said all that to say this. Take an honest evaluation your life today, right this minute. Look at your finances, if they look meager and you are anxious about where the next dollar is coming from, pray for guidance, then redo, or start, a budget with what you have. I mentioned this to one lady and her response was, “How can you budget what you don’t have?” You would be surprised how far your money can go when you know where it is going. Dave Ramsey is a great teacher for those of us who need help with this.
My big one at this stage of life is my health so each day I ask myself, “How am I feeling today? What is the pain telling me? Am I breathing normal?” And after this, I plan my day. Maybe I can work my flowers for fall, or take a hike up a short trail to see the leaves, or go Jeepin’ so that I am sitting and not stressing my spine. But I am not going to go to Social Media and complain about the condition I happen to be in today. I mean, how can they help anyway? I petition God for what I need today and every day.
What are you anxious about today? Is your marriage on the rocks? Ask God to show you the way to resolve it. Are you facing a significant financial drop? Ask God how to manage what you have. Are you going through a major health issue? Seek peace, ask God to heal you either through His divine Hand or direct you to the physicians He has prepared for your condition. God will provide. He cares more for you than you care for yourself. He has all the answers. I am going to close with an acronym I came up with for one of the Bible study groups I am in. We were studying about worry and this is what worry means to me:
W – wasting
O – our
R – reasoning on
R – ridiculous
Y – yuck
Release your thoughts and let God have whatever you are anxious about today.