Pulled Apart In Worry?

Text: Matthew 6:24-34

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

The worry-free life!  We all want it.  We all talk about it.  And we all dream about it. 

We even see visions of the worry-free life on television commercials where people are relaxing on the beach while drinking pina coladas and eating food. 

But maybe your version of the worry-free life isn’t relaxing on the beach with food.  Perhaps your version of the worry-free life is having all your bills paid and enough money in the checkbook to buy whatever you might need. 

For some of you, your view of the worry-free life isn’t food or money, but instead, it is a clean bill of health.  For you, the worry-free life is to be free from health problems. 

Regardless of your version of the worry-free life, the fact remains, we all want it.  We all dream of it.  We all say to ourselves,

“If only this could happen… if only that could happen… then I wouldn’t have to worry.” 

Worry: isn’t it at the core of all of us?  That feeling of uneasiness?  Keep in mind, though, that anxious feelings are not always bad.  In the case of a tornado or a burning building, you should have anxiety.  You should want to run away to safety.  This kind of anxiety is good and healthy.  But what about the kind of worry that Jesus is talking about in our Gospel Reading from Matthew? 

The kind of worry that Jesus is talking about is the kind of worry that comes about when our thoughts become divided.  In other words, Jesus isn’t talking about the anxiety that comes from a burning building but the kind of worry that comes about when our thoughts are fixated on a bunch of different things at the same time.  For example, when our mind is grabbed into excessively thinking about something such as food and drink, while also thinking excessively about money and health, well… we become overwhelmed – we become worried.   

“Will I have enough to eat tomorrow?” 

“Do I have enough money set aside for a new car?”

“I hope the tests come back negative and I don’t have cancer.” 

As you can see, thinking about several things at the same time results in our mind being split into 3 or 4 different tracts.  And, when our mind and thoughts are divided and consumed with all of these things, we are mentally and sometimes physically pulled apart in worry.  When we fix our thoughts on food, shelter, money, cars, toys, pensions, health, friends, family, jobs, status, and so forth, our minds are pulled and stretched apart, which causes a great deal of worry.  No wonder why it is so easy for the modern man to be paralyzed in this life with worry.   

Dear friends, let us shoot straight.  We often want more money, more food, better health, and more toys because we covet.  And as you and I know, this is a sin.  Coveting is breaking the 9th and 10th Commandments.  However, there are often other times where we are trying to get more money, more food, better health, more toys, and so forth because we are trying to escape worry.

It works like this: we believe that if we have enough food or enough money that we will no longer have to let our mind be consumed with thinking about having enough food or having enough money.  We say to ourselves,

“If my pension is big enough, if my health is good enough, if I have a good enough job, then I won’t have to think about these things and my mind can – perhaps – be at rest.”

However, it simply does not work that way.  Accumulating more money doesn’t make one think less about money, but more money often creates more worry.  Furthermore, more stuff does not give a person fewer things to think about but often creates more things to think about. 

Dear friends, I don’t have to tell you that this kind of worry is bad for your health, and bluntly stated, it is sin.  That may be hard for us to hear, but it is true.  When our minds are consumed, fixated, divided, and overwhelmed with all of these temporal things, we are acting as if all of our lives depend on us having control over all these things, when we simply cannot.  Furthermore, excessive worry is a clear demonstration that we are near sided – that we forget that there is more to life than what is right before us.  When our thoughts are divided, and we are fussing over all sorts of things in our lives, it is evidence that we are not resting in faith but have a kind of tunnel vision that only focuses on the things of this world apart from the one who created this world. 

However, it need not be this way.  Dear friends, do not worry about your life. Yes, you do not need to worry about your life and all the things that divide your mind.  The reason why?  Because Jesus says,

“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

Indeed, this life is more than just food, and the body is more than clothing.  That is to say; it is easy to become so distracted and fixated on all of the things in life that you can begin to believe that this life is all that there is.  It is so very easy to become absorbed with concerns over food, clothing, status, money, and the like when in reality, you are only here in this life for a moment until you are taken from this vale of tears unto Jesus. 

Baptized Saints, there is a much bigger picture that you and I are a part of. That bigger picture is that your body and soul will live forever.  There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach.  There is more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your bodies.  Food and clothing are only for this life.  And your body and soul are worth much more than food and clothing.    

Think of the birds in the air, Jesus says.  The birds in the air are free and unrestricted.  They are not tied down or paralyzed with worry, but almost act carelessly because they are in the care of God.  And don’t you count far more to God than birds?  Yes, you do! 

When Jesus tells us not to worry about our life, though, we must keep in mind that He is not giving us an excuse to neglect our futures.  Furthermore, when Jesus tells us not to worry about food, shelter, jobs, and so forth He is not giving us an excuse to quit our jobs, stay in our pajamas, eat Cheetos, and watch reruns of Law & Order.  Remember those birds?  They do not worry; however, they still work.  They still gather food for themselves.  They still make nests.  They still fly away from predators.  They still fly to trees during storms.  And they still die.   However, they do all of this without paralyzing worry.  They do these things within the care of God. 

You see, when Jesus calls you not worry, He is neither giving an excuse for laziness nor telling you to neglect your bodily needs.  He is not telling you to throw money in the air, and He is surely not telling you to stuff your worry.  But instead, Jesus is telling you to relax, to take a deep breath. He is telling you to stop looking to the chaos of the world that tries to divide you into a thousand pieces.  He says, “Do no worry about your life,” because God the Father cares for you. 

Dear Baptized Saints, the one who gave you your body surely must be able to supply for your bodily needs. 

The one who has given you life surely must be able to sustain your lives. 

The one who overcame death surely must be able to overcome your death. 

The one who provides for the birds of the air is certainly able to provide for you, for you are more precious in His sight than a thousand birds in the air. 

Baptized Saints, live this life day by day, always remembering that this life is temporal.  Do not get worked up and divided over life’s challenges, but stay calm in Christ, knowing that whatever comes to you that the Lord is with you – in life and death.
Do not fear and do not worry when those dark days come to you, for they will.  The Lord will never leave you nor forsake you.  His grace, His mercy, and His peace are with you—with you today, tomorrow, and the next, for you are cemented to Him in baptism. 

Indeed, do not worry, you are more than food and clothes; you are more than the birds of the air.  You are a Christian – the one that Jesus died for and the one whom Christ will come to take unto Himself in glory someday. 

May your faith be strengthened this day, so that faith may chase away worry. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

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