This is my the 11th message in the covid-19 series. We are going through something that none of us have ever experience before and I’m trying to encourage the Church as we go through this. I started this series when we got hit with the plandemic. People are anxious today with all that is going on during this covid-19 event. They are anxious about getting the virus. Just look at all the people wearing masks. The Surgeon General of the U.S. Jerome Adams says, “Masks increase virus risk.” People are anxious about a second wave of the virus. People are worried about going to the doctor or hospital. Cancer screenings are down 90%. People are worried about forced vaccines. People are worried about the economy, their job, their retirement. People are anxious about the government taking away our liberties.
This is why I have been sharing things with you about the Qanon movement, because what is happening in this movement is very encouraging. The Qanon movement is not a political movement per say, it is a tool to educate people on truth, the way things really are. I see it as a worldwide movement for truth and justice. Is that not something that believers can get behind? As image bearers we should be all about Justice. Our God is just and we are to be imitators of God. I believe that God is working in our country and around the world to bring about truth and justice. If you love truth and justice, this movement will encourage you.
For our study this morning let’s look at a text in Matthew 6 where Yeshua tells believers, “Do not be anxious.” How many of you will admit that you have had some anxiety over this covid-19 event? I have had some anxiety about government overreach.
The emphasis of Matthew 6:25-34 is on the subject of anxiety or worry. Three times in these verses, Christ gives the admonition, "Do not be anxious." As I said during this covid-19 event our society is characterized by worry and anxiety. Much of which could be cleared up by just turning off the LSM. So, Yeshua's words in this text are very practical to us today:
“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
For those who are God's children by faith in His Son, Yeshua says, "You are not to worry and be anxious." We have the great privilege to be able to live worry-free lives, unaffected by the pressures that bring anxiety to unbelievers. This is possible because we have a God who has guaranteed our provision. Therefore, we do not have anything to worry about regarding our needs. They have all been cared for by God.
Yeshua said, "Do not be anxious"—this is a present imperative with the negative, a command forbidding anxiety about food and clothing. The command can mean that they must stop worrying if it is already happening. The word "anxiety" is from the Greek word merimnao, which means: "to be anxious about, to worry, be concerned for." We are all commanded not to worry about anything. Look at what Paul told the Philippians:
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 ESV
"Do not be anxious about anything"—the Greek construction forbids the continuance of an action already habitually going on. The word "anything" is the Greek word medeis, [may-dace] it literally means: "not even one thing." Here Paul tells the Philippians not to be anxious - merimnao. This verb is the same one used by Yeshua in the Gospels. What is forbidden in the gospels and in Philippians 4 is anxious care for one's self and one's own interest.
The word "merimnao," is also translated as "anxious" in:
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, Luke 10:41 ESV
Yeshua was not telling Martha that she should not serve, but her anxiety was distracting her heart from serving in an acceptable way. She was overburdened and troubled about serving as though everything depended on her.
This word, "merimnao," is translated, "care" in:
and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:31-32 ESV
Over and over Paul tells the believers that he doesn't want them to be anxious.
Merimnao, anxiety, care, or concern can be used negatively meaning to be anxious or distraught over something; worry, in a negative sense, as we have seen in these verses. But it can be used positively for proper care and concern; worry in a good sense, (if you can use the word "worry" in a good sense).
I hope in the Lord Yeshua to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned [merimnao] for your welfare. Philippians 2:19-20 ESV
Timothy was Paul's son in the faith, and Timothy was a disciple of Yeshua. Tim was just like Paul, he had a love for other believers. He said that Timothy would "be genuinely concerned [merimnao] for your welfare." The word "genuinely" is the Greek word gnesios, it means legitimate or genuinely. He has the heart of a true disciple. He was genuinely concerned for the Philippians. The word "concerned" is the Greek word merimnao, which means: "to be anxious, worried, or burdened in a serious way; to be troubled with care". Paul uses this same word in:
And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 2 Corinthians 11:28 ESV
Paul uses the noun form here. The care of the church was shared by Paul and Timothy. When you look at the context of this verse, it makes Paul's care for the churches quite amazing. Paul was anxious, worried, or burdened in a serious way, he was troubled with care for all the churches.
Timothy and Paul's anxiety was for the spiritual welfare of others, and that is biblical anxiety. Listen, believers, what we are forbidden to do in our own lives, be anxious, we are commanded to do for others:
that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 1 Corinthians 12:25 ESV
This verse states our Christian responsibility for other believers, using this identical verb, merimnao. Christian love is seen in being anxious, deeply concerned for others. It's amazing how often we see this reversed. We find ourselves guilty of anxiety over our own interest to the exclusion of the well being of others.
Well, it should be obvious that Yeshua is using the word merimnao in a negative sense. He is commanding us not to worry about our needs.
Listen to what Arthur Pink wrote about anxiety:
Not only is such anxiety wrong, but it is a sin of great gravity. It is not simply a constitutional infirmity which we may excuse, a mere trifle we need not be concerned about, but rather is it a foul iniquity from which we should seek cleansing. To be fearful about the supply of future needs, to be worried that we may yet be left to suffer the lack of temporal necessities, is to be guilty of wicked unbelief. It calls into question the goodness and care of our Creator. It manifests a lack of faith in His wise and gracious providence. And if we be Christians, it betrays doubt of our Father's love. And surely these are evils of the deepest dye.
Anxiety is unbelief! It is a failure to trust God to care for us. The way you deal with anxiety and stress is a reflection of your view of God. If you know God, if you know that He is omnipresent, omniscience, all powerful; and if you understand that He is on your side, why would you ever worry? He's Sovereign, and He's working everything out for your good and His glory. Everything that happens is for His eternal purpose. When you trust in him in all of your circumstances, you will not have anxiety. Your faith in God is the bottom line in your ability to deal with anxiety.
A knowledge of God is essential in the matter of peace and tranquility. The Bible is the revelation of God, so that in knowing Scripture, we come to know God. And in knowing God, we come to trust in Him. It's hard to trust someone that you really don't know. You can have peace in any situation if you know your God and understand His sovereign control and His sovereign purpose.
When Daniel was thrown into the lions' den, his theology, his knowledge of God gave him great peace. When he was in the lions' den, he was in utterly terrible circumstances. I can't imagine anything worse than being dropped into a pit with a bunch of hungry lions. But Daniel was at ease, relaxed; he probably laid down on a nice big furry lion and went to sleep. Meanwhile, the king, who was in perfect circumstances living in the palace in Babylon as the greatest monarch in the world, couldn't eat, sleep, drink, or be entertained. Why? Daniel knew that in everything God was in total control. The king was a wreck because he had no sense of a divine controller, and the circumstances were beyond his control.
One of the major problems in the church today in the matter of anxiety is the wide acceptance of Armenian theology. Calvinism and Armenianism are at opposite ends of the theological spectrum. Traditional Calvinism, or Reformed theology, says "God is Sovereign." To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that he is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and on earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart his purpose, or resist his will:
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Psalms 115:3 ESV
Armenianism says, in effect, that man is sovereign, and God is hopeful and helpful. You have got to find it in yourself to come to Christ, you've got to find it in yourself to stay with Christ. You've got to find it in yourself to accomplish your spiritual goals with the knowledge that God is hopeful and helpful that you will, because He would like to see you in heaven if you could work it out. That view comes from a misinterpretation of:
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV
The Armenians take this verse to mean that God wants everyone to go to heaven, but he obviously isn't strong enough to work it out because everyone doesn't go to heaven. Believe me, if God didn't want anyone to perish, then no one would perish. God is Sovereign, and he gets what he wants - "Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases ". "Not wishing that any should perish"—the antecedent of "any" is the beloved of verse 1.
The Armenians also teach that God is helpful and given the right conditions on your part, he'll come along and give you some assistance. So, man comes to faith in Christ, and he says, "It was pretty smart of me to trust Christ." Who gets the glory for his salvation? He does! His confidence in himself is never shattered, he feels that he gained his salvation, and he could lose it. All his trust is really in himself and not God. So, God is not sovereign, He's hopeful and helpful. This is a man exalting theology that denies the truth of Scripture.
The Armenian doesn't understand the sovereignty of God, so he doesn't understand that every circumstance in his life is under the total control of God. Peace of mind comes from trusting in God, not in yourself.
C. H. Spurgeon said, "If you believe that everything turns on the free will of man, you will naturally have man as the principle figure in your landscape." This can really cause anxiety, because man is fickle, man is weak, so you have every reason to worry. Armenian theology is man centered and the cause of many of the churches' problems. The bottom line is that if you're trusting yourself, you're not trusting God. And if you're trusting in yourself, you are going to end up worrying, you'll be anxious and unstable.
“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
When the Lord says, "Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" he is using what is called an a fortiori argument. It is an inference drawn from the greater to the lesser: an argument frequently made use of in Scripture. An a fortiori argument is one with the form, "If this, than how much more that?" The argument may be stated thus: the life is greatly superior to food, and the body to raiment, and since the Creator has bestowed the former, therefore much more will He provide the latter for their sustenance.
The a fortiori argument here is only implicit, because the form isn't present; but the thought seems to be something like this: He who provides us with life, with bodies, how much more will he also provide things of lesser importance like food and clothes! Therefore, the follower of Christ is not to worry about such needs, as basic as they are.
If God has given you life, will He not feed you? If He has given you a body, will He not clothe you? These are the questions Yeshua is asking each one of us. The reasoning of Yeshua here is that if God has provided the greater, will He not provide the lesser? Look what we read in:
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Luke 12:25-26 ESV
If you can't do the least thing to provide for yourself, why don't you trust God for all your provisions? "Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" If God has provided for the greater necessities, why can't we trust Him for the little things?
It is an argument based upon the infinite goodness and unchanging faithfulness of our Creator: God, Himself, has given us life and a body, and He does not stop half-way in His bestowments: when He implants life, He also grants all that is needful for its sustenance.
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26 ESV
The manner in which the birds of the air are provided with their food is a most convincing and unbelief-rebuking demonstration of the superintendence of God over this world.
Birds have no planting program, no harvesting program, and they have no buildings in which they store up their goods. Those things are not characteristic of birds, "and yet your heavenly Father feeds them". In spite of no program for storing up food, birds still eat. God has arranged that their food is provided even though they do not go through all the processes needed for storing food. They are not worried about too much rain which will hinder them from getting their crops in the ground this year. That concept does not bother them a bit. But God feeds them.
This almost seems like an overly simple illustration. But what is the application? "Are you not of more value than they?" Are you not more important than a bird? The simplicity of it almost goes beyond us. So, let me ask you, "Does not God provide for the birds?" "Yes", you reply. "Are you more important than the birds?" "Yes". Then the concluding question, "Do you think God will provide for you?"
We could use the same illustration with our own children, because they are important to us just as we are important to God. I feed my dog every day. Do you think my children are more important than my dog? Do you think I will feed my dog and let my children go hungry? Are we not the children of God? Does God not love His children? Do you think God is going to feed the birds and let His children go hungry?
Please note here that it is God who feeds the birds. It is not that the birds take care of themselves, scrounging for food. God feeds them. Scripture affirms this over and over:
Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food? Job 38:41 ESV
Here we see God's special and particular providence. The dictates of reason would lead us to conclude that those creatures which are incapable of making provision for themselves and laying up store in summertime against the winter would starve during the cold weather when the ground is covered with snow; yet they don't! God meets the needs of His feathered creatures and feeds them in the dead of winter! Oh, how this should shame us for doubting His providence, how it rebukes our wicked distrust of His care, how it exposes the groundlessness and wickedness of our unbelief!
The next illustration is to help us understand that worry is pointless:
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:27 ESV
The question here is: Can you lengthen your life at all by worry? Medical experts tell us today that worry probably shortens our lives and causes all kinds of physical problems to develop. The basic statement Yeshua is making is that worry accomplishes nothing.
Anxiety is worthless! There is zero value in worry. You cannot change life by your worrying. So, quite frankly, worrying is dumb. It does not do anything except make us miserable. This is another very simple example, but we need to stop and think about it. We accomplish nothing by our worrying, but sometimes we think we have to do something, so worry is what we choose to do. When you stop to think about it, there is no point to it.
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matthew 6:28-29 ESV
Yeshua told us to look at the birds, and now he tells us to "consider the lilies". This word "consider," is from the Greek word katamanthano, which means: "To learn thoroughly, i.e., to note carefully," but it also means: "to concentrate upon, think about it, to meditate upon it, to consider." When we are asked to consider something, we are to get a mental understanding of it, but also to concentrate or meditate on it. Think about it. When we have thoughts arise in our hearts and fears for the future, He tells us to consider these things; think about them in the light of Scripture.
If the Lord takes condescending care of wild flowers, will He not care for you? Solomon was used as a proverb among the Jews; he was the measuring stick, and the glory of Solomon was the climax of earthly splendor, yet he was not clothed as one of these wild flowers. If the Lord has clothed little flowers with such majesty, why should we be concerned for our clothing? Yeshua is saying that if His Father has so clothed each flower individually, do we need to be anxious about our temporal needs?
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:30 ESV
Are you much better than grass? The Lord sent His only begotten Son to die for us in order to take away the penalty of our sins and provide Christ's perfect righteousness to clothe us. Should we not believe then that He will clothe us physically? This, again, is an a fortiori argument. The argument may be stated thus: If God clothes grass, certainly he will cloth His children.
The last phrase of verse 30, "O you of little faith," describes the character and conduct of believers. It does not denote an absence of faith, because He is talking about believers. He is not speaking of an absence of faith, but of a faith that is weak.
Do you understand that there are degrees of faith? We often think in terms of you either have faith or you don't. But the Bible talks of various degrees of faith. Romans 4
Abraham “grew strong in faith.” In Acts 6:8, Stephen was said to be "full of faith." In 1 Thessalonians 3:10, Paul said he wanted to perfect that which was lacking in their faith. In 2 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul said, "Your faith grows exceedingly." James talks about "dead" faith in 2:17 and 20, and he talks about "mature" faith in 2:22.
So, the Scriptures speak of: little faith; great faith; weak faith; strong faith; lacking faith; perfect faith; dead faith; full faith; growing faith; and increasing faith. There are degrees of faith. All believers don't have the same amount of faith. Some believers are weak in faith.
Those who are weak in faith need the admonitions Yeshua gives about being anxious about those things we should entrust to our heavenly Father's care. If we are still anxious, it means we are not fully mature in the faith; we are still "of little faith."
How can we increase our faith? There are two main factors which determine the strength of our faith. First, is our knowledge of God. The more you know God, the more you will trust Him.
The second element is the application of what we know. A knowledge that never ventures out upon what it knows will never be a strong faith.
Yeshua goes on to say:
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Matthew 6:31-32 ESV
The Greek word ethnos, which is here rendered: "Gentiles" speaks of the unregenerate. At the time Christ made this statement, the "Gentiles" were without any written revelation from God and were in complete spiritual darkness.
When the non-believer encounters fear through circumstances, they don't have any faith. Where can they turn? To whom shall they go? This is the source of their anxiety, perplexity, and fear on every side. They have no place of security, and the Lord Yeshua is showing us the contrast between them and those who walk by faith.
“For the Gentiles seek after all these things”—the word "seek" is from the Greek word epizeteo. It is much more emphatic than our translation intimates, denoting that they: "set themselves to seek" or "seek with all their might."
Unbelievers do not understand the Lord's providing care. That is why they are filled with anxiety. They cannot surrender themselves into the care of their Creator, so they give the top priority to seeking temporal things. Therefore, they are filled with anxiety; we have to examine our own heart. How much Gentile is there in us?
Yeshua tells us that we don't need to worry like unbelievers, because, "your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” He has just told how He takes care of the birds; how He takes care of the grass, and the lilies. Then He says, "Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26). Now He comes back and says, "Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." So, why are we so concerned? Why can't we simply trust God? He knows exactly what we need.
I don't know what stress you're under, or what hardship this covid-19 event may be causing you—but God does. So, take refuge in the omniscience and compassion of God. When you're hurting, remind yourself, "I know someone knows. I know someone understands. I know someone cares." It's Yahweh my Heavenly Father.
If we are going to conquer worry, we must come to the realization that God loves us, and that He will take care of us. So many people are simply not convinced of this fact. Many of them are Christians. But if you really believe that God is in charge, and that He loves you and will meet your needs, then you can relax in faith. If you, for some reason, do not believe that God will take care of you, then you will be unable to relax. You will feel that it is up to you to take care of all your needs; physical, emotional, and even spiritual:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 ESV
Strictly speaking, the Greek word basileia, translated here as: "kingdom", has reference to "sovereignty", rather than to territory; to "dominion", than a geographical sphere. The "kingdom of God" signifies the rule of God; to seek the kingdom of God; to come under His kingship, to come into subjection to Him as King.
The word "righteousness", as used in our text, comes from the Greek word dikaiosune, which means: "a pattern of life in conformity to God's will". This is not speaking of positional but practical righteousness. If you look at Matthew's use of "righteousness" in verse 5:10, you can see that he uses it of practical righteousness:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10 ESV
You can see here that by "righteousness" he means: "a pattern of life in conformity to God's will." You are not going to be persecuted for your position before God, because it is non-experiential. It is righteous conduct that is being spoken of here. The person who seeks for God's righteousness, then, seeks for conformity to God's will.
The word "seek" here is a different word than the word "seek" in the previous verse, (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:). The Greek word used in verse 32 is epizeteo meaning: "to crave with an intensified demand or to search after. It meant: "to seek with much eagerness, with sweat, or with much stress."
The word "seek" in "But seek first the kingdom of God," is a different word. It is the Greek word zeteo, which means: "to seek, to desire to worship." It is a hungering, desiring, seeking; it is not laboring in a sweating way. It is a matter of a hungering, desiring, worshiping spirit; it is to seek with a desire to worship.
But not only must we seek His kingdom and righteousness, it should be our supreme priority. The word "first" in our text comes from the Greek word proton, which means: "first in order or importance, first or chiefest of all, holding the highest place in all our affections." The Lord is saying the first place in the priority of our affections must be the will of God.
There is much misunderstanding about what is meant by, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”—when He is speaking of His kingdom, He is talking about our coming under submission to His reign, setting our priorities straight so the authority of His Word occupies the first place in our lives. It means: "to walk under His reign, to live in obedience to the Lord." The more primary, the more central his Lordship becomes in our lives, the less anxiety we will have.
Since Yeshua is Lord, our responsibility is to live in submission to Him. To call him, "Lord" but not live in submission to His commands is hypocrisy. The principle of subordination is absolutely essential in the life of a Christian.
Our first and highest priority is to seek to live in obedience to the King and walk in submission to His sovereign reign. Remember what Yeshua said, "We cannot serve two masters". We cannot serve the Lord and serve self. Yeshua is telling us to seek first His kingdom, to let that be our highest priority and greatest desire. It is to do what is pleasing to the Lord, to do the will of God, and to come under His kingship.
Now please notice the end of the verse, “and all these things will be added to you.” What things? The things the Gentiles seek and strive after. The Lord is telling us not to worry about those things. Just walk in obedience to Him, and He will provide them; we do not need to strive for material things. “And all these things will be added to you”—is the great reward for those who walk in the obedience of faith.
We are not to be anxious about the necessities of life like the Gentiles. We do not need to add anxiety to our labors. We must "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”—and then we will have all the necessities of this life, which He will provide.
It seems that few Christians today live at this level spiritually, which is why we have so much anxiety and dissatisfaction in our lives. Christ challenges us to REALLY live our lives in such a way that we find security in Him:
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34 ESV
Yeshua is saying that each day has enough adversity of its own without anticipating tomorrow's problems. When you stop and think of it, where do your worries center? Don't they center on tomorrow? God has provided for your needs today. Do you realize that if you are worrying, you are worrying about tomorrow? Many people worry about what will happen if they lose their jobs, if their business shuts down, or if there is a catastrophe in our country, or an act of terrorism. All those worries are about things for tomorrow. The focal point in much of life is tomorrow. We do not have to worry about today. It is already here. The things we needlessly worry about are things for tomorrow.
Yeshua is saying that He has given you enough for today. You have a place to live, food and clothing. But what about tomorrow? Yeshua said there is enough pressure in every day that you do not need to worry about tomorrow. The concentration in my life is to be on what God wants me to do today - to honor Him today, to submit to Him today, to trust Him for the provisions for today.
The great British commentator, Martin Lloyd-Jones, wrote:
We look for tomorrow's grace today. God gives us the grace to live in today's situation with today's pressure. He has not given us the grace for tomorrow. That will not come until tomorrow. If God causes me to lose my job tomorrow, I do not have the grace for that today. If I develop cancer and am dying before the week is over, I do not have the grace to handle that today. But I believe God will provide the grace day by day as it is necessary. Since I do not have the grace to handle tomorrow's situations, all I can do when I focus on tomorrow is worry about it, because I fear I will not be able to handle it.
Praise God, He gives us the grace today and enables us to trust Him just for today. Tomorrow He will do the same thing again. Then the next day he will do the same. Peter put it this way:
casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 ESV
Believers, instead of worrying, we need to learn to trust. Remember, anxiety is unbelief. Our focus needs to be seeking his kingdom; to seek to live in submission to him in every area of our lives. This is to be our first priority in life. As we do this, he will take care of our every need.