Hakuna Matata? No, Kingdom Priorities
City on a Hill – Part 9
August 4, 2019
Rev. L. Kent Blanton
Introduction: What do people worry about?
(in reverse ranking)
- The past
- What others think
- Some worries are common to all
human. Other worries are unique to our age, geographic area or life circumstance. But one thing is certain, anxiety, stress, and worry all take a toll on our overall wellbeing.
- Jesus addressed the topic of worry in his Sermon on the Mount.
- He said, Don’t worry about your life . . . (Matt 6:25)
- Was Jesus singing a first-century version of the care-free lifestyle espoused in the well-known song, Hakuna Matata? Was he anticipating the call to ignore the problems of life in Don’t’ Worry, Be Happy?
Today’s Focal Passage: Matt 6:25-34 NIV
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Worry Connected to Materialism
- Jesus warned against the idolatry of materialism. It is impossible to serve God and money. We can’t pursue kingdom values if we’re pursuing materialism.
- Jesus warns in today’s passage of another idolatry: worry.
- What is the thereforein v. 25, there for?
- Jesus is saying that because we can’t serve God and materialism, we shouldn’t worry about our lives.
- Why? The clear implication is that just like materialism, worry will keep us from serving God with a whole heart. Worry leads us to trust in something else other than God. It leads us to trust in ourselves, in our own efforts to provide for our needs, to maintain control.
Is Worry Always Wrong?
- Jesus uses the Greek word merimnao
- Merimnao has different meanings:
- Sometimes merimnaoexpresses an appropriate feeling of intense concern and care for something such as the Lord’s work (1 Cor 7:32) or someone’s welfare (Phil 2:20). In this case, we can render this word in English as “concern.”
- Concern is appropriate when it’s directed toward right things, kept within bounds, and causes us to do our proper duty.
- Merimnaoalso expresses intense feelings of anxiety about issues of life, such as what to say when arrested for preaching the gospel (Matt 10:19), about many less important things (Luke 10:41), or about the pressing daily matters of life.
- Paul uses this meaning when he says, “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil 4:6).
- Worry is inappropriate or flat out wrong when it’s misdirected, is in wrong proportion, or indicates a lack of trust in God. It’s this latter sense that Jesus addresses.
- Merimnao(to worry) is used six times by Jesus in this passage
Jesus’ Teaching on Worry
- Jesus gives us three reasons not to worry, a method to experience God’s provision for life’s necessities, and a strategy to eliminate worry.
Three Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Worry
- Because of God’s care for his creatures (vv. 26-27)
- Jesus cites the birds an example of God’s provision
- Birds don’t sow or reap like farmers, yet God cares for them
- Birds do work. They build nests and search for food, but God is the real provider.
- But it’s God who really provides for them.
- Jesus is saying that when we are responsible to work as God has ordained, He will faithfully supply the necessities of life for us, just as he does for the birds.
- Jesus uses two rhetorical questions to further support his point of God’s care.
- Are you not much more valuable than they [the birds]? v. 26
Clear implication is that if God provides the basic necessities of life for the birds, he will certainly do the same for humans, the crown and rulers of his creation.
- Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? v. 27
The Cybernetic Borg in the sci-fi series Star Trekwere famously known for the mantra, “Resistance if futile. You will be assimilated.”Jesus is saying something similar, yet distinctly different. He is saying, “Worry is futile. You will be cared for!”
- Because of God’s provision in nature (vv. 28-30)
- Flowers – regal red and purple anemones and stunning blue irises grow wild on the hillsides above the Sea of Galilee.
- And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. vv.28-29
- Labour(referring to toiling in the field) andspinning(sewing clothing at home) likely refer, respectively, to the characteristic occupations of men and women in ancient rural culture. These were the ways people made a living to meet their basic needs.
- Grass of the field – grass was cut, dried, and bundled as a natural source of fuel for fire ovens. Grass was also a common biblical metaphor for dramatic changes of fortune and for human frailty and transience.
- If God’s sustaining care extends to such a transitory part of creation, will he not much more clothe you?”
- If we grant the obvious logic of Jesus’ argument, then worry can only result from a lack of genuine belief in God’s goodness and mercy. Bible scholar Robert Mounce says that “worry is practical atheism and an affront to God.”
- Anxiety characterized pagan religions which were dominated by fears of a capricious and despotic deity who constantly had to be appeased. Our God is a gracious Father whose love and care is constant. He invites us to trust in his goodness and faithfulness.
- Because worry is the practice of unbelievers who don’t understand God’s care (vv. 31-32)
- So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the pagans run after all these things.
- Pagans usually refers to Gentiles, but in this context, it specifically refers to anyonewho operates outside of God’s value system.
- Example of How to Get Aheadwebsite filled with worldly advice rather than kingdom values
- God already knows what we need and because he is a good Father, we know that he will supply our needs without us resorting to worldly patterns of living.
How to Ensure Our Needs Are Met (v. 33)
- Seek first the kingdom of God(v. 33)
- Seek doesn’t mean to look for something not present. Jesus had already announced the arrival of the kingdom.
- Seek firstmeans to continually make the kingdom of heaven and its values the center of our daily priorities.
- This admonition points back to Matt 5:20 . . . Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
- We are to become more like God, a city on a hill that rightly reflects him to the world. How? By choosing kingdom priorities, by practicing acts of righteousness, by living out kingdom values moment by moment.
Examples of God’s Provision of Daily Needs
- Elijah at the brook Cherith (! Kings 17:1-8) – Bread and meat twice daily after obediently delivering God’s message
- Widow at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16) – inexhaustive food resources experienced after meeting the need of another, even at great personal cost
- Feeding of the Five Thousand (Matt 14:13-21) – a lad’s gift is transformed to provide food for a multitude
- George Mueller (19thcentury England) – God’s faithful provision for over 10,000 orphans over 62 years without once soliciting support
- One of the ways God supplies needs is through us, Jesus’ disciples, the church. Most of us here in North America have more than our needs met. Compared to the rest of the world, we have the resources of kings. What do we dowith those resources?
- Do we hoard God’s resources, or do we generously share with others both inside and outside the church who face financial hardship?
- Kingdom values call us to freely and generously share with others the blessings he has poured out on our lives. When we choose to respond in generosity to real needs around us, others see a true and winsome demonstration of his love and care for them. We become a city on a hill that reflects the goodness of God for all to see and know. We also keep materialism and worry from gaining footholds in our lives.
How to Eliminate Worry from Our Lives (v. 34)
- Take one day at a time
- If God’s ordering of a disciple’s life includes his provision for all of a disciple’s daily needs, one certainly shouldn’t worry about tomorrow.
- The two phrases for tomorrow will worry about itself andEach day has enough trouble of its own (v. 34)reiterate the same basic truth. All the worry in the world today can do nothing about the cares and problems of tomorrow. As we learn to let God care for us today, we become increasingly secure in his care of us tomorrow, regardless of whatever evil or trials we may face.
- We must focus on living for God today; he isour loving Father who knows our needs and promises to meet them as we live out kingdom priorities.
Practices to Defeat Worry
- Give your worries to God
- Pray and tell God what you are worried about
- Release the worry to God
- 1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety upon him because he cares for you.
- Phil 4:7 – When we give our worries to God in prayer, God promises that his peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus
- Share your worries with your small group and let then pray with and for you
- Share your worries with our prayer teams and let them pray with and for you
- Be generous givers
- When we give generously, we declare our trust in God and in his ability to provide
- Be generous in the giving of our tithes and offerings.
Malachi 3:10 – Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LordAlmighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
- God promises more blessings than we have room for if we demonstrate our trust through obedient giving.
- Be generous toward others inside and outside the Body of Christ who are facing financial stress. 2 Cor 9:7 – God loves cheerfulor hilariousgivers. Generous giving generates joy in us, and in the recipients.
- Assignment #1: Ask God to bring someone to mind (either inside or outside the church) that you can generously bless this week with some type of gift and bless them generously. (Possibilities: financial gift, gift of appreciation, gift of service)
- Consider following Jesus’ advice of giving anonymously. Finding a friend to deliver the gift anonymously keeps the receiving party from feeling beholden and helps to assure godly motives in our giving
- Give thanks to God for his provisions
- Thanksgiving resets our focus upon Gods care and faithfulness
- It’s impossible to give thanks and to worry at the same time.
- When we express thanks, we are acknowledging God’s goodness and declaring our trust in his care for us.
- Assignment #2: Every evening this week, before you close you eyes to go to sleep, take a moment to thank God for one of his blessings in your life.
- Temptation to worry is often the strongest at night.
- Thanksgiving will be like a preventative medicine against worry that keeps your heart focused on God’s goodness and faithfulness.
- When Jesus said, Don’t worry,he wasn’t attempting to scoop Hakuna Matataand teach a problem-free philosophy of life.
- He was also not espousing the call to ignore life’s challenges and paste on a plastic smile as is championed in Don’t Worry, be Happy.
- Jesus was, and is, calling his followers to live with a different set of priorities
- Priorities that pursue kingdom values and lead to kingdom living
- Priorities that resist anything in this world, including materialism and/or worry, that supplants God as Master. . . and Provider
- Priorities that make us a city on a hill that gloriously reflects the care and faithfulness of our Heavenly Father.
- Worry is futile. You will be cared for!