SUMMER REBOOT – this podcast was originally published on 24 September 2018.
Good morning everyone, my name is Bryony and I’m part of the staff team here at STC Sheffield. This week we are continuing our journey through Matthew’s Gospel. If you listened in last week Tom Finnemore started looking at Matthew’s retelling of the Sermon on the Mount. Tom talked about what it looks like to have your life interrupted and turned inside out by Jesus. During the Sermon on the Mount Jesus painted a picture of what life in his kingdom looked like. People often refer to it as the ‘Jesus Manifesto’, it’s in these passages where Jesus reveals how differently a life lived for the kingdom in the kingdom is.
I’m going to continue where we left off and this week we’ll be looking at Matthew chapters 6, 7 and 8. I especially want to focus this week on what we can learn from Jesus’ words around the area of provision. What does it look like to be provided for? How can we see provision in our life? Do we even believe that God is a provider?
Today’s passage is Matthew 6: 19-34, I’ll read all of it at the end but I’m going to focus particularly on verse 28-30. ‘…why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour 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?’
‘Worry’ – Jesus uses this word 6 times in today’s passage. It’s like he knows it will be a big problem! A quick glance in the dictionary tells me that worry is the ‘ feel or cause to feel anxious or troubled about actual or potential problems.’ We know that worry comes in all shapes and sizes, from the small daily issues to huge concerns about the future.
My daughter went on a school trip last year to Cleethorpes. The night before the trip one of her friends got very upset and started crying. Her mother thinking that she must be nervous about going away for the day told her
‘it’s ok, I’m sure you will really enjoy it’. To which she replied ‘I’m not worried about enjoying the trip, I’m worried that Daddy will sleep too much and not get me into school on time!’. Her Mum was quick to reassure her
that her Dad was indeed a functioning, capable adult!
Worry is a daily temptation for most of us. There are so many moments today when there will be a temptation to be drawn into worry. Will I miss the bus? Did I turn off the oven? Will my child be ok? Have I made the right
choice? Where am I going to live? Small question and big questions, all with the potential to end in worry. What is Jesus’ response to this age-old human problem? Well fairly annoyingly in verse 25 he says ‘don’t worry’!
Just don’t do it. There’s no formula or tools for how we are to stop worrying, he doesn’t give that, just ‘don’t worry’. However in the passage I’ve just read, rather than telling us how not to worry, he tells us why we are
not to worry. He points to birds (and in this passage) flowers and grass and notes how they are cared for by God, how much beauty he bestows on nature. And then Jesus says… ‘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?’
What he is saying is grass is pretty worthless, it grows it dies, it’s not the most precious thing and yet God enables it to grow, God created it to grow and flourish. But we are so much more precious to God that grass,
therefore Jesus is reasoning that we had no basis from which to worry. Our response to this comes down to the value we place on ourselves and believe God places on us. If we believe that God doesn’t value us then of course we would doubt his provision in our lives and of course that would mean we resort to worry. If we think God places no or little value on us then we do need to strive to make things happen, we do need to worry about our own abilities to sort situations out and provide for ourselves. However if we see that God puts infinite value on us, that he sees you and I as precious then is will totally change the story we tell ourselves. If God values us and loves us then we don’t need to strive to make things happen, we don’t need to worry about our own abilities to sort situations out, we don’t need to take all the pressure to provide. If we believe God put a high value on us, our families, this church community, then we can trust him to take care of us.
Every time we worry we have a choice, to step into that worry and let it consume us or to say ‘no, I’m a beloved child of God – how much more will he clothe me’. I do not say this lightly, this is a hard work to undertake. I
have suffered from anxiety illnesses, and it’s no joke, and some of us need our minds entirely renewed and need to be trained in a new way of existing. But whether we find this easy or hard Jesus would want us to know the
truth that today he puts the highest value on us, that he is a good father, a faithful friend and a trustworthy provider. Tomorrow we’ll be considering how to move from believing in God’s provision to actually seeking it, but until then let’s finish with this prayer.
Jesus, thank you that you care so much for us. Thank you that you put the highest value on each of. Please help us today to trust that value judgement and, every time we have cause to worry, to choose to believe that
we have a God who is faithful to those he loves. Amen.
READING: Matthew 6:19-34
‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
‘The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
‘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 labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour 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.