23 May 2020

23 May 2020 |

A Commentary by John Stott

Matthew 6:25-34. 2. Problems relating to Christian faith.

3. Worry is incompatible with common sense (34).

Returning from our digression on the problems of faith, we have now to notice that worry is as inconsistent with common sense as it is with Christian faith. In verse 34 Jesus mentions both *today* and *tomorrow*. All worry is about *tomorrow*, whether about food or clothing or anything else; but all worry is experienced *today*. Whenever we are anxious, we are upset in the present about some event which may happen in the future. However, these fears of ours about *tomorrow*, which we feel so acutely *today*, may not be fulfilled. The popular advice ‘Don’t worry, it may never happen,’ is doubtless unsympathetic, but perfectly true. People worry that they may not pass an exam, or find a job, or get married, or retain their health, or succeed in some enterprise. But it is all fantasy. ‘Fears may be liars;’ they often are. Many worries, perhaps most, never materialize.

So then worry is a waste – a waste of time, thought and nervous energy. We need to learn to live a day at a time. We should plan for the future, of course, but not worry about the future. ‘One day’s trouble is enough for one day’ (JBP), or, ‘Each day has enough troubles of its own.’ (NEB). So why anticipate them? If we do, we double them. For if our fear does not materialize, we have worried once for nothing; if it does materialize, we have worried twice instead of once. In both cases it is foolish: worry doubles trouble.

It is time to sum up Jesus’ exposition of the world’s false ambition. To become preoccupied with material things in such a way that they engross our attention, absorb our energy and burden us with anxiety is incompatible with both Christian faith and common sense. It is distrustful of our heavenly Father, and it is frankly stupid. This is what pagans do; but it is an utterly unsuitable and unworthy ambition for Christians. So just as Jesus has already called us in the Sermon to a greater righteousness, a broader love and deeper piety, he now calls us to a higher ambition.
Tomorrow: Matthew 6: 19-34. b). True or Christian ambition: God’s rule and righteousness.

So then God’s children are promised freedom neither from work, nor from responsibility, nor from trouble, but only from worry. Worry is forbidden us: it is incompatible with Christian faith.

Tomorrow: Matthew 6:25-34. 2. Problems relating to Christian faith (continued).

The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.