Text: Matthew 6:25-34 September 25, 2011
1) Words of a ball player: In an interview, a basketball super-star was asked about his knack for making the game-winning shot in crucial moments. The reporter asked how he was able to be so calm in such pressure-packed situation. His answer was that he tried to focus on the present moment. “You only have to make one shot,” the player replied. One shot. That is the essence of focusing a difficult situation only on what is in front of you right now. Don’t worry about the expectation of your coach or teammates or all the spectators in the arena. Focus.
2) Words of the Lord Jesus: Recognizing that the challenges of life can be both overwhelming and suffocating, Jesus urged us to take matters in hand by focusing on one thing at a time. He said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt 6:34) This was His wise conclusion to His teaching on the debilitating power of worry. Worry doesn’t get any thing done positively. It just adds to the sense that we are drowning in the troubles we are facing. We must take things as they come, one thing at a time, and trust the Lord for His wisdom to respond properly.
THE PRESSURES OF LIFE: According to a recent study:
1) Pressures from money: Many of us may be surprised to see that we are pressured to make money or more money. While most of us, especially Christians, realize that money shouldn’t be the center of our life, the fact is: money is the focus of life whether you are conscious of it or not. Some are pressured by money to meet basic needs. Others are pressured by money to meet their goals. Still others want to make more money to improve their standard of living such as a bigger house, a new car and more things they always want to have. Some want more money to feel secure while others just want to have more without any particular reason. In a society that measures the value of a person by how much money you make or have, it is not a surprise that most people live under the pressure of money.
2) Pressure from work: While we may include works in school and at home into this category, the report places the focus on the pressure at work place, your job. Besides the long hours that pretty much consumes most of our waking hours each day, pressure at work is felt because it is where we get our paycheck, how we identify ourselves, how we feel our degree of usefulness and social status. Job security and job title are very important to most of us either you admit it or not. In a highly competitive job market, we all can understand and feel its pressure. When we introduce a friend to someone, usually we introduce his name and then what he does and where he works. Have you either thought of why do we do it that way?
3) Pressure from home: Even though we claim home as “Sweet Home”, in many cases home life is the third area that gives us many pressures and headaches. The idea that home is a man’s castle has turned into a man’s prison and battle ground. When divorce rate surpasses the rate of weddings in the public, we can understand why so many people are afraid to get married and to have children. Relationship breakdown, rebellious kids and demands of financial and emotional commitments make home the third source of pressure in today’s society.
4) Pressure from peers: This is almost universally true: we want to be like others, to be accepted and respected. Some may even want to surpass others, to be better than others, to have more than others so they may feel good. Peer pressure is a double edged sword: it may encourage you to do better and more, to achieve higher and be more productive. On the other hand it may create a never ending strive of competition and fear. Peer pressures may include education, money, job, cars, house, children, social status, name brands and others.
THE WORRIES OF LIFE: (Matthew 6:25-27) Why do we worry?
1) Because we don’t know: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.” (6:25)We worry about life because life itself is an unknown to all of us. No one knows what may happen tomorrow or what we may need the day after. So, worry about tomorrow is a natural emotional action or reaction of life. Many religious leaders, philosophers, great teaching or advices all call on us not to worry about life, yet, all of us do worry, in some extend about life if not tomorrow then the year or the year after.
2) Because we have needs: “Do not worry about what will eat or drink and what to wear.” (6:25b) Food, drink and clothing represent our physical needs for survival or comfort and they are very practical. These are the things we need to sustain our living, comfort and growing. Many people worry so much on their material needs. Living in a materialistic world, it is hard not to worry material needs for us and our family.
3) Because we mixed up values: “Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (6:25c) Life here means “the body, being alive, living.” Being alive or having a healthy body is more important than food and drink; have healthy living is more important than the clothes we wear. Most of us mix up with true value of life. We usually treasure food, drink, clothe, things on the outside more than the good health on the inside. It is nice to have good food and drinks and nice clothes, but it is lot more important to have good health, both physical and mental.
4) Because we want to control: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (6:27) Adding things to our life has been our dream work---we want to have control and we want to make life better, live longer, happier, to have more, etc. But in fact, we can do nothing to make life live longer, better or to have more. We may work hard to provide food, drink and clothes, but our life, our health of the body or how long will we live are all in the hands of God.
BETTER WAYS TO HANDLE LIFE: (Matt 6:31-34)
1) Live like real Christians: “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.” (6:31-32) “Pagans” are those who do not believe in the true God, our Lord. Since they don’t have faith in our true God, they must take things of their life by themselves. Pagans or non-believers do not have anyone else to meet their needs. Jesus made this comparison to show us the difference between Christians and non-Christians in meeting the needs of our life. They need to run after all these things but we don’t. If we say we are Christians, we need to live like real Christians.
2) Trust the all-knowing God: “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (6:32b)Our heavenly Father is our God who knows all that we need and will provide all of our needs. It is no accident Jesus portrayed God as our Father because he wants us to know that our God is not an impersonal, far-away deity or some super power or spirit who doesn’t know us or our needs. All fathers and mothers know the needs of their children and will provide their needs to the utmost of their abilities. How much more our heavenly Father, our God, will and can provide all our needs? If we truly have that faith, why do we still strive so much, worry so much, complain so much about our trivia needs?
3) Setting life priority straight: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you as well.” (6:33)We have 3 things to set our priorities: a) seek God’s kingdom, live our life first for God and His business. b) Seek God’s righteousness in our everyday life. Live our life according to His righteous law. c) Trust God’s love and power to provide our needs. When God promises us if we take care of His business, He will take care of our business, can we really trust Him? Look at how God provided all the needs for the people of Israelis in the wilderness. How God provided the needs for Prophet Elijah through ravens by Kerith Ravine and a poor widow in Zarephath. (1 Kings 17) When God makes a promise, He will always fulfill that. Can we truly believe Him?
4) Handling life one day at a time: “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (6:34)We need to realize that we only have today to live, to work, to serve, to love and to spend. No one has more than today because no one knows anything about tomorrow or if he will have tomorrow. Jesus wants us to focus our life on today and leave tomorrow to him. Piling up all the possible troubles in the next 3 or 5 years together won’t make your life any easier or more effective. We need to learn from that basketball play: stay focus, make that one shot to win the game. That is all that counts. Tackle life’s problems one thing at a time and win.
1) Life is full of challenges: Ever since the fall of the First Couple in Genesis 3, life on earth is never easy or predictable. Facing troubles is part of life no matter who you are or what you have. On the other hand, challenges make life interesting and meaningful. They help us develop our potential and ability and bring us joy when we live over them. So, don’t feel bad or sad in the face of challenges.
2) Breaking them into pieces: If you lump all life troubles together and try to tackle them, you may have a mountain. If you break them into small pieces, you may have many stepping stones to help you climb the mountain. So, just focus on what is today’s problem and do all you can to over come it. A bunch of small wins will build your ultimate victory of the war.