October 3, 2010
#25

Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 6:25-34

V. 25 through the end of the chapter is one of the Lord's strongest sermons on the providence of God and worry. This passage shows us that the habit of worrying about the future is an evidence of distrust of the goodness of God and his Providence. I have found this section to be one of the most difficult parts of Scriptures to put into action.

However, this section condemns any idea of presumption—go my own way, and the Lord will take care of me.

This passage also condemns coveting the things of this world. (Covetousness: defined as compromising God's word &/or will to obtain the desires of our hart.)

The Lord seems to be giving his commentary on,

Psalms 37:5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring [it] to pass.

Worry about things of this world causes us to serve the god of money, and prevents us from seeking to please God first and foremost with our life.

There are a great many points from this section of the Lord's message.

1) This section starts: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought...

Therefore... He has just told His disciples how foolish & impossible it is to serve two masters, God and money. Now He says, Take no thought... He makes reference to worry 5 times in the next 9 verses, even using the same words, vv. 25, 31, 34. A three time mention shows us that a major problem his people have is worry about the future.

Because our fallen nature has worry built in, we will end up serving money in order to prepare for the future, that is, retirement.

I suppose it was not until the unions gained such a huge following that retirement became the goal of many people. So for the past two generations or so, people worried about having enough money to retire.

I think we are facing the results of that care for money. All the retirement funds collapsed, as the banks have robed people of untold amounts of retirement "wealth" in their money accounts and property values.

Scripturally, when a man reached 50, he was to go into a training position, and stay there until as long as he was able, as he passed his skills down to the next generation.

2) V. 25, life is more than... there is more to life than money and what it will buy, both in the present and future. Christ did not forbid concern for the things of this life.

He did forbid:

a) being consumed by the desire to accumulate more money than is needed

b) worrying, or a fearful concern, about where these material things will come from

c) worrying, or being tormented, over what might happen tomorrow.

D) compromising the word of God for personal goals.

The Lord's clear answer is found in V. 33.

3) He did not forbid making physical preparation for the future here on earth.

Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

He did not say go to the government and learn how to work the system. He said, go to the ant and learn how to work and prepare for the future.

4) Worry shows up in both the rich and poor: the rich worry they don't have enough, and the poor worry that the Lord will not provide enough for them.

Psalms 37:16, 39:6, 49:6, 7, 52:7, 62:10, 73:12, Psalms 112, 119:14, Proverbs 3:13ff, 8:18, 11:4, 28, 13:7, 8, 14:24, 22:1ff, 16, 23:5, 27:24, Ecclesiastes 4:8.

5) Here the Lord forbids spending the future for the present (debt), and the present for the future:

Ro 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

In the last few years, how many have found that what they spent on the present cost them dearly when the future (now) came?

6) Poverty & affliction is often better for God's people than is prosperity:

Proverbs 30:8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

Ecclesiastes 5:13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.

Desire for more than is enough, and the use of unlawful means to gain more shows distrust of God.

7) V. 26, Are ye not much better than they? I love to feed the birds in the winter. To me, it encourages and reminds me of God's care for all his creatures, especially man.

8) V. 27-32, worry is useless. Worry will not change our hair, height, station in life, Ps 75:5-7, 1 Sam 2:7, nor our length of days:

Job 14:5, Seeing his days [are] determined, the number of his months [are] with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;

Divine Providence has decreed "the exact length of our earthly existence" which worry will not change. I certainly am not against Godly medical care, for God has given the knowledge and abilities to specific people. But much of the so called medical care today is anything but Godly.

The Lord feeds [and cloths] the birds by their working from daylight to dark. Birds do not sit still and wait for the government to feed them. The Lord uses his small creatures to teach us the necessity of work: the ant, and the birds.

Though the ants and birds are not called upon to work by the sweat of their brow as is man, they still must be busy about what God has given them to do, or they will die.

The word of God requires man to work hard at everything his hands find to do, but only the Lord can cause him to prosper, Hag 1:6-9.

9) V. 28, consider the lilies...

The Lily... A whole message can be built around lilies:

First, they fulfil God's creative purpose. They grow, are clothed in great glory and their end is the grave.

Second, they grow at God's command:

Col 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

The same God Who spoke them into existence and by Whose word they grow, is the same God Who promises to supply our every need as we are faithful to Him, v. 33. If God, by His Divine Providence, provides such for the lilies, how much more will He for us by His Son?

Third, v. 28, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.

Though no man under the pretence of relying on God's providence may live idly, neglecting the ordinary lawful means to procure things honest and needful, yet Christ here gives assurance to all who trust in Him and serve Him that even though all means should fail them He will provide things needful for them. If through sickness, injury or old age we can no longer toil and spin, God will not suffer us to lack sufficient [food or] clothing. (AW Pink)

We tend to go to extremes; we either serve the god of money and worry, or we have no concern at all about the future and make no preparation.

Fourth, their beauty and glory is greater than was Solomon's in all his glory. The Lord does not condemn gorgeous and costly raiment.

With a small flower, a lily, the Lord condemns all who will make an idol of beauty: beauty is only skin deep, and quickly fades with time. There is nothing sadder than those who try to hang onto their youth. 50 year old men and women trying to look and act like teenagers. Those who refuse to grow old are only rebelling against their Creator and His order of life.

Fifth, the lily's beauty is from within, while the worldly glory being condemned by the Lord is from without. There is an inward glory that the Lord urges upon His people, 1 Pet 3:3, 4. The Lord, through Peter, is not restricting His comment to women. Rather, He speaks to people in general. The Lord condemns the use of outward adorning to draw attention to oneself.

How many people compromise their responsibility to the Lord and to the kingdom of God in order to have better food and raiment? Is it not foolish to compromise our relationship with the Lord for something that is easily outdone by a flower that soon to be cast into oven.

Pr 31:30 Favour [is] deceitful, and beauty [is] vain: [but] a woman [that] feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

How many have been deceived by the vanities of this world, and have spent all their earthly treasures in pursuit of those vanities?

Sixth, The birds and lilies are used to teach two basic promises of God's word, which are summed up in,

1 Timothy 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Vast sums of time and money has been and are being wasted on outward adornment. Wasted by,

1. "spending money [one] can ill afford in order to keep up with the latest styles"--styles often imported from countries whose morals are notoriously corrupt." The clothing industry is dominated by Sodomites.

2. wasted by compromising God's word &/or will so we can have more money or time to misuses on our own desires.

Seventh lesson from the lilies: Their life is very brief, and the grave is its end. Our time in this life is extremely short, and we need to be laying up treasure in heaven, not on earth.

James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

How? By doing as the lily: minding our own business and fulfilling God's purpose for us in creation.

Eighth, The lily is cared for by God, as is the grass. How much more does He care for us?

1 Pet 5:7, Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

11. The Eleventh point of this section of the Lord's sermon) clothing... Adam and Eve did not need clothing until they sinned. Thus clothing is a badge of sin; it is not something to be proud of any more than a criminal should be proud of his prison uniform.

Solomon was wise, and his clothing was glorious. Where is our attention placed: in Solomon's worldly glory or in his godly wisdom?

Matthew Henry said here: Let us therefore be more ambitious of the wisdom of Solomon in which he was outdone by none - wisdom to do our duty in our place - than the glory of Solomon in which he was outdone by the lilies.

12) V. 30, the Lord rebukes his disciples for their little faith. He did not say they had no faith, but that they had little faith.

The measure of faith was shown by their ability to not worry. And, within the context, their worry prohibited their total, wholehearted service to the Lord.

Look around... He tells them, at the birds, flowers and grass; God's providential care as seen in creation proves His providence in the care of His children as they follow v. 33.

Faith:

A) faith is authoured by the Spirit of Christ, Heb 12:2
B) of course, we cannot think of faith without mentioning saving faith, Php 3:9.
C) faith is a result of the word of God heard by the heart, Ro 10:17.
D) not every one has the same amount of faith, Ro 12:3
E) faith is increased through trials and tribulations. Check the context of 2 Th 1:4.

1 Pet 5:8, 9, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

F) faith is increased through use, James 2:20. (Faith is no more than doing what is required of us by the word of God, 1 Ti 5:8.)
G) I think it is important to note that faith is soundly connected with love: love for those whom Christ loves, Col 1:4.
H) faith is indispensable in our Christian warfare, Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
I) our access to the Father is through faith, Eph 3:12.
J) the object of our faith must be the Tri-Une God, 1 Pe 1:21.

The Lord is calling his followers to faith in the loving Divine Providence of the Father?

12, The twelfth point of this section of the Lord's sermon) v. 31, take no thought has been dealt with above. He does not say, "Whatever will be will be; therefore, the child of God should be indifferent toward material things."

Rather, Christ is contrasting the attitude of the Child of God toward the temporal things of this world with the attitude of the children of this world with the temporal things of this world.

Observe:

A) the Lord Himself said that our attitude toward eternal things is obvious by our attitude toward material things, Luke 16:10-13

Matthew 25 gives the same basic thought. A person who does not properly use the material things provided by Providence (for His glory), cannot expect to have the true riches, i.e. the wisdom and grace of God to do God's will.

B) there should be an obvious difference between the child of God and the children of this world in their attitude toward money.

13) v. 32, Gentiles seek...

SEEK, is an interesting word. The word is used twice here by our Lord to call attention to the wide contrast between the Gentiles (pagans, including the religious leaders) and the disciples of Christ.

Gentile (pagans) seek worldly wealth and glory.

V. 32, Gentiles, or pagans seek... Means to inquire for, seek for, search for, seek diligently; i.q. to desire, wish for, crave. The OT basis for this word seek is Ec 7:28 Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. 1 Sa 20:1 And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, What have I done? what [is] mine iniquity? and what [is] my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life?

V. 33, the disciples are to seek first the welfare of God's kingdom and righteous living.

Note, seek ye first... Christ is speaking very clearly to His disciples, but he does not tell them they are not to seek after the things of this world. Rather, he tells them that those things must be secondary to the kingdom and God's righteousness.

The Lord condemns pagan, distrustful anxiety over temporal things. Such distrust of the Father's loving goodness is covetousness, paganism and no less than the black sin of unbelief. Such worry is needless, senseless, useless, faithless and heathenish.

The promise of the context is that as the child of God faithfully seeks and does the will of the Father and puts the good of the Father and His kingdom first, the Father, in His Divine Providence, will supply all these things that the Gentiles seek.

A) for your heavenly Father knoweth... As we have already mentioned, far from the Lord discouraging prayer, this chapter emphasizes prayer: He encourages prayer. Christ is pointing out that the Father already knows what we need, and will provide our needs on His conditions. We also mentioned that the Lord (through His spirit, Rom 8:29) must teach His people to pray. So He is not teaching that the Father meets our needs without prayer.

Our Father already knows, but we cannot presume that He will provide apart from our following His will (on earth as it is in heaven), including His will in our actions, in our praying and in studying of His word. This verse urges the child of God to not be overly concerned about the temporal, material things of this world because his Heavenly Father knows his every need. Our concern is centered around the knowing and doing the will of the Heavenly Father. Then the Father will, through His Providence, supply those needs if the child of God has the proper priorities.

B) v. 32 emphasis the need to be content with such things that Divine Providence has provided (food & raiment). We seek and do His will, He knows what we need and will supply accordingly.

C) some excuse worry, anxious care, with "Well, it's my temperament or circumstance that causes me to worry." Not only are we promised the grace of God to overcome the sin of unbelief, we are commanded to overcome these sins of the flesh:

Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Phil 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (By being content.)

The conclusion of this section is vv. 33, 34

These two verses are summed up by Solomon:

Ecc 12:13, 14, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil.

We can sum up these last two verses with a two simple points:

First, if God's people would seek the advancement of God's kingdom on earth with the same determination the pagans have in their striving after the material things of the world, the world would be Christianized in accord with Matthew 28:19, 20.

Second, God promises to supply their every need.

A commonly misused verse here is,

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians cannot stand apart from Matthew 6:33.

The sum total of this chapter could be:

Be responsible before God today and God will be responsible for tomorrow.

Seek:

Mt 6:32, Lu 12:30, Ro 11:7, Php 4:17, Heb 11:14, Heb 13:14.

Luke 12, Christ teaches the people the same basic thing—against the black sin of covetousness and for His people (disciples, v. 22) to seek God's will first and God's providence will supply their every need.

The subject matter of the two passages (Mt 6 & Lk 12) is basically surprisingly the same:

warning against hypocrisy (the Pharisees), v. 1;
the secret things of the closet, v. 2 (in Mat 6, the Lord promised that secret prayer would be rewarded openly; in Lk 12, the Lord promises that secret sin will be rewarded openly. The closet is used in both cases to speak of secrecy);
care of the animals, v. 6 (notice how the Lord always argues from the "bottom up," from the lessor to the greater, eg. "if the Father is concerned about and takes care of the birds, how much more concern has He for His people?)
the importance to the individual to the Father, v. 7;
covetousness, v. 15;
the foolishness of building one's life around earthly possessions, v. 15;
the brevity of life, vs. 16-20;
worry, vs. 22, 25;
lilies, v. 27;
grass, v. 28;
faith, v. 28;
food and drink, v. 29;
the knowing care of the Father, v. 30;
the seeking of the pagans, v. 30;
man's chief responsibility, v. 31;
heavenly treasure compared to earthly treasure, vs. 21, 34;
proper service, v. 37,
and proper responsibility, v. 48.

Luke 12 also mentions forgiveness and proper judgement.