Saturday 11 June 2016

Pentecost 4 Matthew 6v25-34

Matthew 6 v25-34 Anxiety and Worry

My dad was a worrier. And so he loved this passage in the gospels and though he was not a believer he could quote it verbatum. It had helped him through some tough times. He passed on to me the ability to be anxious and the importance of resting on this passage at the difficult times in your life. 

The early church in Jerusalem did actually attempt a literal application of this passage, an early form of communism some might say! But it was not continued though it was later taken up by ascetics like St Francis and is a fundamental Christian theology. However people like to wriggle out of any literal translation!

There will always be situations that cause us to worry and be anxious. The possible causes of anxiety and fear are legion: family, money, housing, conflict, health problems, dangerous situations, death. 
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” Psalm 42:5.

Sometimes we have done something, which keeps us awake at night! If you have confess it, get right with God. Get right with those you’ve harmed. 

Jesus said to His disciples "You will have trouble" John 16:33. Worry and anxiety are part of being human. “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards” Job 5v7 

So we have to accept our anxiety. Trying to fight anxiety creates just creates anxiety. Accept it! Fighting anxiety isn't possible. But it's not God’s will for people to worry their lives away. God has something so much better in mind for all of us

There is a direct link with the Lords Prayer "give us today our daily bread", give us the food we need for our journey today. It is in stark contrast to the materialistic possession and money centered world we live in.

Verses 27 and 34 are both independent sayings of Jesus, probably Palestinian proverbs and part of the Aramaic oral tradition of the gospel prior to its formalization. 

Jesus does not want us to store up treasure on earth! Dont worry or be anxious! What a word for today!

Dont worry about your life (or soul) or about what you will eat, or your clothing, or your life (the word life means your soul, inner life, being).

Instead look at the birds (who are busy but dont worry!
Then this independent saying "People cannot change what God has destined for them". Almost fatalism.

Worrying cant make you live longer. In fact we know it could shorten your life so its good advise. But in fact the translation should probably read make you taller! Worrying cant make you taller. In Luke the equivalent passage asks “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?’” Luke 12:22-26. 
Look at the wild flowers around you! They are more beautiful than anything rich people like King Soloman had.

And the grass that grows up everywhere even after the rains we've had, but is cut and thrown away. Here it is thrown into something like a wood fired clay, pizza oven.

"You of little faith" is an expression used by Matthew. Dont follow the pagans or unbelievers who are "feverish prayer life, constantly agitating for health, wealth and happiness. We are called to stand apart and have a completely different attitude to life.

So dont worry. 
Make up your mind to stop worrying! 
A concious decision. Or at the very least agree to pray about your worries. 

Instead first seek to build God's kingdom and righteousness
and Gods blessings, including food and clothing will follow, like a promise.

The next independent saying concludes the passage; 
Take life a day at a time. 

Again it has the hallmarks of an Aramaic saying. So, we should focus on the problems we have today and leave tomorrow's problems for tomorrow. How often do we plan for a future that never comes?
So dont worry about tomorrow. Let it take care of itself.
Because there's sufficient trouble in today!

So what are the ways to cope with worry and anxiety? 

1.Think positively "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11-12. You have a future, which is as unique as your thumb print! A destiny so claim it!
God has not given us the spirit of fear, "but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" 2 Tim. 1:7. 
2. Pray. Pray for wisdom. Use a God-bag. Write your real worries on slips of paper and place them into a paper bag. Agree with God that you are not going to worry about these situations for 30 days. When tempted to do so, remind yourself, "It's in the bag!" Notice at the end of the month how God has answered prayers. Or put a list of your prayers under a big cross. Leave them with God. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest.

3. Ask God to Give You Peace and Rest. Sometimes we need more sleep! Sleep deprivation can increase anxiety. Get enough rest. And ask for a feeling of peace. Philippians 4:6-7: Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. John 14:26 says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

4. Realise you may not have the answers! Life is complex and we are finite. Just go with what information you have and realize your limitations. 

5. Define the problem. Break it down. Write it out. Draw it out. Shout it out. Break it down into blocks. And don’t try to solve it all at once. 

6. However do what you can do to sort out the problem. If there is something practical and wise that you can do to alleviate the problem or avoid needless danger, take action. Don’t put it off. Procrastination raises our anxiety.

7. Talk to someone about the problem. Don’t hold all the anxiety inside. Get another mind on it. It can be a relief to share our fears and worries with someone else—a friend, a relative, someone at church, a counselor. 

It’s a strange paradox but God comes alongside us when we go through hard times and we often feel much closer to God. Jesus is good at stilling storms. So, what is the storm of worry that has us drowning? Worry and anxiety drive us to God. 



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