There’s a direct relationship between the size of our worry and the size of our faith. Many of us say that God is good, so why do we struggle to think he cares for our basic needs? In this message, we have a second conversation about anxiety and look at Matthew 6 for one of the most important truths that can help us in the midst of our worries.
All right, what's up, guys? Welcome, everybody who is tuning in online or wherever you are joining us from. Man, we are excited to continue this series, Therapy. We kicked it off last week, and we began to explore a crucial topic, especially right now, and that's mental health, and how the church and really the Bible speaks to these issues, because it does over and over and over.
This is an issue we had planned before COVID and corona had even happened, doing a series called Therapy, addressing mental health. Specifically, these first few weeks we're camping out on anxiety because it's too big of an issue to hit in one night, but furthermore, we had planned this even before COVID happened, and then it was like if our nation ever needed to go through therapy, it is now. This is a time where we all need to do some work, and specifically as it relates to anxiety and depression and having mental health.
God cares about you. He wants you to experience that. So we're going to look for the next few weeks at his Word. There was a study that was done I referenced last week of just how important this is. Anxiety is not going away. If anything, it's getting worse. It referenced that the average psychiatric patient in 1950 had the same levels of anxiety as a young person today. Think about that. Yet for Christians, God over and over talks about this subject, where he says, "I want you to experience a life that is not ruled and owned by fear or anxiety."
Let me start by telling a kind of funny thing that's relevant to our team. I know y'all have all heard it, but the term dog mom. How long has dog mom been around? Like awhile? Maybe years. It feels like this thing just came onto the scene, and people went from like, "Oh, I just really love dogs," to, "No, this is my fur baby. I see them not as my pet but as my child." This phenomenon of dog moms, how do you know if somebody is a dog mom, or what does this look like? It looks like what it sounds like. It's somebody who sees their pet as like, "This is my baby."
They set up other playdates with other dog moms for them and their fur babies to go play together. They're thinking about Christmas presents for their dog. They're thinking about Halloween costumes months in advance. Gourmet food. They go to the nines because they see this dog not as a dog but as their own child.
The most extreme example of this in my life I've joked about before is a girl who was on our team named Emily. Emily was extra as it related to her dog. She had picked out her Halloween costume for her dog months in advance. Every time she went to Target, she said (and I quote), "It's like a chance for me to go get a little toy for my little baby."
If that wasn't enough, she gave her dog a first and a middle name. Yeah, I said last week that counseling should not be the first line of defense for anybody, but if you're giving your dogs middle names, it may be something you consider. But she gives her dogs double names. If you're from the South, you probably have heard of people who go by two names. They're like, "Hey, my name is Mary Claire," or, "I'm Sarah Beth," and you're like, "Oh, hey, Sarah, good…" and then she says, "Actually, it's Sarah Beth."
This is what Emily does with her dogs. So if you're around her dog Cooper James…I can't even believe I'm acknowledging that…and you were like, "Oh, hey, Cooper," she's like, "It's actually Cooper James." She's just so extreme. She's the most extreme version of a dog mom I've ever seen. She loves her dogs incredibly.
Now with that in mind, let me ask you kind of a funny question. Do you think she loves her dogs more than God loves you? Do you think she thinks about her dogs? That's pretty extreme if you're thinking about, "I'm going to Target. I can't wait to go get him a toy." You're thinking about that dog. Do you think she thinks about her dogs more than God thinks about you? She really values them. She's like, "Hey, you can burn the house down. Do not take the dogs." Truly, do you think she values her dogs more than God values you and your life?
I think most of us would say no. No, that's crazy. But, functionally, a lot of us live that way. We don't walk around with the mentality of, "Hey, God loves me. He's in control of everything. He's for me. He's going to provide for me. I'm good." Most of us walk around like, "Hey, if I don't enough, it's not going to happen, and I'm so concerned my life is going to fall apart. What if I lose my job?" We don't have the mentality of, "I have a providing Father who loves me."
What's funny is when Jesus started his Sermon on the Mount, he started with a question that's almost as abrupt as what I just asked you of, "Hey, do you think she loves her dogs more than God loves you?" He asked a strikingly similar question…that's why I asked this one…to his audience.
Now to recap, last week we opened up and we covered the first couple of verses of what Jesus taught on anxiety. Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' most famous sermon. Taught it from a mountainside. Covered a lot of topics. One of them was anxiety. People have been anxious for a long time. In the middle of his conversation about anxiety, he asks a question related to the value of an animal and God and his value of you.
Here's what he says. This comes from Matthew, chapter 6, starting in verse 24. After saying, "I tell you, do not worry about your life about where you're going to eat, where you're going to drink, what you're going to wear," all that stuff we covered last week, he says, "Look at the birds of the air…" So remember, they're outside. My guess is he sees some birds overhead, and he's like, "Man, let me try to explain to this audience what I mean."
"…they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns…" Now we don't use sow and reap because most of us live in the city, but that's basically like, "Hey, they don't plant crops and harvest and pull up those crops and then store them up and calculate how much food do we have for the next winter." All of which Jesus' audience would've done.
"…and yet your heavenly Father feeds them." Here's the question. "Are you not much more valuable to God than a bird?" Jesus asks. It's like he says, "Hey, look at those birds. See them flying up there? They don't do any of the responsible things you do in terms of providing food, but God provides for them. Are you not more valuable to God than they are? Won't he provide for you?"
To us, he wouldn't say food, because most of us, we don't wake up worrying about food. But he'd say, "The birds of the air, they don't store away for a 401(k) in retirement someday. They're not on Bumble and Hinge and trying to put themselves and feelers out there to make sure that anybody who's available they know you're available to get a mate. They're not saving up and following a budget to get out of debt. They're not filling out applications and trying to get a job." They're not doing any of the responsible things you do, and God provides for them?
It's like Jesus is saying, "The birds, they don't even really try. They don't even try, and God provides for them." They just fly around, and they're like, "Oh, look there's a worm, and I'll eat the worm." Then they find a spouse, not through Match.com but through like, "Oh, look. She looks kind of hot. I'm going to mate with her." Then they have little baby birds. Then it gets cold, and they're like, "I think we should go south." Yet God provides for them.
Do you not think you're more valuable to God than those birds he provides for? Most of us probably again would say, "No, no, no, I think I am," but Jesus would say, "When you're worried, you don't really believe that. You don't really think God has promised to meet your needs."
What we're going to look at for the next handful of minutes is one idea. Normally, I do three points, and here are the things I want to break down. I want to hammer home one of the most significant truths you can believe in this entire series. If you're a Christian, remember your heavenly Father has promised to provide for your needs.
You have to remember as you go through life, when you turn this off tonight, you could take a deep breath, and I wonder how your life would change if you really went, "He's going to provide for everything I need. My heavenly Father will provide for everything I need. Not everything I want, not everything is always going to go the way I want it to, but if I need it, I'll get it because my heavenly Father controls everything, and he has promised to provide for everything I need."
Jesus is not saying, "Hey, don't try at life. Don't work hard. Don't stay on a budget." He's not some weird life coach, being like, "Oh yeah, just sit on your hands. Everything will go fine. You'll get everything you want." No, the Bible doesn't teach that. It says be responsible. Fill out applications. Get on a Hinge. I probably shouldn't speak about Hinge because I don't know anything about it. But do all of the things you're going to do responsibly, but at the end of the day, God has promised he's going to meet your needs. He will provide for what you need, and you can trust him. You are more valuable to God than a bird, and he provides for them.
When God looks at you, he looks at someone who was made in his own image, someone distinct from all of creation. Do you know how valuable you are to God? When people see the Grand Canyon, they're like, "Oh my gosh, this is amazing. It's incredible." They see the Rocky Mountains, and they're like, "Wow! That's astounding." When God sees those things, he's like, "Ah, yawn." They pale in comparison to you. You were made in his image. You were the one he died for. That's how valuable you are, and he has promised, "I will meet your needs. You're more valuable to me than a bird."
What I love about that question is did you know Jesus…I know I talked with some of y'all before this…actually talks about the value of a bird, like the specific monetary amount of a bird in the book of Matthew? It's one of the few times in the Bible where something's monetary value is actually said. Most of the time we're not told, "Oh, did you know that oranges go for like a baker's dozen to get $2." It's one of the few times we're told, "How much do birds cost?"
In Matthew, chapter 10… In case you're wondering, "Oh, well hey, am I more valuable to God than a bird?" well, how valuable is a bird? Jesus says four chapters later, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
Jesus says, "You know how much a bird is worth." Two for a penny. I'm not the best at math. I still count on my fingers sometimes, but even I know, "Huh, what is that? Oh yeah, it's half a penny." How much is a bird worth? Are you more valuable to God than half a penny? He gave the life of his Son. There's nothing more valuable in life, in the world, in creation. That's how valuable you are to God.
He has promised, "I will provide for your needs. I've got you. You're worth more than many birds, and I will provide for everything you need. You can trust me and rest and remember." So the whole point, if you take notes, just one. Your heavenly Father will provide for your needs. He drives home the same point when he goes into clothes. Talking about they're worried about food, worried about clothes. He covers both of them.
He says, "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin." Which is like they're not over there knitting and putting things together, which his audience would've done. "Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." So Jesus points, and he's like, "You're worried about clothes. Look how fine looking those flowers are over there. Not even Solomon looked as good as these guys."
You may not know who Solomon was. Solomon lived 1,000 years before Jesus. He was a king in Israel, and he was known for being the guy who was the richest of the rich. Arguably, one of the richest people say in history, period. But certainly the richest in all of society and ancient Jewish history, and the richest person in the Bible. He says, "Not even Solomon was dressed that way."
In other words, Solomon was the guy on MTV Cribs, if you showed up, and they did like pan in at his house, Solomon would be sitting out front in front of his Lambos and his posh crib and be like, "Welcome to my place," just decked out in the finest clothes. Gucci everywhere. You know what I'm talking about. Just the finest clothes you could have. Jesus says, "Not even the guy who would've won best dressed in high school or in the Old Testament compares to anything to these flowers over here."
If God is going to dress the flowers of the field, do you think he doesn't care about you? He has promised he'll meet your needs. You can trust him. "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…?" Now just a side note in case you're reading this and you're like, "Wait, why are they throwing flowers into the fire? That is weird." That would be an appropriate question.
Oftentimes we read the Bible so much, like Christians, that we're so desensitized to things like this. It's like, "Yes, oh yeah. That's exactly what I do with flowers. I throw them in the fire. Why would you throw flowers in the fire, Jesus?" Well, the word fire is the Greek word for oven. The way you would cook back then is every home had a little oven inside of it. The way you would get the fire started is you'd put kindling underneath, and that kindling would've been made of wildflowers. You take those wildflowers, you put them underneath, and that would be how you start a fire and begin to cook.
Jesus is basically saying, "You know the flowers you guys bring home." Back then, if you brought home a bouquet of roses, it wasn't like, "Oh, honey, I love you so much"; it was like, "Hey, I brought home cooking supplies." Jesus says, "You know, you guys, this is cooking supplies. It's here and then they're gone. We burn them." You're way more valuable to God. It's something that just disappears. You're so valuable he died for you, and you don't think he's going to provide for you.
He then says, "…you of little faith?" This is a really interesting term. The phrase, "O you of little faith," is only two words. In English, we translated it to five, but in the original Greek, it's only two. Did you guys watch Seinfeld in here? Were you alive when Seinfeld was on? Did you watch Seinfeld?
This is not an endorsement of Seinfeld, but I have seen every episode of Seinfeld whether or not I would endorse or encourage that, but it's probably the only show I've seen every episode at least one time. I think it's the funniest comedic show of all time. It destroys Friends and Gilmore Girls. Let me get that out of the way for everybody. Talking to you. Yeah, so savage.
But inside of the show, there are just all these comedic, hilarious things. There are Jerry, Kramer, Elaine, George. In one of the shows, there was this moment where part… Man, I'm just talking with friends. My favorite show. In one of the episodes, Elaine is dating a guy. You guys following me? Every time you date somebody, you're kind of like, "Is this relationship going to work out?"
In Seinfeld, there were always these hilarious quirks that would end the relationship. Like one girl had man hands, where Jerry was dating her, and he was like, "Her hands are just too big. I just can't get over it." Another person was like they… I can't even remember some of the different reasons why they ended up breaking up.
But this one was one where Elaine, the girl, was starting to date this new guy. He's introduced, comes over, and we're introduced to him. All of a sudden, everyone sees he's a close-talker. They begin to pan through like he's meeting everybody, and every time he would talk, he'd be uncomfortably close to that person in talking. The joke was he's a close-talker.
The guy ends up leaving, and Elaine is sitting there with the guys, and everyone basically is like, "You need to break up with him. He's a close-talker." He's one of those guys who all of us have this person in our lives where they have no sense of personal space. They get so close that you end up having to back up a little bit, and you can feel their breath breathing on you because they're a close-talker.
It is hilarious, but why is it hilarious? Well, close-talker is not a term in the dictionary. It's a made-up term, but my guess is everybody here, even when I said that, you knew exactly what I meant. Right? That's essentially what Jesus does with this phrase of, "O you of little faith." Now here's why I say that. Just like close-talker is not in the dictionary, it's just two words you hyphenate. You're like, "Close-talker. That's what you are."
Jesus, in the term for, "O you of little faith," involves the word for little and faith, or faither. It's a word that only Jesus in the entire Bible used, and nowhere else in any Greek literature do we have the word he just said there. That, "O you of little faith," they're like, "Oh, that's normal." Nope. Jesus made this word up, and it was a combination of two words, little and faither.
Just like close-talker, or just like, "Oh, you're a Debbie-downer," where it's like, "Oh, I know what you mean when you say that," his audience knew what he means where Jesus says, "You believe God provides for all of these things, but he won't provide for you? You're a little-faither." In a comedic way, he's pointing out, like, "Man, you think God holds the moon, sun, stars, all of gravity. He created it all, everything incredible you've ever seen, and the majesty of just the stars at night, the intricacy of the human body and the fact that reproduction or birth…"
I don't know if you've ever thought about that, but all of the things that are amazing, and you don't think he will provide for you? You're a little-faither. He points out there's a relationship between the size of our faith and the size of our worry. He says, "You can trust me. I've got you. I will provide for your needs."
Your heavenly Father is in control. Listen to me, he will provide for everything you need. If you need it, he will provide it. He showed how clearly that is true when he died on the cross for your greatest need. The greatest need you will ever have in life is the fact that every action, every sinful decision I've made and you've made have put us in debt to God, or deserving of punishment.
Just like any time you were a kid and you acted up against your parents there would be consequences or deserving of punishment. Just like anytime you break the law there are punishments, consequences, fines, jailtime, things like that. All of us, through our own decisions, have broken God's law and deserve to be punished. God has said, "I will allow you to not have the punishment because I'll give my Son to take and pay for your punishment, pay for your sins, pay for your crimes. That's how far I'll go to provide for your needs, your greatest need.
You don't think I can help you with the presentation you have this week? You're a little-faither. You don't think I can get you a job? You don't think I can provide for your needs? You don't think I'm big enough to handle whatever you're walking through? You're a little-faither." In a comedic, brilliant, clear way, Jesus says, "You can trust your heavenly Father. He's got you. He controls everything. He will provide for your needs."
Even by saying the idea of don't worry, which he says four times in this passage, four different times…don't worry, don't worry, don't worry…he's implying, "I've got you." Why do I say that? You cannot be a good God and say, "I've got you, but I'm not going to provide for you." Why do I say that? You can't be a good friend and say that.
Here's what I mean. If we were leaving tonight, and we were all going to eat, and we were getting ready to drive together, and I was like, "Dude, you can ride with me," and as we're walking out to the parking lot, you begin to realize, "Ah man, I forgot my wallet." I looked at you and said, "Don't worry about it."
Get in the car. Drive to the restaurant. Get to the restaurant. Sit down. Eat. At the end of the meal, waitress comes up. "Hey, you guys want one check or two checks?" If I look at her and say, "We'll take two checks," you would look at me and go, "What do you mean two checks? I told you I didn't have my wallet, and you said don't worry about it."
If I responded with, "Ha! You thought I was going to pay for you? No, I was not going to pay for you. I just didn't want you to worry. Worry is never a healthy, productive use of time. It doesn't make you feel good. It's bad for your blood pressure," you would look at me like, "You're a bad friend, and a little crazy." You would be right, because you can't be a good friend and say, "Don't worry about it, but I don't got you." You can't be a good, perfect heavenly Father and say, "Don't worry about it, but I don't got you." He's telling you, "I will provide for your needs. You can trust me."
He hammers this home in the final verses of this passage where he says, "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'" Where am I going to work? Where am I going to live? Who am I going to marry? Will we be better off with kids? Don't be anxious about those things.
"For the Gentiles…" That's a word for people who don't have a relationship with God. For Christians, we would use the word non-believers. Non-believers run "…after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all." He will provide for you. You can trust him. He has invited all of us to work hard, be responsible, fill out the job application, get ready for the presentation, do everything you can to prepare for interviewing, but at the end of the day, you don't have to worry.
He has promised he will provide for your needs. He's the one who says, "Get in the car. You don't need your wallet. You can ride with me. I'll drive, and I've got you. You can trust me." Do you know what the second most repeated command is? You guys know this because… Alison, do you know? What's the second most repeated command in the Bible? I wouldn't have known it had I not been preparing for this.
The most repeated command in the Bible, we've talked about it, is do not fear. There's an Olympic ceremony. Number one. Who would get the gold medal in the Bible for most repeated command? Do not fear. The second most repeated command in the Bible. Who'd get silver? Remember. Remember. Remember.
This whole message, remember who your heavenly Father is. Remember God will provide for your needs. Over and over and over, he says, "Remember." Remember what he has done. Remember who your God is. Remember what he can do, what he will do. Remember his promises to you. Over and over, he says, "Remember," and he probably does because he knows we are people with very short attention spans.
Even before this, we were joking that the iPhone has not helped. It has made our attention span like that of a goldfish, or even shorter than a goldfish. We're so quick to forget and to move on. It's hard to remember what I had for breakfast let alone God's provision, his promise, who he is.
He says, "Remember. I have you. When you're feeling anxious, when you're feeling concerned, let the promise I've given you, I will provide for your needs, wash over you." Not all of your wants. We're going to talk about that in weeks ahead. "Everything you need, I've got you. You can trust me," a promise that he most clearly kept on the cross.
I'll land here. The idea of a dog mom, Emily, loves her dog, or the fact that God loves us more than Emily loves her dog, it's not really hard for me to believe that. I think that's true. It's pretty easy for me to be like, "Yeah, God clearly loves us more than she loves her dog," even if she won't admit it.
But the idea that God loves us more than any parent loves their child, that stretches my faith. I have two kids. I can't even put into words how much I love my kids. The fact that God loves me more than I love my kids? I wake up in the middle of the night, and I get sad thinking about how I have a 4-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter, and they're at that stage in life…you don't even probably know what I'm talking about…where their baby fat is just like disappearing, and you're like, "Oh no, God! Please don't let it go too fast."
I wake up thinking just heartbroken over there's going to come a day I'm going to be separated from them. If Jesus doesn't come back, one of us will die before the other. All of which is just for the point I love my kids so much, it's hard for me to imagine God could love me, you more. It makes me irrational how much I love my kids sometimes.
My wife came home recently from swim lessons for my son, who's 4, who's going through it, and she began to explain as I asked her, "How did swim lessons go?" because he's trying to learn to swim. She was like, "Oh, it kind of went okay. He didn't do great. He doesn't really like the drills. He didn't do great at them. It wasn't as good as the other kids, and I just feel like he had a bad attitude because of that the whole time."
I hear that, and a normal person would be like, "Oh, well, I'm sure he'll get them next time." As his father, because I so love him, an irrational protectiveness snaps into my head, where I'm like, "Oh really! Really, swim lessons! Hey, you're going to do me like that? Huh? Who do you think you are, swim lessons? We don't need you. We don't need to swim. We aren't living on an island somewhere. Why are we even doing swim lessons? If anybody is going to mess with my… I'm going to go find swim lessons right now. Right now, I'm going to find it," as though swim lessons is some like bully from school, but as his dad, it's hard not to.
I love him so much. I snap into a protective mode that doesn't even make sense because I love him. The Bible says there's no parent on the planet who loves their son or daughter more than God loves you. There's no husband who loves his wife more than God loves you. There's no wife who loves her husband more than God loves you. There's no person who loves their family member more than God loves you. He proved it. He has promised, "I will provide for your needs."
We're going to talk in this series about a lot of different things related to anxiety, but you have to know if you're a believer you can rest. God has promised you, "Listen to me. I've got you. I will provide. I love you. I provided by giving my life for you, and I will provide for your needs. Trust me. Remember." Let me pray.
Father, I pray for anyone right now, and there are thousands who are hearing this and will hear this message who are anxious. They're afraid. It feels like they can't conquer it, and they run back to it every single day. They're flooded with emotions and fear, and their heart races. I pray you would help them remember in those moments who their Father is, your promise, your provision, you're in control and that they can trust you. I pray they would rest in that, and they would trust you.
I pray that you throughout this series would become bigger and more real than any fear or anything in their life, and you'd help all of us to trust you, the Father who loves us, who made us, who wants more for us and more peace in our lives than we even want for ourselves. Help us to experience that.
I pray for anyone who has never trusted in Jesus that this would be their night, and they wouldn't just experience earthly peace but eternal peace through being forgiven, which they can accept when they accept the work you did on the cross in their place. We love you. In Christ's name, amen.