Sermon

Do Not be Anxious (Luke 12:22-34)

The Bible is clear that the new heavens and new earth will be phenomenal.  Most likely those of us who are Christians here today know that our salvation through Christ has eternal benefits in the life to come.  But does that mean our salvation is only beneficial for the life to come and not beneficial in this life?  To put it another way, when you became a follower of Christ; did you receive a “claim ticket” that is redeemable in the future but worthless until then?  What if our salvation is not merely a claim ticket to be redeemed in the future, but an entirely new life that begins now and starts being useful now?
This is what the Bible teaches.  It teaches us that our salvation is not just for the life to come but has practical benefits in this world.  The Bible teaches that salvation through Jesus Christ involves someone becoming a new person (2 Cor 5:17) living a new life (Rom 6:4) that begins in this world (Rom 6:13) and continues forever in the new world to come (Rev 21:3).
There are many practical applications of this truth, but the one we are going to focus on this morning (Luke 12:22-34) is this: Jesus Christ frees His followers from anxiety and worry by promising that God the Father will take care of them.  This is a promise from God that is to be received by faith.  The strength of your faith is demonstrated by how you respond to this promise. If you believe God will take care of you, you may become anxious but you will not remain anxious.  If you do not believe God will take care of you, you will live in bondage to anxiety and worry.

Context

After challenging the crowd to “take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness” (15), Jesus instructs them to strive to be “rich toward God” (21).  The reason being is that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (15).  Jesus, in verses 13-21, is pressing His followers to abandon the worldly pursuit of riches and begin striving to live for God.  In verse 22, Jesus turns to His disciples and tells them “therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.”  They are not to be anxious about these things because “life is more than food, and the body more than clothing” (23).

Interpretation

In verse 24, Jesus uses an illustration to make His point: “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.”  In verse 27, He uses another illustration: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  These two illustrations show us the love and care God gives to birds and flowers.  This is an argument from the lesser to the greater because Jesus says, “of how much more value are you than the birds!” (24) and “If God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you” (28).  If God cares for the birds and grass (the lesser) how much more shall He care for you (the greater).  It is in verse 28 that Jesus makes the connection between worry and faith. He says that those who worry about these things are “of little faith!”

In verses 29-30, Jesus instructs His followers: “do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.”  Jesus is not condoning or calling for laziness, but is calling His followers to stop worrying about what they need and start trusting/believing that God will provide what they need.  In verse 31, Jesus tells His followers to demonstrate their faith and “seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”

In verse 32, Jesus tells His followers not to fear because “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  He, therefore, encourages His followers to “provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.”  Jesus says to “sell your possessions, and give to the needy” (33).  This should not be understood as selling everything they owned (or else they would be needy), but rather selling what they do not need in order to meet the needs of those who are in need.  By taking this action, they signify their faith in God’s promises; their desire to seek God’s kingdom and not their own kingdom.  Jesus finished this section by saying, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (34).

This is not to say that a follower of Christ will never be anxious, but this does say that a follower of Christ will not remain anxious. There is a difference.  A follower of Christ will be tempted to be anxious and will be anxious from time to time, but he/she will not stay anxious because they believe God’s promise to take care of their needs (food, clothing, shelter, etc.).  When anxiety comes, the Christian goes to the promises of God and receives the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).

Application

Verse 34 is a very important verse to summarize this passage.  Jesus said, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Did you know that you show the world where your heart is by how you spend your time and money?  Where you invest your time and money indicates what you value.  If you do not make time during your week for Jesus and His kingdom, you tell the world that you do not consider Him to be very important.  But, if you love Him and invest in His kingdom, you show the world that He is your greatest treasure.

What do you spend your money on?  Is it spent out of anxiety or worry?  Is it spent primarily out of selfishness?  What brings you comfort?  Is it something other than Christ? What frustrates you? Are your frustrations, worries, and anxiety usually related to your needs and wants or are they usually related to God and His kingdom?
These are questions Jesus calls us to consider because we need to be aware of which kingdom we seek.  If Christ is your treasure anxiety will flee.  Receive forgiveness for your sins and become a part of His kingdom.  Come to Jesus Christ.