Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
ANXIETY IS NOT ABLE TO ALTER NEITHER ALTITUDE NOR ADVANCE AGE (Matthew 6:27)
And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? Jesus' word (helikh), translated
measure of life (American Standard Version) or stature (King James Version) is particularly interesting because it is
just enough ambiguous to suggest two fruitful lessons:
Neither anxious worry nor loss of sleep nor beating one's brains about it could have altered the exact height of a
child at any stage of his growth.
The image called up by this expression of Jesus is that of a man anxiously hurrying across the years of his life. He
stumbles, grasping for his last breath and reaches out, clawing his way forward in the effort to have just another 18
inches along the path of life. He dies miserably short of this least goal! All of his previous worries have been in
vain, because, worry or not, his life has run its course. This is not fatalism but at the point of death there is no
10) Matthew 6 - Anxiety continued
Does your sinful, unbelieving anxiety resolve this basic problem of life? No, it miserably fails at the very point where
it was supposed to work!
Although Jesus did not mention it, as a matter of fact worry often shortens life through shattered nerves, stomach
ulcers and heart attacks. These are often the result of constant worry which wears out the mind and body, which
distracts the attention from real sources of help, and which lessens the power of decision and pushes men gradually
into a frustrating incapacity to deal with life.
Matthew 6:28 And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? This question is the principle point of Jesus' description
of the field lilies, not the fact that they perform no work. Just what flower Jesus indicates by this term is not known.
Some think He meant the autumn crocus, the scarlet poppy, the Turks cap lily, the anemone, the narcissus, the
gladiolus or the iris. Perhaps Jesus had no particular flower in mind, but was thinking of the extremely beautiful
flowers that adorn the Galilean fields. How they grow: this is the precise connection in which Jesus brings in the
flowers to illustrate His point about worry concerning clothing. They toil not, neither do they spin.
They were not designed to do these tasks of which hard-working men and women are capable. They, like the birds,
do those simple tasks assigned to them, and God takes care of the rest. This is the point: men were not designed
to worry; they were designed to trust God and to toil and spin without anxiety.
Would you seek to clothe yourself in rich raiment? Solomon's class is still beyond you. But even if you had the
wealth to put yourself on his level, one simple unworrying flower surpasses you and Solomon both!
In view of the brevity of life and the temporary nature of physical charm and the perishable quality of the most
gorgeous garments, how baseless and foolish is pride over a handsome body and anxious concern for royal
Man is of eternal usefulness to God, and if God is so concerned about so minor a creature as grass and flowers, will
He neglect man who is to Him of infinitely greater value and enduring service? They are made but for a few days;
God made man for eternity.
Our God-given task is to do the work appointed for us (toil and spin of verse 28). It is by this work that He has for us
that He has chosen to provide for us. But concern for the unforeseeable and unknowable future is God's business,
O ye of little faith (Matthew 8:26, Matthew 14:31, Matthew 16:8, Matthew 17:20, James 1:5-8). This is the most
significant term of reproach Jesus ever used toward His disciples.
The same faith that trusts God for grace and guidance must also trust Him for garments and groceries. Man is all
one piece: the less he trusts God for his temporal needs, the less he really believes in His eternal mercies, since
the same faith is called upon to lay hold of both.
Matthew 6:31 Here are the very symptoms of distrustful people, the very complaints they make when losses or
adversities befall them or their supply of necessities is apparently cut off, or when they lose their job or their
investments do not pay off or they are stricken with some incapacitating disease. These very demands denote that
they who ask them have no faith in God's goodness.
Worry is a characteristic of heathen unbelief. What use is all our knowledge if we still act like those who never
heard of our Father? How many of us are pagans in a crisis? How many are daring enough to bank their faith on
God's character? Such distrust may be understandable in one who believes in a capricious, unpredictable god, but
such conduct in a worshipper of our Father is totally incomprehensible. Another characteristic of pagans is that
they think that they themselves must provide for all their needs without any dependable reference to the true God.
There must be a marked difference in the practical affairs of Jesus' disciple that strikes a sharp contrast with the
mentality of the world (John 17:14, Romans 12:2, Titus 2:12).
Matthew 6:32 Jesus does not call Him "God," in the since of an omniscient Supreme Being who would be expected to
know our need, but "Father," in the sense of one who both knows and feels our need. Jesus is constantly trying to
restore our proper perspective.