Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 10

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Matthew 6:19-34

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the “middle parts” (ex: merciful, poor in spirit) of the Beatitudes, the “salt and light” passage, and the “heart of the law” passage in Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, 14-20. Now read 6:19-34 in light of those passages.

What is the main theme of both 19-24 and 25-34? Is there one verse that could serve as a theme verse for the entire passage? Which one, and why?

2. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists the traits that define Christian character. In much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount He fleshes out what many of these character traits look like when walked out in “real life”. Which of the traits (the “middle parts” – there could be several) listed in the Beatitudes is Jesus expanding on in 19-34? How does 6:33 echo 5:6?

How could anxiety-driven greed bland your saltiness? (5:13-16) How can contentment and trusting in God to provide make you saltier and brighter?

3. Review from our previous lessons (links above) the idea that the Sermon on the Mount is to the New Testament / new covenant what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament / old covenant.

Though they are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Commandments, which of the Ten Commandments could be connected to worry, anxiety, and storing up earthly treasures?

Despite having dropped the “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” framing of His teaching in chapter 6, how is Jesus still shifting the people’s focus from outward obedience to the letter of the law to zeroing in on the attitude of their hearts and the spirit of the law? How should treasuring Christ above all else and trusting His care for us be at the heart of our obedience to God’s laws?

4. Are verses 19-24 specifically and/or exclusively talking about money? How does this passage apply to treasuring riches? What are some ways it could apply to treasuring things other than money?

Think back to the spring of 2020 and the beginning of COVID when everyone was stockpiling and hoarding toilet paper. What does this passage have to say to that situation (or others you can think of) about treasuring our own strength and provision over God’s? How can worry and anxiety (25-34) drive us to trust in our own provision over trusting God to provide?

What is the connection between your treasure and your heart? (21) Why do our hearts follow our treasure?

5. Verses 19-21 and 24 focus on not loving money and not putting your heart into your treasure. How do verses 22–23 connect those two passages? What would a healthy eye and a bad eye be in this context? Is this a form of “lusting” after treasure? Pessimism versus optimism? Connect 22–23 to 5:29. Where is your focus?

6. Think about verse 24 in literal terms of serving God in a position of church ministry or in a business that deals in Christian products. Can you think of a real life example in which an individual, a ministry, or a Christian business attempted to serve God and money at the same time? Which one won out, God or money? If God, what hard decisions or sacrifices had to be made in order to keep Him first and rightly handle and obey His Word? How did God bless that obedience to Him? If money won out, how did the person, ministry, or business eventually succumb to false doctrine or sin?

7. Where is the line between being prepared and trusting God in today’s passage? Is verse 34 saying we shouldn’t plan ahead or work diligently? Compare 19-34 to these passages. How should we balance hard work with trusting God to provide, and how does the posture of our heart figure in to that equation?

8. How many times does Jesus say, “Do not be anxious,“ in 25-34? Can we consider this a command? Is there a difference between terms “anxious,” or “worry,” in this passage and “fret,” or having a fearful / troubled heart in other passages? Think of all the biblical passages you know of that deal with fear, worry, anxiety, or fretting. Why does God have to deal with us about this so often in Scripture?

Which two items does Jesus tell His hearers not to worry about in 25-34? How would you classify these items (ex: needs vs. wants, luxuries vs. basic necessities, etc.)? How would you classify the things you most often worry about, compared to the basic necessities of food and clothing? If God promises to take care of our most fundamental needs, what does that tell us about His ability to take care of other, less “life or death” matters?

How are worry and anxiety indicators of “little faith“? (30) How does worrying fundamentally state, “God, I don’t trust you to do what you’ve promised. I’ve got to handle this myself.“? What might the consequences be when we fail to trust God and worry about a situation so much that we take matters into our own hands? In several places, the Bible speaks of “waiting patiently on the Lord”. How can waiting on the Lord tempt us to be anxious but also build our trust in Him?

9. How does trusting God to provide for us separate us from pagans? (32) How does today’s passage speak to hoarding – both hoarding out of greed, and hoarding out of fear?


Homework

  • Compare Philippians 4:4-7 to today’s passage. If you struggle with anxiety, try memorizing this passage and praying through it every time you feel anxious this week.


Suggested Memory Verse

Faith, Trust

Fear Not: 9 Biblical Ways to Trade Worry for Trust

Originally published April 24, 2015fear not

Did you have any fears as a child? Monsters? The dark? Dogs? When I was a little girl, I had this record of the story of Peter and the Wolf, and I was afraid of wolves at night (Look at the picture and listen to him growl. Can you blame me?). I just knew they were skulking around my bed in the dark, black as midnight, drooling rabidly, ready to shred me to ribbons should I stick so much as one toe out from under the covers. It was terrifying.

As adults, we look back on those childhood fears with some degree of smugness or embarrassment and think about how silly it was to be scared of something that was never a threat in the first place. But even if we don’t like to admit it, fear is something we grown ups still struggle with, at least from time to time. Finances, health, and our children’s futures may replace wolves, darkness, and the boogeyman, but fear is still fear, whether you’re four or forty.

And God is well aware of that fact.

In my Bible, the phrases “fear not,” “do not be afraid,” and other similar expressions appear over 75 times. Fear is a normal, God-given reaction that can be healthy and keep you safe in the event of a real threat. Fear is a blessing when it motivates you to jump out of the path of a speeding truck or stay away from a rattlesnake, but just like everything else affected by the Fall, fear can often be misdirected and thwart our growth in Christ.

Most of our fears as adults have nothing to do with tangible, imminent, life or limb danger. Usually, we are fearful of “what if’s.”

“What if I get a bad report from the doctor?”

“What if I get fired?”

“What if my teenage daughter gets pregnant?”

In other words, we worry about what might happen.

It’s really easy to sing “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” on Sunday, but much harder to actually do the work of trusting Him on Monday. Worry almost seems woven into the fiber of our DNA. In fact, worry has been such a common theme in the human experience that Jesus took time to address it during his Sermon on the Mount:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:25-34

Clearly, it is not God’s will for us to worry. No matter how strangling our fear may feel, God wants us to trust Him in everything, from the most dire situation to the most mundane. But how?

1. Make sure the object of your trust is the right one.

A popular false teaching from the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) camp these days is that it’s never God’s will for you to be sick, poor, or experience tragedy. If you just have enough faith, and decree and declare enough, you can yank whatever outcome you want right out of the hands of God. Do you know why that’s not true?

Arguably the mightiest men of faith in history, eleven of the twelve disciples were martyred. So was Paul. David, whom God said was “a man after His own heart” suffered tragedy after tragedy. Jesus Himself prayed in Gethsemane that God would keep Him from having to go to the cross, and God said no.

Like these godly men, as Christians, we do not place our faith in positive outcomes. We place our faith in Christ, and His sufficiency for us in all things, regardless of the outcome. Make sure you’re trusting Christ, not what you want Him to give you.

2. Get off the guilt train.

Sometimes we can fall into Satan’s trap of believing that if we’re really saved or really trusting the Lord or really have faith, we’ll never fear anything. Then, when those worries creep in, we start feeling guilty. We’re not supposed to have those feelings.

Have you ever read the story of Gideon? Gideon was one scared dude, and he had good reason to be. But even though he was scared and fumbling, he believed and obeyed the Lord. And the Lord commended him for being a man of great faith.

Trusting Christ doesn’t mean you’ll never be afraid of anything. Trusting Christ means you keep believing Him, keep loyal to Him, and keep obeying Him even when you are afraid.

3. Take reasonable precautions.

Trusting God doesn’t mean you should be careless. Eat healthy and exercise. Be frugal. Watch your children carefully. God gave us a whole book about using wisdom, and He gave us brains, so let’s use them.

4. You’re not in this by yourself.

God has promised never to leave you or forsake you. He has promised to give you the strength to deal with anything you come up against. He has promised you a way out of temptation. Trust that God is with you and will help you.

5. Rehearse your trust instead of your fear.

A lot of therapists will encourage you not to “repress” your fears but, rather, talk about them, write about them, examine them, etc. In other words, rehearse them (which only leads to more fear, because fear feeds off itself). But the Bible never says to do that. It says, “do not fear” and “trust in the Lord.” Period. No analysis required.

Those worries may start creeping in, but you don’t have to set the table and turn down the bed for them. Push them right out of your mind, slam the door behind them, and say (out loud is helpful), “No. I’m not going to worry. I’m going to trust the Lord.” You’ll still feel worried at first, but “fake it ’til you make it.” Your feelings will eventually follow.

6. Replace fearful thoughts with biblical thoughts.

After you’ve pushed those fearful thoughts out of your mind, consciously redirect your focus to trusting the Lord. Spend a few minutes in prayer asking God to help you trust Him. Put on some biblical worship music that focuses on the goodness of God, and sing along. Be thankful- start listing all the ways God is good and has blessed you. Recite and meditate on Scripture about trusting God. Some of my favorites are:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. Psalm 112:6-7

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

 7. Get your mind off it.

Watch a good movie. Have coffee with a friend. Better yet, serve someone who needs your help. Share the gospel with someone who’s lost. Get your mind off the worries and on to something better.

8. Get physical.

Go running or do some physical labor around the house or something like that. Either you’ll get some endorphins going and you’ll start feeling better or the shin splints and backache will completely erase any memory of whatever you were afraid of.

9. Repent and get a fresh start.

Sometimes (often, if you’re like me), you’re going to blow it. You’re going to give in to fear and let it control you instead of trusting God. You’re going to act on your fears and disobey God instead of trusting and obeying Him in spite of your fears. When that happens, don’t run away from the Lord. Run to Him. Repent and be forgiven. That’s what His mercy and grace are all about.

Worries are a normal part of life in a fallen world, but, in Christ, we are not to be enslaved by them. We have a Savior who is sovereign over all things. He clothes the grass with lilies. He feeds the wild birds. And He cares oh so much more for you. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and fear not.

How do you deal with worry in a godly way?


Additional Resources:

Do not let your hearts be troubled at A Word Fitly Spoken