Perhaps you’ve seen the little flyer that says, "So far today, God, I’ve done alright. I haven’t gossiped, I haven’t lost my temper. I’m not worried about anything; I haven’t been grumpy or nasty or selfish. I’m really glad of that. But in a few minutes God, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on, I’m probably going to need a lot of help”.
Well we need a lot of help, and especially in the area that we will be talking about this morning. I’m talking about living the worry-free life. And that sounds nearly impossible. And while we may not attain perfection, I do believe that we can go a long way towards reducing the amount of worry that we carry around.
Our text is found in Matthew’s gospel chapter 6
“Do not worry about your life”!
Well, let’s talk about worry. We all worry. Let’s just put that fact out there right away. We all worry from time to time. Some people worry over big things and some over little things. But we all worry.
And it’s hard to preach a sermon on not worrying because we’re all guilty of it. And I also find it difficult to preach on worry because I can look out here this morning and see some of you who have gone through things that I have never had to experience, and so it’s hard for me to simply say to you, “Don’t worry.”
I know that worry is relative to each of our situations and I also know that it’s not the easiest thing to just stop worrying. And while it may be easy to acknowledge that we need to worry less, it’s another thing to accomplish that.
A comedian tells the story about trying to throw a rubbish bin away; this was in the days of the metal dustbins. He said it’s the one thing you can’t get the dustbin man to take away. He said, I set an old rusty dustbin out on the pavement one morning thinking the dustbin man would understand that it needed to be thrown away. He said, when I came back that afternoon the bin was stood alongside the rest of the dustbins.
Well the next week I put it out again and this time I turned it upside down so they could see that the bottom had several holes in it and it needed to be thrown away. When I came home it was standing next to the empty bins again.
The next week I took a sledgehammer and I beat the can till it was almost flattened and I left it out for the bin men to take away. When I came home not only was it stood up next to the other empty dustbins but the bin man had actually tried to beat it back into shape.
And so he said finally I did the only thing I could do. I went to the hardware store and bought a heavy duty chain and a padlock and I chained the old bin to a large tree in my front garden. And sure enough, that night somebody stole it.
Worry is a lot like that dustbin. We know we need to get rid of it, but it’s not so easy to accomplish. And one of the worst realities about worry this morning is not just that it’s present but how we respond to it.
What are the most worrisome issues in your life? Maybe it’s a health concern for yourself or a loved one; maybe we’ve received notice that our job is being cut; maybe our financial incomings don’t meet our outgoings, maybe a relationship is breaking down; when all of these happen, who is it that more often than not gets the blame? It’s God, “Why does God let this happen to me?” And yet God is the only one who can offer the cure for hurt and worry.
Worry is not the same as concern
Now worry is not the same as concern. Concern says this is an issue and I’m going to deal with it and with God’s help I can get through it. Worry says "I don’t know" I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if I’ll get through. I just don’t know.
And I want to emphasize that worry is one of the Devils greatest weapons. It will steal your joy, steal your contentment, and steal your happiness. And we become so wrapped up in worry about tomorrow, worry about yesterday, that we never find peace today.
And what’s ridiculous is that so often we worry about things that never happen.
That’s what we do in life we worry about things that aren’t even there or haven’t even taken place yet.
Some useful statistics
I’m not sure where this came from, but I saw the statistics that when it comes to worry:
• 40% of the time we worry about things that will never happen;
• 30% concern things that can’t be changed;
• 12% centre in on criticism, mostly untrue, made by people who feel inferior; 10% relate to health which worsens when you worry;
• Only 8% are legitimate concerns which you can do something about.
Most of the time we worry about things that never happen.
Worry is like putting your car in neutral and revving the engine
Well, we worry about everything. And worry is like putting your car in neutral and revving the engine. It burns oil and petrol and is hard on the engine and it really doesn’t get you anywhere. Worry is like that. And it’s very serious and very common.
Worry can overwhelm us at any time if we allow it. But in Matthew chapter 6, verses 25-34, Jesus is saying, “You don’t have to allow it! You don’t have to let worry win the day!” Today, we’re going to look at 4 reasons why believers in God do not need to worry. Then we’ll talk about HOW to get the victory over worry.
When we look back at verses 19-24, Jesus is telling us not to base our lives around the acquisition of earthly treasures. He says that if you keep your eyes focused on the things of God, your body will be full of light. But if your eyes are always focused on the things of this world, then your body and soul will be full of darkness.
“Therefore, since we are not supposed to base our lives around the things of this world, there’s no need to worry about them! Jesus says in verse 25 “Do not worry about your life.”
Notice that Jesus isn’t giving us a suggestion. He isn’t saying, “Well, in my humble opinion, it might be a good idea not to worry!” No! In the Greek text, this is a strong command! Do not worry!
The Greek word for worry means to be divided and distracted. The word is used in Luke 10:41 to describe Martha. Jesus says in verse 41 “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen to spend time with ME. She has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.”
Martha is yelling at Mary for spending time with Jesus instead of helping with the housework. But she is so stressed out that she fails to see that she needs to spend time with Jesus just as much as Mary does! She needs to give her worries over to the Lord.
Jesus is teaching us the same thing in Matthew chapter 6.
The four things to worry about worrying
Firstly Worry is unreasonable
The first thing that He says is that worry is UNREASONABLE. Verse 25 says “Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes?” In other words, God has already given you the two earthly treasures that are more valuable than anything else! He’s given you life! And He’s given you a body! Since God has already given you the two most important things, how reasonable is it to worry about the lesser stuff like food and clothing?
Since God loves you enough to give you life, then He probably loves you enough to give you what you need. You might not get the exact job that you want, or the car that you want, or the 60 inch plasma Television that you want. But God will always make sure that you have what you need.
Are you worried about something right now? Are you worried about a relationship? Are you worried about the future?
The next time that happens, I want you to say, “Lord, I’m not being reasonable. You’ve been taking care of me for all these years. I think I can trust you to take care of me now. Help me to hand my worries over to you. Help me to trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
And then beginning with verse 26, Jesus gives us two illustrations of why worrying is unreasonable. First, He says “Look at the birds. They don’t sow or reap or store away in barns. They don’t worry about where the next meal is going to come from. All they do is fly around and look for the food, and God makes sure they can find it!”
Then in verse 28, Jesus says “Look at the lilies of the field! Look at how colourful they are! Look at how pretty they are! Those flowers are indisputable evidence that God knows how to take care of His creation!”
The fact of the matter is, animals don’t worry, trees don’t worry, plants don’t worry. There’s only one thing in all of God’s creation that worries that’s us. Human beings.
Humans are not designed to take the stress of worrying
And we weren’t designed to be able to take the stress of worrying. That’s why when we worry; we get back aches, stomach aches, headaches. I read that one of the major causes of illness resulting in a visit to the doctor is stress…which is another way of saying worry. We worry too much! We’re up tight.
The Bible says in Proverbs 12:25, "An anxious heart weighs a man down." Worry will weigh you down even more than work. If you worry about something, you’re much more fatigued than if you just went out and did some work. Worrying is simply unreasonable.
Secondly Worry is unproductive
The second thing Jesus says is that worrying is UNPRODUCTIVE. It doesn’t work. It’s useless. It’s is like rocking in a rocking chair. You’ve got a lot of activity, but you don’t go anywhere. You don’t make any progress. That’s what worry is. It doesn’t change the past. It doesn’t alter the future. All it can do is make you miserable in the present.
Jesus says in verse 27, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Not only will worrying not add anything to your life, it might end up SHORTENING your life! If you have a heart condition or a digestive condition, worrying can make your symptoms worse!
Worrying is stewing without doing. It is unreasonable, and it is unproductive.
Thirdly Worry is unnecessary
The third thing Jesus says is that worry is UNNECESSARY. Verse 30 says that since 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, O you of little faith?" In other words, “Since God goes out of His way to take care of the birds of the air and the grass of the field, then what makes you think He won’t take care of you?” You’re WAY more valuable than blades of grass!
And by worrying we actually are calling God a liar. We are saying to God, I know you can keep the sun in orbit. I know that you can sustain all life on earth. I know that you can answer prayers all over the world at once. I know that you have always been in control in the past...but I don’t believe you can take care of the problem I’m going through now.
Since God takes such good care of the lower orders of creation, God will certainly take care of the crown of His creation.” Psalm 145:15 says “The eyes of all creation look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.” Worrying is unnecessary.
Fourthly Worry is unchristian
Number four: Worrying is UNCHRISTIAN. Verse 31 says “31So do not worry, saying, ’What shall we eat?’ or ’What shall we drink?’ or ’What shall we wear?’ For the PAGANS run after all these things!
In other words, “Worrying about what to eat and what to wear are things that NON-Christians do! THEY’RE the ones who are always worried about food and clothing! THEY’RE the ones who panic every time the price of petrol goes up! THEY’RE the ones who are trying to make it through this life without the one true God!”
Worry is atheism in action
Worry is atheism in action. It’s acting as if there’s no God. It’s saying, "I don’t believe that there’s anyone out there who can take care of me. I don’t believe that God can help me with my sick family member! I don’t believe that God cares about the fact that I barely have enough to make my monthly mortgage payment! I’ve got to take matters into my own hands!”
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say that work and planning for the future are bad things. Even birds don’t sit around waiting for God to drop the food into their beaks. But I am saying that when we worry about the things of this life, we’re acting like atheists. We’re forgetting that God is actively involved in our lives. We’re forgetting to trust and obey.
You say, “Well Martin, what should we do instead of all this worrying and all this fretting?” I’m glad you asked! Jesus says in verse 33,
“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all
these things will be given to you as well.”
If you put your relationship with God ahead of everything else, He’ll make sure that you have everything you need.
Trusting God to provide eliminates the need for worrying. In Genesis 12, God tells Abram “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
And Abram could have said, “But Lord, how can I leave my country when I don’t know where I’m going? How am I going to make it financially? How am I going to be able to support my family? What if the people in the land of Canaan are hostile toward me?”
Abram could have worried himself right out of the will of God. But instead, the Bible tells us in Genesis 15:6 that “Abram believed the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” And as a result, God blessed him and made him the father of many nations. Trusting God to provide eliminates the need for worrying.
And over in Philippians 4:6, Paul says:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
In other words, “if you hand everything over to God in prayer, He will provide you with peace of heart and peace of mind.
And He’ll take care of all the other worries in your life, because verse 19 goes on to say that “my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” There can be no doubt that Trusting God to provide eliminates the need for worrying.
God said in Prov.3:5-6
“Trust the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”
And worry says I don’t believe He can do it.
Said the Robin to the Sparrow, I would really like to know, Why those anxious human beings, rush and worry so.
Said the Sparrow to the Robin, I think it must be, They have no heavenly father like the one that cares for you and me
Maybe this morning you can make a decision that you will give over that one thing that has really been worrying you. And you’re going to give that over to God and put your trust in Him and know that all things will work together for the good of those that love him.
Worry says: I don’t believe God can handle this one. And God says, try me.