Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who with the Holy Spirit are three-in-one.
Many of you have come to know our dog, Tetzle. He’s getting pretty long in the tooth now, but his life has been a good one. There is only one thing he worries about. He worries that we’ll never come home. Every time we leave him and come back it’s as if we have been gone for months, even if we only went to get the mail. Other than that, he doesn’t seem to have a worry in the world. He doesn’t worry about how his fur looks today. He is never “running behind schedule.” He’s not worried that life is sometimes unfair. As far as we know, he doesn’t worry about much of anything. When he wants a snack, he lets us know. When he needs to go outside to do his thing, he just goes out the doggie door. In fact, Tetzle is pretty happy go-lucky. He lives simply, with the trust that we’ll give him all that he needs; and he gets it, and so much more.
You know what’s cool about dogs: they love unconditionally; they’re usually happy, and they love to be by our side. Wouldn’t it be neat if we could all be like dogs — animals that simply don’t worry about a thing; they’re just plain, happy.
Worry is the number one mental disorder in America. “The Mayo Clinic claims 80-85% of total caseload is due directly to worry and anxiety. Many experts say that coping with stress is the #1 health priority of our day. One leading physician has stated that, in his opinion, 70% of all medical patients could cure themselves if only they got rid of their worries and fears.
We know that medical science has closely tied worry to heart trouble, blood pressure problems, ulcers, thyroid malfunction, migraine headaches, a host of stomach disorders, amongst others. For example, 25 million Americans have high blood pressure due to stress/anxiety; 1 million more develop high blood pressure each year. 8 million have stomach ulcers, every week 112 million people take medication for stress related symptoms.”
The world today seems to be filled with more and more stimuli that cause us to worry. Jobs, families, vacations, relationships, and on and on. It seems that as times go on, there is more and more to worry about and less time to cope with the situations that are caused by our constant need to manage our everyday lives. With all that is happening, one might think that we are living in the hardest of times.
I find it interesting that in verse 22, Jesus was talking not to the crowd but to the disciples. “Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.”
Even as believers we are not immune to worry, because we live under the same pressures of society that everyone else does. It is even possible to worry about being a worrier. We know that we shouldn’t worry but we just can’t seem to keep from worrying.
In a text I was studying for this sermon I learned that the primary New Testament word for worry is (merimnao) which means “to take thought of” or “to be careful about.” It is this same word Jesus used when He said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” And Paul used it when he wrote inPhilippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God”.
At first glance they appear to be simple things. But it actually gives the picture of a divided mind. The worrier has a mind that is torn between the real and the possible, what we know to be true and what has the potential for truth. He is trying to fight the battle of life on two fronts at the same time and he is bound to lose the war.
The worrier attempts to live in the future today, but that’s impossible, the future isn’t here and the future isn’t his.
To worry is to be distracted or preoccupied. No matter what else you’re doing, part of your mind is worrying. Worry puts the future in the present. Worry is the obsession of what “might” happen.
Worry is a bad idea for a couple of reasons. First, he tells us that worry is foolish in verses twenty-three – twenty-four. “Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?” Worry is especially foolish for Christians. To worry is foolishly to forget who we are –children of God.
Secondly, Worry is not only foolish it is useless. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!
Worry cannot lengthen life, but it can certainly shorten it. In fact, worry can rob us of two things in life, we won’t live as long and it will be much more difficult to live a happy and fulfilled life. People get ulcers not so much from what they eat as what is eating them. The alternative is not to be care-less but to be trust –full. If worrying is such a useless activity because it does not work, why are we consuming so much of our time and our energy doing it?
The raven demonstrates God’s gift of food and the lilies of the field of God’s gift of clothing. Notice that the Raven, which is not even considered a clean bird, is still provided for by God
Someone once said that “Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.” Just telling us not to worry isn’t very helpful, however. People who tell us that usually seem unrealistic, uninformed, or patronizing. A simple “don’t worry be happy,” just won’t cut it. So how can we attempt to overcome worry? In the text we find three great ways for overcoming worry.
First we read verses 29 and 30. “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.”
Jesus literally says here that believer’s are to stop doubting or worrying about the things that you need. This is not a suggestion these are necessities, they are commands.
Rather, we are asked to trust God for those things that are beyond our control. Whenever we start to feel anxious we can give our burden over to the Lord. (1 Peter 5:7) is the invitation of God to “Cast all your care upon Him for he cares for you.” Scripture says in Psalms 46:1 that God is “a very present help in a time of trouble.”
We then see the second way to deal with worry in verse 31, “Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you”
It’s a question of getting our priorities straight. If we let the wrong thing be “number one” in our lives, it could create an enormous amount of stress and worry as we attempt to deal with it. But when we put God first, when we put our trust in Him, it is amazing what will happen. We see way number three in v. 32 “Do not fear little flock for it is your Fathers’ pleasure to give you the kingdom”
In verse thirty-two Jesus really gets to the bottom line, WORRY IS REALLY FEAR! Jesus tells the believer that they are to stop being afraid, it is this fear that reveals itself in our lives as we worry.
The antidote to fear is faith. Dr. E Stanley Jones explained this a long time ago when he said; “I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath—these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely—these are my native air.
Place your concerns at the feet of Christ. Every morning, visualize yourself taking that load of fear and anxiety and giving it up to the one who brings you courage to face the day.
Worry is one of the devil’s greatest tools to run our lives, but we have one who is greater than the devil to fight for us. I invite you to give your cares and worries to God. Trust in Him to lead your life. Rely on His promises to care and protect you in this life all the way to the next. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen