I just got home after having an iron-sharpens-iron lunch with a close friend of mine who is on staff at a megachurch in Lancaster County. We talked about the way the Corona Virus is impacting our society and even the church. Canceled trips, quarantines, falling stock markets, and isolationism are the emerging realities that we are all forced to consider and deal with. One predictable consequence of it all is an escalation of worry!
We all worry about lots of different things. But here’s the myth that many of us have bought into: “I can control things by worrying about them.” The truth that refutes that myth is this: “Worry does nothing for you, it only makes you miserable.”
The lie we often buy is that If I worry about it, my kids, my marriage, my job, the economy, and yes, even pandemics, then I can control the uncontrollable. That is a myth that can make you miserable.
In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount in Mathew chapter 6, Jesus gives us several reasons why we’re not supposed to worry. He tells us the truth about worry because the truth sets us free. One of the most difficult commands in the Bible to obey is not thou shalt not kill, steal, covet, etc. but rather Philippians 4:6, “…don’t worry about anything.”
Whenever God tells you to do something, He makes a way for you to do it. The root word for worry comes from the English root word which means to “choke,” or to “strangle.” Worry strangles the life out of you and chokes the happiness out of you.
The Greek word for worry in the Bible means literally “a divided mind,” and there’s this internal tug-of-war pulling at you, and it only makes you miserable. Jesus, in Matthew 6 says five things about worry:
I. Worry Is Unreasonable
“Do not worry about your life, what you’ll 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?” (vs. 25)
Worrying doesn’t make sense; there are more important things in life. We tend to worry about materialistic things, and it’s just irrational when you stop to think about it.
Why is worry unreasonable?
- We worry about the wrong things.
- To worry about something you can’t change is useless.
- To worry about something you can change is stupid.
- Worry always exaggerates the problem.
Jesus says that worry is illogical, unreasonable, and it throws things all out of proportion.
II. Worry Is Unnatural
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (vs. 26)
“And why worry about your clothes? Look at the field lilies! They don’t worry about theirs. Yet King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as they.” (vs. 28-29 LB)
If anybody’s on God’s welfare roll, it’s the birds. The robins have returned to my neighborhood recently, and they probably have to yours, too. God says, “I take care of birds, aren’t you a lot more valuable than birds?”
And then there are the daffodils and tulips that are blooming in my front yard right now. Have you ever looked at a flower up close? The intricacy! God took the time to make a flower so exquisite and it’s not even going to last six weeks. Jesus says, “God clothed the lilies of the fields and He takes care of them.” He says they don’t worry.
Here’s the point: He’s saying animals don’t worry, plants don’t worry, the only thing in all of creation that worries and doesn’t trust God is people, human beings. Everything else in all of God’s creation trusts Him.
Worry is not natural. You weren’t born with the ability to worry. Worry is a learned response. The good news is since it is learned, it can be unlearned.
Worry is unnatural, worry is unreasonable.
III. Worry Is Unhelpful
Jesus says it doesn’t work, it’s useless…
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (vs. 27)
Worry can’t make you taller, it can’t make you shorter, it can’t make you skinnier, it can’t make you fatter, it can’t make you live one day longer. In fact, if anything, worry shortens your life, it doesn’t lengthen it.
Worry doesn’t work. It’s like sitting in a rocking chair… a lot of motion, no progress.
- When you worry about your past, does that change it?
- When you worry about the future, does that control it?
Worrying is the biggest waste of energy. It does nothing except make you miserable. And, so, Jesus says it’s unhelpful.
IV. Worry Is Unnecessary
This is where we get to the real heart of the matter…
“And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you, O you of little faith?” (vs. 30 LB)
He says there’s no need to worry because God has promised to take care of you if you’ll just trust Him, He’s your Heavenly Father. God says, “I’m your heavenly Father, you don’t have to worry where the next paycheck is coming from if you trust me.” You look to God as the source of your supply.
Philippians 4:19 says, “…my God shall supply all your needs…” Does that include car payments? Does it include mortgage payments? Does that include doctor bills? When your kids need new shoes, does it include that?
Worry is, simply put, not trusting God, that’s the bottom line. Worry always indicates that you have a misunderstanding of who God is and what God is like.
Do you believe that God will do what He says He’ll do? We always get into trouble when we doubt God’s love. Think about this, If God can be trusted for my eternal salvation, can He be trusted for everything else? Since he has taken care of the greater, can he be trusted for the lesser?
I contend that when Philippians 4:19 says that God will supply all your needs, that means all!
V. Worry Is Unchristian
“Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them.” (vs. 31-32 NCV)
When you worry you are acting like an atheist, like a spiritual orphan, as if God doesn’t exist and that He won’t do what He’s promised to do. Worry is unchristian. Non-believers have a right to worry, in fact, they ought to worry. If I did not have a personal relationship with Christ, I’d be worried sick!
But Christians are different. We don’t have to worry because we have a Heavenly Father and He says “I will supply all your needs.” God says you are my children, but you’re acting like orphans every time you worry.
When you worry, you’re playing God. You’re assuming responsibility that God never intended for you to have. You’re trying to control the uncontrollable.
And, as if that were not bad enough, worrying is a poor testimony if you’re a Christian and you worry.
Now I’m going to give you what Jesus says about how to get rid of that worry. The sermon on the mount not only gives us the truth about worry, but also three steps in overcoming worry.
01. Put God First In Every Area Of My Life
“Your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well what you need, and he will give them to you IF you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.” (vs. 32-33 LB)
Worry is a warning light, an indication of mixed-up values. Whenever I start worrying, it means something’s out of whack, that something else has taken first place in my life.
One of the ten commandments says, “Thou shall have no other God before me.” So, any time you let anything take first place in your life above God, then they’re put in a position where they shouldn’t be and it creates a source of worry because they weren’t meant to be there.
Every person has to eventually decide who or what they are going to live for. Your answer to that question will tell me whether you’ll be plagued with worry the rest of your life, or not. Put God first.
02. Live Just One Day At A Time
“So, don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (vs. 34 NCV)
Don’t open up your umbrella until it starts raining. Don’t worry, just focus on today. There are two days of the week you should never worry about: Yesterday and tomorrow.
Why should I live only one day at a time? Because while you are worrying about tomorrow’s problems, you miss today’s blessings, and you add on additional issues and problems.
God does not give you grace for tomorrow, He gives you grace for today only. So, God says don’t worry about tomorrow, just focus on today. It’s okay to plan for tomorrow, but you’ve got to focus on today. You’ll miss today’s blessing if you’re always thinking about tomorrow.
Why did Jesus teach us to pray “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11)? Because He wants you to depend on Him one day at a time. Have you ever looked at an hourglass? The sand goes through one grain at a time. Trust God moment by moment.
03. Trust God To Take Care of Things Beyond Your Control
Put God first in every area of your life, live one day at a time, and trust God to care for the things that are beyond your control.
So, you have to decide am I going to trust my worries or am I going to trust God. There are a lot of things beyond your control but you can trust God because they’re not beyond His control.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs… If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.” Phil. 4:6-7 (LB)
He says don’t worry – pray. So, don’t panic – pray. Because those are the two alternatives. We will either panic or we will pray when we face the situations of life. If it isn’t worth praying about, it isn’t worth worrying about. If it’s worth worrying about, it’s worth praying about.
If God loved me enough to send Jesus, His Son, to die for me, don’t you think He loves me enough to care for every other need I’ve got?
The answer’s obvious.