Summary: As we continue with the 24 series we look at Jesus instructions on Worry.
Don’t Worry Be Happy
Rev. Denn Guptill
It is a great song. I remember when that song first came out we were living in Truro at the time. Now I have a confession to make I prefer two types of music either country music or stuff from the seventies. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” doesn’t fit into either one of those categories. So I was ignorant of the song at first, I mean I heard people humming the tune on the street or other people singing little snippets from the song but it wasn’t until I heard a guy in my church by the name of Ken MacDonald singing it one night while we were working and I was shocked. I wouldn’t have thought that Ken MacDonald even owned a radio, let alone listened to one, and yet here he was singing a pop song. And so I thought to myself, “Self, you’d better find out what this is all about”. And I discovered that this song written and performed by a virtually unknown artist by the name of Bobby McFerrin was the number one song on the American and Canadian pop charts.
You heard it this morning as our call to worship, Here’s a little song I wrote You might want to sing it note for note Don’t worry, be happy. In every life we have some trouble But when you worry you make it double Don’t worry, be happy. Don’t worry, be happy now. And so it goes, and then if the song wasn’t enough Bobby went and wrote a book with another 200 verses.
A cute song but not a completely new concept. That same philosophy was espoused by Jesus of Nazareth 2000 years ago when he was preaching on the Sermon on the mount. As a matter of fact when Jesus wasn’t saying “Don’t worry” he was asking the question “Why do you worry?” In the scripture that Leigh read this morning Jesus was basically saying “Don’t worry, be happy” But that is a lot easier said then done, I mean even though millions of copies of Bobby McFerrin’s record were sold around the world it didn’t seem to have a major impact on how people live. Sometimes we think “Great as if I didn’t have enough to worry about now I have to worry about worrying”
The first thing that I want to note this morning is the word that Christ used for worry in the Greek actually meant “an anxious worry”, and it conveys a sense of anxiety. When your child walks to school you may be concerned about his safety on the way there, that’s not a problem. But if you become consumed with that worry to point of not being able to function, then you have a problem. There is a world of difference between concern and anxious worry. And so Jesus spends the next ten verses explaining why we shouldn’t worry.
1) Worrying is Needless
Jesus starts by talking about the most basic concerns of mankind. The need for food, clothing and shelter. Now these aren’t frivolous concerns. You might be able to run around bare tailed and live under a tree in Australia but in most of the world that just isn’t an option. And so Jesus starts by getting right down to the nitty gritty, right down to brass tacks, right down to where the rubber meets the road. Have I left any metaphors out?
He doesn’t start by saying, “Don’t worry about where your next car is going to come from”, he says “Don’t worry about where your next meal is going to come from” He doesn’t say “Don’t worry whether you have Levis or Reeboks to wear” he says “Don’t worry if you don’t have anything to wear.”
Now that is not to say that we shouldn’t be concerned with the material things of life, or with providing for our families. But listen up, will worry provide those things that we need? Nope, not at all. A wise man once said, “Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.” Worry is essential wasted energy, energy which could be used a lot more productively some where else.
Through high school I worked at Tip Top Tailors, and then for a while in the eighties I sold Toyotas, both of those jobs paid commission. And every once in a while we’d get a new salesman on the floor who just wasn’t cut out for commission sales. It wasn’t that they couldn’t sell, on straight salary they were terrific. But when their next pay cheque depended on their performance they spent so much time worrying about when the next sale was going to come that they usually missed it.
And so Jesus begins by drawing a couple of examples from nature to illustrate his point. Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Now the problem here is the person who looks at this and stands back and says “Great, I don’t have to do anything but wait for God to provide me with all my needs, and all my wants.” But let’s recognize that Christ wasn’t teaching people about their work ethic and employment. He wasn’t talking about working he was talking about worrying.