Summary: If Jesus is my Shepherd I have everything I need
This morning, we are going to deal with what may very well be the most common sin among Christians. And I think you might be surprised when we find out what that sin is. See if you can identify that sin from these verses. As I read them, keep in mind that the verbs in every single one of these verses are commands. And would you agree with me that violating a command in the Bible is a sin?
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:34 ESV)
And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say…
(Mark 13:11 ESV)
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.
(Luke 12:4 ESV)
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.
(Luke 12:22 ESV)
And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified…
(Luke 21:9 ESV)
do not be anxious about anything…
(Philippians 4:6 ESV)
So what is the sin that is common to all these verses?
[Wait for answers]
A common sin among Christians: WORRY
After reading those passages, would you all agree that worry is a sin? And the reason that I think that this may very well be the most common sin among Christians is that there is a lot to worry about in this world, isn’t there? And there is no shortage of people out there, even those who claim to be Christians, who are happy to contribute to that worry.
A while ago I was listening to a radio talk show host who claims to be a Christian and I was struck by the fact that every company that was sponsoring his show was making their money by preying on our worries. The host was promoting buying gold and long-range food storage as means to counter our financial worries, alarm systems and safes to protect against fire and burglaries, guns to protect our families against people who would want to harm us, and identity theft protection to safeguard our credit cards and bank accounts.
Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those products. In fact, it might be very prudent for some of us to use one or more of them. But we ought not to do that out of a sense of fear, anxiety and worry. And the truth be told, in the long run, none of those products will really do anything to eliminate our worry because they are only dealing with the symptoms, and not the root cause of our worry.
This morning, I don’t want to in any way join in with all the people who are adding to your worries. There are far too many of them already. Instead, I want to share with you the Biblical antidote to worry – an antidote that gets to the very heart of our worry. We find that antidote in a passage that we read earlier this morning – Psalm 23.
For some reason it seems that the most of the time we hear this passage is at a funeral or memorial service. I know that when I’m asked to lead one of those events, the family almost always asks for that Psalm to be included and the words of that Psalm are often printed on the memorial folder that is given to those attending.
But as we study this beloved Psalm for the next 6 weeks, we are going to find that this is not a Psalm about death – it is a song about life – the kind of abundant, fulfilling, joyful, and worry-free life that can only be found by making Jesus our Shepherd.
It’s interesting that out of all the pictures that David could have chosen to describe his relationship with God that he chose that of a sheep and his shepherd. Certainly that was a familiar relationship for David, who had spent much of his youth as a shepherd, caring for his family’s flocks. But this Psalm is not written from the perspective of the shepherd. Instead, David imagines himself as one of the sheep and describes what it is like to be under the care of a competent, loving shepherd.
We don’t know exactly when David wrote this Psalm. It seems most likely that it was written at some later point in his life when he was being pursued by his enemies – perhaps when Saul was searching for him to try and kill him or maybe even when His own son Absalom had taken the throne by force and led his army against David. So there was no doubt that David had a lot he could have worried about. But as he looked back over his life, he recognized that God had cared for him in the same way he had lovingly cared for his sheep earlier in his life. So he begins the Psalm with these words: