Summary: When we fret with anxiety, we’re to focus on the Almighty.
Rev. Brian Bill
Video: Man on the Street
We have a lot to worry about, don’t we? I’ve been worried this week about our niece and my mom who have cancer because both of them were hospitalized. This sermon today is for me. If it spills over and helps you, that’s great. Some of you are anxious about adversity that has hit you. Actually, on any given week, many come to our corporate worship services worried. Here are some excerpts from notes people sent me this week.
* Anxiety seems to be an everyday experience for me lately in one form or another. The degree varies according to the time of day.
* Even though I tell myself over and over that there is nothing to worry about…I always find something!
* I’ve been anxious about the future lately…with graduation, this summer and college…there are a lot of changes coming.
* I’ve been struggling with anxiety for awhile. I often wake up in the middle of the night covered in worry and fear.
* Panic was my master, fear was my guide, and they always made the final decision.
* Been a Christian for 39 years now and anxiety still comes.
* Anxiety runs in our family. I used to be very worried about everything.
* I worry constantly. Those who know me can confirm this. If I don’t have something personal to worry about, I will seek out someone or something to worry about.
On top of all this, this has really been a week of worry in our world.
* All this rain is causing farmers to put off planting because their fields are too wet.
* Did you hear about Air Force One buzzing New York City and Ground Zero? Apparently it was just a publicity photo shoot but it caused people to flee buildings and call loved ones on their cell phones.
* A world-wide H1N1 flu focus has caused a ton of fears. The World Health Organization stated on Thursday that “all of humanity is under threat.” Did you know that the top three best-selling items sold on Amazon’s Health page are face masks?
I want to propose that there’s a global anxiety epidemic going on right now and it’s not just related to the flu. I do want to say at the beginning that going to see a doctor or a counselor is a good idea in some cases, particularly for those who suffer from severe anxiety attacks.
As we continue in our study of the Sermon on the Mount, we’re going to build on what we learned the last two weeks – if we’re serious about following Christ, then we must deal with conflict and if we want to learn how to pray, we’ll follow the model prayer given by Jesus. Today our topic is “Overcoming Anxiety” from Matthew 6:25-34. Like the previous two weeks I should warn you ahead of time that there are some pretty strong words in this passage. The words themselves are actually very easy to understand but difficult to implement and apply because for many of us, anxiety has ruled our lives for a long time.
Before jumping in, allow me to make two observations.
* The word “worry” is used six times in this passage. The word itself comes from an Old English word that means “to strangle, to choke, or to seize by the throat.” The Greek definition refers to being drawn in different directions so as to be distracted. Worry will pull us apart and can lead to mental and emotional strangulation. It was used to refer to the practice of wolves killing sheep by biting them around the neck, strangling their prey to death.
* When Jesus tells us to “not worry,” He does so three times (verses 25, 31, and 34). These are commands from Christ Himself, not nice-sounding suggestions. This provides a helpful corrective to what might be the number one sin of Christians today – anxious worry. Someone has said that there are more people addicted to anxiety than to all the other addictions combined.
Worry Will Wipe You Out
We’re going to see today that when we fret with anxiety, we’re to focus on the Almighty. I see four ways that worry will wipe us out in verses 25-32.
1. Worry is a waste (25-26). Listen to verse 25: “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?” Who we are is more important than what we wear or what we eat or what we drink.
In order to get our eyes off ourselves, Jesus tells us to look at how God’s creation works: “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?” Said the robin to the sparrow, “I would really like to know why these anxious human beings rush about and hurry so.” Said the sparrow to the robin, “I think that it must be, that they have no Heavenly Father, such as cares for you and me.” Very few birds go into farming but God still feeds them. If God does that for the birds, He’ll certainly take care of us, right? But here’s the problem for many of us. Deep inside we seriously question whether we’re worth anything to God.