Summary: Worry is the painful preoccupation with the consequences of what “might” happen. The Lord forces us to think about why we are not to worry in these verses.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 33
The World’s Most Acceptable Sin
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.” [Craig Simpson. “Don’t Worry About Anything.” SermonCentral.com]
In our previous study we learned about “The Folly Of Seeking The Comfortable Life.” In this part of Jesus’ sermon we saw how he dealt with the subject of greed, this subject when a man in the crowd cried out the Jesus, requesting Him to instruct his brother to give him his share of the inheritance. Jesus refused to act as a judge or arbiter, but did not hesitate to point out that the problem was greed, and then to teach that even for those who are able to attain an abundance of possessions will find that life does not consist of possessions. His parable of the rich fool drove this point home. In the previous section Jesus spoke to those who have more than enough about their preoccupation with “getting ahead” and now He speaks to those who are worrying about “getting by.”
Understand with me that life was hard in biblical Palestine, roughly equivalent to the life of the poor in Third World countries today. In many parts of the world people struggle each day for food and clothing. They live on the fringe of survival.
Note that this section is addressed not to the crowd but to the disciples. Verse twenty-two, “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.”
Some translations render verse twenty-two “for this reason I say to you.” Since these words are addressed to the disciples the implication is that worry is one of the besetting sins of believers. 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. We need to recognize that the Bible says worry is a sin. “It is, however, one of the socially acceptable sins in the Christian life. We would never smile at a Christian who staggered into his home night after night drunk and abusive. But we often smile at a Christian friend who worries. We would not joke about a brother or sister in God’s family who stole someone’s car, but we regularly joke about worrying over some detail in life.” [Charles Swindoll. Living Beyond the Grind. Book I (Dallas: Word, 1988) p. 176]
The primary New Testament word for worry is (merimnao) which means “to take thought of” or “to be careful about.” He is not calling for thoughtless existence or the absence of appropriate concern. It would best to understand
It is this same word Jesus used when He said, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on….” (Matthew 6:25 - KJV). And Paul used it when he wrote, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). Those appear at first glance to be good things. But the Greek term actually gives the picture of a divided mind. The worrier has a mind that is torn between the real and the possible, the immediate and potential. 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 the future today but that is 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 doing, part of your mind is worrying. Worry superimposes the future on the present. Worry is the painful preoccupation with the consequences of what “might” happen. The Lord forces us to think about why we are not to worry in the following verses.