Summary: This sermon deals with how a Christian should deal with worry.
8th Epiphany 2011
Why worry when you can follow.
Medical doctors estimate that more than 25% of their patients are what they have called the "worried well." Doctors spend a great deal of time examining people who are not really sick. They are only worried.
Worry seems to be part of our daily routine. We are often plagued by that "What if?" problem. What if my car was demolished? What if I get laid off from work? What if our house is burglarized? What if I get cancer? If we have a good job we worry that we’ll lose it and if we have good health we worry that we won’t have it long. If our children have left the house, we worry that they might come back home. From breakfast until bedtime our lives are characterized by worry. I have even known people whose biggest worry is that they can’t think of something to worry about.
I love the story of the man whose co-workers noticed that he was as worried as a centipede with athlete’s foot. Someone asked, "What are you so worried about?" He said, "A few years ago I went home one day and my wife was whistling "Tea for Two." Shortly thereafter we had twins. The next year I went home and she was watching The Three Musketeers on television. Shortly thereafter we had triplets." They said, "So why are you worried now?" He said, "Last night I went home and she was reading the book The Birth of a Nation."
It’s interesting how God speaks to where we live because in Matthew 6:25-34 God discusses worry. The reason He does so is interesting. He has just told the people not to let money be their master. He says in verse 24 "No man can serve two masters; for either you will hate the one and love the other or else you will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." But Jesus knew that the reason a lot of people let money be their master is that they are worried about tomorrow. Jesus knows that the average person thinks their worries would be solved if only his income increased. Therefore, having told them not to let money be their master, He gives them a better way to handle the problem of worry.
So how do we stay on the straight paths which God has made for us? The first faith principle is this: Focus on the fact that God will see you through anything, NOT on the bad things that MIGHT happen. How many of you play a movie in your mind of all the bad things that could possibly happen in the future? There is always something to worry about, like: losing your job, aging parents, wayward children, illness, terrorism, just to mention a few. It is easy to focus on the tress in the forest, and not so easy to focus on the open spaces.
So how do we deal with this kind of worry? When we accept the fact that bad things will happen, and a loving God will see us through them, it changes our focus. We begin to concentrate on how big our God is, not how big our problems are. We know that God is able, and that is all we need to know. We have the confidence that nothing will happen to us that God cannot handle, and even use for our benefit.
Listen to the words of Scripture from Psalm 34:17-19 which says, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. . . . The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”
Therefore, a scriptural definition of worry is, “a distracting care resulting from assuming responsibility that is not yours.” God is NOT saying "Don’t be concerned about your health." He is saying, "Don’t let that become such a distracting care that it is all you can think about. That is MY responsibility." God is NOT saying, "Don’t be concerned about your finances." He is saying, "Don’t let that become such a distracting care that money is all you think about. That’s MY responsibility." He is NOT saying, "Don’t be concerned about your job." He is saying, "Don’t let that become such a distracting care that your job is all you can think about. That’s MY responsibility." Worry is a distracting care resulting from assuming responsibility that is not yours.
The second thing I want you to notice is that verse 25 is a command. It says, "Therefore, I say to you, do not worry." The actual meaning behind that phrase is, "If you are not worrying, don’t start. If you are, stop it right now." Verse 25 does not say, "What are the possibilities of not worrying?" Verse 25 does NOT say, "Didn’t I have a good idea when I suggested you not worry?" Verse 25 does NOT say, "Why don’t you form a committee to decide if it would be a good idea not to worry." Instead, it means, "If you are not worrying, don’t start. If you are, stop it right now." Being this is a command from Jesus in this passage, you can look at it this way: Worry is sin, and therefore a disobedience to a God-given command. It is just as much a sin as stealing because God says you shall not steal. It is just as much a sin as coveting because God says you shall not covet. Worry is disobedience to a God-given command. The meaning is once again, "If you are not worrying, don’t start. If you are, stop it right now."