Part 4: Worry Not

Part 4: Worry Not

Recap

We are smack dab in the middle of the series called the “N Commandments.” So here’s what we’re talking about in this series. Jesus showed up and launched something brand new. We call it ‘The Church.’ It’s a movement where He launched a brand new relationship between God and man that would not be based on any other sacrifice than His own personal sacrifice. And with this, He launched a brand new command. He said, “I want you to love one another as I have loved you.” Now He also made a lot of claims about Himself. He claimed to be the Resurrection of life, the Son of God, the Son of man. But then He died, and it seemed to cancelled everything that He said.

That is, until He rose from the dead which instead actually punctuated everything that He said. And then He gathered His followers together and said, “Now, I want you to go out into the whole world, not just to the Jews, and I want you to teach everything I have commanded you.” It was what we’re calling a Resurrection Religion solely because it was based on Jesus’ resurrection. But in all honesty, other than that, this new movement just didn’t have a whole lot to go on, because Jesus unhitched the new movement from ancient Judaism and the Old Testament.

There was no New Testament at this point, there was just the teachings of Jesus, and some parables, and stories of miracles from eye witnesses. That’s why it’s amazing that Christianity even survived the first century. There was so little to go on, but there was this group of eye witnesses that began to teach everything Jesus commanded them. And in the process of doing that, the Church grew, a lot.

Now with that love command, Jesus did give a couple other commands that we’re calling “The N Commandments.” That’s what this series is all about because we’re looking at five things that Jesus said not to do. So, we’re kind of stepping back in time and asking the question, what would it look like to be a Jesus follower before there was a New Testament? What would it look like to be a Jesus follower when all you had was this strange assortment of commands?

These are odd things Jesus said not to do. In fact, these things did not make any sense for the most part until after the resurrection. Things like fear not (how do you command someone to fear not), judge not, doubt not, sin not, and today’s ‘not’ may be the most unrealistic of all.

Worry not.

That just sounds absurd. That’s a lot easier said than done. Yet Jesus commanded His followers worry not. In fact, in one of His earliest messages, right at the very front end of His ministry when He first began to draw in the crowds, at perhaps His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, He said, “Therefore, I tell you do not worry.” Now again, how do you do that?

Here’s why I’m so glad you’re here today. Jesus knew something that all of us know, yet most of us forget. So in case any of you fall asleep today, I’m going to wrap Jesus’ teaching up in the form of five really quick questions. Then we’ll look at what He actually said. So here’s essentially why Jesus said not to worry.

  1. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life or anyone else’s?
  2. Who of you by worrying has probably taken a year off your own life?
  3. Who of you by worrying is driving people in your life out of their minds?
  4. Who of you by worrying has upgraded your wardrobe or reduced your grocery bill? He actually gets to that.
  5. Who of you by worrying has added value to what you value most?

So, if worrying hasn’t accomplished any of that for you, if it hasn’t made your life better, if it hasn’t added value to your life, if worrying has potentially undermined the length of your life, then it makes absolute sense for Jesus to say, “Do not worry.”

But that brings us to the hard part, and that’s why we’re going to talk about this. So don’t fall asleep!!! This is so important! Jesus said it, so it’s important to hear even you can say I know that scripture and heard it many times. Jesus may have a whole new insight for you today, so hang in there with me. For instance, Jesus offers His followers an alternative to worrying in this scripture.

Now if you are a Christian, you got to pay attention to this because this is for you. But here’s the cool part, if you’re not a Christian, maybe you walked away from church a long time ago because of something somebody said, or the way they treated your family, or maybe you just quit believing for whatever reason.

What Jesus says about worry is so extraordinary, I think it may be worth your time to explore becoming a Christian. In fact, I know it’s worth your time. Even if you are not sure about everything else Jesus taught, imagine a prescription for worry that doesn’t cost you anything and it actually works.

This is so extraordinary brilliant. So let’s get into what Jesus said about worry.

Matthew 6:25–34
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.”  

Jesus, right off the bat, goes right to the thing we all worry about. We worry about the future. What you will eat, what you will drink, and what you will wear.

Now, He choose these particular things because those were the basic needs and primary concerns of people in the first century. Not to say they are not our basic needs, but they are not very likely our primary concern, are they? Most of us in this culture, are not worried about what we’re going to eat or drink, not even about our clothes.

In fact, I bet most of us here clean out our closets and just give clothes away because we have so many. But whether our worries are the same or not, is not the point. We all have worries whether its marriage, kids, bills, aging parents. In Jesus’ day they had plenty to worry about, and today we still have plenty of things to worry about.

But Jesus hits the nail on the head, that the people then and the people today, our worries are about our future. He continues.

25 Is not life (or specifically, is not your life) more than food, and the body more than clothes?

In other words, isn’t it true that your life is more than what you worry about? Isn’t it true that if you brought front and center the things that you worry about, even if it’s your health, even if it’s something extraordinarily important, isn’t it true that your life is bigger than the thing or the things that you worry about?

Now you may be thinking, well sure, if you’re talking about purpose and the meaning of my life, then yeah, life is bigger than what I worry about. Well, hold on to that thought because essentially what Jesus is saying is that when you worry, it’s as if you are comparing life with food, clothing, tuition, paying bills. When you worry it’s as if you equate life with the thing you worry about. But come on, isn’t it true that there’s more to your life than that thing you’re worrying about?

Jesus continues, 26 “Look at the birds of the air;”

Now for me, I’m like Jesus, I love you and I love all that you made, but I don’t have time to sit and look at the birds of the air? I have a meeting to prepare for, I have plans to make, homework to get done. I’ve got a house to clean. Who has time to just stand around and look at the birds of the air?

I think maybe the people in Jesus’ audience thought the same thing except the difference was they weren’t in a room. When Jesus taught this sermon they were outside, and perhaps when Jesus even said, “Look at the birds of the air,” birds were literally flying above them. And then He says,

26 “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?”

Now, Jesus is not saying, ‘Don’t fill out the application, somehow God’s just going to get you the job,’ or ‘don’t study, somehow God’s going to show up tomorrow and you’re going to pass.’ He’s not saying live irresponsibly. He’s not saying He’ll just dump everything in your lap and you don’t have a part in it.

Here’s what He is saying. You have an extraordinary advantage over all of nature. You can sow, you can reap, you can store. You have the potential to anticipate the future. You have the potential to participate in tomorrow by planning for tomorrow. You have the advantage of being able to think ahead. Yet the birds don’t get to do that.

So if those of us who have the advantage and the potential to think ahead, which also gives us the capacity for worry by the way, He says, “Look, in light of the fact that you can actually prepare for tomorrow, compared to the birds of the air and the rest of nature that has no concept of tomorrow, why would you worry?”

God has given you something God hasn’t given to any other part of nature.

And then He asked the question that begins to take us to the heart of the issue of worrying. He says, “Are you not much more valuable than they are?” That’s the question we have to ask ourselves. Then He takes us to one of the five questions I asked.

27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

In other words, does your worry have the power to give you any benefits?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

In other words, they don’t prepare. They have no concept of the future.

29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

There it is. There is why we worry. Now here’s the first part of what Jesus is getting at. He’s saying, look, do you trust that God can and will take care of you? Because this is the real issue of worry. Do you trust that God can and will take care of you?

If God has done what God has done for nature, and if you are more valuable than sparrows, as we saw a few weeks ago, if you are more valuable than the grass that only lasts in some cases a short couple of months, especially if the summer is dry, if we are more valuable to God than blades of grass, flowers of the field, birds that come and go, if God really loves us and cares for us, if we are made in the image of God, can we not trust that God has our future in mind?

That is the issue. Now there’s a really cool Greek thing that happens here I got to tell you about. When Jesus said this, He said it in a way that likely made everybody chuckle. Matthew wrote this in Greek, but Jesus probably spoke in Aramaic. I imagine Matthew struggled a bit with how to translate the way that Jesus said “you of little faith” because Matthew takes two Greek words that are not combined anywhere else in the New Testament. In fact, get this, these two Greek words are not combined anywhere else in any Greek literature. It’s like whatever Jesus said, it was a play on words. It was cute. It was funny, everybody chuckled.

So He didn’t just say, “Oh, you of little faith.” He said it in a way that got a response from the crowd like “You little faith-ers you!” And that’s exactly what the crowd did, they laughed.

Jesus was poking at them trying to get the point across that God is big. Look at your Father’s world. Look at the complexity (of course they didn’t have the concept of how complex the world is like we do today). Think about how smart God is. Think about how involved God has been in creation, and you have been made in the image of God. So why would you worry? Look at how well God takes care of the planet, of the universe, of nature. Why would you not trust that God has your best interest in mind, you of little faith.

So here’s the problem. It’s trust. It’s confidence in God. It’s faith. We don’t really wake up every day trusting that God is in our today, our tomorrow and every day after. In the middle of today, I start worrying about tomorrow, and I reach out and grab tomorrow’s concerns that I can do nothing about, drag them into today, overload my emotions with what’s going to happen. And before you know I’m stressed!

Jesus is telling us our Heavenly Father has got this. You do not need to drag the concerns of tomorrow into today because your Heavenly Father will be what you need Him to be today and tomorrow.

So then he says, going right to the future, Jesus knew…

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Now the term “pagan” is not a derogatory term. This basically means everybody else. He’s saying quit acting like everybody else. In other words, people who are not Jesus followers, people who have no concept of a personal God. People who don’t understand that we have been invited to address God as our Heavenly Father.

Now let me ask you a question because this is so important. What if you were absolutely confident? What if you were absolutely sure? What if you knew with abiding certainty that your Heavenly Father knows? Imagine this because I think this is 90% of our problem. Imagine that tonight as you’re going to bed and you’re thinking about tomorrow, all that needs done, and day after tomorrow, and next week and your kids. What if you heard God whisper, “I know.”

What if you had an abiding certainty that God knew what you needed, what you were concerned about, your anxiety and your fear of the future? It’s not the certainty that you’re going to know the future, but if God whispered to you, “I know,” wouldn’t that be 90% of the battle to know that God not only knows about your circumstances, but God knows exactly what you need.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose from the dead, looked at the crowd that day and said, “I know you’re going to struggle with this, but you’re Heavenly Father knows what you need, and knows what you fear, and knows the uncertainty, and the emotions that come with tomorrow. He knows.” And then He gives us an alternative. He says…

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Here’s another cool thing in the Greek language. The Greek term that is translated “run after” is the same Greek term that’s translated “seek first.” So these are interchangeable.

Just as everyone else who has no confidence in God is running after, and worrying about, and being overwhelmed with emotion of what’s going to happen, Jesus says, “I want to give you an alternative. Instead of running after, instead of seeking first all of these things that you have almost no control over,” He says this, one of the most famous verses in the New Testament. “I want you to seek first the Kingdom of God, I want you to run after first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you.”

So when you’re tempted to borrow from tomorrow, look for a way to participate in what God is doing today. In those moments, in those nights, in those dry times, in the hustle and bustle, when you are tempted to reach into tomorrow for what you can’t control, and bring it into today, and let it stress you out and ruin your day. In those moments when you are tempted to borrow from tomorrow, Jesus says, “Instead, I want you to look around, and look for a way to participate with me in what I am doing right now, and just trust me with tomorrow.”

As if this wasn’t enough, Jesus goes on and relabels all of your worry. So right now, think about the thing or the things you worry about the most. If your list is too long, pick the top two. Get it in your head. The things that when you think about tomorrow, the next week, this summer, next fall, what it is you worry about?

Here’s how Jesus’ relabels. “Therefore, do not worry about ______.” Now you just go ahead and fill in that blank with whatever your worry is. “Do not worry about ______.” So whatever you would put it that blank, from now on if you’re a Jesus follower, I want you to relabel it with the word tomorrow.” Because you’re not really worried about your bills. You’re worried about tomorrow. You’re not really worried about the surgery per say. You’re really worried about tomorrow.

Jesus’ definition of worry is about chasing things you can’t ever get because there tomorrow’s. Worry is all about chasing things mentally, chasing things emotionally, seeking after, trying to manipulate, trying to control, trying to somehow worry it into reality.

No matter what, “It’s all tomorrow.” So when worry begins to come up to the surface and it distracts you, at least pause long enough to say, “Wait a minute. I am worrying about tomorrow, and my Heavenly Father has told me I do not need to do that because He’s got it.” Because Jesus says, “For tomorrow will worry about itself.”

And then Jesus lets us know that this isn’t some pie in the sky, don’t worry be happy teaching. He says, as if He needed to tell us this, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” So why smuggle tomorrow’s trouble into today? Jesus says, “Today has enough trouble. I’ll be with you today for today’s trouble but when you are tempted to reach out and grab tomorrow, don’t do it. Don’t worry. Your Heavenly Father is already there.”

So what if you really believe that God knows what you need? What if you really believe that God knows what you need and that God will be there for you tomorrow?

Imagine the difference that it would make.

An even better question, why not believe that? We can come up with a million reason why we want to hold onto our worry. But here’s the thing, if you choose not to place your faith in your Heavenly Father, if you choose not to do what Jesus has asked you to do, essentially you are choosing to put your faith in worry.

Which one is more dependable, worry or your Heavenly Father? I’ll put it a different way. What if I came in here today and my whole message was this, “Trust in worry. Trust in worry with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding and all of your ways acknowledge worry, and worry will direct your path. Worry will make your life better.” That’s just not right. Worry doesn’t work. Worry never comes through for us. No one ever sings, “Worry’s got the whole world in its hands.”

Now here’s something that should encourage you. Jesus repeated this message over and over again. At the very end, just hours away from being arrested, Jesus gathers with His closest followers, and He has to go back over this again because His disciples were struggling. They were right there in the presence of Jesus and they are worried. In fact, when you read the whole passage, you see at the very end, they’re just like us. They’re just worried. And Jesus leans in and says to them, this is so powerful…

John 14:1
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (then again He goes right to the heart of what causes us to worry) “You believe in God, believe (trust) also in me.”

The issue of worry is faith. It’s trust. Do you trust your Heavenly Father? And then He teaches them some other stuff and then at the very end, He comes right back around to the same idea, and He says,

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Because the world’s peace is all about circumstances that you can’t control. He didn’t leave us with the kind of peace where you have to know the future in order to have peace. No, He left us with His peace where our hearts don’t have to know it all. They don’t have to be troubled and afraid. They just believe.

And then He was crucified. Game over. No peace. All uncertainty. As I said before, the disciples all ran away. They were so worried about their own future, they hid. And then Jesus rose from the dead. And suddenly, in a moment, the whole idea of not worrying about tomorrow made perfect sense.

Because when someone can predict their own death and resurrection and pull it off, and they’ve told you don’t need to worry about tomorrow, you believe them. The early followers of Jesus, having met with and touched and ate with their resurrected Savior, suddenly the whole idea of trusting God with their future made perfect sense. And they were able to embrace the idea of “do not worry.”

I know since we didn’t get that same experience those early followers did, it may be harder for us today to buy into this in the same way. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it. So as we wrap this up, I want to give you three really quick applications right from this scripture that I think will help.

Application

1. I challenge you to begin your day declaring your trust. One of the greatest habits of we can do is to begin our day in prayer with God. Here’s the key, if you can get ahead of worry, you can usually stay ahead of worry.

Create a habit declaring to God every morning, “I trust in you. For the pardon of my sin, protection, for forgiveness, for provision, I trust in you, God. I got this coming up, I trust you with that. Tomorrow, this is due, I trust you with that. God, I want you to know, I am placing my trust in you, not worry.”

You get ahead of worry by pushing worry out of the picture first thing every day. And if you don’t know how or where to begin in prayer, I’ll help you out. Tomorrow morning when you get up, find a quiet place, and get a Bible. Preferably a real Bible, not an electronic Bible, so you don’t get distracted with, “Whoo, looks like I need to worry about that.”

I would suggest you read the passage we went through today because it’s going to be fresh on your mind. Read Matthew 6:25-34, and I recommend out loud because it helps the words to come to life in our minds. And they stick with us better.

Somebody said a long time ago that worry is like prayer in reverse, worry makes things bigger, prayer makes things smaller. That’s why you need to start your day with prayer, because it going to get you ahead of worry. And it’s an opportunity to declare your trust in your Heavenly Father.

2. The Second thing is this, get in the habit of relabeling your worry as “tomorrow.” As soon as worry pops up, because you know it will, just say out loud, “I’m worrying about tomorrow.” For example, “I’m worried about the test. No, I’m worrying about tomorrow. I’m going to sow and reap. I’m going to study, I’m going to do what I can do, and I’m going to trust God with tomorrow because God’s going to meet me there. Jesus said I don’t need to worry about tomorrow.”

3. When you begin to worry about tomorrow do what Jesus commanded to do. When worried about tomorrow, look for a way to participate in what God is doing today. This is how you “seek ye first.”

And here’s what I mean by that. When you begin to worry about something specifically, I want you to stop and pray for someone else who’s going through a difficult time. In fact, pray for someone who’s going through the same thing you are. When you’re overwhelmed with worry, stop and write somebody a note. When you’re overwhelmed with worry, give someone a call. In other words, while you wait for tomorrow, participate in God’s kingdom today.

Worry should essentially trigger kingdom concern, and get us to think outside our little lives, and invest in God’s kingdom. It’s as if Jesus says, “You worry about my kingdom. I’ll worry about yours. You seek first my kingdom. I will take care of yours.”

So, in closing, let me just ask you these questions again.

  1. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life or anyone else’s?
  2. Who of you by worrying has probably taken a year off your own life?
  3. Who of you by worrying is driving people in your life out of their minds?
  4. Who of you by worrying has upgraded your wardrobe or reduced your grocery bill?
  5. Who of you by worrying has added value to what you value most?

And the answer to all those questions is nobody. So therefore, Jesus tells us, “Worry not.”

Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, that’s way easier to stand up here and say, than it is for me to walk off this stage and do. It just seems to be part of the human experience to worry. And for some of us it’s a little deal, but for some of us it’s a big deal. So big that we really aren’t sure that we can cast all of our cares upon you, because we aren’t absolutely convinced that you care that much about us. So Father, I pray that we would gain a confidence in you. That we would see your hand in our lives in such a way that it would explode our faith and confidence in you. And Father, as worry creeps in, even before this day is over, please bring back to our minds the teachings of Jesus, who said, “Don’t be of little faith, trust your Heavenly Father.” Please give each of us wisdom to know what to do with what we just heard, and then the courage to do it. Because you not only sent your son to die for our sins, He rose from the dead. And at the end of the day, we really don’t have a reason to worry. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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