Many of us are struggling with worry today. We are worried about all kinds of things that are going on in the world and in our personal lives. Maybe you are worried because your spouse refuses to worry. There are different kinds of people, so there are different levels of worry. You would all love to know how to overcome the worries in your life. Whatever you level of stress or anxiety, I want to begin with three questions:
- Who of you by worrying can add a single good hour to your lives?
- Who of you has worried so much that you think your anxiety may have taken a year or so off your life expectancy?
- Is there anything more valuable to you than staying alive? Will worrying contribute to the thing you value more than life?
Today Andy is talking about how we can stop the cycle of worry and begin to fully trust God. We invite you to watch and listen as he speaks.
If you would like to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we invite you watch the GREAT NEWS FOR YOU Video on this page. In Christ Jesus you can find hope and freedom from worry and anxiety.
Don’t Worry About Tomorrow
So, if worry won’t add to your life, won’t contribute to anything you value more than your life, and if worry has the potential to shorten your life, then don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Okay. Questions? Let’s pray!
The point of this series is not to say:
- Your situation is not so bad.
- Things are going to be fine.
- You don’t have any reason to be concerned.That’s not helpful. That’s denial. But if Jesus is correct, our situations can be bad, things won’t necessarily be fine, and we may have reason to be concerned—but we do not have to WORRY.
How Do I Stop Worrying About Everything?
Interestingly enough, Jesus launches his conversation about worry within the context of money and the security it brings. Appropriate because two recent studies have confirmed that the number one point of stress in America is around our personal and national economies.
24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money [Mammon (mamwnaß) treasure, riches, stuff, including money].Matthew 26:24
Our devotion determines our pressure points; worry points. What you are most committed to determines what you worry about most. I’m not stressed over your health or your kids’ study habits or your debt or the national debt of Lithuania.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about [serve/love/be so devoted to] your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.Matthew 26:25
If that’s your number one commitment, that will become your number one worry.
Why Do We Worry?
We don’t worry too much about food and clothing. We do worry about our jobs, advancement, school, grades, retirement . . . things that wouldn’t register then or now in some places.
Pretty nervy. Please explain.
25b Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Think about that. Isn’t your life more than a job or getting into the right college or getting married or getting your kids into the right schools? Or, think about what you worry about. Is that/are those your life? No. Important? Yes. Your life? No. What is your life?
Objection: So, it’s like, “Don’t worry, be happy? Get a tan and a surfboard and a latte?” No. Listen to what he says next.
26 Look at the birds of the air . . .
I don’t have time to look at the birds of the air. I need a job.
26 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?Matthew 26:25
But they aren’t retiring . . .
Are you? Say it: “I’m more valuable to God than a bird.” You do sow and reap—apply yourself, work hard, try. If God takes care of birds, what about you?
His point is not: don’t try to get into a good school, advance your career, or call her.
His point is: DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. You do what you can do and you trust God to do what you can’t do. This is not fatalistic, because you are not trusting in fate. You believe there is a personal God.
If you think this is too simplistic, then answer these . . .
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin [like you do and should]. 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—Matthew 26:27 – 30
And now he goes to the heart of the issue.
. . . you of little faith?
You with little confidence in God.
- Some of you have more faith in your worry than you do in God.
- You behave as if you believe worry shapes your future.
- More worry . . . more hope! More change.
- Strange thing is, in times of uncertainty, we need two things: certainty and clarity.
Certainty: what to expect. Clarity: how I should respond. Worry brings about neither.
How to Overcome the Worries in Life
1. Worry is a waste of time/life—shortens it.
- Can’t add anything good to your life by worrying.
- When you begin to worry about the future, say,
“That’s a waste of my life. I’m not going to waste my life worrying.”
2. We are to do all we can do and then rest in God’s providence.
• When you begin to go down that road ask, “Have I done all I know to do? Will I trust God to do what only he can do? What do I trust more—worry or God?”
3. Our worry is an indication of our greatest devotion: our point of greatest devotion will be the point of greatest emotion.
What are you most devoted to? Is that really what you want to live your life for? Is life more than that?
If you were to say, “Andy, what one thing would you like me to do this week as a result of this message?” I would say: Read Matthew 6:24-34 straight through five times.
© 2008 North Point Ministries, Inc. Why Worry #1
Well, for the next three weeks, we’re going to talk about worry, worry, worry, worry . . . and this is a good topic, because all of us have worried about something. And a lot of us are more worried now than we’ve ever been before. Now, there are different kinds of people, so there are different levels of worry. There are those of you who you get your blood pressure checked to make sure you’re alive, because you don’t worry about anything. In fact, your wife or husband is worried about you, because they can’t get you to worry. They want you to be more worried.
If you’re in the tenth grade, your parents wonder why you don’t worry about anything. They want you to worry. So there’s that side, but we’re not talking to that group of you. You can just kind of chill out. I don’t have to tell you that anyway. Somebody will wake you up after this talk to tell you it’s time to go home. But anyway, the rest of us are more worriers. Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
And then there’s the other end of the spectrum, where you worry about everything. In fact, your husband or wife or roommate has threatened to take your television away, because you internalize everyone’s problems. You carry around the burdens of the world and you just worry, worry, worry. It’s like you just feel like God maybe has given you . . . that’s your spiritual gift.
That other people don’t have to worry as much because you’ve got that covered. So you worry about everything, but it drives you crazy. You’ve tried to worry less, but trying to worry less is like trying not to think about something or trying to go to sleep at night. It’s like, “I’m going to go to sleep; I’m going to go to sleep.” And the more you try the less you sleep.
And then the rest of us are somewhere in the middle, and in light of what’s happened in our economy and in our country, those of us who don’t even necessarily consider ourselves worriers, we’ve begun to worry. Now, the interesting thing about worry is did you know there are so many books written on worry?
In fact, I brought one. If you don’t like the messages or the sermons or you’re not like a spiritual person, this is actually a pretty good thing here: Stress Management for Dummies. It’s really a book about anxiety and stress and worry, and there are all kinds of practical things in here. As I began to study for this series,
I discovered the bookshelves are full of books, and the Internet is full of articles, and magazines are full of articles about stress and worry. And the reason so much has been written is because this stuff sells, and the reason this stuff sells is because so many people are worried about so many things. So I thought what a great thing for us to talk about.
Three Questions About Your Worry Habit
Now, to get us started and to get us all thinking the same way, I want to ask you three questions. You don’t have to raise your hand or answer these out loud; you just answer these internally. If you want to answer the second question by raising your hand, you just feel compelled to be honest and confess today, that’s fine. Nobody’s looking around. But these are just questions for you to think about. And the truth is these three questions—if we were to answer them honestly, we could pretty much end the message right there, because these questions elicit sort of the reality of what’s behind our worries. Let me ask you these questions and then we’re going to jump into the Scriptures together.
- The first question is this. I didn’t makethis one up, and you may have heard this one before. Ready? Who of you, by worrying, can add a single hour to your life? You may have heard that before. Somebody very smart asked this question. Who of you, by worrying, can add a single hour to your life? In other words, who, by worrying, extends his life?
- Second question: Who of you have worried so much that you think you may have taken a year or so off your life expectancy? Yeah, there come the hands. It’s like, “Right, I know I can’t make my life longer by worrying, but I’m pretty sure I’ve shortened it a little bit by worrying.” In fact, if you’re honest, some of you . . . And I ask this question: Who of you have taken an hour or so off the life expectancy of your spouse or your kids, because you worry so much you drive them crazy?
- Okay, third question—now this is a little more complicated and kind of sets us up for where we’re going. Is there anything more valuable to you than staying alive?
Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life
Will Worrying Add Anything Good to Your Life?
Second part: Will worrying contribute to the thing that you value more than your life? In other words, Jesus asked this question: Can you add an hour to your life by worrying? No. Okay, let’s assume there’s something more valuable to you than life than living. If you think about that thing that’s more valuable to you than even living, it’s the most valuable thing, can you extend or can you enhance or can you make better that thing that you consider even more important than life by worrying? Does worrying add to that?
The answer is probably no. So in summary, if worrying doesn’t extend your life, if worrying has the potential, many of us think and a lot of experts think, to shorten your life, and if worrying doesn’t enhance or make better something that you consider even more important than life, then why in the world would we worry?
It doesn’t make any sense at all. So as your pastor I just want to say this to you: stop it.
Let’s close in prayer. I mean it should sort of be . . . it could be that simple. I mean nobody argues that it’s beneficial. Nobody can say that if it hadn’t been for worrying I wouldn’t have accomplished this. If it hadn’t been for worry . . . I mean we all know rationally it doesn’t make any sense at all. And yet there’s so much worry in our world and so much worry in our culture that people have made a lot of money publishing articles and books.
And the interesting thing is this: there is no one, “Hey, if you read this book your worries are going to go away” book, otherwise, all these other books wouldn’t have been published. Because everybody would say, “Hey, here’s the book on this subject, and once you read this book all of your worries are going to go away.” It seems that literature hasn’t really solved the problem. And interestingly enough, my little three questions that make so much sense, we would go, “Yeah, can’t add anything.
Yeah, takes away; yeah, yeah.” Even knowing that, you’re not going to walk out of here going, “No more worries for me; those three questions solved it all.” Why is that? Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
What Does the Bible Say About Worry?
So what we’re going to do for the next three weeks is we’re going to open God’s word and look at some things about worry. But specifically these first two weeks, these are the weeks that set us up for the third one. In the first two weeks we’re going to look at what Jesus specifically had to say about worry. In fact, if you want to follow along, we’re going to be in Matthew 6, and you can find it. We’re going to put the verses on the screen in just a minute.
But what I want to do is I want to summarize what he says, because this is kind of like a half of a sermon. I didn’t want to try to cram all of this into one message, so I’m going to give you the first half of what he says. And the second half—so if I leave you hanging a little bit today it’s because I don’t want to rush through these words. Because what Jesus has to say about worry is so incredible. Honestly, if this were to kind of get all over you and if you would embrace this way of thinking, it really will knock your worry down and knock your stress level down and knock your anxiety level down significantly.
Jesus Gives Us the Definitive Answer
In fact, what I’ve discovered, and I’ll give you an example of this next week, is that much of what Jesus has said about worry, that modern day authors, even those that don’t consider themselves religious, they have borrowed from Jesus’ ideas, because 2,000 years ago (this is amazing), 2,000 years ago people worried. Worry has been around as long as there have been people. Two thousand years ago there was so much worry Jesus addressed it, and he gave us the definitive ideas and the definitive answer to worry. Now, let me tell you what he said, and then we’re going to discover it together. But I want to give you the big picture, in case you leave early or I’m not interesting enough to keep your attention.
So I just want to give you this, because here’s the nugget. Here’s what he teaches. This is amazing. In fact, he defines the problem so clearly that you can discover the answer almost for yourself. Here’s what Jesus said. Jesus says this: Jesus says that the things that you are most devoted to are the things that will determine what you worry about. Jesus says that the things that you are most devoted to fuel the things and parallel the things or thing that you worry about the most. In other words, the thing that you worry about the most is the thing you are most devoted to.
The thing you are most devoted to will determine what you worry about the most. Now, we don’t think that way, because worry is so emotional we try to deal with worry in the realm of just pure emotion. Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
Want to Know What Drives Your Worry?
Jesus says, “I would like to take away the mystery of worry.” Let me explain it to you. If you want to know what drives your worry, it is the point and the points of your greatest devotion. Let me illustrate it this way, and you don’t want to hear this coming from a pastor, but just to be transparent with you, and don’t tell anybody this, but I never, ever worry about your job. I don’t. Because I’m not devoted to your job.
Now, if you write me a letter or send me an email and say, “Andy, I’ve lost my job,” or “I’ve only got three weeks left” or whatever, I would feel concern. I would feel compassion. I would pray for you. If we had a relationship I would call you, but would I go home and worry about your job? No, because I’m not devoted to it.
Here’s another confession: I never, ever worry about your kids’ grades, ever. Do I care? Of course I care. If you wrote me a letter or email and said, “Oh Andy, my child is flunking out of school” or “My sixth grader can’t get to the school of her choice” I would feel concern and compassion. And if we needed to pray, we would. But do I sit at home and worry about your kids’ grades? No. Why? Because I have never, ever in my life devoted myself to your kids doing well in school.
I’m not worried about your retirement. I’m not. I hope it works out. I hope you retire early. I hope you retire with millions of dollars. I hope it’s great. I hope you get to go to the Bahamas—whatever. I hope, I hope, and if there’s a financial crisis and I find out about it, of course I would be concerned. But do I sit around my house and worry about your retirement? Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
No, because never once in my life have I ever devoted myself to making sure you retire in a financially secure way. Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life
Worry is Tied to the Things that You are Most Devoted to
You see my worry is tied to the things I am most devoted to. And Jesus teaches us, we’re going to discover over these two weeks, that the things that you worry about reflect your core devotions. Here’s a question for you. What if, what if you shifted your devotion? What would happen to your worry? See, that’s an amazing thought. The Bible is awesome, and Jesus is brilliant, and this is where he’s going to take us in these next two weeks.
Now, he doesn’t say it that directly, of course, because that would be too easy, and the Bible would be much shorter. So he takes us on this journey to this destination, but I wanted to give you the destination upfront, because it’s so fascinating. Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
And now I want us to jump into this discussion that Jesus launches as we talk about worry. Matthew 6:24, and this is interesting, and I am not making this up. You can look for yourself. When Jesus decided to teach on worry—and this is his preeminent, the big kind of epicenter of his teaching on worry—when Jesus decided to launch a conversation about worry, guess what topic he launched it with? Money. Interesting, huh?
Right now, if you read all the statistics, and all the polls say that people’s number one worry in America has to do with their what? Their money, that’s right, because we think we’re going to run out of money before we run out of life. So we’re more concerned about money than life. But that’s another story for another day.
What Jesus Says
So he launches this conversation about worry, talking about money. In fact, this latest poll I read is it’s like over 70% of Americans say their number one worry, the number one worry has to do with their personal finances and the finances or the economy of the country. So Jesus, this is like he’s looking into the future saying, “Okay, let’s launch a discussion about worry, about the thing that most of you in America are worried most about.” So here’s how the discussion begins.
Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted [Devoted—now that word is going to show up throughout our discussion] to the one and despise the other. [Okay. What are you talking about, Jesus? And then he comes out and says it.] You cannot serve both God and money.
Now, the word money, the little Greek word translated “money” is the word “Mammon,” which means, “stuff.” Literally—Jesus says, “You can’t serve God and serve your stuff.” You can’t be fully devoted to God and fully devoted to your stuff. They are going to war against each other. You’ve got to decide which one you’re going to be most devoted to and you can’t have it both ways.
So we’re sitting there going, “Okay, so you can’t serve God and money. I love God and I love my stuff.” And Jesus is going, “Okay, you’ve got to decide, because when it comes down to it you’re going to be forced to make decisions where you opt for your God-values over your stuff-values, and you’re going to have to make a decision. You can like both and you can say you love both, but when it comes right down to it, you’ve got to decide which one you’re most devoted to.” We’re like, “Well, I really don’t want to have that discussion; it depends on what day of the week it is.”
And then Jesus, in his wonderful way, doesn’t leave it there. He then takes us to a discussion that sort of underscores what he’s trying to get at in that first verse. Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
Do Not Worry About Your life
Listen to this. Whenever you see a “therefore” in the Bible, it’s connecting two thoughts. It’s not a new thought, it’s not a new idea; he’s connecting. So he just said, “Okay, there’s a war between who you’re going to serve and who’s going to be the boss in your life; there’s a tension there.”
Matthew 6:25 (NIV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
That’s pretty general. Don’t worry about your life. Now, Jesus, what do you mean about our life? Well, let me be specific. Don’t worry about the things that you worry about. And then he addresses the things that his audience worried about.
Matthew 6:25 (NIV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.
So he says to this audience, “Look, I know what you think about every single day. You get up and wonder, ‘What are we going to eat?’” Because it was kind of a hand-to-mouth environment in society. “What are we going to eat? What are we going to wear? Our clothes are wearing out. Our children’s clothes are wearing out.
Clothes are very expensive. What are we going to eat? What are we going to wear? How are we going to clothe ourselves?” Jesus says, “Now look, I don’t want you,” he would say to his audience, “to worry about that.” Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
Now, if he were here addressing us, it would sound different. He would say this, because we don’t worry so much about food and clothing, most of us. He would say this: “Look, don’t worry if you’re going to be able to retire. Don’t worry about whether or not your kids are going to get into the school of their choice. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re going to be able to keep your kids in that school.
Don’t worry about whether or not you’re going to be single the rest of your life. Don’t worry about whether you’re going to be able to find a job that you love, don’t worry about keeping the job, don’t worry about your industry. Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Don’t worry about your prodigal son or your prodigal daughter. Don’t worry about your health. Don’t worry. Don’t worry about . . .” This is Jesus—don’t email me. Jesus says . . . I know, because I would never say this. He says, to just his general audience, “Don’t worry about your life.” Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
Okay, Jesus, are you saying that it’s not important that we have food to eat and clothes to wear? Jesus says later, “No, I’m not saying it’s not important.” Here’s what’s so brilliant about this. The point of his conversation, as you will see, is not that retirement is not important, school is not important, job is not important, kids are not important, health is not important—none of that is his point at all. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
His point is all those things are important, and there is uncertainty related to all those things. And in some areas it’s not all going to work out perfect and fine, but you still don’t have to worry about it. You still don’t have to worry about it. There is a way to face uncertainty tomorrow, but not worry about it today. So Jesus says, “Look, when it comes to your life, however you define life, stop worrying.” Well Jesus, you’ve got to help us out. And he goes on, and he asks a really big question.
Matthew 6:25 (NIV)
25 Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Now, here’s what he’s doing. You’ve got to follow me. He’s trying to pull us out of our hyper focus of: Oh my gosh, my 401K, my retirement plan; Oh my gosh, I don’t know what I’m going to do to feed my family; Oh my gosh, I don’t know if I am going to be able to get into school; Oh my gosh, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be healthy enough to function like I used to.
We get hyper focused on these things, and we’re so worried, and Jesus says, “Okay, for just a moment, for just a moment, I want to pull you away a little bit. I want to pull you back and I want to ask you a question. Is life not more than retirement? I mean would you define life as life equals retirement?” Well, no. Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
“Okay, okay is life not more than whether or not my kids are going to get to go to the school of their choice? Now, I’m not saying it’s not important, but I’m saying, is that life? When I pull back, no. Is life health? Is that all there is to your life? Is life bigger than your health?” Well yeah, there are all these other things. “Okay. Is life more than just being married? I mean you’re so worried about if you’re ever going to get married or get married again, and that’s all you think about.
And I’m not saying it’s not important, I just want to ask you a question,” Jesus would say. “Is life not more than whether or not you’re married?” Well yeah, I mean whether or not I’m married is a component. It tends to get all my time and attention, but no, you’re right Jesus, life is more than that. Jesus says, “Okay, just for a moment, I’m trying to help you with worry. I want to teach you how not to worry. I want you to pull back. Just pull back.”
Then how insensitive is this? Ready? Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life
Matthew 6:26 (NIV)
26 Look at the birds of the air . . .
What? “Look at the birds.” I don’t have time to look at the birds of the air. I need a job! I don’t have time to look at the birds of the air; my son is failing the eleventh grade! I don’t have time to look at the birds; I have no transportation! I don’t have time to look at the birds of the air; I don’t feel very well! I don’t have time to look at the birds of the air; my husband says he’s not coming back! I don’t have . . . Jesus—no offense, Jesus—look at the birds of the air—are you kidding me?
And I think Jesus would say, “Are you finished now? I’m trying to help you. I’ve said, ‘Don’t worry,’” And how insensitive is that? Don’t worry. Is this like get a surfboard and a latte and just don’t worry? “No, no, no. This is very practical.” Jesus says, “Look, I’m not discounting the importance of any of that.”
And he makes that clear in just a minute. “I’m just trying to help you not worry. And the reason you’re so worried is because you’re so hyper focused. And your devotion goes with your focus, and your emotion follows your devotion, and it’s just a big mess, and you’re in a tailspin. So I want to give you some advice.” Okay, what’s your advice? Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,Matthew 6:26 (NIV)
Now, he’s addressing their culture. Here’s how he would say it to us: “They don’t have a 401K; they don’t get a college education; they don’t walk their kids around and hold their hands all the time and make them wear helmets and all kind of stuff so they never get hurt.” I mean the birds of the air build their nests as high as they can and they just push them out and—good luck! There’s a parenting model. “They don’t sow and reap.” This is very important, because if you misread this verse, you will think Jesus is just making fun of all of your hard work. Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
He’s saying, “Look the birds of the air; they don’t even really try. The birds of the air fly around and suddenly they go, ‘I’m thinking we should go south. Yeah, let’s go south.’ And they just go there. They don’t even know why. The birds of the air fly around and they go, ’There’s a piece of string. I feel compelled to go get it and build a little tree fort. Didn’t I just do this last year?’ They have no idea.”
He says, “Look at the birds of the air. They don’t have plans, they don’t have Daytimers, they don’t use Quicken, they don’t have a budget, they don’t have a mortgage, and they don’t do any of the responsible stuff you do. I mean you’re out there trying, and birds of the air, they just kind of go with whatever the flow is. They go by instinct. Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
Matthew 6:26 (NIV)
26 and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Here’s another question.
Matthew 6:26 (NIV)
26 Are you not much more valuable than they?
Do Not Worry Because God Cares for You
Are you not much more valuable to God than a bird? Let me ask a different way. Do you think God cares more for you than he does the birds? Let me ask you another way. Do you think God is more concerned about you? You were made in his image. Read the story of creation—he made lots of cool stuff, and when he got to mankind he said, “This is different. I’m making man and woman; I’m making them in my image. They bear my thumbprint. When I see them I think about me, and when they see me, I want them to know how much I love them.
In fact, I think I will send a Savior into the world. But I’m not going to send a Savior in the form of a bird, or a flower, or a goat, or a cow, or even a lion. I’m going to send my Son into this world in the form of a human being.” God says, “Now let me ask you a question before you jump back into the, “Oh my gosh what’s going to happen about tomorrow?”
Do you think God cares more for you than he does a bird? I know this is deep. I know you probably feel like you don’t know the Scripture enough to be able to answer this tough question, so let me ask it just one more time and this time I would like an answer. Do you believe that God loves you more than he loves a bird? Yes. See that was a huge statement of faith. In fact, let’s just practice. Say, “I believe God loves me more than the birds.” Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
Even in Uncertainty
Listen, I know this is silly. I’m just trying to track with what Jesus is teaching; so don’t be critical of me. This is so significant. I’m telling you this is significant. Jesus is saying, “Look, this is a little bit elementary. I said don’t worry, and I’m telling you why you can face uncertainty and not worry. I’m telling you why you cannot know where you’re going to get another job and not worry. I’m telling you why you cannot know if your kids are going to graduate from high school and not worry.
I’m going to tell you why you’re single and wonder if you’re ever going to be married and you don’t need to worry or married again. I’m telling you why I can . . . I’m not trying to say go into denial; I understand the uncertainty of tomorrow. But I’m teaching you that you can have uncertainty and not worry all at the same time. I’m taking you somewhere.” Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
And his point isn’t, be irresponsible and it’s going to work out. That’s fatalism. This isn’t trusting in fate; he is inviting us to trust in him as the heavenly Father. In other words, he’s saying, “Look, I want you to sow and reap, and I want you to stow away in barns, and I want you to fill out applications. I want you to knock on doors, I want you to study hard, I want you to ask people out, I want you to work hard, I want you to do your best, I want you to set goals. I want you to do all that stuff. But once you’ve done all you can do in the now, I want you to go, “Ah, God loves me more than the birds, and look at all I’ve done. I don’t need to worry about the next now.” Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
He goes on. “Hey, if you don’t like that,” he says, “if you kind of disagree, you think I’m making it too simplistic, let me ask you a question.”
7 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?Matthew 6:27 (NIV)
Okay, so if you don’t like my plan, you think the birds of the air, you think that’s too simplistic, think this whole thing is kind of silly, okay, then go ahead and get hyper focused on what about, what about, what about and what if, what if, what if and if it can’t and what if I don’t, what if I don’t and what if she doesn’t? Go ahead and just get like super hyper focused on all those things and then ask yourself this question: Am I helping myself? Let me ask it a different way. Can you, by worrying in this now, bring certainty to the next now?
Can you, by worrying today, create certainty in the next day? No. So Jesus says, “Look, if your worry isn’t going to get you anywhere, I’ve got an idea. Look at the birds of the air and settle in on this revolutionary idea: God loves me more than he loves the birds in the sky. If God loves me that much, and I’ve done all I know to do: I sow and I reap and I store away in barns. If I’ve done all I can do in the now that I do have some control over, can God be trusted in the next now that I have no control over?
And, if so, I’m not going to worry. And I’m not, not going to worry because I know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I’m not going to worry because I’m trusting the only one that can do anything about tomorrow.” Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
He goes on.
Matthew 6:28 (NIV)
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
He’s saying, “You guys labor and spin; you create clothes. I mean the flowers are lazy; they do nothing and look how they are clothed.”
Matthew 6:29–30 (NIV)
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 Can Trust God to Take Care of You
“If God takes care of flowers, and if God takes care of birds, and the birds don’t do anything, and the flowers don’t do anything, and God takes care of them,” now, this is Jesus speaking, he says, “Don’t you believe that perhaps in the tomorrow that you’ have no control over, based on the today that you’ve done all you know to do, don’t you believe God will and can take care of you?” And then he goes right to the heart of the worry issue, and this is where we’re going to end today. We’re going to end with the last part of this verse.
Don’t miss this. Jesus is connecting some big dots. See, in our world of worry, it’s just about, “Oh my gosh!” You know—that’s sort of it. “Future uncertainty!” Jesus is saying, “Okay, you’re not going to learn anything like that. You’ve got to back up. I’m trying to connect some dots. And if you’ll connect these dots and get the big picture, you’re going to be able to go, “Ah.” Listen to how he closes it. Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
Matthew 6:30 (NIV)
30 . . . you of little faith?
“You see, worry is a devotion issue; worry is a faith issue. Our emotions get attached to the things that we’re most devoted to,”
Jesus says, “The reason it is difficult for you to pull away and trust me with the uncertainty of tomorrow, the reason you are so devoted to and so emotionally distraught about the issues of life, important issues of life . . .” He addressed the two big ones for that culture: What am I going to eat? What am I going to wear?
That’s big. Never does he say, “Ah, you don’t need anything to eat. And it worked for Adam and Eve.” He doesn’t discount the importance of eating and having things to wear. In fact, he says that those are very important.
His point isn’t these are things you shouldn’t be concerned about. His point is you don’t need to worry about it. And he says, ”Here’s the issue: the issue is do you trust your Father in heaven? Oh, you of little faith?” Worriers are expressing little to no confidence in God’s willingness and ability to take care of them, and I know where you get stuck.
I understand this. You get stuck on, “Well, I know God can, but I don’t know if God will. I know God can take care of me, I know God can help me get into a good school, I know God can help me to meet the right person, I know God can ensure my future, I know he can, I know he can, I know he can, I don’t know if he will.” Jesus says, “Well, trust him, trust him, trust him, because the issue of worry is an issue of faith or confidence in God.”
You Can Stop Worrying Because You Can Trust Your Heavenly Father
This is why, over and over, in so many different series, so many different speakers, over and over you hear me say, or you hear someone say, “What if you could wake up every day and live your life as if you were absolutely confident that God was your heavenly Father and that he could be trusted? What would your life look like? What if you could wake up every single day confident that God loves you more than the birds and more than the flowers and could and would take care of you? What would you worry about?
And you wouldn’t stop worrying because the future was certain; you wouldn’t stop worrying because you knew exactly what was going to happen tomorrow or the next day. You would stop worrying because you were trusting in your heavenly Father instead of your ability to predict the future and instead of your ability to bring certainty into the future.
Now, here’s a newsflash for all of us: not one single second of your life has been a certainty, ever. We’ve lived with uncertainties since we were born. It’s just that at different stages of life we become more aware of the uncertainty. But here’s the newsflash: your future has been uncertain every single moment of every single day. You haven’t had the ability to determine anything about your future at any point in your life.
This is not new at different stages of life and different stages in the economy, at different stages in our jobs, travels, and journeys. We just become more aware of the uncertainty. Jesus is saying, “Look, has God been faithful to you in the past uncertainty; you just weren’t as aware and stressed out about it? Yes. Well, life has changed, and culture has changed, and the economy has changed. What about God has changed? Nothing. Okay. Oh you of little faith.”
Now, we’re going to stop here. Here’s what I want you to do for next week. I want to give you kind of three takeaways and some things to think about. You can pick one of these to do, or all three of these to do, or none of these to do, but I want you moving with us next week as we come to the end of this passage.
1.The first thing we’ve learned so far is that worry is a waste of time—and did you know time equals life? You realize that when you run out of time you run out of life? Right? I mean you don’t have life without time or time without life, so if worry is a waste of time, it’s a waste of life. So here’s one thing you can begin to do. This is just a simple thing, because worry is right here.
When your brain starts to get attached to something that you have no certainty or control over, tomorrow you can say to yourself, “You know what, that’s like throwing away my life. That’s like throwing away my life. I have a certain amount of life; I’m not going to throw it away on that. That is a waste of my life to even think about that. I’ve done all I can do. I’m just not going to worry about that. That’s a waste of my life; that is a waste of my life and I’m not wasting my life.”
2. The second thing we’ve learned is that we’re to do what we can do. We’re to sow, to reap, and sow, and store in barns, and all those things. We’re to do what we can do and then trust God to do what we can’t do. That’s just clear, biblical teaching from Old Testament all the way through New Testament.
Which means at the end of the day, when our brains start to go down the worry trail, we say, “Whoa, time out, have I done all I know I can do? Yes. Okay. Then I have been responsible in the now. I’m trusting God for tomorrow. I’ve been responsible in the now, I’m trusting God for tomorrow. I have done more than the birds and I have done more than the flowers and I know he loves me more than either. I’ve done what I know to do. I’m trusting God for tomorrow. I’m not going to waste my time or life.”
3. The third thing to think about, and this is the deeper one, and Jesus makes this really clear next week. He actually made it clear a long time ago, but we’re going to talk about it next week. It may get clearer next week. But it’s this—if the emotion of worry is associated with the devotion of life, that is, if our emotion is driven by the things we’re devoted to, here’s a great question to ask between now and next week:
What are you most devoted to? What are you most devoted to? If you want to know what you’re most devoted to, you simply look at what you worry about the most. Because next week he’s going to draw this amazing, amazing parallel,
which means we have the ability and the opportunity to begin to shift our worry by shifting some of our devotion.
This is why Jesus’ statement at the end of this section is so powerful. He says, “The reason you worry is because you have such little faith in God.” I mean if somebody were to watch us live, they would draw this conclusion: some of us, it would look to others as if, we have more faith in our worry than we do in God, because we spend so much time trying to somehow shape the future through worry than we do in our relationship with God. He says, “You have more faith in your worry than you do in your heavenly Father. Oh, you of little faith.” Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
It’s one of the best questions you can ask: If my worry pinpoints my devotion—you follow me—what am I truly most devoted to? And then here’s a big question: And once I realize what I am most devoted to, is that really life? And if it’s not really life, maybe it shouldn’t hold such control over my devotion. Which is why Jesus started the conversation by saying, “Oh yeah, by the way, you can’t be devoted to God and your stuff. And if you spend most of your life worrying about your stuff, that’s what you’re devoted to. By the way, is that life? Is that life?”
Now, if all of that’s like, “Andy, I’m not going to do any of that,” then here’s the last thing I would suggest. Would you be willing this week, I would love it if you would do it five mornings this week, but maybe one morning if you don’t want to do five, would you be willing to find your Bible and read Matthew 6:24–34? Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
Those are the verses we talked about today, and they’re the verses we’re going to cover next week. If you don’t want to think about any of this and, “Andy, I don’t get it, maybe I’ll buy the Dummies book. I think I could follow that easier than your sermon. I understand, but would you be willing to this week, four or five times—you pick—mornings are better than afternoons, but whenever, would you be willing to just read straight through, Matthew 6:24–34?
Just read it straight through. It will be the verses we talked about and the ones we’re going to talk about next week, just to begin to get Jesus’ words about worry in your heart. Read more about how to overcome the worries in your life.
Here’s what I predict: if you will do that, one or two of those verses are just going to go like, bang! It’s just going to jump out at you. You’re almost just going to stop. And maybe God will begin to do something in your heart around this issue of worry, not simply so we can cover a couple of sermons and have a little series.
“Oh, that was cute, Andy. We loved it.” No—but that God would do something permanent in your heart as it relates to worry, so that in the future when you face areas of uncertainty, even though the uncertainty doesn’t go away, you don’t have to worry.
Because if Jesus commanded us to stop worrying about our lives, then we have to assume that there’s a way to do that. And in this amazing passage of Scripture he is leading us through and leading us on a journey to that very conclusion.
So think about some of those things, read those verses this week, and then next week we’ll pick up there and finish up and do the second part of Why Worry. We will find more about how to overcome the worries in your life.