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Who Me? Worry?
Matthew 6:25-34 

 

"For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? [26] Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? [27] And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span? [28] And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, [29] yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. [30] But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? [31] Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' [32] For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. [33] But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. [34] Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

What do you worry about? Take a minute to write out a list.

Are you most likely to worry about something that is happening or something that could happen?

Some realities of life are worrisome. Do you worry about your family? Perhaps a child that isn't doing well in school or a parent who has failing health. Perhaps you worry about being able to pay all your bills because your budget is stretched to the point of breaking. Do you worry that you're not doing a good job as a parent, and wonder what effects your failings will have on your children?

Children, do you ever get scared when it storms? I know I did when I was younger. Whenever a tornado siren went off, I would immediately begin to worry. Do you worry about earthquakes or other types of natural disasters?

Some possibilities of life are worrisome too. Pregnant moms often worry about the health of their unborn child. Children may worry about whether their parents will divorce or even die. Sometimes parents even worry that they might die prematurely and not be there for their children. Do you ever worry about maintaining good health? Do you worry about death?

Do you worry that you might fail at something you are attempting? Has fear of failure ever paralyzed you from acting? 

Do you ever worry that you're not measuring up spiritually with what God expects or that your own failings could harm the cause of Christ? What are the things you worry about most?

I want to have a moment of silence right now. During this time, you can either worry about the things that worry you the most, or you can pray about them. Your choice. OK, you can start now.

OK, time's up. How did you spend your minute? Did you pray or did you worry? Those of you who worried, did you accomplish anything? Worrying is like shoveling smoke. It will keep you busy, and wear you out, but it won't accomplish a whole lot.

There is evidence that worrying is more than a waste of time, it can actually cause medical problems.  Edward Hallowell, M.D., who wrote the preface to Worry : Controlling It and Using It Wisely in response to this question  "What harm can come to someone from worrying too much?" wrote:

"Excessive worry, or what I call toxic worry, can make you sick, it can cut down your enjoyment of life, and it can hamper your productivity. Toxic worry is bad for every system in your body: it increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, it impairs digestion, it causes shortness of breath, it causes all kinds of musculoskeletal aches and pains, [and] it produces headaches and migraines."  Fresh Illustration, http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html .

Worry begets worry. After reading Dr. Hollowell's opinion, I concluded that worrying about the wrong things might just give me a major problem-something worth worrying over. You know, something like a heart attack.

Dr. Hallowell also wrote me that not all worry is bad. "While toxic worry immobilizes the sufferer, good worry is a useful guide."He wrote. "The way you tell the difference is to look at what the worry does to you: if it freezes you up, then it is toxic worry; if it leads to constructive action, then it is good worry."

He differentiated between toxic worry that paralyzes you and good worry, (You might prefer the word "concern" over the phrase "good worry") regardless, it is a trigger mechanism that causes positive change. For instance, an overweight person is well served by their worries if it motivates them to start eating right and exercising.

Which of your worries are mobilizing you into action and which of them are toxic? Should you even bother worrying about things you have no control over? 

Jesus answers that question with a question of his own in verse 27: "And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span?" In other words, toxic worry doesn't accomplish anything positive. 

But beyond what toxic worry does to our physical bodies and the fact that it is a total waste of time, does it really do any spiritual harm? I mean, isn't it innocent enough?

Look again at our text and notice Jesus' response to people who worry about basic things of life like food. He said, "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 

My children don't always like what I cook for them, but they know they will have something to eat every night. If they constantly worried whether I'd feed them, I'd be insulted. It would make me feel like they didn't trust me. 

I wonder if God ever feels like that when we worry and don't trust Him to take care of our needs?

Also, notice what Jesus says about those who worry about basic things of life like clothing: "And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, [29] yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. [30] "But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?"

Jesus said that those who worry about basic necessities of life are men of little faith.

Worrying, like unbelief, is the opposite of faith. The only difference between the two is that Christians who worry say they believe, they just aren't living what they say they believe.

Jesus gives the remedy in verse 33. He said, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you."

Instead of faithlessly worrying about things God has under control, Jesus said to seek His Kingdom first. Like a parent searching for a lost child, feverishly pursue God's Kingdom. But Jesus said more than that in this text. He also said to seek His righteousness. The first deals with actions, the second with character. 

In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6 KJV) As a hungry man will do anything to get food and a thirsty man prioritizes getting a drink of water, a person who is inclined to faithless worry must seek Jesus' righteousness. The promise Jesus makes in verse 6, is that he will be satisfied.

It may be that the very thing that worries you the most, is in your life so God can build character in you. By worrying, you could be wasting an opportunity from God to grow in Christ. As you learn to depend on Him, you are seeking His righteousness. 

So what is the best way to handle the temptation to worry?

Whenever Satan tempts you to worry, take that as a signal to actively seek Jesus' kingdom and His righteousness. Instead of wasting time worrying, invest time praying.

Look back at your list you made earlier in the service. Does that list prompt things you need to do, if so, transfer them over to your to do list. Are they things that are out of your control that God is in charge of? Then transfer them to your prayer list. The Apostle Peter gives this advise: "casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) Instead of worry-pray. 

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