Why Do We Worry?
September 08, 2019 | Randy Smith
Why Do We Worry?
Sunday, September 8, 2019
Pastor Randy Smith
Guess what sin this is? We all know about it. In all probability we each commit this sin on a daily basis. It does not solve anything and only makes maters worse. It often gets a pass in the church. It is a total distrust in God’s goodness and sovereignty.
This morning, I’d like to talk about the subject of worry – not healthy concern, but good old-fashioned self-centered worry. We are a society of chronic worriers. We worry about academic grades, job interviews, approaching deadlines, retirement accounts, inflation, the weather, home repairs, sicknesses and a million-and-one interpersonal issues (cf. Lk. 8:14). And when we look back we have to ask ourselves, “What did it all accomplish?”
Of all that we worry about, statistics say: 40% of those things will never happen. 30% regard things in the past that we can't change. 12% pertains to criticism by others, which is mostly untrue. 10% is health related, which gets worse with stress. And only 8% deals with real problems that we will face. I believe all of us can say, “I’ve had a lot of trouble and most of it never happened!”
This morning we’ll learn what our loving Father has to say about the sin of worry from Luke 12, a parallel to what Jesus said on a different occasion in Matthew 6 (The Sermon on the Mount). Here’s the main point this morning: We’ll shine a spotlight on this overlooked enemy and discover the remedy to crucify this destructive foe.
1. The Command Stated
Let’s begin with the command stated – our first point this morning. We read it articulated three times in this section: In verse 32 – “Do not be afraid.” In verse 29 – “Do not keep worrying.” And now in verse 22, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life.”
Now for probably all of us that command on its own is a tall order! But the command does not come on its own. Jesus prefaced the command in verse 22 with the following words, “For this reason.” For what reason?
For the reason we covered months ago when we last left you in Luke. For the reason that we should not be greedy and build bigger barns for our worldly goods and live as if God is not part of the equation of being able to provide for His people. We will see that God provides for our physical needs (verses 24-29). We will see that God has already provided for our spiritual needs. He’s given us the kingdom (verse 32)! Therefore, what is there to worry about?
I’ll give you another reason why worry is a problem. Look ahead to verse 25. Simply put, worry accomplishes absolutely nothing beneficial for us. In verse 25 He said, “And which of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life’s span?” Worry will not make our lives any better nor will it lengthen the lives we cherish so dearly as verse 25 says. As a matter of fact, worry may very well shorten our lives.
Dr. Charles Mayo of the well-known Christian Mayo Clinic once said, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands and the whole nervous system. I have never met a man or known a man to die of overwork, but I have known a lot who died of worry” (original source unknown).
Or if we go to the Bible, Proverbs 12:25, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down.”
So from the start we need to realize that worry is unproductive to solve our problems, unworthy of God’s faithful reputation, and therefore, unnecessary for the children of God.
Let’s move to the second point.
2. The Command Specified
To emphasize God's abundant provision and pinpoint the sin of worry, Jesus specifies three areas that will produce the greatest anxiety in our lives. And these areas will produce the greatest anxiety because a failure to have these needs met means a failure to survive. Combining food (verse 24) and dress (verse 27-28) and drink (verse 29), Spurgeon called them “the world’s trinity of cares.”
Footnote: For probably all of us, we may find it difficult to directly associate with this passage. We have all of these necessities in abundance. As a matter of fact, in America; overeating is our problem, closets are packed with clothes we rarely wear, and the money we spend on alcohol is probably enough to provide water for the world’s entire population. So since we have these necessities, we tend to worry about lesser things like our newly purchased car or our lawn that has turned to brown straw this summer.
Therefore, this teaching, though directly applicable to a first-century audience and probably a large percentage of the world’s population today, might appear at first to have little meaning for us.
Yet upon deeper examination we of all people might walk away most humbled by this passage when it is all said and done. Stay with me!
The overall point that Jesus is making is clear. Our heavenly Father can be trusted to provide the basic necessities of life so there is no need for us to be anxious. And if we are called to not worry about life’s essentials, how foolish is it to worry about the more trivial matters that oftentimes plague our American society?
The first necessity of life that Jesus deals with is food. Follow along as I read verse 24. “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!”
The command is to be a bird watcher! “Consider!” Observe the simple birds in your backyard. Though not without effort on their part (just as we are commanded to work – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 – the food doesn't fall from the sky!), birds have their food provided on a daily basis. They are not frantically flying around searching for the next meal throughout the day. They are not hoarding more than they need. Their little brains are not obsessed with food. Their provision is met for the day and the majority of their time is engaged in other activities in which birds find enjoyment.
So, Jesus says consider the birds, and verse 24, then consider “how much more valuable you are than the birds!” The point is simple. If God provides for relatively insignificant creatures with such care, how much more will He care for those created in His image, redeemed by His blood, adopted into His spiritual family and promised a home with Him in eternity!
Said the robin to the sparrow;
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin:
“Friend, I think that it must be
They have no heavenly Father (as they claim),
That cares for you and me.”
Is there not something inherently wrong with us when birds can express more contentment toward their Creator?
In verses 27-28, now on the topic of clothing, Jesus again turns to nature for another illustration. “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!”
Using the same form of logic (arguing from the lesser to the greater), the point is the same as before. Even the most resplendent king the world had even known (in Solomon) paled in comparison to the wildflowers scattered along the grassy Palestinian hillside. Wild plants (the “grass in the field”), here today and burned tomorrow, nevertheless cared for by God and clothed with great beauty. How much more will God clothe those destined for eternal life? Yet those same individuals are often the ones who worry about their clothing, and when they have their clothing, they worry about the brands and designs of their clothing!
Verse 23, “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” We are not just eating machines in a meaningless evolutionary process. We are not just mannequins that exist to display the latest fashion. Don’t we understand that we have a higher purpose in life?
No wonder Jesus concluded verse 28 with the words, “You men of little faith.” How can we observe how God provides for His lesser creation and then believe He will not provide for His children? How can we trust God for the eternal salvation of our souls and then believe He will fail to provide for our basic necessities (Rom. 8:32)? How can we believe God has a wonderful plan for our lives, but He can’t keep us alive? Where is our faith? Where is our trust in our heavenly Father? 1 Peter 5:7, Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
3. The Command Restated
Before providing the remedy, Jesus again restates the command-point number 3.
Verses 29-30, “And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.”
“The nations of the world” this is in reference to those who do not know God, in other words, heathens, pagans. Those without a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ are not God-seekers (Rom. 3:11). They seek everything but God. They prioritize their god of self. They trust in their possessions and doubt God's provisions.
On the contrary, we as Christians are called to “die to self.” We are called to love God and others more than self. We are called to surrender and yield and dedicate ourselves to the lordship of Christ. We are called to trust God with unwavering belief and absolute dedication.
So, when we worry we are acting like … an unbeliever! Worry results from over-prioritizing our own needs and disbelieving the care and promises of God. When love for self becomes more important than love for God and trust in self becomes more important than trust in God, we are showing no evidence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Through our disbelief we are dishonoring the One who has already proven His faithfulness through creation and through the Bible and through personal experience. We are acting like pagans.
As D.A. Carson once wrote, “Would it not be wonderful…(if someone were to say), 'Not a worrier is to be found among those fanatics who call themselves Christians. They cope not only with the pressures faced by other men, but the pressures we put on them as well. And then they go and give comfort to some of us when we worry, whereas our people are constantly gulping down tranquilizers, visiting assorted counselors and mass-producing overweight ulcers” (The Sermon on the Mount, p. 93).
I like the way Sinclair Ferguson put it, “It is only when we want to take our lives out of the Father's hands and have them under our own control that we find ourselves gripped with anxiety. The secret of freedom from anxiety is freedom from ourselves and abandonment of our own plans. But that spirit emerges in our lives only when our minds are filled with the knowledge that our Father can be trusted implicitly to supply everything we need” (The Sermon on the Mount, p. 144).
4. The Command Redirected
Let move to the remedy-our final point. Do you want freedom from worry? You know the secular would only teaches us how to manage worry through therapy and medication. Jesus promises us that through Him we can eliminate it.
So far we have heard the command stated from the negative – do not worry. Now the command is stated from the positive. Before was the “put off.” Now is the “put on.” Verses 31-32, in the place of worry – “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”
In verse 30 we learned that those without God seek things. That is why they drift aimlessly through life. On the other hand, Christians are firmly rooted in Christ. In Him we have purpose, confidence and direction. Therefore, we find our joy in seeking the Giver of things, God Himself. Specifically seeking His kingdom – sharing the Gospel with others, praying for His will to be done and His name to be hallowed and serving to build up the body of Christ, praising God for our salvation in Christ.
Are you seeking first God’s kingdom? Such an attitude reveals a heart that is set on God. So the more we begin to serve God and trust God and praise God and seek God, the less we will worry. Worry is evidence that we desire to serve and trust and seek ourselves. But when we find in God our total sufficiency, we will glorify Him in the process and receive the promised peace and contentment that surpasses all understanding.
Psalm 34:4, “I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
Therefore, verses 33-34, be generous with your money. Invest it in heaven, verse 34. Let’s remember, you are already citizens in the kingdom (verse 32). The problem is too often that our hearts gravitate to the material things of this worldly kingdom. So set your heart on the things above. And the way to get your heart on the things above is to use your possessions in that regard. Verse 34, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
You see, when our treasure is in heaven, our heart will be in heaven. When our heart is in heaven, we will be found seeking His kingdom. We will not be seeking our kingdom. The worry will disappear and in its placed will be the welcomed and righteous virtues (the anthesis of worry) of contentment, satisfaction and peace.