Worry, Worry, Worry
April 2, 2020, 12:07 PM

I have been a blues fan for years.  Play me "Worry, Worry" by B.B. King or "Skip's Worried Blues" by Skip James, and I will be a happy man.

Worrying makes for good music, but it makes for a miserable life.

Worrying comes naturally for some people.  Perhaps you know somebody like that?

If you are a born worrier, you will likely always have that tendency.  Don't worry about that, it doesn't make you an idiot or a looser.  Research shows that the tendency to be anxious is with about 1/3 of people from birth.

Our focus today is on worrying.  Or to be more precise on NOT worrying.  Matthew 6:24-34 gives us three good reasons not to worry. 

Before we get into our passage, allow me to clarify what I mean by "Worry."

When I talk about worry today I do not mean the simple feeling of anxiety you have when first presented with a problem.  Fear is a natural reaction that God gave us as a response to danger.  The initial reaction and adrenaline rush that comes our way when lion is chasing us or when our car is going off the road is supposed to be there.  It is our body's way of helping us fight or flee.  That is not worry.

Also, planning ahead is not the same thing as worry.  Thinking about what might happen down the road a bit, and preparing for it is a good thing.  In fact the Bible praises those who think and plan ahead.  That is not worry.

Worry is dwelling on a possible negative outcome in the future.  Worry is fretting about something that may happen later.  When somebody worries, it is not about something that is actually happening right here and now.

We worry about what will happen in a few minutes.

We worry about what will happen next week.

We worry about what will happen tomorrow.

We worry about what will happen if so & so happens.

Our worries often have a domino effect.  Our brain thinks, "Oh, THIS is likely to happen .... Oh no, then THAT will happen .... and if this and that happen, oh my!  Don't you know what will happen next?"

And often this all happens in a matter of seconds.  We go from calm to anxious very quickly, as if we were falling off a cliff, and nothing has actually happened yet.

Worry, dwelling on the possibly bad things in the future is very bad for us.  It is bad for us physically.  It can be bad for our relationships.  Worry can stunt our growth spiritually.

See if you can spot the three good reasons not to worry, found in Jesus' words in Matthew 6:24-34 (NLT)

No one can serve two masters.  For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

25  That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28  And why worry about your clothing?  Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.  They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.  Why do you have so little faith?

31  So don’t worry about these things, saying, "What will we eat?  What will we drink?  What will we wear?"  32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34  So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

As we look at our three reasons not to worry, I hope you can gain some tools to remain at peace, in spite of the worldwide struggle against an invisible virus.

1.  Don't worry, you are a slave.

Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.

The understanding here is that we are all slaves.  We all have masters.  That may be offensive to our American ears, but it is true.

As you read the rest of the passage it becomes obvious that Jesus is not talking simply about money here.

The word translated "money" here actually means, "property" or "wealth." 

Perhaps you think this is not an issue for you.  After all, you are not materialistic.  You are not one of those rich people who clings tightly to every penny or one of those selfish people who refuses to share with anybody.  You don't LOVE money, you just use it as a tool.

Well, not so fast.  You might not be off the hook.

Jesus is referring to money and wealth.  But he is also referring to clothing, food, water, a roof over your head ... and if he was talking to us today he would add cars, smart phones, heaters, refrigerators and a stove.

Most people think that Jesus is just referring to excess wealth, you know, the kind that RICH folks have.

Jesus is referring to both luxuries AND physical necessities.  Don't worry about either one ... or they will enslave you.

Physical necessities will be your master ... or God will be your master.  There is no middle ground.

Someone might say ... I am nobody's slave, I am master of my own destiny.

Sounds good, but it is a lie.

You are a slave whether you like it or not.  But you get to choose your master.

Will you preoccupy yourself with fretting about the basic needs of life, or will you preoccupy yourself with the kingdom of God?

Will you focus your energy on the luxuries of life or will you focus your energy on following the Lord?

Like or not, you will look out for "# 1."  The question is: Who will your # 1 be?  

If you are your own #1, then your master will be money, food, clothing and all the other necessities of life.  If God is your #1, then he will be your master.

You can only have one master.

If you choose the wrong master ... it will lead to a lot of worry.

If you choose the right master ... you have nothing to worry about.

Whenever you find your mind drifting towards worry about heath, paying bills or any responsibilities you have ... make the choice to be a slave of the God of all creation instead of a slave of stuff.

So don't worry, you are a slave.  Serve your master with your whole heart and focus your energy on doing what he wants you to do ... nothing to worry about there.

2.  Don't worry, you are broke.

Most people think that when they are broke, they should worry.  I say it is the opposite.  

In this passage, Jesus compares us to birds and plants.  Birds and plants don't have money.  They don't go to the feed store to buy seed or fertilizer.

Plants just sit there and don't consciously do any work at all.

Birds work hard and are active in looking for food and shelter and such, but according to Jesus they are totally dependent on God.  You can make a bird feel fear if you threaten it directly, but I am not aware of any plants that worry about things that are not actively threatening them or any birds that need anti-anxiety medication.

Birds and plants are not wealthy, they are very dependent on God. 

One way to understand wealth is to look at a person's ability to take care of themselves, instead of having to rely on others.

On one end of the spectrum you have very wealthy people who do not need to work for a living, who do not seem to rely on other people for money at all.

In the middle, you have the majority of people (called the "middle class") who don't rely so much on handouts from other people, but rely on their employers or their business to make a living.

And on the other end of the spectrum you have the very poor, who rely mostly on other people's handouts or on the government to meet their needs.

That is the range of wealth, from the rich people all the way down to the broke people.  

But the truth is, in reality we are all broke.

We are all like the birds or like the plants in that we are completely dependent on God ... whether we know it or not!

We need God for the air we breathe.  We need him for the water we drink.  He supplies the solid ground we walk on and the sun that makes everything grow.  It is God who numbers the days of our lives, not viruses or economics.

There has never been a person on this earth that was not dependent on God.  In that sense, we are all poor.  None of us are actually self sufficient.

Starting in verse 31 Jesus says, 

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.   (Matthew 6:31-33 NLT)

We are broke and God is our provider, whether we know it or not.

If you were you own provider, it would be very appropriate for you to worry when the economy collapses.

If you were had the primary responsibility to feed, clothe and protect yourself ... anxiety is the only response during tough times.

If the buck really stopped with YOU, there would be non stop things to be very worried about during a global health crisis.

But if you have God as your provider, anxiety makes no sense at all.

You are incapable of providing food for yourself without help.  No worries though, because God is your provider.

You are incapable of putting clothes on your back without help.  No worries though, because God is your provider.

You are incapable of fending off the cold in the winter and the scorching heat in the summer on your own without help.  No worries though, because God is your provider.

You are incapable of staying healthy and avoiding danger or loneliness or death itself without help.  No worries though, because God is your provider.

So don't worry, you are broke!

#3 Don't worry, you can't deal with tomorrow.

Oh, I am on a positive thinking roll, aren't I?

I said earlier that our anxieties are focused on the future.

Jesus said in verse 34,  “...don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."

Anxiety is not always literally about tomorrow, it can be about what is going to happen when the bills come at the end of the month.  Anxiety can be focused on a virus that is rapidly headed to your neighborhood.

Anxiety is almost always about the future, or what Jesus calls "tomorrow."

Well guess what folks .... You absolutely, positively, unquestionably DO NOT have the strength to deal with tomorrow.

A few verses before our passage today, in Matthew 6:11 we see what is called "The Lord's Prayer."

In this example prayer, Jesus says "Give us today the food we need"

Not, "Give us tomorrow the food we need."

God, our Lord and our provider, gives us the supplies to deal with trouble when we need it, not before we need it.

It is pride to think that we have strength to face troubles on our own.  It is foolish to think that we should have the strength to face difficulties without God's help.

A smart parent does not give their child everything they need all at once.  God does not give us everything we need all at once.  He gives it to us when we need it.

God will never ever give you the strength to handle tomorrow.   

So don't worry, you can't deal with tomorrow.  You can only deal with today.  God promises to give you the strength you need TODAY.  Your Lord will supply the ability to deal with what is right in front of you.  Your provider will give you the protection you need to face the dangers of TODAY.

Tomorrow?  Only he knows what is going to happen then.

Your fears, your anxiety about tomorrow are not really logical.  You don't know what is going to happen 5 minutes from now.  You can take an educated guess, but only God REALLY knows

And notice that Jesus says that there WILL be troubles.

Troubles are the obstacles and the pains of life.  They can't be avoided.  When the troubles come up, as the are guaranteed to do, your God will give you the strength to deal with them if you trust him.

Your master has said that he will end the troubles one day, but for now you are stuck with them.  Don't worry about it.

Remember, the emotion of fear is not wrong.  You will have that at times.  When fear comes, make sure you handle it wisely and don't let it become worry.

Remember that you are a slave ... and choose your master wisely.  Choose to be a slave of Christ and not a slave of wealth or the necessities of life.

Remember that you are broke.  Don't hold tightly to safety, health and material possessions that you can't create.  Instead, hold tightly to the one who provides all your needs.

And lastly, remember that you can't deal with tomorrow.  Trust God for the strength to deal with what is right in front of you.  Allow him to provide for you and protect you in the here and now ... and let him take care of what will come in the future.