Which command in the Bible is repeated most frequently? Do not worry? Why is that? Because from birth it is our default position. “I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m afraid…” Even as Christians we are tempted to doubt our loving heavenly Father. Satan knows if he can get us to doubt God, we will live defeated lives. That is why Jesus says over and over again in the gospels, “Do not be afraid, little flock…” (Luke 12:32).
But did you know some people are more prone to worry than others? Over forty years ago, two cardiologists, Milton Friedman and R.H. Rosenman observed that the primary risk factors of coronary heart disease, i.e. hypertension, smoking, and elevated cholesterol, could not explain why some people suffered and others did not. Their research published in 1974 revealed that personality type was also a major contributory factor. They divided people into Type A and Type B. And if you are worried about which Type you are, you are probably a Type A… They observed that Type A people were more prone to worry than Type B and were also found to be three times more likely to have a stroke or a heart attack, even if they were did the same sort of work and lived in similar conditions.
Rob Parsons has identified some of the traits of Type A personalities. See if this reminds you of anyone.
“We are very competitive. We compete over everything and find to our embarrassment that when we play board games with small children we are desperately trying to win. We cannot resist a telephone ringing. The worse thing in life that can happen to us is to get to the telephone just as it stops ringing… We swap lanes in traffic jams – even though we know that there is an eternal law that the lane we have just joined will now move more slowly than the lane we have just left. When driving down motorways we are constantly working out complicated mathematical sums: ‘London is ninety miles away. If I drive at sixty miles an hour I will get there is an hour and a half. If I drive at ninety miles per hour it will take me an hour. We hate stopping for petrol. Why? Because when we pull in at the service station we see all the cars and lorries we had overtaken going past.” (adapted)
Maybe you can identify or maybe you now realise you are married to one. Whether you are Type A or Type B we all worry and Jesus has a word for you this morning. Please turn to Luke 12 and lets see what Jesus has to say about worrying. The main worry Jesus is concerned with is the worry caused by materialism. This is clear from the context. Jesus has just spoken the Parable of the Rich Fool which we read last week. Verse 22 says “Therefore I tell you…” Remember a ‘therefore’ is always there for a reason. As always, Jesus does not merely deal with the symptom but goes for the root cause. From verse 22-34, Jesus gives us seven reasons why we should not worry.
1. Worry Ignores the Purpose of Life
Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” (Luke 12:22-23)
Jesus tells us life is far more important than food and clothes. Observe the adverts in any women’s or men’s magazine and you will find it is preoccupied with the very things Jesus told us not to worry about – with clothes, food and drink. Most adverts focus on our bodies: on what to wear to look more masculine or feminine; with what to feat or drink to feel good; with how to shape it, pamper it, look younger, fitter, healthier, thinner, softer, more attractive. Jesus says that life ‘is more important than these things.’ The columnist, Penny Perrick, wrote in The London Times recently: ‘I have spent a fair bit of time this week wandering around the [Summer] sales trying to pretend I wanted something. What I want is true love, long eyelashes and small feet and you can’t buy any of those at Harrods.’ Jesus says worrying about clothes or food and drink is to miss the purpose of life. What is the purpose? To know God through Jesus Christ (John 17:3). Worry misses the purpose of life.
2. Worry is Illogical
“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” (Luke 12:24)
Worry is actually a slander on God’s character. Worry suggests that God is more interested in his pets than in his children. Birds are kept alive by the food God provides. They may have to spend time hunting and searching for the food, but it is there to be found because God provides. Jesus tells us to look at the birds and realise that worry is illogical.
3. Worry is Foolish
Jesus says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:25-26)
Jesus asks a rhetorical question. The answer is obvious. Worry cannot add to life. It has the opposite effect, because it causes things like stress, high blood pressure, headaches, ulcers or even a coronary. Most things we worry about never happen anyway. Sir Winston Churchill once said, ‘When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his death bed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.’ Worry misses the purpose of life because it is illogical and foolish.
4. Worry is Faithless
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!” (Luke 2:27-28)
Faith and worry are like fire and water. They don’t mix. Faith means trust. Trust in God’s care and provision. All around us we see evidence that we can trust God. Worry misses the purpose of life because it is illogical, foolish and faithless.
5. Worry is Pagan
“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.” (Luke 12:29-30)
Being preoccupied with material needs is what the pagans do says Jesus. Some of these worry’s may be modest, such as food, drink and clothing. But others are more commonly found in Maadi: a bigger house, a new car, a better salary, reputation, fame or power. But setting your heart on them in the belief that they will fulfil you is pagan because they are self-centred and do not satisfy. You may know that Chris Evans was to be the new anchor for BBC’s Top Gear succeeding Jeremy Clarkson. An article in the Evening Standard about Chris Evans drives this home. It asked, ‘So why isn’t this man laughing?’ Evans ought to be a happy man. A multi-millionaire, with cars, homes, girl friends, he nevertheless seemed depressed.
‘It hit me one Sunday morning,’ he explains, ‘that all I ever wanted was the 10 o’clock Saturday night slot on Channel 4 and I’d achieved my life ambition at 27. So what do I do next? ‘You can compare it to climbing Everest. You climb it, and what do you do then? Climb the north face? OK, but so what? And then? Climb the north face with a grand piano over your shoulder? There has to be more to life. Finding out what that might be is the problem I’ve had ever since that Sunday. I haven’t got any closer to working it out.’
And after just one season of hosting Top Gear, Chris Evans has given up that role too, presumably dissatisfied in his quest for fulfilment. Have you worked it out yet? When we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour we are born again into his family, we become children of God. We can be assured that God knows our every need. If our loving Father knows our needs we can trust him for them. Worry misses the whole purpose of life, it is illogical, foolish, faithless and pagan.
6. Worry is Unnecessary
“But seek first his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:31).
Worry is actually unnecessary. God promises to provide for all our needs if we get our priorities right. Indeed, the Bible is full of such promises. For example, the psalmist says, ‘No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless’ (Psalm 84:11). The apostle Paul also writes, ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ (Romans 8:28).
Sometimes our situation may be difficult or painful. Yet God walks with us and will hold our hand and may bring adversity to help build our character and cause us to depend on him alone. The result will be increased intimacy with God, greater spiritual insight, or deeper faith with which to encourage and affirm others. Worry misses the purpose of life, it is illogical, foolish, faithless, pagan, and so unnecessary. Here’s one more reason.
7. Trust God: Because the Best is Yet to Come
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)
The reason Jesus promises in verse 31 that “all these things will be (future tense) given to you, is because, verse 32,
he has already given you (past tense) the kingdom.
By grace, you are already a citizen of heaven. God’s kingdom will never end. When you eventually die you will inherit a body that is imperishable, undefiled, radiant, glorious. The Apostle Peter described it as, “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4). God intends us to live one day at a time. God has given us our lives in units of twenty-four hours and we should take life one day at a time. If we wish to live a long and fruitful life, we should respect and live by the biological clock he has built inside us. Fiona Castle, the wife of Roy Castle, the entertainer, had to face the stress of Roy’s battle with cancer.
I remember attending a concert he gave about a week before he died. In her book ‘Give Us This Day’ Fiona wrote:
“Recently a friend commented to me that many people live their life as though it were a dress rehearsal for the real thing. But in fact, by tonight, we will have given the only performance of ‘today’ that we will ever give. So we have to put our heart, our energy and honesty and sincerity into what we do every day. As a show business family, we find that a very suitable illustration. And every show comes to the end of its run, when we must lay aside the costumes and step off the stage, into another, larger world. So as we pray the prayer Jesus taught us, we ask God to ‘Give us this day’ – thankfully receiving one day at a time – looking to him to sustain us with everything we need, whether it be food, shelter, love of family and friends, or courage and hope to face the future. And at the same time we echo the words of the psalmist: ‘This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it’ (Psalm 118:24).
Seven reasons why we should stop worrying. Worry misses the purpose of life, it is illogical, foolish, faithless, pagan, and unnecessary because, Jesus promises, the best is yet to come! Jesus insists we must change our world view. And the test of whether we really trust God is our willingness to share with others what he has entrusted to us.
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)
So how do we stop worrying? By seeking God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, trusting God to provide for our needs. To eradicate worry we must focus our hearts and minds on something higher, more permanent, more glorious. By making sure our treasure is in heaven, not on earth. This is how to stop worrying and start living. Lets pray.