Sunday, March 16, 2008

Don’t Worry

25"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25; NASB)

Worry seems to be a natural part of life, and for some, it seems to be an incessant preoccupation. Unfortunately, unchecked, it can have severe consequences. It has a way of draining our energy and can take a severe toll on our health. It can also dominate our thinking to the point that we are essentially paralyzed and are afraid of any risks and take our focus of more productive endeavors. At times, worry can cause us to become irrational.

But the worst problem with worry is that it essentially sends a message that we really do not trust God. We are essentially saying that we do not trust in God’s provision and loving care. Yet it is an easy trap for all of us to fall into. But we need to approach worry for what it really is – sin.

What worries us is not so much the worry of owning luxuries. It is usually worry concerning our basic needs. There is probably nothing that worries us more than having enough of the necessities of life. Here, the people to whom Jesus spoke where worried about the basics. But we are commanded to do just the opposite – to trust in the Lord’s provision of our basic necessities. And it is too easy to justify our worry since these are the basics that everyone needs to survive.

Worrying about our needs is something that the Lord does not want to occupy our time. Our focus should be on things of eternal importance. To worry about even the basics is something that will distract us from the mission the Lord has for us in this life. Meeting our needs is something that our Lord promises to do and our obligation in this matter is to simply trust the Lord.

Jesus illustrates by turning our attention to how our Heavenly Father feeds the birds (Matthew 6:26). If He feeds and takes care of them, and we are worth more than they are, isn’t it true that He will take care of us?

26"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 26-27; NASB)

And what does worry accomplish? According to verse 27, we can’t even add any time to our life by worrying.

Observe the obsession today with clothing. There is never a shortage of advertising showcasing the latest fashions of the day. These fashions continually change and people are obsessed with keeping up with these latest fashions. Yet, with all the variety of fashion, it still cannot compare with the beauty of God’s creation. Even King Solomon’s clothing – whose pageantry and kingdom was world famous - could not compare with the beauty of God’s natural creation (2 Chronicles 9). Each petal of a flower is unique and exhibits a beauty unsurpassed by anything man can create despite all the ingenuity he can muster. Taking a moment to observe God’s creation can leave one awestruck at the incredible beauty and harmony of God’s creative work. But in the end, all of creation will be destroyed “with intense heat” (2 Peter 3:10). If God took so much care in His creation, despite the fact that it will be destroyed in the end, how much more will He take care of us, who are far more important (Matthew 6:30). Yet we can have the tendency to worry about what we will wear.

God’s wonderful provision is illustrated many times throughout Scripture. One example that we can observe in Scripture is that of Elijah. In 1 Kings 17, the Lord declared that He would bring about a drought should the people turn from Him to serve other gods. The Lord commanded Elijah to leave Israel and go to the brook Cherith, where He would provide drink and miraculously command ravens to provide food for Elijah. And the ravens did indeed bring Elijah bread and meat, morning and evening, and he was able to get his drink from the brook. After the brook dried up due to the drought, God continued to provide for Elijah’s basic needs. God directed Elijah to go to Zarephath, where He provided for Elijah’s needs through the meager means of a poor widow who didn’t even have enough to provide for her and her own son’s needs.

The concern with what we will wear, eat and drink is something that the world earnestly seeks after. The term “eagerly” in Matthew 6:32 means to seek diligently, to crave and pursue with all of one’s might. The people of the world are consumed and preoccupied with endeavoring to be satisfied with material goods. But this behavior and attitude is not to be characteristic of the child of God.

If God knows and lovingly cares for us, then we have the confidence that He will provide for us. He has all the resources at His disposal. In light of that, we should have the freedom to serve Him without anxiety. We have the confidence that we can bring our needs before Him, and this should bring peace to us as His children whom He loves.

“6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6&7;NASB)

Our duty as God’s children is to seek His kingdom.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

We are not to worry about what will happen in the future. No one really knows what will happen in the future and worrying about it will accomplish little. There are enough things to be concerned with for each day. There is never any shortage of things that can induce worry concerning the future. Many of these things may never materialize anyway. Even if they do, preoccupation with worry cannot change them. The same God who provides for our needs today is the same God who will provide for us tomorrow. Incessant worry will only paralyze us and hinder our mission for God.

"34So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:24; NASB)

The real question that we need to ask ourselves is whether or not we truly place seeking after God’s kingdom first. Do we earnestly desire for people to be brought to Christ and see God’s kingdom grow? Our peace and confidence in God’s provision for our needs gives strong testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Seeking God’s kingdom first means that we desire for Christ to rule in our life. The kingdom of God is revealed to the world through the righteousness, peace and joy that should be clearly evident in our lives.

We must never forget that when we came to Christ, we were enlisted in God’s service much like a soldier. We are not to preoccupy ourselves with the things of the world.

“4No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:4; NASB)

Worry is a sin that should not be a characteristic of a child of God. It is unnecessary due to the Lord’s loving provision and will distract us from our service to the Lord.

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