Sitting on the Mountainside-Studies in The Sermon on the Mount

Day 39: “Worry” Part Two 10.03.2018

Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

“Never worry about anything that you can’t do anything about! – Anonymous

“Why do you worry…?” –Jesus

Why do we worry? Do we somehow think that if we do not worry something might go wrong? As if, by worrying, we can control things beyond our control? I’ve been careful in these posts not to go too far into the psychological issues. But just a thought here … a good psychologist might invite the worrier into a season of cognitive therapy. That is, learning to think differently to reduce one’s internal stress and anxiety. That can be very helpful. And that therapist might encourage the patient to examine the things they might do to reduce their concerns. Financial decisions and career choices. We DO have a lot of responsibility for the situations we get ourselves into … thus, we worry.

But let’s suppose that we do all of those things. Let’s suppose we have acted as responsibly as we can and yet, we are still prone to worry. What might we do from this point? I suggest that Jesus himself was the great psychologist as well as the Savior. And his cognitive therapeutic techniques were spiritual in nature. That is, Jesus was teaching that ultimately worry, for his disciples, is a matter of not understanding God and not trusting God. So, what things might we hold onto in our determination to put worry to rest?

FIRST, WE ARE VALUABLE TO GOD OUR FATHER! This sentence is very easy to overlook: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” God created the birds that we see. He loves them. He finds them delightful. In fact, Jesus said the Father is aware of every single bird and that He must “sign off” even on their deaths. We read:

Matthew 10:29 (NIV) “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”

Some time ago, I found a little starling lying lifelessly on our front porch. Weighing only a few ounces , there it was having somehow flown into the doorway falling to the ground. I gently scooped it up and disposed of it, but I stopped to ponder. With all that is going on in the world among nations and people groups … with all that is constantly in motion throughout he universe from molecules to planets … God the Maker of Heaven and Earth watched this tiny bird flying about our yard and then permitted it to fall. He personally allowed/approved of its falling! One little bird!

Jesus said we are “much more valuable” than any bird. The words he used might be translated saying we are “worth much more” than any bird. We are of greater “value.” And what do we do with things that are very valuable? We keep track of them and care for them. Leading us to a second point that suggests worry is unnecessary.

SECOND, GOD KNOWS OUR SITUATION! Sometimes we quietly ask (We would never admit to this ) “God does know what is going on … right? I mean, He is still keeping an eye on me, isn’t He?” When this happens, we do well to ponder Psalm 139:

Psalm 139:1-5 (NIV) “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.”

Consider those words. Suppose you were someone of great wealth and could hire a personal assistant to stay by your side. A person with miraculous powers who never needed to sleep. And his assignment was to watch over everything you do and keep you safe and meet all of your needs and never take his eyes off of you. All of the money in the world could not locate such an assistant. But, for the true disciples, the child of God through Jesus Christ, this is the promise! He knows your situation and He is on the job! One more thought on worry …

THIRD: WORRY, FOR THE CHRISTIAN, IS A SIN. This is not a statement of condemnation but simply a reminder that we hurt the heart of God when we sin and worry … not trusting God … is a sin. Recall how puzzled Jesus was in the boat in the storm. We read:
Matthew 8:23-27 (NIV) “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’”

Jesus asked, “Why are you so afraid?” Notice that he, Jesus, was so unconcerned about what was worrying them that he was asleep! But they did not need to awaken him because he was on the job! Sometimes we feel as if God is asleep and we need to wake Him up. We do not. As my little old Italian Grandma would say “Dia-He knows!”

Psalm 121:1-4 (NIV) “I lift my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”

Peace. Next: Judging Others.

Blessings! Pastor Alberta

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