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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sermon on the Mount, Day 30 of 40: Worry, Part I

Matthew 6: 25-34
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?  And why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you- you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or "What will we wear?'  For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  So, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.  Today's trouble is enough for today.

Why do we worry?  This is the subject of many papers written by psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, ministers, etc.,.   We worry about losing the things that we have, like our health, our wealth, independence, status.  And the list goes on.  We worry as a form of self-protection; to anticipate, plan for and head off any problems or bad events from happening.  And if they do happen, we want to have a plan in place for dealing with them.  This is why we have wills and pre-paid funerals. This is why we have insurance.  This is why businesses have business plans and disaster plans and succession plans.  This is why buildings have evacuation plans and fire drills. Life is not a sure thing, and we want to make things more secure.

Let's explore Jesus' philosophy about worry.  Jesus addresses the worry of having the very basic things: food, water, clothing, shelter.  Today, over 1 billion people go to be hungry and worry about their next meal.  Over a billion people have inadequate access to water and worry about their next drink of water.  Over a billion people have inadequate housing and worry about the next rainfall or snowfall or cold spell.  Nearly one half of the world's population live on less than 2.50 dollars per day.  Certainly Jesus' reached out to serve and help and to heal the least the last and the lost.  He was conscious of their dire needs.  He was not telling these people not to worry.

Jesus was telling his disciples and followers not to worry, as they served others in need.  They were to put their trust in God that He would provide them the resources necessary to accomplish their missions.  When Jesus sent His disciples out two by two to go into the nearby towns and villages, He gave them these same instructions, "Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.  Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you eat what is set before you. (Luke 10:4, 8).  Jesus wanted His disciples to recognize that they were totally dependent on God for their subsistence.

This does not mean that we do not take positive steps to raise money, or create an awareness, or plan ahead.  It does mean that we should not let the many details, the problems that arise and the situations that confront us in our service overwhelm us.   The Apostle Paul put it this way,"I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Luke 4:10-13). In our service, Christ's followers are to have complete faith in God.

For the most part, excessive worry never adds anything positive to our work.  Christ tells us to focus on today.  Be fully present with God in the work He has asked us to do.  Know God's will and work within that.  Worry becomes secondary or non-exsistant when God becomes the dominating power of our lives and our service.

Tomorrow we study Worry, Part II.

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