A very nervous airline passenger began pacing the terminal when bad weather delayed his flight. During his walk, he came across a life insurance machine. It offered $100,000 in the event of an untimely death aboard his flight. The policy was just three dollars.
He looked out the window at the threatening clouds and thought of his family at home. For that price it was foolish not to buy, so he took out the coverage. He then looked for a place to eat. Airports now carry a good variety of eateries so he settled on his favorite, Chinese.
It was a relaxing meal until he opened his fortune cookie. It read, “Your recent investment will pay big dividends.”
We can all agree that when it comes to membership in the human race, worry is part of the package. We also know that it’s a useless and unhealthy vice.
Corrie ten Boom used to recite a little couplet:
Worry is an old man with bended head
Carrying a load of feathers
Which he thinks is lead.
Worry lives in a future that can’t be foreseen. It deals in what -ifs and could bes, speculation and possibility.
As long as we dwell on the worst-case scenario, we guarantee our own misery.
Jesus says, Don’t worry, three times, in this passage of Scripture.
The giant that we are going to talk about today and next week is worry. What are some principles we can learn from?
Worry is Inconsistent
5 “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 than food, and the body more than clothes?
Worry is simply inconsistent. This is an argument from the greater to the lesser. Consider this:
God who has created you, has given you the miracle of life. With his hand he keeps the universe in perfect rotation.
With all the effort he put into creating this universe, creating you, knitted you together in your mother’s womb, do you think for a moment that he is going to be carleess about little things a bread, clothing, etc.
A God so TALL could never overlook something so small.
Jesus said, Isn’t life more important than these everyday things?
If you buy into a Creator God, you must buy into a Sustainer God -or you are simply inconsistent. The evidence of His loving and timely care is all around us.
Worry is Irrational
Jesus’ first argument is irrefutable. He who gave us life can surely sustain that life. But Jesus anticipated the follow up question:
God CAN provide, but WILL provide.
Now he moves from the lesser to the greater – in this case, Birds to human beings.
26 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?
Sometimes we make fascinating discoveries when we bring two separate Scripture passages together. Consider this matter of the value of sparrow.
Take a side trip over to Luke 12:6, and you’ll find another market value: Five sparrows for two copper coins.
Put Matthew and Luke together and it’s two for a penny and buy four get one free.
By the way, a copper coin was worth one-sixteenth of a denarius. A denarius was one day’s wage.
So what Jesus is saying is this:
A copper coin gets you two sparrows; two coins get you five..
Not even a sparrow who has no market value, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it.
He follows every movement, whether it’s bird or beggar or baron.
You are infinitely more valuable than a sparrow.
As a matter of fact he knows when one of your hairs falls to the ground. Somewhere he has a database tracks the very hairs on your head.
If He is so meticulous with the smallest, most incidental inventory items, won’t he also tend to your deeper concerns?
Once again, Jesus gives us an argument we can’t refute, this time from the lesser to the greater. We can argue that worry is inconsistent and irrational. But there’s another problem with it.
Worry is Ineffective
King James: Verse 6
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature.
It’s interesting to note the units of measure in this passage.
Jesus uses a hair and sparrow and a coin and cubit.
A cubit, as Noah knew, comes to about 18 inches – a length of your forearm, since rulers and yardsticks were rare.
The fact is, who can sit back in a chair and worry himself a few extra inches in height?
Jesus was going a bit deeper. Most commentaries would agree that Jesus was talking about days instead of inches.
In other words, most translations say, Who can add a single hour to your life?
Of course no one can add a day, an hour, or even a flickering moment.
Here is the deal:
Worry divides the mind and multiplies misery. It subtracts from our happiness. But it never adds.
What if we took a walk through the cemetery and we were able to put a magical gauge on the tombstone which indicates the years of life that person lost through worrying? We might be amazed.
Many people take 5, 10, 15 years of their life because of the gravity of worry that was placed on their shoulders?
The fact is, worry is the most ineffective us of your time.
ILL. Mouse on Wheel PowerPoint:
Worrying is like being a little white mouse in a cage.
In that cage the mouse will climb inside that big wheel and as he runs the wheel will just spin around and around. It’s as if the mouse has this impulse to get on that wheel and keep running. I’ve been told that some mice can run up to 9,000 miles on that wheel within its’ lifetime.
Imagine that, spinning that wheel and going nowhere.
That’s the way it is with worry – a lifetime of frantic running with no destination. After a while you run out of the strength God gave you and you are still in the cage.
Worrying doesn’t rob tomorrow of its sorrow, someone said,
It robs today of its strength.
Do I ever worry? Of course I do; I’ve raised 3 children to adulthood so that should qualifies me as an expert on the subject. But for me, worry is a small town I pass through, not a place to hang my hat.
It’s a momentary phase, not a lifestyle. For many people, worry becomes so ingrained in their personalities that once the old worries are gone, they search for new ones. They’ve become dependent on worry as a lens through which to view life, and they’ve forgotten any other way to live.
Really now, do you want to be that type of person? I know I don’t.
Jesus gives us an invitation by saying,
You heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
This morning God is saying to us, Rest, take comfort. Every need you have is on God’s agenda. Have you forgotten that I take care of everything? Let your runaway mind come home and find rest.
Arthur Rank, early 1900’s British industrialist. Strong Methodist.
Beginning of the film industry, radio, television. In England had the largest film distribution center. Criticized using films to promote his Christian beliefs through film.
What he decided to do was to do all his worrying on one day each week. He chose Wednesdays. When anything happened that gave him anxiety and annoyed his ulcer, he would write it down and put it in his worry box and forget about it until next Wednesday.
The interesting thing was that on the following Wednesday when he opened his worry box, he found that most of the things that had disturbed him the past six days were already settled. It would have been useless to have worried about them.
85 Percent of What We Worry About Never Happens – By Don Joseph Goewey
Five hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”
Now there’s a study that proves it. This study looked into how many of our imagined calamities never materialize. In this study, subjects were asked to write down their worries over an extended period of time and then identify which of their imagined misfortunes did not actually happen.
Lo and behold, it turns out that 85 percent of what subjects worried about never happened, and with the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.
The stress that worry generates causes serious problems. The stress hormones that worry dumps into your brain have been linked to shrinking brain mass, lowering your IQ, being prone to heart disease, cancer and premature aging, predicting martial problems, family dysfunction and clinical depression, and making seniors more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s.
If we could get a handle on the worry that habitually, incessantly, and often unconsciously seizes hold of our mind, we would greatly increase the odds of living a longer, happier, and more successful life.
This article was updated in August 2016
Over two thousand years ago, Jesus says,
Don’t worry about the clothes you wear, or the food you eat, Your heavenly Father knows that you need these things.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Write down the one worry that you have today, consuming you.
As you come up and take communion, drop it in the bucket.
June 25, 2017
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