We can worry about so many different things. I heard of a man who had a mountain of credit card debt, lost his job, his car was being repossessed and his house was in foreclosure. But he said “I’m not worried about it. I hired a professional worrier. He does all my worrying.” When asked how much he charged for his service, the answer was $5,000 a year. His friend said, “Where are you going to get that kind of money?” His answer, “I don’t know. That’s his worry.”
Do you worry? It’s a trap that Jesus warns His followers of falling into. The previous warning that Jesus gave was about covetousness (Luke 12:16-21). The rich farmer worried because he had too much. The disciples might be tempted to worry because they did not have enough. It doesn’t matter where we are in life, worry is a constant danger. Jesus shares three reasons worry is so bad:
And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? (Luke 12:22-24)
Our English word “worry” comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word that means ‘to strangle.’ Worry can destroy your life. Worry is harmful because it creates a downward spiral in a person’s emotions and increases your stress level. It can damage your health, disrupt productivity, negatively affect the way you treat others and how others treat you, and it reduces your ability to trust in God. Worry can make your temper short and your days and nights long. A doctor once said, “You don’t get stomach ulcers from what you eat. You get ulcers from what is eating you.” John Calvin said, “Those who are extremely anxious wear themselves out and become their own executioners.”
Two areas that Jesus encourages us not to worry about: what we eat or what we wear. This isn’t about if, but about what. Most of don’t spend a lot of time wondering if we are going to eat or if we are going to wear clothes. It’s about choice. The fact that we have more than we need puts us in a situation that we worry about our choices.
But Jesus says not to worry because God will give you what you need. He feeds the ravens. Luke’s account is more specific than Matthew 6:25. There Jesus said, “Behold the fowls of the air” Here He gives you one specific kind of bird, a raven. The raven (crow) is an unclean bird. The idea is that if God takes care of an unclean bird, how much more is He going to take care of His own children.
Jesus actually says, “Take no thought.” This doesn’t mean not to think of your needs or to imply that a person shouldn’t work to meet their needs.
2 – Worry is Disappointing.
And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. (Luke 12:25-29)
Worry not only is destructive, it is also deceptive. We think we’re accomplishing something when we worry, but we really don’t. Worry accomplishes nothing; it is wasted effort. Jesus tells us that we are incapable of adding an hour to our life or an inch to our height. So why do we worry?
In essence, worry comes from not being able to control our circumstances. So, rather than trust God to take care of us we take it upon our self to worry. Our lack of faith in God is expressed in a lack of faith that He knows the needs of His children; and if He does know, He lacks the wisdom to meet those needs; and if He has the wisdom to meet those needs, He lacks the desire or the power to meet them. So we take it on our self to worry.
When Abraham was President, many were asking if we were going to have a Civil War. Lincoln told a story when as a young lawyer he traveled with others as circuit riders for the courts. There was some local flooding as they headed toward the Fox River. They wondered if these rivers were flooded, what about the mighty Fox River. As they stopped at a tavern, they met a circuit riding Methodist elder and asked him what he thought. His wise answer was, “I know all about the Fox Rider. I have crossed it often and understand it well. But I have one fixed rule with regard to the Fox River. I never cross it until I reach it.”
For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:30-34)
When we worry, we act like unbelievers. As children of God, we do not receive the things we need by directly pursuing them. Instead, they will come indirectly when we seek God’s kingdom. As we seek God’s kingdom, He will add them to us. However, if we seek and worry about the things, we will miss it all.
Simply stated, our focus shouldn’t be on food, clothes, money, houses, cars, or any other material possessions. Our focus should be to worship, serving and proclaim Jesus Christ. We should live obediently to His Word and pursue truth, holiness, and love.
Jesus concludes this section by encouraging us to give. A life that is generous becomes free from worry. Jesus wasn’t telling His followers to sell all their possessions, but rather to sell whatever they could to make giving to the poor possible.
Why worry when you can pray?
Paul encourages believers to replace our worrisome thoughts with specific prayer. Worry is like a rocking chair – lots of movement going nowhere. But prayer has to possibility to move God.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
In the early days of aviation, a pilot was making a long solo trip when he heard a noise in his plane. He recognized it as the gnawing of a rat. He was in a serious situation because the rat could be gnawing through a vital cable. He was more than 2 hours to the next landing field. Then he remembered that the rat was not made for high altitude so he decided to climb to 20,000 feet until the gnawing ceased. Two hours later he landed and found the dead rat. He could not survive the atmosphere. Worry is a rat. It cannot live in secret places of your prayer closet. It cannot breathe in the atmosphere of prayer and Scripture. Worry dies when you ascend to the Lord through prayer and the Word of God.