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Sunday, June 25, 2017 pm

 

Problems Christians Face Today - 2
THE CONCERN OF WORRY

 

Recently I announce that I want to address some lessons dealing with some problems Christians face today.  These are not problems that are new to this generation, but most have always been around.  They are things that trouble our spiritual, mental and physical health.  For many of us they are persistent “demons” that are difficult to “exorcise” (NOTE: Take this sentence proverbially with a “demon” being something that has made its home within you and doesn’t want to leave easily).  BUT, I want us to know that they are addressed in scripture and can be overcome. 

With subjects like this, let me begin by saying that I realize the answers to the problems are not easy to do.  It is easy to stand up here and say, “This is what you need to do”.   BUT anyone who has struggled with anything knows that overcoming troubles, especially deeply engrained attitudes, habits, and consequences knows the battles are real and may even seem insurmountable.   But we cannot give up.  We cannot quit trying for when we do that, we have lost the battle once and for all, and possibly our souls in the process.  And that is why we need to deal with such subjects from time to time.   

These lessons are designed to remind us that God’s word addresses these things and does give us solutions, if we are willing to “take our medicine.”   AND, oftentimes that “medicine” is bitter and time consuming.  BUT, the fact that we can appeal to scripture for answers shows us that God knows about these things (He knows all things) and He does care.  We must never forget that.

 Last month we talked about discouragement.  Tonight, I want to address the subject of worry.  Worry is a subject that plagues many of us.  Other than little children who have not learned to worry, it is the rare person who lives without ever worrying.  But what does the Bible say about this subject?  Is there anything we can do about it?

 I.                     The Bible and worry

a.       What is worry?   The origin of the worry is to choke or strangle.  It is defined as, “to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.”[1]
Synonyms include: Anxiety, fretting and numerous other words associated with it – troubled, bothered, stressed, disquieted, agitated, etc.   It is a state that goes beyond mere concern.
Dictionary of Bible themes defines the word as, “a sense of uneasiness and anxiety about the future.

b.       Worry is a real concern with real consequences.  It is not good for health or relationships.
Physically – worry (especially continued and excessive) can produce high anxiety, high blood pressure, upset stomach and ulcers, headaches, sleep loss and even heart problems.
Emotionally and mentally - It can lead to depression, & hopelessness (feeling defeated).   It can lead to doubting and affect one’s self-worth.  It can rob you of your joy, happiness and peace.  It can also affect relationships as the mood of the one continually worrying is usually not very pleasant.
Spiritually, worry can be sinful.  Let it be understood that being concerned or apprehensive is not wrong within itself.  For example: Jesus in the Garden knowing what He is about to go through and sweating, as it were, great drops of blood – Luke 22:44, was apprehensive.   But He dealt with it (He prayed and accepted the will of His father) and did not let it deteriorate to a state of sinful worry.
Another example: Paul, was deeply concerned about the state of brethren (2 Corinthians 11:26, cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:5-7).   Even to the point of sleeplessness at times (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:12-13).
The word translated “worry” in Matthew 6 (μεριμνάω,
merimnaō - some 5 times) is also found in 1 Corinthians 7:32-33 and addresses how he who is unmarried “cares” for the things of the Lord, while he who is married “cares” for the things about dealing with his wife (called “things of the word”). 
1 Corinthians 12:25 speaks of the body of Christ and how we are to have “the same care for one another
AND, Philippians 2:20 describes Paul sending Timothy to them, “For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.
Sinful Worry is when one reaches a state where these things begin to consume you and affect the way you behave and think.    NOTE: how in the above texts, most versions use a different word to distinguish between the good (cares) and the bad (worry).
Worry can affect how you pray – consider James 1:5-7 – we must pray in faith.  Often worry is the product of a lack of faith. 

c.        Worry can also waste your time.  It has been said that only about 8% of what we worry about is genuine.  Much of what we worry about are 1) things that will likely never happen (including worst case scenarios and over-exaggerations), 2) what has already happened (we dwell on the past), 3) something yet future (things way down the road) or 4) what we have no control over.  Only that small percentage is things of concern that we can and need to address.
We are commanded to redeem the time in Ephesians 5:16.

d.       The Bible addresses worry in numerous passages –

Proverbs 12:25 – Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.

Psalm 94:19 – “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul”

 Matthew 13:22 – in the parable of the sower, the “stony heart” the cares of this world choke out the word (derivative of the same word for worry)

Luke 10:41 - Martha you are worried over many things

Philippians 4:6-7 – be anxious for nothing…

e.       Matthew 6:24-34 – Jesus taught us about worry and why not to worry in this text.

                                                   i.      Vs. 24 - You cannot serve 2 masters.  This is where the troubles of worry often begin

                                                 ii.      Vs. 25 – we are commanded not to worry.   He describes the types of things not to worry about - food and clothing.  Obviously He is not saying we should not care about these things to the point of not doing what we can to provide for ourselves (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10). 
But to obsess over whether or not these things are available, OR whether or not God can take care of us (the point) is wrong.  He emphasizes God knows what is important. 

                                                iii.      Vs. 26 – AND He notes that God takes cares of birds.  Are you not of more value than they?

                                                iv.      Vs. 27 – Why worry about things you cannot change – like how tall you are.  Will worrying add anything to your height?

                                                  v.      Vs. 28-30 – Jesus uses the illustration of clothing and compares that to the flowers of the field.  God makes them beautiful and lets them grow for our enjoyment.  If He can take care of a flower, he can also clothe you.

                                                vi.      Vs. 30 – “O you of little faith!”  HERE, is the problem with worry so often.  It demonstrates a lack of faith in God.  Often times our worry is because our faith is weak. We are trusting more in ourselves than we are Him.

                                              vii.      Vs. 31-32 – God knows what you need.  Don’t act (or fret) like the world.
NOTE: He mentions the “worries” of the Gentiles.  What is the point?  They have not faith in God. 

                                             viii.      Vs. 33 – INSTEAD, seek first the kingdom of God and “all these things shall be added to you.”

                                                ix.      Vs. 34 – Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow – don’t obsess about the future, when there are matters to address BEFORE you get there. 

 II.                   Dealing with worry

a.       What am I doing to deal with it?  Changing this is going to begin with sincere examination of the problem.  2 Corinthians 13:5. If you have a problem – what are you doing to change it?  What types of things are you really worrying about? (is it the 8% or the other 92%?). 

b.       Make up your mind – including changing the way you think.  Any real change in our lives begins with an attitude adjustment.  It is about our mindset!  “When life gives you lemons…” 
Believe you can change what needs to be changed and determine that you are going to do it.  Ephesians 4:22-24 calls for us to put off our former conduct (including in this case, your worrying), and be “renewed in the spirit of your mind” and put on the new man… 

c.        Change your behaviors – If what we worry about is something you can change, the do it!  How often is our worrying related to sinful behavior, lack of self-control, and poor decisions? 
IF you are worrying about where you stand before God, chances are you need to be changing some things in your life!  The truth is, until you do this, you are not going to stop worrying!
This may involve making some tough and long time decisions.  Sometimes our troubles are so huge it is going to take a lot of time and work to get out of the mess we’ve created.  Don’t let that keep you from getting started.  As you gradually gain control of whatever it is, you will find your worries decreasing in these matters, and your confidence increasing. 

d.       Accept who you are – I’m not speaking sinful behavior or attitudes, but who you are – example: Your height.  Accept your limitations (honestly – don’t artificially create them).  Don’t fret over what is not going to change! 

e.       Learn to trust God – He is in control.  This was the point Jesus was getting at in Matthew 6 dealing with worry.  He knows what you need, and He is in control. 
Cast your burdens on Him -  1 Peter 5:7 – we need to humble ourselves before Him and cast our cares on Him.  Matthew 11:28-30 – He said to come Him for rest. 
Matthew 14:31 – When Peter began to sink and cried, “Lord, save me!” Jesus rebuked his lack of faith (trust).  “Why did you doubt?” He asked.

f.         Make Him your priority – Matthew 6:33. Seek FIRST the kingdom of God.  Whether or not God is first has a direct bearing on how strong your faith and trust in God is.  When He is first you have learned to not let the troubles and worries of this world get to you.  You learn to accept where you are and move on – as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am
Matthew 6:24 – you cannot serve 2 masters.  When you try to, you are constantly going to be WORRIED about pleasing one or the other. 

g.       Deal with today – again Matthew 24:34 is specific about this as Jesus concludes His discourse on worry.  There’s enough going on right now to let the future get in your way. 
Think about this – you have a supposedly insurmountable problem that is going to take substantial time and efforts to solve.  You can only do so much today to solve it.  Do THAT MUCH and let it go!  In time, you will tackle the problem if you persist.

h.       Pray about it.  Prayer is always a key to addressing whatever problems we have.  Philippians 4:6-7.

 

Conclusion:  Worry is something we can deal with.  We have noted a few things to help us overcome worries in our life.  Let us work at it a day at a time, and no matter what you are dealing with, NEVER GIVE UP!  If we can help in any way, let us.  Think about it!



[1] “Worry”, www.google.com, 6/13/17