David Jeremiah — How Can I Get Victory Over Worry?
10 Questions Christians Are Asking
01. How can I be sure of my salvation?
02. How can I overcome temptation?
03. How can I get victory over worry?
04. How can I find forgiveness?
05. Is there only one way to God?
06. Why do Christians have so many problems?
07. Why don't my prayers get answered?
08. Is there a sin God cannot forgive?
09. What is faith?
10. What is the greatest commandment?
How can I get victory over worry? Hello, I'm David Jeremiah, wondering if that question might apply to you right now. Whether we call it concern, worry, fear, or full-blown anxiety, none of us knows what the future holds. And there are question marks in all of our lives. But there's a difference between not knowing the future and worrying about the future. It's the difference between living in peace and contentment, or not. God wants us to live in peace, and you and I want to live in peace ourselves. So, in today's message titled "How Can I Get Victory Over Worry"? we'll discover the biblical answers to this important question. Today's message is the third in our series called "10 Questions Christians Are Asking". So, if your heart is worried even a little, then you'll want to join me for today's edition of Turning Point.
Worry itself is a concern over the future. Worry is concern about something that we cannot do anything about, that we cannot even be sure about. One who worries looks often to the future, but the problem with the person who does that is twofold. First of all, the future is not here. And secondly, the future is not his. No one but God knows its true shape. And according to the Bible, worry is concern over the unknown and uncontrollable future. Remember the day Jesus met with Mary and Martha? If you want to know the poster child for worry in the New Testament, it had to be Martha. Jesus addressed her, he said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things". And that's what describes so many of God's people today.
We're worried and troubled about many things. Now, let's get it straight. We live in a world that makes it very easy for us to worry, can I get a witness? All this stuff that's going on in our country today and around the world, the diseases, the wars, all of it, if we allow ourselves, we can get consumed with worry about all of that. But when worry takes over in our lives, men and women, as Christians, it makes it very difficult for God's Word to have any impact on us. In fact, when Jesus was teaching on the sowing of the sower and the seed, he said that sometimes when the Word of God is sown in the hearts of people, it falls among thorns. And these thorns grow up, and they choke the Word of God out of the heart. And in detailing who those thorns are in Matthew chapter 13, one of them is the cares of this world. Jesus said when you get so caught up in the cares of this world, it will take you away from your ability to hear and understand and profit from the Word of God.
Chuck Swindoll says that, "Worry pulls tomorrow's cloud over today's sunshine". So if there's one place in the Bible where you're going to find out what the Bible says about worry, it will be in this passage in Matthew chapter 6. Here Jesus uses the term "worry" six times and the expression "don't worry" three times. Here's the don't worry verses, verse 25, chapter 6 of Matthew. "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will put on". Matthew 6:31, "Do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or, 'What shall we drink?' or, 'What shall we wear?'" Matthew 6:34, "Do not worry about tomorrow". So, if you want to have the distilled teaching of Jesus on the subject of worry, it comes in two words, "Don't worry". Now, before we deal with Jesus' thoughts on this, I want to tell you, first of all, what he is not saying. Some people read the old translation that deals with the subject of anxiety, and in the original King James Version, it says this, "Be careful for nothing".
And I know a lot of people who live that way, don't you? They're careful for nothing. That was kind of my life first when I was a young person. You know, carefree. Jesus is not telling us, when he says don't worry that we should never plan, that we should never be concerned about the future, that we should never be strategic in the way we live our lives. Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness planning what was going to happen next. He planned for the last supper. He tells us, "Don't ever enter into a project unless you count the cost". Jesus was a planner, so he's not talking about do away with all planning. You know, I know some preachers that live like that. You ask them, "Why don't you study"? "Well, I just open my mouth, and the Bible says the Lord will fill it".
Well, you can only try that two or three times on one congregation and you're working somewhere else, you know? The problem with all of this thought about not taking this seriously is wrong. Jesus is not only not talking about not planning, he's not saying that we shouldn't have concerns. How many of you know it's right to have concerns? God has given to us the mechanism in our bodies so that when things happen, we're alerted. Adrenaline flows, we know what to do. Your child runs out into the street where there's traffic, you need to be concerned about that and go into action. But men and women, there's a great deal of difference between worry and concern. Worry sees problems, concern solves problems. Worry lives in the unknown future, concern lives in the present. And you need to understand the difference between those two.
Jesus is a masterful teacher, so he's going to give us five things about worry that we need to know. These are so central to this subject that when I put the Study Bible together that many of you have, I actually listed them in a sidebar so that it would always be next to this passage. I believe this is so critical to where we are today with so many people, you know, in anxiety, even among God's people. So Jesus said here's what you need to know about worry. Worry, first of all, the Lord Jesus said, is inconsistent. Read with me the 25th verse of the 6th chapter, "Therefore," Jesus said, "I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing"?
The point is that God would not have given us life and he would not have created our bodies without seeing to the provision of those things that are necessary to sustain us. If you believe in a creator God, you also must believe in a sustainer God, or you're not consistent. Jesus said, first of all, worry is inconsistent. If God has given you life and your body, he will help you with the other things that go with it. Now, secondly, Jesus said that worry is irrational. Verse 26, "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they"? "God Almighty provides for the birds. Don't you think he'll provide for you? Are you not much more valuable than the birds"?
Worry is inconsistent, and it's irrational, but here is the whole core of it. The middle point of the five is the key point. It's ineffective. It doesn't work. Worry never accomplished anything, and it never will. The only thing it does is destroy the person who does it. And listen to what Jesus is saying in verse 27, "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature"? Well, Jesus is saying, "Why are you doing something that doesn't work"? A cubit was 18 inches. He's saying you can't worry yourself into being 18 inches taller than you are. I'd be over 7 foot by now. And some scholars believe he's not even talking about the span of 18 here, he's talking about the length of life. He's saying which of you can add one day, or one hour, or one minute to your life by worrying?
We've had illustrations in recent days of some of the wealthiest people who ever walked on this earth, and they died, and they couldn't do anything about it. They couldn't worry themselves into one more day. And one scholar has said, "While you cannot add any days to your life by worrying, you sure can subtract some". And he went on to say that in the graveyards of America are many Bible-believing Christians who stole 10 or 15 years from God as a useful servant because they just worried themselves into a grave before their time. Jesus is saying that you cannot use worry to accomplish your goal. It's futile to worry. And if you try it, all it will do is ruin your life, and you will never accomplish anything with it. Worry is inconsistent, it's irrational, it's ineffective.
Now, in verse 28 and 30, it's illogical. Listen to this, "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith"? Jesus perhaps was standing where the lilies of the field could be seen. And he says to them, "Look at these lilies. They don't even toil, they don't spin, and look how they are adorned". He says, "They're more beautiful than all of the beauty of Solomon, great kingly robes. And if your Father in heaven would take such great care of the lilies of the field, do you not think he cares about you"?
If God takes care of that which only has a short lifespan, they grow and then they're destroyed, ladies and gentlemen, if you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you're eternal. If God will take such great care of the temporal, don't you think he's going to take great care of the eternal? And finally, and this is kind of what you might call in your-face grace here, this last one, this is really a hard one, but I have to share it to you because this is what Jesus said. Worry is irresponsible. "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or, 'What shall we drink?' or, 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. But your heavenly Father knows you need all these things".
Now, the word "Gentile" in the text is often translated by the word "pagan". It's a reference to anybody who doesn't know God or doesn't follow God. Jesus' words are stunning. He says when you worry, you act like a pagan. You act like somebody who doesn't know God. You act like you don't have a family, and you don't have a Father. You act like you're an orphan. This is what they do before they know God. Now you know God, now you're a part of God's family, he's your Father, you're in his family. So don't live like you don't have a Father because you do. Don't act like you're an orphan because you're not.
Let me just say something to you all because this is so profound and so simple. It is amazing to me how many of God's people go through the problems of life that create worry in their own hearts, and never, ever tell God about their problems. I think some Christians are embarrassed to go before the throne in heaven and say, "Lord God, I'm having a real struggle here, and I need your help". I believe if you read the Psalms of the Old Testament, you'll see David pouring out his heart to God in every imaginable situation you can come up with. And they aren't veiled prayers, they're not nice prayers. They're gut-level prayers, "Lord God, I need help". So let me just suggest to you you have a Father in heaven, you have a family on earth. Both of them are created to be helpful to you, and don't try to do all this by yourself by worrying because it's going to get you nowhere. You're in the family. Ask yourself who you are. Step up and be counted as a child of God.
So, that's Jesus' take on worry. That's given to us to help us understand it. Remember, it's inconsistent, it's irrational, it's ineffective, it's illogical, and it's irresponsible, and that's why Jesus says don't do it. But now, in a loving way, he helps us not only to understand worry, but he gives us a couple of things to help us overcome worry. This is really the core of what I want to say to you today. First thing he says is commit your life totally to Jesus Christ. Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you". So the word at the beginning of the verse needs something before it.
So it would read like this, "Don't worry, but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness". You get up in the morning and say, "Lord, this day is yours. My children are yours, my wife is yours, my ministry is yours, my health is yours". And you give it to God. But you see, if you give it to God, you can't keep reaching in and taking it back. You give it to God and say, "I'm going to trust you with it," and the next thing you know, you're worrying about it. What you've done is taken it back from God. No, Jesus is absolutely right. He says commit your way to the Lord, give him everything, and trust him.
I remember hearing about a businessman who was going through some rough times in his business. And he was a worrier, and he was keeping up at night, and he was getting ulcers, and he wasn't going to make it if something didn't happen. It was just burning him out. One day, he walked into his office at work. And as he walked in, something hit him. He saw his desk. And behind the desk, the big chair that he sat in during the day, and he paused in front of that desk, and he said, "Lord God, you sit in that chair. You be the CEO of this company. You call the shots today. I'm giving it all to you". And he visualized in his mind the Lord Jesus Christ sitting at the chair of the CEO in his company. In essence, that's what we all have to do. Who is seated on the throne of your life? It's either you or God. If it's you, you're going to worry a lot. But if you can learn how, over the long haul, to put your life in the hands of Almighty God, that's the first step. That's the long view.
Now, Jesus is going to add to that what we might call the short view. And the short view tells you to concentrate your energies on living one day at a time. Notice verse 34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble". Every day we have in life is going to come with some adversity, some things designed that will make us anxious. So, in order to avoid being overwhelmed, Jesus says we need to teach ourselves how to live in day-tight compartments. Live every day unto itself. Because if you start living tomorrow, it's not going to work. What does it mean to worry about other things than the things that happen today? Well, do you know some people I know, they dwell on all their tomorrows.
There's a powerful verse in the Scripture in the Old Testament that I've sort of claimed as a verse for me. And here's what it says, Deuteronomy 33:25, "As your days, so shall your strength be". Now, there's probably some other ways to interpret that, but here's what I get from that. As your days, so your strength will be. So don't dwell on your tomorrows. And don't dwell on your yesterdays. Oh, how many people ruin their lives with a faulty yesterday. When you look over your shoulders, and you begin to dwell on the yesterdays of your life, you will usually settle down on one of three things. You will worry about your sins that you've committed, which is crazy because God's already promised that if you ask him to forgive you, he puts them as far as the east is from the west, and removes your transgressions from you, Psalm 103, verse 12. The Bible says he buries them in the deepest sea, puts a sign up outside and says, "No fishing here".
So don't worry about yesterday's sins if they're forgiven. And don't worry about yesterday's successes. I know a lot of people who've had a great deal of success in the past, and it isn't being replicated in the present, so they worry about yesterday's successes. Don't do that. And then some people never get over yesterday's sorrows. And I say this delicately, but I want to say it. I think if you lose your husband, there's a proper time to mourn him in sorrow. I'm not trying to be indelicate about this. But Almighty God left you on this earth not to be a sorrower. He left you on this earth to serve him, and you need to do what you do to mourn the loss of a loved one, however that is. And then draw a line in the sand and say, "It's time for me to get on with my life and serve God because he left me here for a purpose". I promise you that's what your spouse would want you to do.
So, you can't live in yesterday's sorrows, you can't live in yesterday's successes, and you can't live in yesterday's sins. You got to live today in this day. Give this day to the Lord. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, and your strength will be sufficient for each day. Sufficient unto the day are the strength that God gives you. I've lived many weeks when I didn't know how I was going to make it through Monday, but I did. And then Tuesday came, and my energy was replenished, and by the time I got to Thursday or Friday, I was living on the top of the mountain. We don't ever want to assess how things are going to be three or four days from now based on how we feel today. Just live your day, give God the glory, and the next day you will be fine.
I read about a pastor who was on a long cross-country flight. When the first sign of problems began to flash, all of us have experienced this, "Fasten your seat belts". Then a few seconds later, a convoy* said, "We won't be serving the beverages at this time. We're expecting a little turbulence. Be sure your seat belts are fastened". And then the storm broke. Cracks of thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightning lit up the darkening skies, and within moments, the plane was like a cork being tossed around on a heavenly ocean. One moment, the airplane was lifted up on the currents, and the next moment it dropped as if it was going to crash to the earth. The pastor confessed that he shared the worry and fear of those around him. He said, "I looked around the plane, and I saw that a lot of passengers were upset, some were crying, many were praying". He said, "Then I saw a little girl. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat, and she was reading a book. Everything around her was going crazy, and there she sat with her little small world, calm and orderly. Sometimes, she would close her eyes, and then she would read again, and then she would straighten her legs. But worry and fear weren't in her at all".
So the pastor couldn't believe it, he couldn't figure this out. And he decided to figure it out himself, so he waited until the plane landed, and when it got to its destination, he waited in the area outside of the gate, and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark. And he asked the little girl if he could speak to her for a moment. And he asked her why she had not been worried while she was in the midst of the storm. And the little girl said, "Because my daddy is the pilot. And he's taking me home". And she was in perfect peace because she knew her father was trustworthy, and she wasn't worried at all.
Recently in our church, we had the funeral for a woman who was tragically killed in an accident on our campus. I'll never forget her husband gave a word in the service, very unusual. And he said at the end of his speech that people had asked him many times how he was dealing with this. And he paused for a moment, and he just said, "I trust in God". In the midst of all that we face, isn't that it? And that I am sure is why we have this wonderful verse from Isaiah, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon you, because he trusts in you". In the midst of our storm, we need to look up and notice that the cockpit is occupied. And Almighty God is in control, and we can rest secure in him. This ship we're on is rocking right now with all the stuff that's happening in the world. But we can learn to have that quiet peace that little girl had if we'll put our trust in the Lord.