Doug Batchelor - Worrying About Stuff - Part 1
Now, I don't know if I’m the only one that has a tendency to worry. Are there any worriers out there? If you don't have anything to worry about, I could probably help you think of something. There's a lot of things that, if you want to, you could worry about. You could worry about your salvation. You could worry about the salvation of others you love. You could worry about your health. You could worry about life. You could worry about death. You could worry about just the basics from day to day. No limit to things that you can worry about. And, yet, in spite of all the things that concern us, do you know that we are commanded to not worry, in the Bible?
I'd like you to go ahead and join me in the same passage that we had in our scripture reading. Turn to Matthew chapter 6, verse 24. And here, Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Now, I’m reading from the New King James version. Some other versions might say something different. That word there 'mammon' is actually the word 'abundance'. It means 'abundance of things' or 'abundance of riches'. A translation would be 'an abundance of stuff'. You cannot serve God and an abundance of stuff. We tend to worry about our stuff. All kinds of stuff - stuff can be things, stuff can be other stuff - sort of a general phrase.
And then Jesus goes on, in case you have any doubts, He begins to specify. He said, "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?" Now, we've got a lot of commandments in the Bible - you've got the ten commandments - and, every now and then, some of the commandments say, 'Thou shalt' and others say, 'Thou shalt not'. You actually have a commandment here from Jesus; He's saying, 'Thou shalt not worry.' And it's easier when, you know, 'Well, you're God It's easy for you to say that. You know everything. But I don't know what's going to happen, so I’m worried about what's going to happen.'
But the question is: do you trust your life to someone that does know? He says, 'Trust Me. Live by faith. Don't worry.' It wrecks your witness, for one thing. Christians are supposed to be a people of faith and, if we spend our lives worrying - folks don't want to know how to worry, everyone does that pretty well. But if we meet someone that knows how to believe, that can actually be inspiring.
I heard about two friends that were talking one day and one was telling his buddy, he said, 'Yeah, my house is in foreclosure, lost my job, medical insurance has been canceled, kids just dropped out of school, and' - he said - 'you know, my credit cards are maxed out' - he said - 'but I’m not worried.' He said - 'I’ve actually hired someone who is a professional worrier to worry for me.' And his friend said, 'Wow, that's amazing' - he said - 'What does that cost you?' he said, 'It's $50,000.00 a year.' He said, 'Where in the world are you going to get $50,000.00 a year?' He said, 'That's his job, I don't have to worry about it.'
Wouldn't it be nice if we could have someone else do all our worrying for us? Do we have somebody? Yes. Doesn't the Bible say that we can cast our cares upon Him? Worry is not part of God's plan for us.
Now, maybe we should go and start off with a definition. To worry, it means 'to feel anxious or concerned about something that may have happened or may happen; to torment oneself or to suffer from disturbing thought or anxieties; to fret; to be troubled; to agonize; to be bothered; fear; unease; sleeplessness.' The word 'worry' actually comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word 'wyrgan' and it means 'to choke or to strangle'. Have you ever seen a person that's just - they're choked by their fears?
We have an expression when you play pool: choking behind the eight ball. You know what that means? Or other sports they say, you know, here he had this free-throw shot but all the anxiety - everything depended on him and he choked. You ever heard that before? You've got a chance to drive in the home run and win the game and turn everything - all the pressure, he started to worry - he choked - couldn't perform because of the worry - is what they call that.
Jesus talks about how worry will choke you. Matter of fact, He has a parable. Some of the good seed "fell among the thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares,..." Now Jesus draws on a few different illustrations to help us understand that and He says, in Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air," Now I remember when I first read that, I thought, 'You know, Lord, I’ve got all these problems and these are big problems and you're telling me, 'Look at the birds.'' And I’m going, I don't want to look at the birds, I mean, birds don't worry like me. They don't have the same problems I’ve got.' He's saying, 'Exactly.'
Now Jesus knew what He was saying. He said, 'Look at the birds...for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns;..." Now, you know, a lot of people get through the bad seasons because we think ahead, we worry about the future and so, in worrying about the future you do have to plan, and that's okay. And so, you farm, you know, you sow and you weed and you put in a barn and you try to take care of the next year. He said, 'Birds don't worry about that.' Birds just kind of wake up - you ever see a bird with a suitcase? You know, when Jesus sent out the apostles, He pretty much told them, 'You go out - don't take anything with you.' Now, we usually don't tell our AFCOE students that. You know, you're going to go do a mission project. But Jesus, He said, 'Look, I want you to learn to trust Me.' He said, I don't want you to take a purse. I don't want you to take an extra staff. I want you to go out and just live by faith and trust Me.' And did He take care of them? Yes.
So look at the birds, look at the flowers - "...why worry about clothing?...they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" - flowers. And, let's face it, there are some beautiful flowers out there no human can duplicate with their looms - the beauty of the flowers. And, then, Jesus makes a point, he said, "If God so clothes the grass of the field," - flowers - "which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, o you of little faith?" Now, Jesus is basically saying, 'Look, I see the sparrow when he's hungry and I feed it' - another verse says that. He says, a sparrow does not fall to the ground without the notice of your heavenly Father.
And then Jesus goes on - He tells us in Matthew 10:31, "Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." If God cares enough to feed the sparrows, if He cares enough to clothe the flowers, He says, 'Why are you worried? I'll take care of you.' Go to Luke 10, verse 38. Now it happened that they went to a certain village - that was Bethany - "and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house." - we know they were friends - "she had a sister named Mary" - also had a brother named Lazarus - "who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving,"
Now that word 'distracted' - have you ever been worried to distraction? You're going from one room to the next and you're thinking of something else you forgot, you know, 'Oh, I’ve got to get this.' and 'Oh, I’ve got to watch that on the oven.' 'That's about to boil over, over here. And you've got these people and the places set - we got - oh the doorbell rang. Someone get the door.' and, you know, Martha's just, you know, she's like coordinating this dinner they're having. Later, it talks about that dinner where Mary washed the feet of Jesus, but may be the same dinner.
Mary, sitting at Jesus' feet and Jesus is talking, teaching with the apostles and Martha's trying to take care of everybody. She's got a houseful. I mean, you know, whenever you have to feed 13 men, you want your sister to help. And then, there are other guests coming. And Mary's just sitting there listening to the word; she's just drinking it in and her heart is warmed. And Martha's glaring at her. Every time she goes rip-snorting by to get another casserole, she looks at Mary and kind of 'Ugh' - you know, kind of gives Him the eye - or her the eye - and finally she says, 'Look, Jesus is becoming an accessory to her irresponsible behavior. Look at all I’ve got to do.'
Finally, she stops and taps her foot with her arms folded. She says, 'Lord, can't you help me? Don't you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Look, she's just sitting there. Tell her to get up and help me.' And Jesus said to her, 'Martha, Martha' - as though saying it once was not enough. Can you picture Jesus shaking His head? 'Martha, Martha' - I mean, He's talking to His hostess, you've got to be nice. "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things." Any Marthas out here? Come on, now. How many of you worry? Am I wasting my time today?
I think the question is 'What do you worry about?' I don't know if this is going to bother you - I don't know if you're going to think less of me as a pastor, but I don't worry about your troubles as much as I worry about my troubles. It's not that I don't care about you, you know, I'll pray for you and I might have some genuine concern and the better I know you, the more I might think about it and be concerned about you, but your troubles usually don't keep me up at night. Will you forgive me? I think you will, because my troubles don't keep you up.
I was trying to take a nap - I try to take a nap, briefly, almost every day, because I find I get a lot more done - a lot more writing - and I laid down and I started thinking about everything I could do and my heart started racing - it was almost like a mini panic attack. I thought, 'Oh man, I have got so many messages to prepare and articles to write and letters to write and I’m thinking, 'Oh man, how am I ever going to get it done? But then I remembered, you know, after 20 years with Amazing Facts and over 30 years pastoring, I said, 'I’m still alive.' And it seemed like all those other things that have happened over the last 20 years somehow got done and the ones that didn't get done didn't kill me. I'll probably be alright. The things that you worry about, sometimes you look back and you say, 'You know, God worked it out.' Amen. And I wasted all the joy I could have had during that time and peace and good witness worrying about things I didn't need to worry about. God took care of it.
But we have our things that we worry about. He said, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part," - what did Mary choose? She sat to hear the Word and she worshiped Jesus. So do you want to worry or do you want to worship?
Forty-three percent of all adults suffer health effects due to worry and stress. That's also true among Christians. Up to 75 of all visits to primary care physicians are stress-related complaints or disorders. Worry, or anxiety, can cause twitching, trembling, muscle tension, headaches, sweating, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, dental problems, abdominal pain, ulcers, dizziness, vision problems, rapid or irregular heart rate, rapid breathing, diarrhea or frequent need to urinate, fatigue, irritability, including the loss of your temper, sleeping difficulties, nightmares, decreased concentration, lower grades, and hair loss. That's just what it said. I don't worry. Someone said, 'For everyone that dies from a major misfortune, ten die from little worries. Someone else wrote, 'Worms eat you when you're dead; worries eat you when you're alive.' and someone else, 'Happy is the man that's too busy to worry by day and too sleepy to worry at night.'
Helen Steiner-Rice, a poet, wrote a poem: "Worry, why worry? What can worry do? It never keeps a trouble from overtaking you. It gives you indigestion and sleepless hours at night, and fills with gloom the days, however fair and bright." So what do people worry about? Do people worry about their health? Their food, clothes? Jesus mentioned loneliness, children, they worry about money, gossip, they worry about retirement. 36 percent of people interviewed said one of the biggest sources of stress is their job. 22 percent - money - that'd be related. 10 percent - children. 7 percent health. 5 percent marriage. You know, actually, 10 percent of the women worry about the marriage; 3 percent of the men, so it averages out to 5 percent. The men think, 'Yeah, it's fine, dinner's on the table. Our marriage is fine.' The woman doesn't feel that way. 5 percent about parents. 5 percent of the people say they have no worries at all. So I would think that this would be relevant. Does the evening news frighten you? You know, Jesus said, 'You will hear of wars and rumors of war.' You'd think that would be a reason to worry, wouldn't you? Jesus said, 'See that you are not troubled.'
So, if you're not supposed to worry about a nuclear war, then you tell me, what are you supposed to worry about? Jesus is not worried. You know, you hear the news and you see - earthquake in Mexico, three hurricanes - major hurricanes on the East Coast. North Korean dictator keeps lobbing missiles over everybody and saying he's building a nuclear one - he's going to turn us to dust. And troops are amassing on the European border - Russian troops - and problems in Syria and the Middle East - wars in Africa. And you just - you listen to all this stuff and you think, 'Boy, if you want something to worry about, we ought to, you know, we ought to write it all down and pass it around and just share it with each other. Just say, 'Look, I’m not going to worry about this, you worry about that.' Just no shortage of things to worry about. So you just have to make up your mind, 'Do I trust God? Amen.
Here's the question: is God worried? No. Is God worried about nuclear war? 'Oh no, I didn't expect that.' I mean, is God worried about anything? Or is He completely at peace? He's crying. Oh, He may be sad, because God has emotions, but He's not worried. So - and it doesn't mean - now, when I talk about not worrying, it doesn't mean don't plan. Should we plan? Should we think ahead? You know, James tells us, 'If any of you plan, you say, 'We're going to go to this city, we're going to do business, buy and sell' - he says, 'say, 'If the Lord wills.'' He expects us to make plans, but you submit all those to God because God really has the big picture.
People worry about all kinds of things - worry about war. Some people worry about what others say. A lot of folks, of all the things to worry about, they're worried about what others think of them. Even Jesus, He told you, 'People pray to be seen, they give to be seen, they fast to be seen.' They're worried about what people think of their religion. Or maybe you know people who are worried about what others are saying about them - worried about gossip.
Here's a little tip from Ecclesiastes. Solomon said - chapter 7, verse 21, "Do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others." Let me give you a more modern translation: ‘Don't worry about what everyone says, you're going to hear, even people close to you, say negative things about you and you've probably done the same thing.' People talk. People say a lot of dumb things. If you worry about what everybody says - I heard that there was a website you could go to and it would do a search for you and find out who's talking about you. That would drive you crazy, wouldn't it? Worry about what everybody's saying - or if you could hear - wouldn't it? Every - anyone - you could hear what they're thinking about you? That'd probably be really bad for your self-esteem. Don't worry about what people say.
Now, Jesus tells us the same thing. He says, in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake." Well, make sure it's falsely. But when people are saying things about you and they're ridiculing you, and they're gossiping about you, Jesus not only says you're blessed, He says, 'Rejoice!' Now you'll rejoice when you hear people are saying negative things about you? Some people worry about provision. Jesus said to the disciples, "Therefore...do not worry about your life," - that's a command - "what you will eat...nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?"
He doesn't mean don't take practical thought for the basics of life, but don't be anxious about those things. Psalm 37, King David said, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread." David said, 'Through my whole life I have not seen God forsake His people.' God'll take care of you. Isaiah 33, "He will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure."
When the children of Israel were led by the Lord, out of the wilderness, did He give them food? Yes. Did He give them water? Did He preserve their clothes? You know, God actually said, after 40 years of going through the wilderness, He said, ‘I want you to remember, look back, your shoes did not wear out and your garments did not wear out.' He said, I took care of you.' And so, when Jesus said, 'He feeds the birds, He clothes the flower; don't worry about what you're going to eat or drink or what you're going to wear.' He really does take care of us. Amen.
And, of course, Philippians - what can you do about worry? "Be anxious for nothing, but in" - the word 'anxious' there means 'anxiety' - it means 'worry'. Don't be worried about how much? Paul said, 'Don't be worried about anything. It doesn't mean don't think about anything. You understand the difference? But don't be anxious. Don't have the stress. Don't let it choke you. Don't be anxious for anything, "but in everything by prayer and supplication," - so there's one answer - "with thanksgiving," - be grateful for what you do have - let your requests be made known to God And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
So here are some things you can do about worry. Pray, sing - you ever worry and you start singing and it just seems to evaporate? Believe the promises of God - believe He's with you, believe He's in control. No matter what the problem is, God has an answer. You know that promise in Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good to those who love God to those who are the called according to His purpose." Count your blessings. Exercise. Some people are worried and they just need to get out and, sometimes getting outside will bring you relief and peace. You might actually write down some of the things you're worried about and then give it to God. Say, 'Lord, you're my professional worrier. I’m giving my worries to You.' Jeremiah 29:11 - claim the promises of God "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."
You know, sometimes when we think, 'Oh, God's going to do me in. I’ve got all these problems.' And God says, 'No, I’m going to take care of you. Don't worry.' 1 Peter 5:7, "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care" - what percentage of our care? All. 25 percent? 'Lord - I don't - I’m worried, Lord, you're not going to worry enough, so I need to worry about some of it.' If I don't worry, who's going to worry? Casting all of your care upon him - why? Because he cares for you.
So, what's the solution? Jesus gives us the solution right there in the same passage: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness". Our priority should be to do the work of His kingdom. Right. To share the gospel. His kingdom in us - His righteousness - His kingdom around us. If we make it the priority to build up his kingdom - and he says, 'all these things' - what are the 'these things'? The things that he mentioned that people worry about. Now, for you, it may not be food, it may not be drink, it may not be clothes, but whatever it is, it says, 'Cast all your cares upon Him.' All these other things will be added - 'I'll take care of your basics. I'll take care of what you need.' "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things."
We all really have those two choices: are we going to worry or are we going to worship? Are we going to live by faith like the birds and the flowers and just live for the glory of God trusting that even though you don't see Him - would it make you feel better if God should just whisper in your ear and say, I know about all the things you're dealing with right now, don't worry, I’ve got it covered.' Would that - if you - would that make you feel better? Well, what do you want? He's doing it today. I mean, He said it in His Word. Amen. It's not me, it's the Word of God. Jesus said, 'Don't worry.' He wants you to have peace.
And you watch, one by one, just as He's taken care of you throughout your life - that's why you're here - I’m pretty safe in saying that. He will take care of the problems. Pray for wisdom, pray for grace, pray for energy - whatever the things you need to pray for, pray for the practical answers that you need, but then leave it with God. He doesn't want you to be going through life choked. Amen. Amen? Amen. God'll take care of you. Jesus says, 'Come unto Me. Cast your cares upon me. My burden is easy. My load is light.