Tony Evans — Reversing Anxiety Consequences
We worry about our money, we worry about our health, worry about our relationships. We're worried about our jobs, we're worried about our careers. We worry. And so, in my moments with you today, by the time we are finished, you won't have to worry anymore.
I don't care what it's about, I don't care what is provoking it, what is irritating, exacerbating, frustrating. We want to lift the burden based on God's Word of worry. Three times we are commanded in this passage not to worry.
Verse 25 says, "For this reason I say to you do not worry." Verse 31 says, "Do not worry then." Verse 34 says, "So do not worry." Three times there is a command not to worry.
Therefore, to worry is sin. If something is a command and you disobey it, it's called sin. Most people do not look as worry as sin. They look it as natural. They look it as something that is legit given the circumstances that I am facing.
Yet, the Lord in this passage gives a command, and he couples the command with this statement, "Oh ye of little faith. You believe I can take you to heaven, you just don't believe I can cover you on earth. You believe I'm good for eternity, but I'm insufficient for time."
Do not worry. The word "worry," anxiety, means to be torn in two. Worry is concern on steroids. Worry is concern that's gone haywire. There's a difference between concern and worry. Concern is I have an issue in my life that is troubling me, and I am setting forth a plan as best I can to address it. That is legitimate concern.
But worry is where the concern controls you. It is where, because of the concern, I can't sleep. Because of the concern, I can't control my temper. Because of the concern, I am losing my ability to cope. It is where concern has now become the controlling factor because of the issue, whatever it is that you face.
Now, let me give a clarification here. I am not talking about chemical imbalance, where there is a physical chemical reality that needs to be addressed because that physical is affecting that emotional, and absolutely that may need medication. That is not to what I am addressing. What I am addressing is where the circumstance in and of itself is controlling you.
It is dictating who you are, where you are, how you function, whether you function. It tells you if you can get up in the morning and tells you, you better go to bed right now. It owns you. Well, he says in introducing this section, "For this reason." And then he tells you don't worry. For this reason.
So, before he tells you don't worry, he says there's a reason. So, you can't understand not to worry unless you understand the reason. So, he says, "For this reason," which means we have to back up a few verses.
And in verse 22, this is what he says, "The eye is the lamp of the body, so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you with darkness, how great is the darkness? No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."
Because one of the big worries of life has to do with resources. He says, "If you want to get over worry, you got to get rid of one of your masters." Worry will track you down if you got more than one master.
He says, "If you got God over here and something else in control over there, since the definition of worry is to be torn in two, and you've got two different masters going in two different directions, then they will keep you worried because they will keep you torn."
He says, "The light is in the eye. If the light is in the eye, then the whole body knows what to grab, where to walk." The whole body can function because it's seeing things clearly. But if the eyes are dark, everything else is in trouble. The hand's in trouble, doesn't know what it's grabbing. The feet are in trouble, doesn't know where it's going."
It says, "Everything else is in trouble if there's darkness in the eye, if there is not clear sight, because you have become divided with masters." One of the reasons why we stay worried is we stay divided between masters.
He says, "You cannot serve two masters." And when you do, you will be worried because you will be divided. The spiritual division creates or supports the ongoing nature of worry. And a master is somebody who tells you what to do. A master is somebody who controls the priorities of life. He says, "Do not worry, oh ye of little faith."
He now says, he goes a little deeper, he says, "If you are consumed by worry, if worry is your middle name, if you weren't worrying, you wouldn't know what to do with yourself." He says, "You don't understand God. You don't understand his nature and you don't understand his providence. And you don't understand his priorities."
Notice what he says in verse 22, he says, "I say to you, don't worry about your life what you'll eat or drink, or as to your body as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food and body more than raiment?" He says, "Folk get worried about the wrong thing."
You get worried about what you are going to eat. You ought to be worried about whether you're going to get up to eat anything 'cause life is more than food. You're worried about food, but you are alive. 'Cause if you don't have life, you don't have to worry about food. So, if you have life, you can assume food. He says, "The body is more than raiment." The body is more than clothes.
We worry about old clothes, new clothes, torn clothes, sowed up clothes. We worry about clothes, he says, "You're worried about the wrong thing." You need to worry about whether your body's intact to put your arms through those sleeves. Messed up priorities.
He says in verse 26, "Have you ever paid attention to nature?" He says, "Have you ever studied nature?" 'Cause he says in verse 26, "Look at the birds. Look at the birds." Pay attention when you leave church today and look at the birds. 'Cause he says, "They don't sow, nor reap, or gather in the barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them." Not their heavenly Father, your heavenly Father. "Are you not worth much more than they?"
He says clothing, he says, "Solomon was not arrayed like the lilies of the field." With all of his billion dollars, the lilies of the field, they neither twirl nor spin. You've never seen a lily using a sewing machine, calling on Singer to keep my petal on. See, you don't see that.
He says, "'Cause God works it out in nature." They don't toil, they don't spin, but your heavenly Father supplies what they need. And it's all--it's assumed, that all of nature operates by God's natural supply. See, the thing is we don't know who we're dealing with.
So, we find ourselves under the stranglehold of worry. And yet he says, "Don't do it, it's a sin. And when you do it, you elevate the natural over the supernatural, man over God, and you're telling me you are your God, and you live divided and torn."
So, it shouldn't surprise us that Isaiah 26, verses 3 and 4, "I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind has stayed on me." It shouldn't surprise us that 2 Thessalonians 3, verses 6 to 8 says, "God gives peace in every circumstance."
Now, don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that life does not get hard. I am not suggesting that. We all know better than that. Jesus said in John 16:33, "In this world you will have tribulation." But then he's going to bounce right off of that and say, "Be of good cheer." Say what? You just told me I can expect trouble, and then you're going to tell me cheer up and sing?
When we understand when God allows trouble in our lives, I'm not talking about trouble we create now, I'm talking about trouble that he allows that would create the insecurity that drives us from concern to worry, that what he is creating in your situation is an opportunity to see that he's God. Okay, okay?
So, the next time you are tempted to worry beyond concern--concern is where you have a real issue and you are seeking a way to resolve it. Worry is where it has taken over the concern and it is controlling you. The next time you are tempted to worry, you must now look at that as an opportunity for God to let you see how much God he is.
Verse 32, "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." Okay, this is a little embarrassing because what he says is when you worry, you have now joined the ranks of pagans.
The Gentiles, the non believers, the pagans, he says they break their necks, mismanage their priorities 'cause they got to make it happen themselves. They seek, they seek to control it, why? Because they are their own gods. But you got a Daddy, your heavenly Father.
God gets insulted when we question his capacity, his ability, and his intentionality to cover the needs of his people. Now, I'm not talking about everyone, I'm not talking about every desire. He's talking about he knows you need these things. He's talking about the needs of life.
He says, "Stop being pagans." Because he says, "I'm talking about your Daddy. But your Daddy has also got to be your master." He says, "Now, your Daddy knows where you are, how you got there, and what you need. He knows how to arrange things, rearrange things, flip things, tweak things, trip things, he knows how to do it so that you can see he is God."
He says, "Stop acting like the heathen." So, what do you have to do? Verse 33. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
The key word is "first." You seek you first the kingdom. The kingdom is divine rule, that I'm in charge here. Righteousness is divine standard, that you're living to please me based on the standards as revealed in my Word. So, my rule, my standard, that's first.
Now you got my attention. And one of the reasons why we're not seeing more of God is he's somewhere down the line when we get to him. When I have enough time, when I have enough money, when I have enough patience, when I have enough this, when I have enough, we get around to it later and worry all along the way.
But to be able to take a chill pill and to say, "After I've done all that I'm supposed to do--" 'Cause a bird, a bird doesn't go out on a-- on a limb and open up its beak and wait for worms just to drop from heaven.
No, he goes worm hunting, but he knows that worms to hunt have been supplied. So, it does mean fulfilling your personal responsibility, but with expectation of God's provision.
Seek ye first primacy, priority, the rule and the standards of God as your priority. And then he closes with the zinger. He says in verse 34, "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Oh yeah, God, you can say all that, you God. Okay. We are troubled by the problems of the past. We are troubled by the struggles of the present. And we are troubled by the uncertainty of the future. All those, and sometimes we troubled by all three at the same time. He says, "I need to teach you," the Lord says, "how to manage time."
Most of us are crucified between two thieves, yesterday and tomorrow. Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. Okay, and I know I missed somebody with that one.
Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. So, yesterday, you were worried about today, but you're making it today even though you worried about it yesterday, which is the tomorrow that you were worried about yesterday, when you were worried about today.
Now, I know you got to graduate from high school to get that, but. You ever notice when you're worried about tomorrow, when you get to tomorrow, then you're worried about the next tomorrow? He says, "When it comes to living, you have to learn to do it one day at a time."
Lamentations 3:22 and 23, "His mercies are new every day." Let me put it this way, he's not going to give you tomorrow's mercy today. Today, he's going to give you for today.
There are people in countries, you take Syria, you take Mosul in Iraq, and they're just glad to make it one more day. They can't be planning for the future and planning for retirement. God believes in planning, he believes in planning for the future, inheritance and all that, but you got to live today.
And if God has been faithful today, you got something to sing about even if you're unsure about tomorrow. Now, what this means is that you got to hang out with people who are going to make the heavenly more important than the earthly.