(this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play)
One of the most extraordinary things we struggle with is the issue of worrying.
What would happen, though, if your mind was renewed? Would you find yourself worrying?
Some people are in the habit of worrying about worrying. We have to break that habit to become the people that God’s calling us to be. Worrying is a significant problem today, as it was in Jesus’ Day.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-30, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”
Jesus is saying that God is the God of the cosmos. He’s the creator of all creation, and He’s intimately concerned about every aspect of creation. Jesus talked about people, animals, flora, and plants. He’s saying that I want you to see this golden thread that works through all of God’s creation.
But yet, when it comes to humanity, we struggle with it.
Animals don’t worry. Plants don’t worry. But why do you worry?
Jesus is helping us understand how to stop worrying. He says worrying is pointless and unproductive. He’s not saying we should be cavalier or foolish, and that nothing is important. He’s simply saying, don’t let your mind become fixated on this negative aspect or some problem that you find yourself sulking, brooding, contemplating over it in a fixated way that affects every part of who you are.
Jesus is saying, learn to stop worrying. You may say, “How do I do that?”
SPEAK to your worries.
Between Matthew 25:30 and Matthew 25:34, Jesus says not to worry three times. One time He asks, “Why do you worry?” In essence, Jesus said, “Don’t worry.” He’s teaching us worrying is unnecessary.
Jesus frames it by contrasting birds with human beings. Humans are more valuable than birds, and He says, “Birds don’t worry.” Why? Because our Heavenly Father provides for the birds. They don’t sow. They don’t reap, don’t toil and don’t store in barns, but our Father provides for them.
What should you say to your worries? God highly values me. He will provide for me. That’s what Jesus wants us to understand. We speak to our worries.
Now, I want you to understand the historical foundation of the word worry. It comes from the old English, and it means to slay, kill or injure by biting or shaking a throat as a dog or a wolf does. It means to strangle.
So any time you worry, any time you find yourself fixated on something, and you’re worrying all the time, it is creating a stranglehold around your neck. It is almost like a wolf biting your throat to suffocate you. Worrying is very harmful and can have a stranglehold on your life.
Proverbs 12:25 says, “Worry is a heavy burden, but a kind word always brings cheer.”
Worry is a harmful heavy burden, and Solomon is telling us, in essence, worry is a stranglehold. It’s this burden that will weigh you down constantly. Research shows that worry triggers stress hormones in your body. It speeds up your heart rate. It speeds up your breathing. It raises your blood sugar level. It causes more blood to flow to your arms and legs as excessive worrying affects your appetite and leads to migraine or tension headaches. Worrying makes you anxiety-ridden. And often, people that worry have destructive outlets. They try to bring relief from worry through drugs, alcohol, sleeping around, overeating or smoking.
Worry is a stranglehold on your life.
I want you to see the other actions that Jesus gives us to learn to stop worrying.
STARVE your worries.
If you don’t starve your worries, they will grow as a burden that gets out of control, that will ultimately strangle you or suffocate you.
Jesus says in Luke 12:25-26, “Can worry make you live longer? If you don’t have power over small things, why worry about everything else?”
Sociologists that study the topic of worry say most people that have excessive worrying have two to three items that they’re locked in on mentally and are constantly worrying about those items. This excessive worrying creates a fixation on a topic, and then worrying causes you to exaggerate the possible negative consequence surrounding that topic. Worrying, then, is the seed of fear. It works in your mind and starts to mushroom, grow and exaggerate possibilities and problems, and it morphs and it gets out of control.
Then you find yourself getting to a place where you’re consumed by it. That’s when the stranglehold takes place.
Why worry? Jesus is saying, “You’re heavenly Father is your provider.”
He’s distilling the problem of worrying down to this. You just don’t trust God. You’re gripped by fear. You’re questioning the power of God. You’re questioning God’s assertion that your heavenly Father will provide for you as He provides for the birds as He provides clothes for the flowers.
Why are you questioning God’s power? You might be powerless, but we serve a God that is powerful. He’s all-powerful. He’s omnipotent, and so worry is a lack of fear. Worry is a lack of faith. Worry is fear. Worry is spiritual blindness. You don’t see God correctly. You don’t see God accurately when you worry, and you have a distorted view of God.
You starve your worry by having an accurate perspective of God.
You have to feed your faith, and fear will starve to death.
If you want to stop worrying, you have to starve your worries and feed your faith.
How do you feed faith? You read God’s word.
How do you feed faith? You give yourself to prayer.
How do you feed faith? You lock in on one of the promises of God. The promise of God is that God is a provider.
This is not something new. Jesus taught us to ask, and it’ll be given. Seek, and you’ll find. Knock, and it will be opened to you. Jesus wasn’t the only one. Job testified God provides for the raven when its young ones cry to God for help and wonder about the lack of food. David sang, the Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing. Solomon wrote, the Lord does not let the righteous go hungry. Isaiah said, You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts You.
I want you to see the common thread throughout the Bible. It’s clear that you starve your worries when you feed your faith, and you feed your faith by realizing God is who He says He is. He is a provider.
Faith is not an atmosphere where worries can thrive. Worry only thrives in an atmosphere of fear. God’s provision takes place in an atmosphere of faith. You need to bring your problems before God and say, “I trust You that You are my Father and You are my provider, and You can provide for me.”
Take your concern before God and realize that not only can you speak to your worries, you can also starve your worries. And when you recognize that and start to do those things, you’re learning to stop worrying.
GIVE your worries to God.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:33-34, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
How do we give our worries to God?
One is by changing our priorities. We can become so consumed with ourselves. It’s about me. It’s about my wife. It’s about my kids. It’s about our needs. It’s about grandkids. It’s about my job. It’s about my money. It’s about my body. We have to stop and say, at what point is the kingdom of God my priority?
We find ourselves experiencing excessive worrying when we become so consumed with ourselves.
When was the last time you asked God what’s your plan for my life? God, what’s your plan for my marriage? God, what’s your plan for my singleness. God, what’s your plan for my children? God, what’s your plan for my career? In other words, when you become focused on advancing God’s kingdom, you will not have the same level of focus on your problems. God’s priorities will become your priorities, and you’ll find yourself changing priorities and giving your cares to God.
You can’t predict tomorrow; you have no idea what will happen tomorrow. But I want you to be mindful of this. God still has our tomorrow in his hands. Stop worrying about tomorrow. Stop worrying about the future. We can’t change the future, but we do know that Jeremiah was right when he said, “I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
God has your future and your children’s future in his hands. Stop worrying. Give your cares to God.
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul says, “Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.” Paul is saying the way you give your cares and worries to God is by praying.
Dr. Kenneth Weiss, the New Testament Greek scholar, says Philippians 4:6 can be translated this way, “I’m writing in haste to prevent your being anxious for I will see that you’re not worried.” He says the force of the word “worry” in the Greek was Paul saying, I’m forbidding you to continue worrying. In other words, Paul says, you’ve been worrying, now stop it.
A worrier cannot be an intercessor. You cannot be a man or woman of prayer and be a worrier. When you give God your predicament and give Him your cares in prayer, you must stop worrying.
In 1 Peter 5:7 it says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
The word “give” means deposit it once and for all. Bury it with God; give it to Him and don’t pick it back up. It’s not yours any longer because you’ve given it to Him. It’s like when you take the garbage out. You put it in the garbage container and put it at the top of the driveway. And when the sanitation company comes and takes it away, you don’t run after the truck and say, come on, give me back my garbage.
Give it to God once and for all.
Give your cares to God.
And when you do, He will carry it. Nothing is too heavy for the Lord. Nothing is beyond His ability.
As we look toward a renewed mind, we are learning how to stop worrying.
Speak to your worries, starve your worries and give God your worries.