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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

At The Heart of Worry

"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." - Matthew 6:30

Jesus is using a word picture here to make a vivid point. In that day (as is today still) when one would want to cook or build a fire, they would gather small sticks (kindling) and large logs, and a handful or two of dead grass. In order to start the fire, the grass would be lit under the kindling. When it caught and the kindling began to burn, the larger logs used for cooking would be added. So the beautiful flowers He had just alluded to would fade and whither and die within a matter of days. At that time they would be available to be pulled up and gathered for fire making in an oven or a furnace. (This was before the days of "chemical starter logs" and gas fireplaces or electric ranges - our equivalent is a good old fashioned campfire). But if God were so involved in His creation that He took the time to clothe the grass with those gorgeous flowers, knowing that they would only last a short while, how much more would He care for us - who will live forever?

Our attention seems to always be drawn to the here and now. We are the most concerned about what is going to happen in the next few moments and maybe the next few days. We worry about what we are going to eat and wear. We are consumed with daily needs. In reality this is pampering the self! And we are called to deny self - we need to learn how to focus our attention on God and others!

Jesus says that since God clothes the grass of the field with His beautiful flowers, then why would we expect God not to take care of our needs, He talks specifically about clothing, but He is teaching us about a deeper matter. God will provide our daily needs - remember the model prayer? Since Jesus tells us that God has clothed the grass with flowers, and His point is that God will likewise clothe us with whatever we need, we must see the lesson He is trying to convey. If indeed God takes the time and interest to make sure the creation is "clothed" then why would He ever neglect one of His children? This goes back to His care for us - we are valuable to God. We are so valuable that He promises to give us whatever we need on a daily basis.

Because of this FACT of TRUTH (God promises to provide every need) Jesus is telling us that we shouldn't worry - we shouldn't even think about our daily needs! Can you imagine going through a day, a complete day, and never once thinking about or dwelling on, or worrying about the daily necessities we need? But this is what Jesus is teaching. We don't have to be occupied with our needs - we don't even need to think about them, other than to pray that He will provide (in order to acknowledge that He is the Source of all we have and need).

God will provide, so we have much more important things about which we can be thinking. To think about ourselves and what we need means that we are self centered instead of God centered! It is indeed a lack of faith. We dwell all day long on SELF. God has already promised to give us what we need, right? Therefore, if we focus on needs, we can't see everything else God wants to show us each day! Just think how much more sensitive to the Spirit we could be if we weren't so self absorbed that were taking God's promise for granted and letting our own needs and worries and cares interefere with His use of us each day!

Matthew Henry wrote in his commentary on Matthew, "There is scarcely any sin against which our Lord Jesus more warns his disciples, than disqueiting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of this life." Indeed, if we constantly dwell on the here and now then we will miss quite a bit of what God has in store for us each day. I like the words he uses there about worry - it is disqueiting (can we "be still and know that I am God" if we occupied with worry?), it is distracting (how can we possibly hope to see God's will each day if we are focused on self?), and it is distrustful (a simple lack of faith in God leads us to think about our needs instead of the needs of others!).

After teaching all about why not to worry, Jesus pauses briefly before telling us the truth about our affections and attention. He takes a breathe and utters the words, "O you of little faith?" It is a question. Or the completion of a question. The question is this - "If God is going to take care of you, why do you worry?" He has gone on and given us several different pictures of how God will take care of us! But we still worry! Why?

Maybe it's because of a problem with our faith! Maybe it is too little! Actually, there is no maybe about it. We worry when we stop believing God! We read in the Word that He tells us that He will provide our every need and yet we are still consumed with thoughts of worry, stress, unbelief, depression, and grief. That is exactly why worry is a sin. That is also why Jesus goes to the length He does here to discuss it. Worry about daily necessities (or anything else for that matter) constitutes a lack of faith! So what is the implication of a lack of faith?

It's not that we don't have any faith. We have already believed and been saved - you can't be saved without faith! (Eph. 2:8-9) So we have faith, but we have only a little faith. But a little faith, or the lack of faith in God to provide our needs reveals an even deeper lack. In truth, if we worry, we don't believe God. Isn't that right? Doesn't faith also mean belief? If we lack belief what does that say about what we think about God.

Think this through very carefully - let this sink in. If we are so SELF centered that we don't believe God when He tells us He will meet every need, then in reality we have just said in our hearts that God can't be believed! WE SAY THAT GOD CAN'T BE TRUSTED! Remember, if we believe it in our hearts it comes out our mouths and out in our actions or behavior. So if we act worried and talk like we are worried and tell people we are worried, then in our hearts we simply don't believe we can trust God!

So -would you ever say out loud to anyone that you didn't trust God and thought He was lying to you? OF COURSE NOT. But when we worry that is exactly what we are saying with our attitudes and actions. To worry is to call God a liar. To worry is to say that He can't be believed, or trusted. To worry is to trust self and feelings and others more than we trust God. To worry is to make a god out of self. WORRY IS SIN AND IDOLATRY.

At the heart of the matter is the heart! What do you really believe about God? And what can you do to cure worry? In order to overcome worry, we must first repent of sin, because it is a sin. We must confess it as sin (to agree with God that our worry is sin). Then we must seek Him to grow our faith! If we lack faith, then faith is what we need more of - so how can you get more faith? SIMPLE - The Word of God! Romans 10:17 says, "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." Faith comes and grows when we hear. We are given the ability to hear (with spiritual ears) when we are listening to the Word of God - reading, meditating on, or hearing sung or preached - it is God's Word that is the tool that He uses to give us stronger faith. ( That is also why we MUST attend a church regularly that preaches and teaches the Word of God - not popular Christianity, but the Word!) We must also realize that Faith is a fruit of the Spirit - so if we are walking in the Spirit, our faith will grow. How do we walk in the Spirit? Colossians 2:6 says, "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." How did we receive Him? BY FAITH! Have faith (believe) that God will give you more faith - and get faith from the Word! The more we read the Word the more of God we can know and the better we can trust Him!

Here again are the simplified steps to overcome worry -
1. Confess your worry as sin.
2. Repent of the sin of worry.
3. Get in the Word.
4. Walk by faith in the Spirit daily.
5. Believe God!

Notice that #5 does not say believe IN God. It says believe God. There is a difference. If you believe in God you are no better than the demons who believe in God. If, on the other hand, you just believe God, then you will do whatever He tells you! The proof of faith is obedience!! (And in reality, we are not told to chase after more faith - we are commanded to know more of God! It centers on Him - if faith is the object we won't grow. If God is the object, our faith will flourish.)

Today - He is going to meet your needs! If He doesn't, they weren't really needs were they? So if He is going to meet your needs, why on earth would you have anything to worry about? Leave it to Him! He is in control and He knows how to take care of His children!

Don't Worry because (1) He commands it, (2) He cares for YOU, (3) He controls your "cubits", (4) He clothes creation with beauty, (5) He conforms you daily to Christlikeness, and (6) He can be trusted!

    Read these verses that also deal with the grass that fades - and notice in these verses what never fades!

  • Psalm 90:5-6
  • Isaiah 40:6-8, 10-14

    And now, find fertilizer for faith in these verses.

  • Psalm 37:3-9 ; 73:28 ; 115:11-15; 118:8-9
  • Proverbs 3:5-10

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