Worry Makes You Small

Steve Viars April 26, 2009 Matthew 6:25

 

- Many of you have probably seen the children’s movie “Honey I Shrunk the Kids…”

- Nutty inventor Wayne Szalinski attempts to build a machine capable of shrinking objects to 1% of their original size…

- of course like most inventions, at first Szalinski’s doesn’t work just right which frustrates him to no end…

- so he makes adjustments and tries different configurations but his subjects keep blowing up instead of shrinking… (which is a rather significant design flaw)…

 

- one day one of the neighbor kids inadvertently hits a baseball through the attic window…which in turn hits the shrinking machine and makes just the right adjustment that thus far had eluded Dr. Szalinski…

- the good news (sort of) is that the machine actually works and shrinks the kids down to 1% of their original size…

- the bad news is that Dr. Szalinski isn’t present when it happens, and when he comes back he just decides to dismantle the machine and throw it away…

 

- to say the least (no pun intended), the kids learn that being shrunk to 1% of your original size brings with it a fair amount of challenges…

- the rest of the movie is spent trying to survive attacks from giant bumblebees and the revolving blades of the family lawnmower…challenges that under normal circumstances would be quite solvable but not when things are all out of proportion…

- of course everything turns out fine in the end when the kids finally get the inventor’s attention and are returned to normal size…

- but the lesson is…the smaller and more narrow your focus…the larger your problems appear…

 

- that is why Jesus on several different occasions asked His followers this question…”Isn’t life more than _______.”…

­- in other words, isn’t life bigger than the current issue you’re focused on?...

- isn’t there more to life than that?...

- and does your ongoing habit of thinking so much about that item, or that problem, or that issue, and that possibility…doesn’t that hinder you from seeing, and enjoying, and accomplishing things that are far more important…

- that is one of the primary problems with worry --- it shrinks your focus…it makes you small…

- to see how that’s true, let me invite you to open your Bible to 2 passages of Scripture this morning…Matthew chapter 6 and Luke chapter 12…[page 4, and page 57 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…]

 

- we’re in the second week of a study entitled Finding Hope in Handling Worry…

- we’re especially focusing on Matthew 6:25-34, which is one of the most comprehensive discussions about worry in the entire Bible…

- these verses are embedded in what is commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount which is contained in Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7…

- I mentioned to you last week that it would be a great idea to read these 3 chapters at least once a week during the duration of this series because these verses are extremely practical for every person who wants to understand what it means to live for Jesus Christ in clear, practical ways each day…

- that’s why some writers have titled this section – “Kingdom living here and now…”

- this is what Christ’s coming kingdom will be like, and this is how people who are personally related to the King already choose to live…

- another reason it would be good to become familiar with the entire sermon is because that puts what Jesus said about worry in chapter 6:25-34 in context…and for Bible students, that is a very important discipline---to be sure that we don’t take things out of context…

- now you might say – well, but what does that have to do with Luke 12? (the other passage you asked us to find…)…the answer is that Jesus repeated this sermon almost verbatim later in his ministry…

-  that shouldn’t concern us – in fact it illustrates how important these ideas were to the teaching ministry of Christ…

- but the way Luke 12 helps us is that it explains the context, or the events that were unfolding, that would have led our Lord to give this message again…

 

- Introduction

- let’s start just for a minute in Matthew 6 – read verse 25…(through “worried”)

- I realize that some of you weren’t with us last week…and for all of us this bears repeating..

- Jesus mentions worry 5 times in this passage…

[A. Uses of worry in Matthew 6]

1. v. 25 - Do not be worried

2. v. 27 – And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

3. v. 28 – And why are you worried about clothing…?

4. v. 31 – Do not worry, then…

5. v. 34 – So do not worry…

[ B.] we saw last week that in each of these cases, it’s the Greek word merimnaw -- “To divide, rip or tear apart.”

-  so when you worry, your focus is divided, and your energy is divided, and allegiance is divided, your heart is divided…that’s what it is…

- but this word also indicates what worry does…worry tears or rips you apart…

- that’s why the dictionary definition is -- “to feel distressed in the mind, be anxious, troubled, or uneasy.”

- “A inappropriate concern about something in the future that you cannot control or that you cannot be sure will truly come to pass.”

 

- we also saw some [C.] Important contextual clues in Matthew 6…

1. vv. 19-21 – Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.

2. vv. 22-23 – Be sure your focus is correct. [illustration of the eye, the body, and the heart]

3. v. 24 – You cannot serve both God and money.

 

- now, we can pick up some very important additional truth by reading the context in Luke 12 to learn the other occasion when Jesus chose to teach in an extensive way about worry…

- read Luke 12:13-34

- last week we saw how worry tears you up…and that was taken primarily from the meaning of this word merimnaw…this morning we want to focus on that phrase that occurs in both Matthew 6 and Luke 12, once in the form of a question and the other in the form of a statement …

- Matthew 6:34 – Is not life more than _____

- Luke 12:23 – For life is more than _____

- we learn from that that Worry Makes You Small

 

- of course all of Jesus’ words are important…but whenever Jesus starts to define the meaning of life, or the components of life…I hope we would be motivated to especially listen up…

[D. The significance of Jesus discussing the meaning of life.]…because after all,

1. He is life.

- John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me...

2. He created life.

John 1:3 - All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

3. He offers abundant life.

John 10:10 - …I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

 

- the point is – when Jesus Himself, in the course of helping us learn how to handle worry, asks the question…”Isn’t life more than…”, wise is the person who listens up and pays careful attention…

- that’s why we’d like to spend the rest of our time this am thinking about 3 characteristics of abundant life that is often obscured by worry.

 

I. Abundant Life Focuses on One’s Eternal Destiny.

- Luke explains that while Jesus is teaching a person in the crowd appears to interrupt Him and insist that Jesus…

- Luke 12:13 - “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”

- it’s amazing how many times in the Bible people feel free to boss Jesus around…

- which of course proves the point – if you really understood who it was that was teaching…you’d be listening right now, not talking…

- but this obsession with getting your share of the inheritance has crowded out things that are far more important…

- see, that’s exactly what worry does…it puts blinders on your brain…and it hinders you from seeing things that are far more important…

- is that what life is really about – getting your inheritance, and what’s the price of being all worried about that?...

- in that setting, Jesus tells…

A. The parable of the rich fool.

- here’s a man whose land was very productive (according to verse 16)…

- and the next verse says, Luke 12:17 - And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?

- and of course the obvious answer is, how about giving some of them away?...

- how about offloading some of them to serve someone other than yourself?....

- but his solution is…Luke 12:18 - Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

- and the purpose of that hoarding was so that he could then say…Luke 12:19 - ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” ’

- now, we have to be very careful here…was there anything intrinsically wrong with building larger barns?...of course not…or of thinking about taking a break, or a rest afterwards…again – no problem there…

- the issue is that he was so focused on that, and worried about that…that there was no time for the things of God…

- there’s certainly no prayer here, there’s no interest in what God’s will in the matter might be…there’s no thought of how this abundance could free Him up for special growth and special service…steps that could have led to an unusually abundant and satisfied life…none of that was anywhere in the picture…because he was so worried and focused on what he was going to do with this abundance…

- don’t think that its only people who are struggling who are worried…that’s not true at all…that’s why the writer of Proverbs said…

- Proverbs 30:7-9 - Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die:Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion,That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.

- the problem with the rich fool was that all his worries about how he would store his abundance crowded out his concern for the destiny of his soul…

- Luke 12:21 - So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

- that was also the problem with the man in the crowd and the dispute about the inheritance…you’re so worried about that, you’re so obsessed about that…that you act as if you believe that that’s what life is all about…

- you’ve placed your heart in front of Dr. Szalinski’s shrinking machine and pulled the trigger…you’ve let worry make you small…

- and in this culture, where many of us enjoy more abundance than the majority of people around the world, that temptation is very, very real…

- the polar opposite of that is the person who cares a little about things that are material and temporal, and a lot about things that are spiritual and eternal…

- how many people today will be so focused on their lawns that they’ll putter around all day with their dandelions while their souls are headed straight for hell?...

- or I better go to work today, so I can get through these e-mails or that stack of papers…

- or we have to get our kids around to baseball practice or soccer practice so they can earn a scholarship or make the pros…

- you might say – I wonder what God would say about that…

- Luke 12:20 - But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?

- worry makes you small – because it crowds out topics that are far more important…

B. 2 Peter 1:10 - …brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.

- (if time, tell the story about being called to the hospital as an intern to minister to a man whose granddaughter attended the church but had never shared Christ with her granddad – “I can’t do anything about that today…” – apparently he and his granddaughter had allowed the issue eternity to be crowded out of their life and their relationship for all of their days – what an incredibly small way to live…)

- that brings us to one of the key questions this morning – are you learning to avoid worry so that you can concentrate on the eternal destiny of your soul, and the souls of those God placed around you?...

- isn’t life more than…dandelions…e-mails…youth sports?...it is unless we’ve let worry shrink us…

 

II. Abundant Life Hopes in God’s Resources Not Man’s.

- did you notice what Jesus said at the end of this discussion in Luke?

- Luke 12:32 - Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

- please tie that together with how the discussion started…

- Luke 12:23 - For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

- the principle is –

A. Learn to replace sinful worry with joyful trust.

- see, when we worry, it’s like we’re sitting in a room with our blinders on so focused on what’s happening, or what we’re afraid is going to happen…that the Person in the room who’s being ignored…is the God of heaven and earth…

- [cf. the counseling situation where 2 women were so engrossed in their conversation that finally I had to break in with – could I be of some help here? – I wonder how many times God might be “tempted” to say the same thing to us?...worry has made us small---it refuses to believe that He has chosen to gladly give us the kingdom…]

 

B. T/F – Life does not consist in the abundance of things a man possesses, it consists of drawing near to the father and watching Him supply your need in His time and in His way.

 

-  that’s true, but it’s not always easy to learn…

 

- I came to the conclusion that perhaps God was calling me into the pastoral ministry at the end of my senior year of high school…

- and that set off a chain of God’s provisions that was just a marvelous demonstration of God’s supply…

1. One of the first steps was the provision of a summer construction job building in-ground pools – hard work, but I could work as many hours as I wanted and coupled with the part time jobs I had during the school year, I was able to pay all my tuition bills…graduated from college debt free…

2. Then Kris and I were married…

- I always had 2 primary worries – would there ever be a woman willing to marry me and would there even be a church willing to hire me?...the fact that Kris and I will celebrate our 27th year of marriage this summer and the fact that I’m in my 22nd year of ministry here is a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness…

3. But as soon as Kris and I were married, we went off to seminary and the Lord just continued to draw us to Himself by unusual provision…

a. Kris was able to get a job at the seminary which had as one of its benefits a 50% reduction in my tuition…

b. [tell about the lady at 1st Baptist in Mentone with the vegetables in the back of her car] – “God “whispering” – I can take care of you – don’t worry, enjoy the journey…

c. [tell about Tom Mabe – provision of firewood…]…

d. Then as seminary was ending, I really wanted to work on one more degree in biblical counseling but I wasn’t sure how we could do that…but then God provided a job as a Christian school administrator with the understanding that I could work on the degree simultaneously…

- and you would think with all of that provision – I would never worry…

- but that last semester before moving out to Philadelphia and starting my doctoral work…we had one more detail that needed to fall into place – we had to sell the trailer we were living in…

- the job at the Christian school was only going to pay $15,000 per year, there was no way we could live on the east coast and have ongoing expenses in Indiana – we had to sell the trailer before we moved…

- and I’m ashamed to tell you that I started worrying about that like crazy…

- and that semester was anything but “abundant life” for me…

- the same guy that God had provided a job building pools, a great wife, vegetables from the hatchback lady, firewood from the fellow on the roof…was blind to all of that…

- life consists of…getting this trailer sold…

- and in God’s providence, on the very last day that I was driving over to the school to pick Kris up from work…I passed a car going toward the trailer park…and I thought – that looked like our realtor…and she had other people in the car…

- and I thought – Steve – you’re a goof-ball

- and sure enough – that was the couple God was bringing to buy our trailer…

 

- and you talk about being convicted…in would have been one thing if I couldn’t name a way God had ever been faithful to me…but I could have opened my eyes to dozens of them…

- but worry makes you small…

- and I was hoping in my resources and missed out on a wonder opportunity to hope in His…

- for whatever its worth, I’ve tried to not make that mistake since then…at least not in such obvious and dramatic ways…

 

- that brings us to the second question this morning, are you learning to control worry so that you can hope in God’s resources not man’s…and you’re enjoying the abundant life that comes to those who hope in Him?...

- when you overcome worry – you expand your gaze to include the importance of your eternal destiny, and to the joy of in trusting in God’s power to provide…

- here’s one other way that your gaze is expanded…

 

III. Abundant Life Cares About those Who are Less Fortunate.

- if you’ve been around the Bible for a while you know we’re in the neighborhood of an important passage we studied just last week about worry – the story of Mary and Martha…

- if you turn back just a page or two in most of our Bibles, you’ll find that in Luke chapter 10…

- you remember what was going on…Jesus had visited the home of these 2 sisters…and verse 40 tells us…

- Luke 10:40 - But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”

- and please note the word “care”, because that becomes the hinge on which this whole story turns…

- Jesus’ response is found in the very next verse – Luke 10:41-42 - But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

- that’s an important key to all we’re studying in this series…worry is misplaced care, or exaggerated care…it cares about certain things too much…and therefore it fails to care about things that are more important…

- and in so doing, it wrongly defines life…

 

- now, what we didn’t have time to note last week is…what happens right before this?..

- Jesus tells the story about…

 

A. The good Samaritan.

- you remember the basics in verses 30-32…

- a man is traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he falls among thieves…and he’s robbed, and beaten, and left for dead…

- and a priest comes by…and keeps right on going --- I wonder what he was worried about…

- and then a Levite comes upon this man…and the text says that he too “passes by on the other side…”…he also had blinders on…what a small way to live…

 

- and then Jesus says – v. 33 – but a Samaritan…

- the nation many in the audience considered half breeds…

- they probably thought the Samaritan would have finished the man off…

 

- Luke 10:34-35 - and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.“On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’

 

B. Luke 12:33-34 - Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

- [develop how worry makes us focus on our needs, and our needs alone --- what a small way to live – but when we choose to trust God for our provision, that frees us up to open our eyes to the needs of others – cf. Christmas for Everyone]
 

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video