Worry Wastes Your Time

Steve Viars May 9, 2009 Matthew 6:27

 

- How many of you would say this morning that you really enjoy wasting time?...

- If we looked at your Day-timer or whatever scheduling system you use…would we find that each morning in your list of goals for the day you faithfully write down the words – “waste time…”…I’m not sure what else I’m going to accomplish today, but I want to be sure I’m going to waste some time…is that your testimony this morning?...

- my guess is that you’d say the exact opposite this morning – that you find it very frustrating when someone or something wastes your time…

- you’re working on a paper, and your computer isn’t set to automatically save the text every few minutes, so you spend hours on that project and you’re almost done, and then there’s some sort of power surge or something malfunctions and when you turn your computer back on the document is gone…

- have you ever had to start a project like that over?…it just drives you crazy, doesn’t it?…because all that time and all that effort was wasted…

 

- some of you may have noticed that I recently bought a Jeep…

- one of the reasons I did that was because my other car had quite a few miles on it and with as much traveling as I do, I needed something that would reliably get me to the airport, or whatever destination I am driving to because a breakdown on one of those trips could create a fairly significant problem…

- plus I’ve always liked them and there are some great deals to be had on cars these days so I bought a Jeep…

- the Thursday before last, we had a Vision of Hope board meeting and that night when I was pulling into our garage at home, a couple of lights on my dashboard flashed on right as I was turning off the ignition…

- I didn’t have time to see exactly what the lights were before I turned off the key, but I thought – that’s interesting…

- I didn’t even think about it the next morning because I was trying to get ready to leave to speak at a banquet I was doing on the north side of Chicago…

- so I ran over and got some gas and when I was pulling away I noticed that the check engine light was on…

- so now I’m trying to figure out – should I go try to rent a car, should I switch with Kris, which wouldn’t be so great since I’m leaving her with a car with the check engine light on (I love you honey – enjoy your day…)…

- so I thought --- well, I have a little bit of time before I have to get on the road…

- I’ll call the dealer where I bought it…which is in another town…

- so I called him and he asked me if I had recently gotten gas – I said yes – he said, well, if you don’t tighten the gas cap just right—that light will come on—the challenge is that you have to take it to a dealer to have the light turned off…and he said, in case it’s something else, if you bring it in right now—we’re not busy---I understand you need to get on the road – we’ll look at it right away…

- so I think – OK, that’s probably the best and safest plan…so I go down there…

- apparently between when I called and when I got there some other folks had decided to come in because it was no longer a “we can look at it right away thing”…

- so I’m sitting in the waiting room – and of course I know that we’re doing this series on worry at church…which really cramps my style whenever what I feel like doing on Friday directly violates what I’m going to be preaching about on Sunday – that is one of the occupational hazards of being a pastor…

- so, well after an hour later, they come back out and say – well, it wasn’t your gas cap…but we can’t really tell what it was…and we drove it around and couldn’t make it happen again…maybe something just tripped the light…maybe it was a fluke…

- so I jump in and head back over to the church…I’m really going to be cramped now time-wise with what I need to do before I have to leave – but I’m thinking, well, that was the responsible thing to do…

- I pull back into the church parking lot…and guess what comes on while I’m pulling into my parking spot?...the same check engine light…

- and I’m not saying it was their fault…and we ended up deciding that it was safe for me to take it to Chicago anyway, although I felt like it was Christmas inside the cab with all those colored lights going off on my dashboard throughout the entire trip…

- and then I took it to a local dealer the next week and they found the problem, fixed it, and now we’re good…

- but we all know that feeling…where you’ve just wasted time that you didn’t have….

- now let me ask you this?...would you ever purposely do that?...

- would you ever purposely engage in an activity that you knew in advance was going to be a waste of your time?...

- what’s your answer?...of course not…

- are you sure?...is there anyone here who worried about anything this week?...

- here’s what the Word of God would say to us about that --- Worry Wastes Your Time…

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to 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 middle of a 7 week series on the subject of Finding Hope in Handling Worry...

- we’re doing a verse-by-verse study of Matthew 6:25-34…

- Introduction - so far, we’ve tried to make three primary points…

1. Worry Tears You Up.

- that idea comes from the meaning of the term “worry” in this passage…that’s the Greek word merimnaw – [which occurs 5 different times in this short text] -- “To divide, rip or tear apart.”

- so any time you are thinking about some possible problem or difficulty in the future to the point that your focus is divided, and your heart is divided, your allegiance is divided…that’s worry…

- it takes your eye off the ball – the challenges God has given you to face and overcome today…and as a result, it tears you up inside…

- and the take away on that particular morning was – to learn to ask -- am I allowing anything into my mind that is doing that?...

- worry is a choice – and learning not to worry is a choice…It tears you up…

- the second week we saw that…

2. Worry Makes You Small.

- that comes from Jesus’ question in verse 25 – Is not life more than ______?

- isn’t life more than that item, or that problem, or that issue, or that possibility?

- sure it is, unless you let worry put blinders on your brain…reducing your field of vision and in so doing, make you small…

- the take-away was – are you focusing so much on a particular issue that it is improperly defining your existence? – when Jesus Himself asks you – “Isn’t life more than that?” – you ought to listen up…

- last week we saw that…

3. Worry Steals Your Hope.

- even the birds and the lilies prove that God can do His job of caring for our needs…birds are well fed…lilies are well clothed…

- and when we fail to factor such theological lessons into our hearts and lives, worry has stolen our hope…

- and the take away there was – we’re going to put off thoughts that would give the indication that we believe God is incapable of doing His job…and we are going to replace that with sound theology about His promises and His proven ability to faithfully meet every one of our needs…

 

- now, the key question at the half way mark is – are you worrying less?...

- are you working hard to be a doer of the Word where you’re taking the truth of Scripture of applying to your heart and mind in real time?...

- now let’s read our text once again and look for the next step in the process…

- read Matthew 6:19-34…

- we’re going to concentrate today on Jesus’ question in verse 27 – but to get the most out of that, please look over at Luke 12…[which we explained a few weeks ago occurred later in Jesus’ ministry where he gave a similar sermon…] – in this case, He adds a piece to our particular discussion today…read Luke 12:25-26

 

- so we’re talking this morning about how Worry Wastes Your Time

- and we’d like to divide our remaining moments together like this…

I. The Narrow Focus – Matthew 6:27, Luke 12:25

II. The Broader Focus – Luke 12:26

III. The Take-Aways [how do we practically apply this?...]

 

I. The Narrow Focus – Worrying About Death – It’s Unproductive – Matthew 6:27, Luke 12:25.

- if we were going to list the top 5 items the average person worries about…the topic Jesus raised would certainly be on practically everyone’s list…worrying about death…

- we worry about when, we worry about how, we worry about those who will be left behind…there are plenty of reasons why many consider death to be the “king of terrors”…Scripture even speaks about the “sting of death”…

- but our Lord asks a very important question about all of this…

- Matthew 6:27 - And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

- the principle is obvious…worry is unproductive…

A. You cannot even add an hour to the length of your life through worry.

- see, it would be one thing if there was some sort of payoff…

- if for every hour of worry, you got an extra hour of life…it might make some sense…[although when you sit down and figure the math – it wouldn’t make a lot of sense]…but then just start decreasing the percentages before you get to the place of concluding – that is not a good deal…

- 5 hours of worry for one extra hour of life…

- 10 hours of worry for one extra hour of life…

- at what point would you conclude – this is not a good deal…how about this?...

- you get no payback?...it is a complete waste…it’s like a share of GM stock…it’s like giving your time to Bernie Madoff for safe keeping…

- now, let’s run that through the biblical grid of change and growth that we studied last week from Ephesians chapter 4…

- what we’re arguing for here is:

B. The importance of you and I doing battle with our minds.

1. Ephesians 4:23 - …be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

2. 2 Corinthians 10:5 - …we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

3. 1 Peter 1:13 - Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

4. Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

 

[C. Applying God’s principle of change and growth – Ephesians 4:22-24]

- we learned last week that one of God’s primary principles for change and growth is putting off what’s wrong and replacing it with what’s right…

- so let’s do that with this principle of worrying about death…

- [Heather – craft a put off / put on chart…]

 

- [on the put off side]…what about the person who habitually thinks…

1. I know that I’m going to get a terminal disease.

- how do Jesus’ words help us with thoughts like that?...

- to understand – thoughts like that are unproductive…

- even if it were true – worrying about it isn’t going to change the timing a bit…

- and we’re not talking about taking proper precautions, or practicing wise principles of health, or getting routine check – ups – we discussed all that the first week of our series under the heading of proper planning…

- but that’s not what this is – this is telling yourself over and over and over that you know you’re going to get a terminal disease…

- and that kind of focus on the future is a complete waste of time…

 

- also add this – do you know that that’s a lie?...

- you don’t know the future, and neither do I…

- French Philosopher Michel de Montaigne said -- My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.

- C. H. Spurgeon said – Such strange creatures are we that we probably smart more under blows which never fall upon us than we do under those which actually come.

 - [return to put off/put on chart]…

- making a statement like “I know I’m going to get a terminal disease is untrue…we’re lying to ourselves…

- that is why it is so important to have a filter on your brain…don’t let thoughts like that even enter your mind…

- [cf. Phil 4:8 – whatsoever things are true, honorable, right, pure…dwell on these things…]

- if you’re going to overcome worry – you have to have a filter on your brain…

 

- you also need to have sledgehammer --- because if a thought gets through the filter that isn’t true – then it’s time to put it to death…that thought has to be taken captive (II Cor. 10:5) --- it needs to be crucified…

- but remember the principle – we don’t simply change by stopping what’s wrong – we also have to replace it with what’s right…

 

[on the put on side of the chart] 1. I don’t know if I’ll ever get a terminal disease, but God does and I can rest in Him today.

 

- resting in Him today is a productive activity – it draws you nearer to Him…telling yourselves lies is a waste of time…and who in their right mind would ever want to do that?...

 

- now, we need to add this to the discussion…no, we shouldn’t worry about death, but…

B. You can make preparations about what will happen the moment you die.

- this is why God sent His Son…to die in our place…and by trusting Christ’s finished work on the cross, you can be…

- 2 Corinthians 5:8 - …of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

- wouldn’t it be a terrible thing if there were persons here today who had spent so much time worrying about their death, which Jesus clearly says is completely unproductive…when at the same time…they did not take steps to insure that the moment they died they would be with Christ in heaven…

- John 1:12 - But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

- worry is unproductive – making sure that you know where you’ll spend eternity is one of the smartest uses of time possible…

- and when that’s settled…

C. You can face even this topic with confidence and peace.

- Paul taunts death in I Corinthians 15 like it’s a bee that’s lost its stinger…

- 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 – “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

- it is possible to get to the place where you do not worry about death, and therefore you are not expending thoughts in a way that is unproductive.

 

II. The Broader Focus – Worrying About Anything – It Wastes Your Time.

- this is where Luke 12 helps us…

- Luke 12:26 - If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?

- see, to push this one step further you have to ask yourself…what’s so bad about wasting your time?...

- part of the answer to that is…the issue of opportunity lost…

- let’s say that we were able to gather up all the time you’ve spent worrying in the last week, or the last month, or so far this year – sort of like a bunch of unused cell-phone minutes…

- if that time hadn’t been wasted on worry…what more productive activity could it have been spent on?...

- are there any answers to that question?...

A. Time that could have been spent praying.

- Psalm 61:1-2 - Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer.From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

- wouldn’t it be a terrible thing to learn some day that our sovereign God had allowed certain difficulties into our lives because they were tailor made to motivate us to have more intimate conversations with Him – but instead of being on our knees in prayer we were on our coach of worry…

- wouldn’t you hate to hear these words from God some day – I was waiting for you…[not that you’re going to hear those words audibly – but that you had put yourself in the position for them to be said]…and for you to have to say – I wasn’t there for our appointed time of conversation, because I was wasting my time worrying instead…
 

B. Time that could have been spent relying on God’s resources.

- 2 Corinthians 12:9 - And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

- Philippians 4:19 - And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

- it’s like sitting in family room worrying about starving when there’s a great meal on the table in the dining room…

- worry accomplishes nothing --- learning to rely on God’s provision results in all your needs being supplied…

 

C. Time that could have been spent gaining wisdom.

- Psalm 90:12 - So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

- there are people in our church family that are wise beyond their years…

- how did they get that way?...

- one answer is what we’re studying today…

- by not wasting time on worry…but using those occasions to gain God’s perspective on life…

- Psalm 119:71 - It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.

D. Time that could have spent seizing opportunities.

- Ephesians 5:15-16 - Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

 

- cf. folks facing uncertainties at work – but instead of worrying, looking for opportunities to minister to their co-workers…

 

- now, what are the take aways?...

III. The Take-Aways – Don’t Let Worry Waste Your Time.

 

- and since its Mother’s Day, let’s apply that to mothers for a moment…

A. To mothers – Proverbs 31

- I hope you’re familiar with the great passage of Scripture in Proverbs 31 which describes the virtuous woman…

-  and something that stands out about that text is how much she accomplishes each day with her household and her husband and her children and her occupation…

- and of course that was long before all the labor saving devices we enjoy today…

- and there are many mothers here who are virtuous women…it is amazing how much they do and how much they accomplish…

 

- what’s the secret to that?...one answer – “I try not to waste any time…”

- and since worry doesn’t accomplish anything – I’m not going to spend my time doing it…

 

B. To all of us.

 

- what we’re studying today requires a level of introspection…

- and if you say – that’s hard – I’m not used to thinking about what I’m thinking, what I’m wanting, what’s going on in my heart…

 

- it’s amazing, but God is even willing to help us with that…

- Psalm 139:23 - Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

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