How to Defeat Worry

INTRODUCTION
    Sermon's Direction

-- Let me show the direction of this message by this story.

Long ago there was a place called "Worry Town." It was located in a valley. Everything that a person wanted was there. There were jobs, big homes, banks, car dealers, and all items to keep everyone happy.

Worry Town was a busy place. People always on the go. They kept wanting things. "The bigger, the better" was almost their motto.

But their worldly dreams had ups and downs, and they worried about what might happen tomorrow. What about their earthly treasures they loved so much? Could they hold their grip on them and get more? They were doing their best, but anxiety still walked their streets and filled their hearts.

Now one man, I shall call "William," lived in Worry Town. At times William was stressed out with worry. He had done everything he knew to add worldly treasures and keep up with life around him. Yet he couldn't slam the door on worry. Like others, worry held him as a captive.

So William decided to take a trip to "Priority Place." It was a village on some of the hills around Worry Town. William had heard that people in Priority Place had the secret to defeat worry.

When William arrived, people in Priority Place welcomed him. They told him their secret: put first things first. What did they mean? They said, "We do not neglect our jobs, but we seek our heavenly Father's kingdom first of all. He is concerned about us, and we live one day at a time."

"Well," William said, "I am also a Christian." So William left Worry Town and moved to Priority Place. There he defeated worry.

    Proposition

– This is the focus of our message: Every Christian can defeat worry!

    Transitional Sentences

– How can this happen? Matthew 6:25-35 gives three ways how every Christian can defeat worry.

BODY
    I. CHRISTIANS CAN DEFEAT WORRY BY RECOGNIZING HOW VALUABLE THEY ARE TO GOD, Matt. 6:26, 28-30.
A. Exposition of Matt. 6:26, 28-30: Jesus Illustrates How Valuable People are by Pointing to Creation

– How does Jesus tell His disciples not to worry? He refers to God's creation. "Look at the birds of the air," Jesus says, "they do now sow or reap, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (6:26; emphasis added)

All creation, we must understand, is valuable to God. God spoke it into existence. Hebrews 11:3 declares: ". . . the worlds were created by the word of God." (KJV) And God upholds and provides for everything in His creation. Jesus tells us your heavenly Father feeds the birds of the air. Birds do work, but they don't sow or reap. There are no bird barns among the trees. Yet God provides. So you and I still hear birds singing when they don't know where they will get food tomorrow. They don't worry. They still sing. "Aren't you much more valuable?" Jesus tells his disciples by this rhethorical question. Of course, you are much more valuable. So stop worrying.

Next the Savior points to the gorgeous flowers of Palestine. They, too, illustrate our value to God. These flowers don't spin or weave their own multi-colored clothes. Yet as part of God's creation, God Himself provides their robes of beauty. Listen to what Jesus says: "Not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." (6:29) What knowledge Jesus gives us! No even Solomon's royal wardrobe exceeds the beauty God puts in flowers.

So then, says the Savior: "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, O you of little faith?" (6:30) Of course, he will!

This is the emphasis. Do not even begin to worry. Flowers so richly beautiful, after they had bloomed, were cut down with the grass and cast into the fire of clay ovens to heat them for cooking. Amazing, isn't it, about God's generous display among flowers so short-lived. Yet how much more amazing is God's provision for His own people! His people are much more valuable than all of creation.

B. Why All People Are So Valuable to God

– The Bible puts value upon every person everywhere! Why? Man was created in the "image and likeness" of God (Gen. 1:27). These are profound words--"Image and likeness" of God. "Image and likeness" are the same; they are put together for emphasis. Man's creation, then, is extraordinary. Man alone reflects God.

Man, we say, is morally related to God in holiness and true righteousness. (Eph. 4:24) Man is naturally related in personality--intellect, emotions, will, and self-consciousness. So the Genesis record points to man as the unique goal of God's creative power and wisdom.

This fact stamps the whole human race as valuable to God. People, then, are more valuable than all created things, than all created worlds. We must remember: "God so loved the world," not things, but people. Created in God's "image and likeness," people are unique, indispensable, and absolutely irreplaceable (Gen. 9:16).

We know sin defaced or ruined God's image in people, but they are still valuable. Go from what Jesus said about creation to Calvary, and there you will see everyone's supreme value!

C. Illustration of Everyone's Supreme Value to God

– Romans 8:32: "God did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all." (emphasis added) "Gave him up for us all--God gave His supreme gift for all people. He gave up Jesus to die under the guilt and curse of everyone's sin. What greater proof of a Father's love do we need? What greater proof of our value to God do we need?

And we will never understand the agony Jesus endured.on the cross. He cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46) Jesus was under punishment for our sins. He took away our sins by the sacrifice of Himself. What a cost to buy life and freedom for our souls! Who can fully understand?

These lines tell us: "None of the ransomed ever knew how deep were the waters crossed; how dark was the night the Lord went through before He died to redeem the lost!" The price Jesus paid and the life He gave demonstrates all people are valuable. "God gave him up for us all!"

D. Application

-- These lessons assure you of your value in God's sight. You can truly say, "I am valuable to God." Do you believe it? Yes, Sir. Then will you repeat it at least one time per day this week. See what happens to worry. Then remember Jesus' words about the birds of the air, the flowers of the field. Are you not much more valuable in God's creation?

You are precious to Him. Defeat worry by acting on this marvelous truth. Don't stay on the streets of Worry Town.

Here is the next way to defeat worry.

    II. CHRISTIANS CAN DEFEAT WORRY BY SEEKING GOD'S KINGDOM FIRST OF ALL, Matt. 6:33.
A. Exposition of 6:33

– Jesus' words to seek God's kingdom are a continuous-action command. They can be translated: "Be seeking God's kingdom first of all." Jesus does not say we neglect earthly needs; he says earthly needs cannot be the focus of our lives. Put first things first. This is what the people in Priority Place did.

How did they put first things first? They sought God's kingdom and his righteousness first of all. God's kingdom is his kingly rule: his right to reign as king in our lives. He is King. He ruled in Priority Place. People there were not captured by earthly things; things didn't sit on the throne of their hearts. God--all wise, all powerful, all loving--sat as King. With God in charge, their lives were relaxed. They didn't lose any sleep at night like people in Worry Town.

They also replaced running after earthly things with seeking God's righteousness. They followed the righteous way of life as the Bible teaches. They sought God's will. After all, what really matters in life? Our deepest needs are spiritual, not material. They concern heavenly life and the world to come. People in Priority Place knew this fact. Life there was first things first.

B. Illustration of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42

– These five verses are clear about first things first. Martha, we see, is busy preparing the meal for Jesus. Martha says there is much work to be done. Martha is "distracted," we read, "by all the preparations that had to be made." (10:40). "Distracted" means her attention was drawn away. Martha was drawn away by her anxiety about many things to do. Martha, as Jesus says, is "worried."

So she looks for Mary's help. Where is Mary? Mary sits at Jesus' feet, as a disciple does, and listens to Jesus' teaching. What an opportunity! Mary didn't want to miss it.

We find Martha comes to Jesus and says, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me."

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Mary, we must understand, put first things first. Her primary attention is on hearing from Jesus, the Light of the World. She chose what is better.

What happens? Martha chooses what is lesser. What do we choose? Look again at this picture: Martha is worried and troubled. It should not have been this way. She could have defeated worry by seeking first the King of God's kingdom.

D. Application

– So to us God's Word says: "Be seeking first the Kingdom of God, and all things will also be given to you." This choice defeats worry. Worry cannot capture us. We have moved to Priority Place.

Show God's kingly rule and will in your life by spreading the light of your salvation this week. Make up your mind to put prayer into your daily schedule. You and your prayers are valuable. What do you say? You must decide to defeat worry or be defeated by it!

Now this Matthew passage leads us to the third way to defeat worry. After recognizing how valuable you are to God, seeking his kingdom first of all, you can list this third point.

    III. CHRISTIANS CAN DEFEAT WORRY BY LIVING ONE DAY AT A TIME , Matt. 6:34.
A. Exposition of 6:34

– Notice that verse 34 begins with "therefore." "Therefore" connects with what the Savior says about worry in all of these verses--verses 25-33. They tell us these facts: God provides for the birds of the air, clothes the flowers of the field, and gives all things to those who seek his kingdom first of all. Why worry, then, about tomorrow's needs? Your heavenly Father provides all things. Really? Yes, this is how Jesus directs us.

Consider this also. Jesus is not teaching us to put into our minds a thoughtless, reckless attitude about life. What Jesus forbids is worry. Do not be troubled about tomorrow; you aren't there yet. Leave that to God. Live one day at a time.

B. Why Live One Day at a Time -- Worrying about tomorrow's troubles is a disabling sin. The worry which wears out your mind wears out your body also. Worry is like a robber in your house. It steals your peace. It steals your encouraging relationships with your family. It steals your hope. Then what? This robber steals your God-given right to put the government of your life upon His shoulder. Tomorrow is God's history. It doesn't belong to you. You can't hold it in your hands today! One day at a time throws out the thief of worry.

But someone may ask, "How do you live one day at a time? Good question. Even if you have a habit of worry, here's how.

C. How to Live One Day at a Time

– Live one day at a time by living one moment at a time. Everyone can do this. Just live one moment of each day at a time! A Christian in Hannah Smith's classic book, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life, said: "I hit upon the method of living by the moment,, and then I found rest. I felt shut up to a momentary dependence upon the grace of Christ. I would not permit the adversary to trouble me about the past or the future, for I each moment looked for the supply for that moment!"

"For I each moment looked for the supply for that moment!" Here is victory! Blessed victory! This is how people in Priority Place lived one day at a time: They lived one moment at a time.

D. Application

– Try it and find out. Thank God for this very moment of life. Thank Him for His divine, always present love at this moment. Thank God for His heavenly presence now. Thank Him for giving you grace this moment. And do it again and again until it becomes like your heartbeat--one moment at a time.

CONCLUSION
    Sermon's Aim

-- Every Christian can defeat worry; therefore, read Matthew 6:25-34 each and every morning this week. This is the Bible's greatest passage on worry. Read it again today. Read it again tomorrow. Something will happen. God's Word will transform like the light of day shining across the sky. It is living and powerful. It is God's answer to the problem of worry!

    Objection Type of Conclusion

-- But some people may look at their problems and offer these objections about their worry.

1. Someone may be thinking, "I have so many problems to face that I can't keep from worrying." Let's address this situation. Are they spiritual problems? Seek God's rule and will first. Determine to make extra time for prayer. Strongholds fall in answer to your prayers.

Are these heavy problems about your material needs? Read Matthew 6:25-34 each morning. This is the aim of this message. Don't leave Matthew 6:25-34 on the pages of your Bible! Get these verses inside of you. They will build a fortress of truth within you. They are God's living Word. You attack worry with God's Word.

2. Perhaps others are thinking, "It is difficult to change. I just heard how to defeat worry. I don't think I change, as we say ‘overnight.'" This is a practical observation. But when you read Matthew 6:25-34 each day, it will transform you! God's Word is not recorded just for information; it is recorded to change your life. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) Do you believe that?

Matthew 6:25-34 is the greatest passage in the Bible about worry. As we have already said: "Don't leave it on the pages of your Bible. Get these verses inside of you." It may take 10 minutes to read them. As you meditate, you will find God's Word is an active living power to break worry. You also might want to get a cassette tape of this sermon. And you can also go over truths to get them inside and regulate your life. You can pack up and leave Worry Town.

    Powerful last sentence

– Add this saying from Corrie ten Boom: "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength."

About the Author

    Dr. George Batson has taught expository preaching for over 25 years. He has taught in Bible schools and pastors' training seminars in many nations and is the author of Global University's award-winning textbook on Expository Preaching.

    As a missionary, George has served at Asia-Pacific Theological Seminary in the Philippines as faculty and later as academic dean. He has also taught Bible, theology, and Greek at Continental Theological Seminary in Belgium and later served as their Dean of Graduate Studies.