I love Jesus. For so many reasons. There is no one like Him.
This morning I am sitting here thinking about how I love the way He loves us when we are anxious and afraid. Perhaps some of you need to be reminded of this as I do.
Unlike the world, Jesus doesn’t mock us when we are afraid.
He doesn’t become impatient or get angry at us when we are worried or anxious.
He doesn’t tell us to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and toughen up.
No, Jesus understands our battle and He loves us in the midst of it. How comforting this is to troubled, weary and worried souls.
And yet, He doesn’t stop there.
In His deep care and compassion toward us, He refuses to let us stay in that place. In that place of all-consuming fear and worry that robs us of joy and poisons our peace.
In Luke 12:22-32, Jesus addresses this very topic with his closest friends, his disciples. Like you and me, Jesus’ disciples struggled with worry and fear of various kinds too. In verse 22, he begins by saying to them, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…”
Worry and Anxiety are interchangeable terms in the Bible. The word for worry or anxiety literally means “a distracted mind” or a “double mind.” It means to divide, or a divided loyalty, between God’s kingdom and my own. To worry or be anxious is to be distracted from God and His kingdom by my focus on “me“ and “my kingdom.”
Here is another way of understanding this…
Biblical scholar Dick France says that worry is “to be over-concerned about something (anything) other than God and His kingdom.” Simply put, when we worry, we are anxiously distracted and over-concerned with the cares of this world rather than the cares of God.
And the thing about it is that nothing good comes from our worry. In fact, worry and anxiety has the opposite effect in the life of the Christian.
Takes your focus off of the Lord.
Leads you along a path that does not trust or have faith in God.
Causes you to be consumed with yourself rather than others.
Interferes with your relationships with others.
And while we may know these things in our heads, we continue to worry. We continue to fret and be anxious about all sorts of things. Well, in Luke 12:22-32, Jesus gives us five reasons why we shouldn’t worry. These are five truths that should cause us to move from a posture of anxiety about all sorts of things you and I can’t control, to a posture of deep and radical trust in the Lord who is sovereign and in total control of all things.
Reason #1: Life is more than food, clothing, and the things of this world.
And he (Jesus) said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.” – Luke 12:22-23
The Greek word here for "life" is psuche. It has to do with the fullness of earthly, physical, external life. Jesus is saying, “Don't be anxious about this temporal, external, physical, earthly world – with eating, drinking, clothing, and housing.”
Now, for most of us, we read this and think, “I don’t worry about that stuff. There is a grocery store in every neighborhood, clothes are easy to come by, how does this apply to me?”
Well, remember, in the Middle East in Jesus’ day, there were times when the crops didn't grow because of the weather or a plague of some kind. When the crops didn't come through there was famine in the land. When there was famine in the land there was also no income. When there was no income in the land it was difficult to purchase clothing or food.
But Jesus is saying, ”Life is more than food, clothing, and the things of this world.”
So many of us can easily get consumed with external things, can't we? How we look, what we eat, what we wear, what car we drive, what kind of house we live in, etc. Jesus is saying, “Life is more than this stuff!”
Friends, life is more than food, clothing, and the things of this world. Life is about the Lord and His Kingdom, which should consume our thoughts and focus rather than worry and anxiety.
What is consuming your mind? The things of this world or the things of God?
One leads to worry. One leads to peace.
Reason #2: The Lord is your faithful provider.
“Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!”- Luke 12:24
I’ve heard it said that sometimes we need to let the birds and squirrels be our preachers. God is faithful to feed them and care for them, isn’t He?
When you see them peering at you through the window, they’re saying, “What are you looking at? Trust God.”
When you hear the birds sing, they are singing a song to remind you of God’s provision. God takes care of little animals. He’ll take care of you too.
The Lord is your faithful provider.
Reason #3: Worry doesn’t do any good.
In verses 25-26, Jesus says, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?”
Jesus’ point is this: Worry gets you nowhere. It doesn’t do you any good. Whatever is causing you worry and anxiety right now in your life, you can be sure that continuing to worry about it will not lessen the problem. It will only make you miserable while you try to deal with it.
In all seriousness, have you ever looked back on the hard times in your life and thought, “I don’t know how I would have made it through that if I hadn’t worried?”
Nobody reflects on the past and says, “Money sure was tight, but worry really helped pull me through.”
“The doctor’s report was pretty bad, but then I got all my friends to worry with me and it totally helped.”
Of course, we don’t say these things! And that’s the point.
Worry gets us nowhere. It doesn’t do us any good.
Reason #4: God loves you and cares about you.
Jesus goes on in verse 27 and gives an example of God’s faithful provision in creation. You can almost imagine Jesus teaching the people as he looks out on the beauty of wildflowers on the hillside…
“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
Even Solomon, the greatest, richest, and wisest man the world had ever known had no garment that could come close to the beauty and design of a flower. Jesus is saying we can see the absolute faithfulness of God in looking at one tiny flower! And if God is this faithful in his attention and care for a tiny flower, how much more you and me?
Jesus continues in verse 28, “But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you…”
The Lord cares for tiny flowers and even cares for grass. He created grass and He loves grass, even though it is going to die.
Just a few short months ago my grass was rich and green. You look at that thing today and it is brown and dead and gross. Your lawn probably looks the same!
But guess what, in a few months, it will all come back. And you and I won’t have anything to do with it.
Sure, maybe we’ll plant some more seed or get a lawn care specialist to come help us out a bit. But here’s what I know. Even if we do nothing, the grass will come back. Why? Because God is God and he likes green grass. And yet Jesus says here that the Lord cares for us way more than grass! Look at verses 28-30…
“But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.”
Do you see what Jesus lovingly calls us worriers? He calls us those of “little faith.” He says here that when our lives are marked by worry rather than trust in God, we are no different than unbelievers. It is true. We are practical atheists.
Kevin DeYoung writes, “Our worry is an insult to God’s character. When we worry we are not believing the truth about God. We are doubting that he sees, that he knows, that he cares, that he is more than able. Faith is more than a vague notion that Jesus existed and we are going to heaven if we ask him into our hearts. Faith is a practical way of looking at the world. Biblical faith extends to all of life, not merely to the salvation of our souls. When we worry, we are telling God, “I don’t trust you to run my life. I don’t think you’re really in control. I had better worry about these things. I need to do everything to take care of myself, because I’m not sure you will.” But think about it: God takes care of wild animals. He takes care of wild flowers. He even takes care of grass. Why wouldn’t he take care of you?”
Reason #5: Our trust should be in Jesus and our focus on His Kingdom.
Look at what Jesus says in verse 31: “Instead, seek His kingdom and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
To “seek” after something is to set your heart on something. To make it your main objective. What you seek is what you think about. It is what you want. It is what you pursue. It is what you live for.
Where the eyes of our hearts look and are focused, our lives will follow. The things we treasure and trust will be the things we seek and search after. The things we look to for satisfaction and look to for hope and security will be the things we live for and live towards. What are you seeking after?
Jesus is saying that as his followers, love for and dedication to Jesus is more than becoming worry-free. It is loving and living like him. He is calling us to take our eyes off the worries and cares of this world and focus instead on living life in the kingdom of God. Life the way it was meant to be.
May these five reasons Jesus gives not to worry or be anxious remain at the forefront of our minds. While I am grateful for how Jesus loves us in the midst of our fears and worries, I am even more grateful that He empowers us to live our lives free of them.
May we seek, by His grace and power, to not spend our days worrying. But rather spend them trusting.
Trusting in the God who cares for us just as He cares for the tiniest flower.