In our study of Luke - a "book" (actually letter) - of the Bible, we find Jesus in a lengthy discourse to his disciples. Disciples meaning them and us. He's only weeks from his execution. This discourse concerned being on guard against the "yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Luk 12:1). If disciples are "yeasted" they become hypocrites - play actors. As certain as yeast ferments dough Pharisees will cause hypocrisy. The warnings have been extreme to say the least. Recall, Jesus was interrupted in his dissertation to his disciples by a "man" asking Jesus make the man's brother share the inheritance with him. Instead, Jesus told a parable about a wealthy greedy person building barns. He was rich in possessions, but not rich toward God who said he was a fool. After the story, Jesus easily moved to greed's close relative... worry!
So, before we take a look at our study today, I need to ask, how many have ever worried about something? So, you are included in today's topic. Where do you place yourself concerning worry? Do you consider yourself a big worrier, a middle worrier, or hardly worry at all? Let's talk about the War of Worry.
Luke 12:22-24 Then JESUS SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES: "THEREFORE I tell you, DO NOT WORRY about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. LIFE IS MORE THAN food, and the body more than clothes. CONSIDER the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable YOU ARE than birds!
Jesus said, "Therefore..." We'd say, "So this means..." Jesus sprang from the parable of the rich fool into the perfect example to again warn his disciples concerning yeast. Worry is a yeast that will cause hypocrisy. We will play act following Jesus when we are actually following our stuff with worry. We all know "anxiety attacks" and all sorts of worry disorders are prevalent today more than ever. We have more possessions than any society has ever had, but worry more than any society has ever worried. We think we are worrying about our stuff when in fact our stuff is a large cause of our worry. So, what did Jesus say to do about worry? Manage it? No. Don't do it... Sure. How do we do that? Jesus is about to give us several ways.
A serious concern in Jesus' day was food and clothing. You and I live in such a blessed time, we experience difficulty attempting to imagine not having food or clothes. We have closets full of clothes and freezers full of food. However, in that time obtaining food was a serious daily struggle. Usually I can find something we can relate with, but in this case, I couldn't come up with anything Americans struggle with daily for survival. It wasn't that way then.
"Life (psuche) is more than food, and the body more than clothes." We would all agree, but what a simple yet profound statement. We have a higher purpose for existence. There is far higher things to concern ourselves than base issues.
As Jesus always does (with me), he introduces a thought and then the thought expands. Jesus said, "don't worry... life is more than..." Next comes an illustration. "Consider birds..." Ok, birds? Where did you get birds? Birds are not in context here. I have worries and you're talking about birds? He was likely pointing at them.
How many have ever been in a time of worry, so you prayed, but all you heard was something like "birds"? We feel we are in a midst of hell. We wonder if God is even there? It's time to keep listening. Many times in my life when I've prayed it seemed my mind went to the birds. Maybe just maybe God was attempting to tell me something. I can't relate to the lack of food or the lack of clothes, but I can relate to birds. Only God can make my seemingly life shattering dilemmas as simple as birds. Jesus said if I will consider birds I won't worry.
Jesus specifically said, "ravens." Ravens are crows to us and are unclean birds -dirty birds - in the Bible (Lev 11:15). Jesus said if I considered - figure out how birds, specifically ravens, fit into my dilemmas I won't worry. He said, "How much more valuable you are than birds!" I am! That's the point exactly. I looked it up. There are 10,448 species of birds. You're move valuable than any. If God will take care of a dirty bird, a Raven, God will take care of me and you.
Some of us have bird feeders. We see feeders everywhere. I used to have several just outside the window where I sit at home. I was thinking, "Why did I had all those feeders? Why do people have bird feeders?" Ever wonder where the thought came from to set out a bird feeder? Can't you see God telling the birds, "Hey guys. I've got you covered. I've inspired people to purchase feeders and seed to feed you." Think this could happen? Don't put it past God. Jesus said it's the same way with us. If God cares about birds and can inspire people to feed birds, he certainly cares about us.
We may say, "Yes, but you don't know what I've done. You don't know about my thoughts and my sin. I'm dirty." I think this is why Jesus used ravens - unclean dirty birds. There's some dirty birds, but God takes care of them. Aren't you glad! I certainly am.
Luke 12:25-26 WHO OF YOU BY WORRYING CAN ADD A SINGLE HOUR TO HIS LIFE? Since you cannot do this very little thing, WHY DO YOU WORRY about the rest?
Does worry and anxiety add a single hour to life? How about this? Do you think worry and anxiety could do the opposite? Could it possibly take hours from life? Worrying does the opposite from what we are attempting to accomplish. Instead of making life better, it takes from life. Stress and anxiety cause our blood pressure to rise. They cause loss of sleep. Major health problems are stress and anxiety related. Jesus said if I will take a moment to realize my worrying will help nothing, in fact it will hurt and likely impair my life and God's moving, I won't worry.
Luke 12:27-28 "CONSIDER how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O YOU OF LITTLE FAITH!
We've all seen the wild Easter lily. They catch our eye. No one planted it. No one maintains it, but it's a beautiful plant outdoing even Solomon's splendor who was the best dressed man in ancient history. If I will consider how lilies grow, I won't worry!
Trees were not plentiful in their area, but wild grass and flowers were. Wild grass grew with it's blooms and colors. It was then harvested into tight bundles and used for fuel for cooking and heating. No one planted the grass. No one grew or maintained it. God simply provided and adorned it.
Then Jesus said, "O you of little faith!" When we worry and become anxious, we are expressing little faith. When we worry, we are in a make believe world. We are deceived into thinking we are in control and God is not. Jesus said you're not an orphan all alone in a cruel world. Jesus wants us to live as if we truly believe God cares.
Jesus said you and I exist for a far higher reason than food and clothing. This is what all this has been about. You are more to God than an eating machine to be fed and a manikin to be dressed. You're far more important than birds, flowers, and grass. When we realize the importance of our existence, we won't worry. We will have total confidence and faith God will take care of us. We'll live as if we believe this. But, what is the higher reason we exist? We need to know as knowing this is the true secret to what Jesus said - "Do not worry!"
Luke 12:29-32 And DO NOT set your heart on what you will eat or drink; DO NOT WORRY ABOUT IT. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and YOUR FATHER knows that you need them. BUT SEEK HIS KINGDOM, AND THESE THINGS WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU AS WELL. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for YOUR FATHER HAS BEEN PLEASED TO GIVE YOU THE KINGDOM.
Jesus made it clear. The secret to not worrying is realizing you exist for and to seek the kingdom. Seeking his kingdom and living in his kingdom is the highest existence life can give.
Jesus said, "Your Father knows that you need them." The full weight of survival is on the pagan unbeliever, but your Father will take care of you. Seeking the kingdom is seeking God's rule/ways over our lives. It's seeking God first in all decisions. It's seeking what he says about family? Do it and stop worrying about family. God will take care of it. It's seeking what he says about your occupation. Do it and watch God take care of it. It's seeking what he says about finances. Do it and watch God take care of your finances. It's seeking what he says about worship and church. That's living like we believe God cares.
God is not a small sixty minute slice of our lives on Sunday morning. Seeking God's kingdom is directing our lives to do as he says all the time. It's where we exist. That's seeking his kingdom. That's living like you believe God will take care of you. That's faith.
Jesus said, "for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." Any good father is pleased to give to their children when the children are seeking to do the father's will. As a father, I know and will do all in my power to bless my children. It's a pleasure.
Luke 12:33-34 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO.
This is an impacting statement to say the least. Following Jesus requires a radical commitment. Seems the bottom line to becoming free from worry and anxiety is reduce the items we have to worry about. A more realistic interpretation is seeking the kingdom of God requires having a loose hold on our possessions. Make certain possessions don't hold us. The way you will know is if they cause you to worry.
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." What a brilliant statement. One thing that so fascinates me about the Bible is this was written 2,000 years - two millennia - ago. Yet, what was true then remains true today. This statement is for everyone no matter if you are a Jesus person or not. Where ever your treasure is your heart follows. If you want to know where my heart is, don't judge my spirituality by what you're looking at standing here preaching. This is only a skill and an opportunity God's given me. If you want to know where my heart is look at my check register and bank statements. My heart and your heart is where our money goes. This will uncover your true treasure. No one can be a hypocrite here.
Let me ask you a question. Do you have anything other than your spouse, you would not lend out? I'm not talking about selling all your stuff and giving it to the poor. I'm simply talking about a possession(s) you would not lend out. I am very close to being this way with at least two things. 1) my boat; and 2) my truck and I'd probably lend my truck before my boat. It's not either are so valuable. I just don't want them messed up. The point is obvious and is what this verse is about. Jesus said because your heart follows your stuff, God doesn't want to compete with my stuff, so he wants me to surrender all my stuff. Once I surrender all my stuff to him, he has my heart. God doesn't want my stuff. He's God. He can't even wear it. God says, "You ought to see my boat. I don't need your boat. I don't need your truck. It's too noisy anyway. I need your heart. I want you to surrender your treasure to me. Then I'll have your heart." And, when God has my heart there is no worry.