Worry and stress are at all-time high levels in America at this time. The compounded stress of two years of COVID interrupting our lives has taken a toll. Then we have the added stress of the Ukraine war with Russia, inflation, border security, rising crime and political divisions. This stress has resulted in a dramatic increase in alcohol consumption, drug addiction, undesired weight changes and increased anxiety disorders. The temptation to worry and get stressed about the complexities of life affects everyone.
Let’s think a little more about what worry is. The dictionary defines worry as “allowing one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.” That doesn’t seem like much fun, does it? So, why do we do it? Worry looks at the troubles and difficulties in the present and projects them into the future. In effect, worry is like negative faith. Worry believes that things are going to get worse, rather than better.
What are the results or consequences of worrying? Worry brings on discouragement, depression, isolation, hopelessness, and so on. Is worry something that is inevitable and unavoidable, or do we have a choice? Perhaps an even better question is “Does God want you to worry or be anxious?”
Philippians 4:6a (ESV) Do not be anxious about anything,
There we have the answer as to what God’s will regarding worry is. He commands us not to be anxious. Some people think its ok to anxious about some things but not others. Yet this Scripture commands us to not worry about anything. To not obey the Bible’s instruction on worry is to sin.
What is wrong with worrying? What is the root cause of worry? People worry when they don’t believe that God is able or willing to help them. At its root, worry comes from not believing in God’s power or goodness. The root of worry is unbelief and wrong priorities, which we’ll look at in a few minutes.
What is the result of worry? When your mind is focused on present and future troubles, what is going to happen? The Bible teaches us that we reap what we sow. When we sow worrisome thoughts about troubles and difficulties in the future, we are going to reap more of the same in our lives.
Today, I’ve entitled our message “How to Eliminate Worry with Right Priorities.” Jesus is going to teach us today that wrong priorities lead to worry and anxiety. And how right priorities can eliminate worry and replace it with faith for the future.
Luke 12:22-23 (ESV) And he 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. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.
Our main kingdom principle for the morning is taken right from these verses. Do not be anxious about your life is Jesus’ command to us this morning. Then Jesus explains the kinds of things that we are tempted to be anxious about. The things Jesus mentions are food and clothing, the essentials of life.
We might question Jesus here. Jesus are you really telling me that I shouldn’t worry about not having enough food to eat? Jesus’ answer would be, that’s exactly what I tell you to do. Why? Because food and clothing should not be your priority in life. Next Jesus tells us why the necessities of life should not be our priorities.
Luke 12:24 (ESV) 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!
The birds do not plant crops and harvest them for food as people do. They simply eat the food that God provides for them. Jesus concludes by saying that people are of much more value than birds. So, if God feeds the birds, then He will much more feed you.
Luke 12:27-28 (ESV) 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. 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!
Next, we are to consider the lilies of the field with their beautiful flowers. The lilies do nothing to create their beauty, they just live and God clothes them. If God makes these transient wild flowers so beautiful, surely he will provide clothing for you. In this passage, Jesus is speaking to his disciples, who were prone to worry.
He calls his disciples as men of little faith. Worry is caused by little faith, not trusting in God to care for you. People of great faith do not worry. Do you think that Jesus worried? Absolutely not. And so we should grow to be more like Jesus, worry-free and full of faith.
Luke 12:29-30 (ESV) 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.
Now we concludes this section of his teaching. He tells us that we as believers are not to seek after meter our physical needs, which leads to worry. Jesus says that that’s what all the unbelievers of the world do. As believers, we are different,
We are God’s children and have a Father in heaven who knows what we need in life. And if our Father knows our needs and we ask in faith for them, what will happen? Jesus will give us the answer as we continue in this passage. We simply must obey Jesus’ command, do not be anxious about your life.
Now, the temptation this morning on hearing Jesus’ teaching is to think, that’s just not possible. I feel that I can’t stop worrying. Everyone around me worries. But everything that Jesus commands us to do, we can do with his help. Yes, Jesus just told just told us that all the unbelievers, both those who identify as Christians and those who don’t, worry. You can eliminate worry if you get your priorities right in life and you have faith.
If you’re struggling with worry in your life, that is a red flag. A red flag that something is wrong with your spiritual life. You are thinking like an unbeliever, seeking after the physical things of this life. God desires for you to be full of joy, not full of worry. Ask God to help you to not be anxious about your life. Rather to …
Luke 12:31-32 (ESV) 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.
This next verse is a wonderful promise after God tells us how to get our priorities in order. Rather than seeking after the things that we need in life, which is self-centered, we are to change our priorities. Rather than focusing on ourselves, we are to seek God’s kingdom as our top priority. If we’re seeking the kingdom, we don’t have time to worry about anything else.
In fact, Jesus makes this promise, that when our priority is seeking the kingdom, then all these physical needs that people worry about will be provided to us. Then Jesus tells us to fear not. You see, worry is a form of fear. If we are a little flock, the Jesus is our good shepherd. If you seek God’s kingdom, not only will we have our physical needs taken care of. We will also have what we seek after, the kingdom of God and its blessings. So, what does it mean to seek God’s kingdom?
Luke 12:33 (ESV) Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
Jesus then turns his attention to how we spend our money. How a person spends their money shows that their priorities are in life. Rather than storing up treasure on earth to meet our physical needs, we are to give to the needy. The needy are those who are either physically or spiritually poor. When we use our resources in such ways, we are seeking God’s kingdom. And we are laying up treasure in heaven.
Heaven is the most secure place existing for your treasure. Treasure in heaven is not affected by inflation, thieves or stock market crashes. Then Jesus tells us why how we handle our money is so important.
Luke 12:34 (ESV) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Your heart and treasure are aligned. If your treasure is here on this earth, then that is where your heart will be. If your heart is on this earth, then you will be worrying and not seeking Gods’ kingdom. Of course, the reverse is true as well. If you heart is directed toward earthly things, then that is where you will store your treasure.
On the other hand, if your heart is seeking God’s kingdom, then you will be laying up treasure in heaven. And as your life’s priority is God’s kingdom, you won’t be worrying. Why? Because you believe that God will meet all your needs and He will. To eliminate worry, seek God’s kingdom in your life.
Let’s talk some more about what it means to seek God’s kingdom. To seek God’s kingdom is have your heart set to carry out God’s purpose for your life. Seeking the kingdom is using everything God has entrusted to you for Him. A person who is a kingdom seeker is God-centered in every aspect of their life. A kingdom seeker is a person of faith, He sees God doing good things in his future.
On the other hand, those who are seeking to meet their own needs are self-centered. They are concerned to meet their own needs because they don’t trust God. So they worry and probably rightly so, for none of us can meet our needs without God’s help. The difference between a self-centered person and a God-centered person will be reflected in who they handle money. The person who says that they can’t afford to give to God is a self-centered person who is worried that they won’t be able to meet their needs. A God-centered person will give gladly give their tithe to God’s church and trust God to meet their needs, and He will. Seek God’s kingdom and you will eliminate worry.
Luke 12:35-36 (ESV) “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.
Now Jesus turns our attention to eternity, as He often does. In this story, Jesus is the master who has gone away and will be coming back. As Jesus has gone away to heaven, we are to be waiting for his return. As we wait, we are to people of action, keeping awake with our lamps burning. The burning lamps are a symbol of staying filled with the Holy Spirit. Part of seeking the kingdom is to live ready for Jesus to return at any moment. The opposite behavior would be falling asleep, letting our lamps go out and taking no action for the kingdom.
Luke 12:37-38 (ESV) Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!
Those who are awake, waiting for Jesus, seeking His kingdom will be blessed when He returns. Jesus himself will serve them whenever he comes. The second watch is 9 to midnight and the third watch is midnight to 3am. This speaks of being awake and ready spiritually, even when others are sleeping.
Luke 12:39-40 (ESV) But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Finally, Jesus ends with a warning. The master of a house doesn’t know when the thief was coming, so his house was broken into. Jesus often says that He will be coming like a thief, He will come at an unexpected hour. So, we must be ready for his coming.
There are two possible ways that you and I will meet Jesus and need to be ready for. If Jesus comes back to this earth in our lifetime, we will meet him then. If Jesus does not come back in our lifetime, we will meet him when we pass on. Either way, we need to be ready and live in light of eternity.
Eternity has to do with God’s eternal kingdom. As you live for that kingdom in this life, you will have nothing to worry about. I don’t think that we think about eternity enough. Thinking about eternity both for ourselves and for others. When we think about eternity as a believer, it inspires us to live for God.
When we think about eternity for the unbelievers around us, it inspires us to reach them with the gospel. This life will be 70, 80 or 90 years for us, but eternity is forever. Living in light of eternity is the way of the wise. Living in light of eternity will eliminate worry from your life.
Jesus teaches us today that our priorities in life are of great importance. When our priorities are self-centered and focused on our needs, they lead to worry. But when our priorities are kingdom-centered, we can be people of faith. Faith views the future positively, trusting in God. Faith views a positive future both in this life and eternity. Faith seeks to impact the eternity of those around us with our witness. With the right priorities in our lives, we can eliminate worry and replace it with faith.