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Strangled by Worry

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 15, 2024 12:00 am

Strangled by Worry

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 15, 2024 12:00 am

Does worry steal your joy and rob your peace? Join Stephen Davey on Wisdom for the Heart as he digs into Jesus' teaching in Matthew 6. Learn how to break the stranglehold of worry and live with an unburdened heart through faith in God's goodness and provision. Learn more and access additional resources at


He's saying develop the art of living one day at a time because you cannot remove trouble from any one day. The antidote is living within this simple boundary.

This is the point that Jesus is making. Don't pull tomorrow's troubles into today's deposit of mercy and strength and grace. If you bring yesterday's griefs and tomorrow's troubles into today's grace, you'll exceed the weight limit. Life is full of challenges and worry can feel overwhelming. Have you ever felt paralyzed by anxieties about tomorrow or choked by regret about yesterday? The Bible offers a way to find freedom from worries stranglehold. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart. Keep listening as Stephen Davey tackles the tough topic of worry.

You'll learn some real solutions for breaking free from its grip. You'll look at what Jesus taught about finding peace and living unburdened in this message called Strangled by Worry. We're about to discover that Jesus Christ forbids worry. I would agree with one commentary, this one by John MacArthur on Matthew chapter six, which is where I want you to turn in your Bibles. He writes this, worry is the sin of distrusting the promise and providence of God, and it is the sin that Christians commit perhaps more frequently than any other sin. In other words, it's going to be one of those battles you face over and over again.

That's true, isn't it? Listen, anything that denies the power and trustworthiness of God, that God is somehow not capable of keeping his promises, not worthy of our trust, ultimately then our worship, surely should be forbidden. Little wonder that Jesus will command us to resist this particular temptation.

Go to verse 25, where we find this command. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Now let me stop here and provide sort of a contextual disclaimer.

We could easily say, all right, worry is bad, it's sinful, stop it, let's just go ahead and get some cookies. What do you say? Okay, there's more to it than that.

Sound guy gives me a fist pump. Yeah, that's a great idea. Thank you very much Nate for that. This paragraph follows the previous challenge to not become a slave to possessions. In other words, don't allow money to become your master, make God alone your master.

If you make money your master, you're going to relearn over and over again that you never have enough. If you make God your master, you're going to relearn over and over again that he is enough. Now I don't want us to get all pietistic and say, yeah, worry is bad, let's just not do it so it's all wrong because frankly, that's not what the Bible exactly says. In fact, the Apostle Paul said on one occasion, I am deeply anxious, uses the same word Jesus says don't do. I am deeply anxious for the welfare of the church, 2 Corinthians 11, 28. Didn't Jesus also tell us to count the cost, it is to look down the road as far as we can see and consider the pitfalls, to consider those things that might happen that we should deal with as we plan?

Yes. So let's be careful here. Well, let's pause for a moment and take a look at the word in this context. Jesus says don't be anxious.

The word is marimna, which simply means to have concern. It can be a healthy thing, a good thing. Paul used the same word, so did Jesus. But it can become a sinful thing.

What makes it sinful is that it can effectively become selfish and self-absorbed, self-sustaining and ultimately distrusting of the providence of God. The English history of the word I think gives us a little insight here. It sort of sums up the negative context that Jesus is I think referring to. The word worry is derived from the German word wergen, which literally means to choke or to strangle.

It came then to refer to mental strangulation. Literally the idea of being so wrapped up with this anxiety, we're harassed with fear. So the kind of worrying that Jesus forbids here, and I'm going to show you a little further on, isn't the kind of constructive worry that makes you plan and think through potential pitfalls. It isn't the kind of anxious concern that might keep you awake at night praying for your children or your family or over the welfare of disciples or even the church. This kind of worry is the choking off of faith. It is the strangulation of trust in God, ultimately denying his ability to keep his word. That's exactly the kind of worry that Jesus is going to illustrate and forbids. Now in this context, let me show you five reasons why you need to run from that kind of worry.

First, worry distorts your perspective. Notice what the Lord says further in verse 25. He says, is not life more than food and the body more than clothing. Now what the Lord is doing here is building an argument against worry by giving or going from a greater argument to a lesser argument.

Hang with me. I know it's late, but here's what he's effectively saying. Look, life is greater than food and clothing. If God is able to give you life, the greater thing, the greater challenge, do you not think he can sustain life, which would be a lesser challenge? If he can do the miracle of life, can he handle a meal going from a greater to lesser argument?

Let me illustrate it this way, something a little more contemporary. I had my daughter's Volkswagen Bug over to the dealership two weeks ago to get the bulb replaced in her front headlight. Now you know in most cars or pickup trucks, all you have to do is loosen a few screws, pop out the plastic, put in the headlamp, you're good to go. Not a Volkswagen Bug. You have to remove the roof.

You have to take out the engine, roll the windows down, take the tires off, and then you can change the bulb. And they charge you for all that labor, by the way. Lydia, next door to the Volkswagen dealership is a Mercedes dealership. That's where people go who can't afford a Chevy pickup. They have to settle.

I pity them. At any rate, can you imagine me going into that showroom and they're showing for a limited time the 1937 Von Krieger Roadster. It's on the showroom floor. It's up for public sale.

All the paparazzis, they're taking pictures. It's expected to sell for somewhere around $10 million. And I go in and I just fall in love with a car and I whip out my checkbook and I write out a check for $11.2 million, which is what it sold for. But can you imagine if I'm the buyer?

Use your imagination, okay? And I hand it, but just before I hand the check, I ask the dealer, no, no, no, no. Tell me about the gas mileage.

I mean, does it get 25 in the city? Gas is up to 316 a gallon. I'm concerned if I can't get good gas mileage, the deal's off. Listen, people who spend $11.2 million on a car are not thinking about gas mileage. In fact, they're not thinking at all.

See, this is the distorting process of worry. If God can create life, the greater thing, can he not handle the gas mileage of life, food, which is the lesser issue. Now, don't be tempted when you read a text like this to say, well, you know, those people in Jesus's day, how simple could it get?

I mean, he ought to tell them not to worry. Life was so simple back then. Well, if you travel back to the days of Christ, you discover people living hand to mouth. Water was scarce.

Food, often a problem. The average worker was paid every day. They weren't paid weekly or monthly. They needed that money that day to buy food for the following day because they didn't store food. They didn't have refrigerators to keep milk and eggs and meat fresh. Jesus would teach them to give us this day our what?

Daily bread. They knew nothing of weekly bread or monthly bread. They didn't have dates that said by, you know, October 15th, this is no good. Their government gave them no such thing as Social Security. Their jobs offered them no benefit packages. They didn't have insurance. Their jobs had no pensions.

The average worker, we learn from history, except in those wonderful city states like Philippi, spent 40% of their income on taxes. And Jesus says to them, stop worrying. If he says that to them, can you imagine what he would say to us?

Most of us have bread in the pantry and milk in the refrigerator. Don't be strangled by your worries. God has the power to create your life. He has the power to take care of your life. Let me give you another reason Jesus says to run from worry.

Number two, worry depreciates your worth. Now before you read this next verse, get the scene into your mind. The Lord is sitting on a hillside.

People are sitting around and below him on this natural amphitheater above the sea. And birds are plentiful in this region. The Lord decides to make some of them his first illustration. Look at verse 26. He says, look at the birds of the air.

This is, by the way, a literal command. So he must have paused. Look at the birds of the air. And everybody looked, and he stopped while they looked.

Then he goes on. They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. John Stodd, who is now with the Lord, pastored All Souls Church in London for decades. He wrote in his commentary on this text, some readers may know that I happen to have been since boyhood an enthusiastic bird watcher. I know, of course, that bird watching is regarded by many as a rather eccentric pastime. They view the likes of me with some amusement.

But I claim biblical warrant for this activity, smiles as he writes. Consider the birds of the air, said Jesus. And this in basic English could be translated, watch birds. Be a bird watcher.

Indeed, now I will become serious. The Greek verb in this command means take a good look at the birds. Take a look at them. They're part of the antidote to anxiety. They don't plant gardens in your backyard. They don't harvest fields. They're not worried over barn building.

And yet they instinctively have been designed by God to gather food. By the way, if you do enjoy watching birds, my wife and I, I don't know if it's a sign of age. I'm getting older. She isn't.

I just want to clarify that. But we're watching birds. Many of you don't have time to watch birds. You're watching babies, right? They're fun too, especially grandbabies. Huh? Bring them on. Just a message to my kids. All right.

Excuse me. Marsha installed hummingbird feeders, several other feeders in our backyard, on the other side of that lush green strip that I talked about last Lord's Day. We can watch several different kinds of birds, wrens, chickadees, robins, bluebirds. In fact, before I came over here, I was leaving just a little before Marsha and I said, honey, it's a bluebird festival.

That's our code. We'll have five, six, seven, eight of them come and they're bathing in the birdbath and they're just stunning creatures. The creativity of God is incredible. The detail of their design, the color patterns in their wings and on their faces.

Here's the point. If God created them with the instinct needed to find the food they need, if God would do that and then design them so beautifully, a bird, a creature not created in his image, a creature not given the privilege of co-reigning with him, not created for intimate worship or personal fellowship. If God does all of that for a bird, imagine how he plans to take care of you. Notice what he says at the end of verse 26. Are you not of more value than they?

Your translation may render it. Are you not worth much more than they? This is really, really radical teaching, especially in our day and age. Human beings are worth more than the animal kingdom. God places a higher value and a greater priority on a human being than he does on an animal. Where in the world would you come up with that idea? Jesus. Can you imagine living in a country that reverses God's created order and places a higher value on an animal than a human being?

We're heading there, but you could travel with me as I have in the past to India where sacred cows meandered down the streets past starving children and I'd sit at a red light or be on the side of the road and wonder how much barbecue I could get out of that cow to feed those children. See that cow has more value than the life of those children. See worry does the same thing as an idolatrous culture. Jesus Christ says worry turns everything upside down. Worry steals your worth to God. Worry depreciates your God given value. And when you're strangled with worry, is it true?

Yes it is. You're tempted to believe that God cares more about that chickadee than he does his children. Worry distorts our perspective. Worry distorts our worth. Thirdly, worry destroys our productivity.

Look at verse 27. He goes on, and which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Your rendering may read which of you can add one cubit to his stature. The words used here can be understood either as a reference to a brief moment of time or an inch or in this case a cubit which is 18 inches.

Either way gets the point across. Worry won't make you live one hour longer. You can worry yourself to death. You'll never worry yourself to life. And worry will never grow you 18 inches taller.

I can remember as a boy, in fact I was the shortest boy in my class until 10th grade. Longing. Longing. Oh, an inch would have been marvelous. 18 inches would have been spectacular. My mother would make for me a milkshake nearly every night and we'd pour stuff in it that looked like sawdust and it tasted like sawdust too because I wanted to become big and strong and handsome.

And all three came true. That laughter was ill-timed I must say. Worry is absolutely non-productive energy. Like one author said, worry is like a rocking chair.

It gives you something to do but it never takes you anywhere. It becomes even more dangerous if it becomes your pastime. A.S. Roche wrote it this way, worry can become a thin stream of fear trickling through our mind and if we encourage it, it will cut a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.

And it becomes a way of life. Even worse, here's a fourth warning about worry. Worry denies your faith. Verse 28 he goes on, why are you anxious about clothing?

Consider the lilies of the field, 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 of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you? Oh, you of stunted faith, brittle faith.

So it denies our faith and trust in his providence. Now the Lord has pointed to the birds of the air and now I believe he literally sweeps his hand across the hillside at these wildflowers that are growing. The iris from what I've read, gladioli, scarlet poppy flourished on the landscape where Jesus taught. They bloomed in this glorious explosion of color and in that brief explosion of color, they put to shame even Solomon in all his glory.

Then what happened to them? Well, Jesus here takes us into a Middle Eastern kitchen. There's an oven made of clay. It's a clay box set upon clay bricks, a fire underneath.

When the women wanted to quickly provide a quick raise in temperature in their ovens, they would take a handful of these dried flowers and they'd throw them into the oven and it'd create this quick flash of heat. Again, the Lord's point is if God the Father so creatively designed something that's going to live for a short period of time before being cut down and used to heat an oven, how much more do you think he's going to take care of you who happen to be headed for an eternal life? That in fact has already begun here and now. See, worry isn't a trivial sin. It strikes a blow at the heart of God's love for us and his integrity in promising us care.

It denies our faith in a God who is trustworthy and sovereign. Worry then is essentially distrusting God. So let's review the case against worry. Number one, worry distorts our perspective. Worry depreciates our worth. Worry destroys productivity. Worry denies our faith.

One more. Worry denounces our testimony. Verse 31, therefore do not be anxious saying what shall we eat or what shall we drink or what shall we wear for the Gentiles, note this edition, seek after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. The point is the Gentiles, that's sort of an idiom in the scriptures for unbeliever, the unbelieving world is scrambling after this stuff. So it makes us different from the unbeliever if we're scrambling for it too. If we're as panic-stricken as they are, it just sort of draws the net into a verdict by basically asking are you going to live like, are you going to live for, are you going to scramble and scratch around like the unbeliever or are you going to act like a child of God who has a father that has given you an inheritance called heaven forever.

So how do we live? You ever thought about the fact that Jesus Christ never commands us to do something that's absolutely impossible with his help? If he commands us to stop worrying in this manner, it means it's possible to stop. We must have something the world doesn't have. So where do we start? Well, the Lord's clear antidote to worry is twofold.

Let me give you two thoughts we wrap this up. Number one, the first is to live with a sacred priority. Look at verse 33. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and these things will be added to you. Put simply, pursue the glory of God more than your own health, more than your own needs, more than your own hunger, more than your own desires. Make God matter more than anything or anyone else. In fact, the word for seek here is a great word. It's a word that comes out of the hunting world, hunting for game.

It involves the entirety of the hunter. Live with that kind of focus and reflex and attention and passion for God's glory. Worry takes a backseat when you live with that sacred priority. And by the way, the verb is in the present tense, which means you don't start out this way and you're good to go.

It means you do it all the time. The second part of the antidote is to not only live with the sacred priority but to live within a simple boundary. So practical is the Lord's advice.

Look at verse 34. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow. For tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. What a way to end your sermon on overcoming worry. Man, every day is filled with trouble.

Let's pray. Well here's the point. He's saying develop the art of living one day at a time because you cannot remove trouble from any one day. So draw a boundary around the limits of your concern.

That's how you can know if it's healthy or it's going to be destructive. If it's yesterday, it's outside the boundary. If it's tomorrow, it's outside the boundary.

You can't do anything about either. The antidote is living within the simple boundary. This is the point that Jesus is making. Don't pull tomorrow's troubles into today's deposit of mercy and strength and grace.

If you bring yesterday's griefs and tomorrow's troubles into today's grace, you'll exceed the weight limit. Don't be strangled by worry. Be set free to worship.

How? By living with the sacred priority God matters more than anything or anyone and living within the simple boundary one day at a time. Well I hope this lesson was encouraging to you, especially if you're someone who's prone to worry.

Remember that God matters more than anything or anyone and he's given you the grace you need for today. This is Wisdom for the Heart with your Bible teacher, Stephen Davey. The lesson you just heard is entitled Strangled by Worry. Would it help you to be able to listen to this message again?

Maybe there's somebody the Lord brings to your mind who struggles with worry and would be blessed by receiving a copy of this message. If that's the case, we have it available for you in a couple of ways. This lesson is posted on our website which you'll find at

It's also on our smartphone app that you can install on your iPhone or Android device. But if you'd like a CD of this series to add to your resource library or share with a friend, give us a call today at 866-48-BIBLE. We can give you information on how you can get it. If this would be your first time to contact our ministry, please inquire about the gift we send to first-time callers. We want to send you the next three issues of Stephen's magazine. The magazine is called Heart to Heart. Each month Stephen provides insights to help you walk wisely through life. Once again, ask how you can get the next three issues when you call us at 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. If you'd like to send a note to Stephen, you can address your email to info at You can also write to us at Wisdom International, P.O. Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. I hope we hear from you. Tomorrow Stephen deals with the topic of integrity, so join us for that here on Wisdom for the Heart. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-15 00:07:53 / 2024-04-15 00:17:16 / 9

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