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TEXT: Isaiah 43:1-3a

SUBJECT: Gospel Changes #38: Worry

What are worried about? Is it your health or your kids? Is it making the rent or keeping your job? Is it getting married or saving the marriage you have? What are you worried about?

I didn't ask if you were worried. I didn't ask you that because I know you are. Not everyone is eaten up by worry, of course, but no one is entirely free from it either. Some worry a little; some worry a lot; some worry sometimes; some worry all the time. Worry-like God-is no respecter of persons. It torments some of us and touches us all.

Worry is not a good thing. Doctors can tell you that, because worry is behind a great many health problems, from hypertension to overeating, insomnia, depression and things even worse than these.


Mostly, worry is a spiritual problem. Because, in the first place, God commands you not to worry. Psalm 37:1, for example, says-

Fret not because of evil doers.

They make up a big part of our worries, don't they? The overbearing boss, the creepy neighbor, the son who won't get off his.couch and look for a job. The Psalm tells us not to worry about them, but we do.

We also worry about keeping our jobs, paying our bills, sending our kids to college, and having something to live on when we retire. Jesus tells us not to do this, Matthew 6:25-

Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.

Re-read the list and you'll see there's nothing extravagant on it; no luxuries, no high end food, no fancy cars, no mink coats. Our Lord lived in a mostly poor society. People weren't worrying about vacation homes, but things a little more basic: food, drink, and clothing.

Because these are things we all need, they're also things we worry about. But our Lord says, 'Don't'!

Philippians 4:6 is also a key verse. It says-

Be anxious for nothing.

The command takes your breath away. Nothing? Never be anxious for anything? No matter what happens to you or to people you love or to your country, the economy or the government, don't worry about it? Right. That's what it says, and that's what it means.

Should we be concerned about things? Of course we should be. Jesus was no stoic philosopher, unmoved by evil and suffering, and no one could read the prophets and think they were indifferent to the problems all around them, but the command remains in place-

Be anxious for nothing!


Don't worry. Worry is wrong, therefore, because the Bible tells you not to. It is also wrong because it is inconsistent with trusting God, living in the present, and loving others.

Whatever else 'worry' is, what it mostly is is fear of the future. We regret yesterday; we worry about tomorrow. But God doesn't tell us to worry about tomorrow, He tells us to trust Him for tomorrow and forever.

But reason tells us there are so many things to worry about. Yes, it does, because there are many things to worry about. But Proverbs 3:5 says-

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding.

There is nothing utopian about trusting God for the future. Isaiah 43:1-3 assumes the future will be not altogether pleasant. It will include-

Passing through waters (the reference is the Red Sea), and walking through the fire (possibly a reminder of the Three Hebrew Children).

Crossing a River 200 feet deep and passing through flames hot enough to kill the men who threw me in does not sound safe, easy, or fun. But God has appointed these things for us, and when we go through them, He tells us to trust Him-

Fear not.

Worry about the future is also contrary to living in the moment. I know this has a kind of New Age ring to it, but it is what the Bible teaches, Matthew 6:34-

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Every day presents enough problems to occupy your time. Don't neglect the things you can do something about to worry about the things you can't do anything about. Live in the present. That's what our Savior tells us to do, and what worry keeps you from doing.

Worry also keeps you from loving others; at least loving them the way you ought to love them. Worry is time-consuming and sucks the energy out of us. The time and energy we spend doing it could be spent loving others. Rather than worrying about whether your kids will get into college in four years, take them out for a milkshake tonight. Rather than worrying about dying, live!

Worry is a lot worse than we think it is. It is more than a medical problem or an emotional issue. It is a sin, a deforming of our character, and a dishonor to Christ.

We mustn't be worriers! No worry is justified, but to live in it-to be characterized by it-is unworthy of a Christian and a stupid way to live!


But, of course, you know all this, you've heard it a hundred times from the pulpit and preached it to yourself a million times! But we keep on worrying. I do; I even worry about worrying. And then worry about worrying about worry! The wheel keeps turning.

Knowing you ought to stop worrying won't change anything. Feeling guilty about your worries won't either. Neither will being hammered in the pulpit every Sunday.

The only thing that will make you stop worrying is.the Gospel. How? Here's what I thought of.


In the first place, the Gospel nullifies worry by telling me that God is for me. Believing in the sovereignty of God is wonderfully comforting.if you know the God who controls the future is on your side. If you're not so sure, the future is a horror.

What does the Gospel say about God? It says He is for us. This is the climax of Paul's great argument for the Gospel in Romans. After telling us why we need the Gospel, that God has supplied what we need, and how it all works, he dares us to live in its joy and security, Romans 8:31-

If God be for us, who can be against us?

He never says 'bad things won't happen', plenty of bad things will happen, but through them all, God is on our side! All of His wrath was poured out on our Substitute, Jesus Christ, and now there is nothing for us but His love and approval.

The Gospel says, God is for us, and if He is, how can the future frighten us?

In the second place, the Gospel nullifies worry by telling me God will stop at nothing to secure me and my everlasting happiness. There's nothing He won't do for us. Psalm 23 says-

The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want.

'I shall not want' means 'be in need of anything'. Because He is wiser than I, I may want things He will not give, but there's nothing I need He won't supply.

The Gospel proves this. Romans 8:32-

He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Paul is reasoning from the greater to the lesser. Rabbis often did this, and it's a persuasive argument. If God is generous enough to give us His Son, why would He be stingy with lesser things?

The Gospel is not only about God's love and justice, it is also about His generosity! Reasoning from this stupendous gift, Paul reminds worriers-

God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

In the third place, the Gospel says your short-term future is not as bad as it seems. Bad things will happen to you in the future, maybe a lot of them and soon. We don't know what or when, how many or how long they will last.

But, by meditating on the Gospel, we know that bad things are not altogether bad. That even the cross had its 'good side' you might say. Paul said even the Son learned obedience through the things He suffered. How a perfectly obedient man becomes even more perfect, I don't know, but it's what the Bible teaches.

If pain and sorrow were good for Jesus (in some way), they're also good for us. They humble us; they re-direct us; they get our priorities right; they make us trust and love God. This is why Paul, speaking of his own sufferings, said-

These light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are working in us an eternal weight of glory.

Finally, the Gospel negates worry by saying your long-term future is bright and sure. Jesus is the first fruits of those who sleep. But not the last. United to Him by faith, we will share in His Resurrection. How many problems does Jesus have? How many health issues? How many stresses at work? None. Jesus is beyond all tears, sorrows, griefs, and worries. And, in union with Him what He has now, we will soon have. And forever.

The Story of Salvation, therefore, is like a fairy tale. It starts off good, gets really bad and scary and awful, but somehow or other, they all lived happily ever after.

I don't know what your short-term future will be. It may be great, good, fair, bad, atrocious, or worse than that. But in the long term-

The end of that man is peace.

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