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A PRESCRIPTION FOR ANXIETY Values

By Russell Reyes,2014-06-17 04:08
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A PRESCRIPTION FOR ANXIETY Values ...

A PRESCRIPTION FOR ANXIETY: Values

    Matthew 6:25-26

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Introduction

A reporter once asked famed British writer G. K. Chesterton: “If you were a minister and

    had only one sermon to preach, what would it be about?” Without hesitating a moment,

    Chesterton shot back, “I would preach on worry.” Worry or anxiety plagues our culture and our lives. We have to learn how to deal with it.

    But how?

Jamaican Bobbie McFerrin wrote it some time ago. I heard it on the radio only last week:

Here’s a little song I wrote,

     You might want to sing it note for note,

    Don’t worry, be happy!

    In your life there may be trouble,

     When you worry you make it double,

    Don’t’ worry, be happy!

    Ain’t got no place to lay your head?

     Somebody came and took your bed?

    Don’t worry, be happy!

    Landlord said your rent is late,

     He might have to litigate!

    Don’t worry, be happy!

Nice sentiment, but how do you do it?

    The song offers no clues; it just admonishes. What‟s the missing ingredient? Over the next several weeks we begin a series of sermons entitled A PRESCRIPTION FOR ANXIETY. We will be looking in an in-depth way at Matthew 6:25-34 and the lessons

    Jesus teaches us about how to deal with worry and anxiety.

Now let‟s get something straight from the start. Jesus is not advocating simply not

    thinking about the future or a reckless neglect of tomorrow. Jesus, I dare to say, would

    not be opposed to pensions and life insurance. Needs need to be met and the writer of

    Proverbs admonishes us to take wisdom from the ant and prepare for the winters of life.

    That is not the worry he speaks about here even though some translations make it sound

    that way (i.e. “Take no thought for your life…” –KJV). No, we need to understand this little word „thought‟ or „worry‟ or whatever word your

    English Bible translates here. The word in the Greek is merimnao and it comes from a

    root words merizo that has a fascinating meaning. It means „to distract one‟s attention

    from something‟ or „to divide ones attention.‟ Let me illustrate. The word is used in

    Luke 10:41 in a story we are all familiar with. It is the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus

    has entered their house to take a much needed break from ministry in their midst, perhaps

to sleep, retreat and definitely to eat something to nourish the body. But he ends up

    feeding the soul of Mary who sits at his feet and listens. But Mary is “distracted with

    much serving.” (v. 40) She is thinking about physical food (very much needed, don‟t

    get me wrong; but this is not the time or place for physical food when Jesus is giving

    spiritual food) and is distracted from the main thing. Jesus says to her: “Martha, Martha,

    you are worried (there is the word) and troubled about many things. But one thing is

    needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

    Mary found „the good part‟ and that is what we need to find in dealing with worry and

    anxiety. Worry and anxiety attempt to distract us. Let‟s look together at what they try to

    distract us from and we will find that missing ingredient we spoke of earlier.

The second thing anxiety does is divide us. Charlie Brown and Linus are talking. Linus

    says, “Life is difficult isn‟t it, Charlie Brown?” Charlie Brown says, “Yes, it is. But I‟ve

    developed a new philosophy…I only dread one day at a time!” Dread, worry, anxiety

    divides us even when we do it one day at a time.

So how do we deal with this thing called anxiety? What are the prescriptions of Jesus?

    The first has to do with values. Listen to the text once more:

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. Is not life more than

    food and the body more than clothing?

     26 "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into

    barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

The main idea is this, expressed in two ways: We have values and we are valuable to

    God. Don‟t forget that. If we have the right values and realize we are valuable to God,

    we can center on the main thing and not be distracted for divided.

I The Value of the Look or the Life? Verse 25.

Jesus expresses that with this statement in verse 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. Is not life more than

    food and the body more than clothing?

Jesus makes a statement then asks a question. His statement is this: Don‟t be distracted

    by food or drink or clothing. Then he asks a question based on that statement: Is not life

    more important? Go to the core. Go to the center. Go to the essential. It‟s about the life

    you live, not the life you wear, eat or drink. It‟s what theologian Paul Tillich calls matter

    of „ultimate concern.‟

Many of you watched the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics from Beijing, China. It

    was spectacular! Estimations are that they spent millions to put on that show for all the

world to see. Part of that show was a little girl who sang a beautiful song. It was lovely.

    But it was only later that we learned something about what we saw and what we thought

    we heard. She was lip syncing. There was another little girl who had been picked to sing

    that song, but before she went on she was deemed by the powers that were: „not cute enough.‟ So a cuter girl was put on to lip sink the song. Hearing this I immediately

    thought about the little girl who wasn‟t deemed cute enough. What did that do to her

    value? You see they were all about the look instead of the life!! They were distracted

    and divided by the impression instead of the reality.

Go to the core. Go to the center. Go to the essential. Don‟t get distracted by the look

    instead of the life! Find the ultimate concern!

     2000 years ago a homely little man in Athens died because he asked dangerous

    questions. His audiences were very small; yet there is no literate person in the world

    today who has not heard of Socrates. This gadfly, that is what they called him, was about

    getting to the core, getting to the center, getting to the essential. The outward had no hold

    on him. People didn‟t like what he said because they were. And so they got rid of him.

    Or did they?

     There was another man in Assisi who lived in poverty yet comforted the poor and

    the sick. He wasn‟t distracted by clothes, food or drink. All over the world this man‟s

    heart is still seen in the brown robbed order of St. Francis of Assisi. His message didn‟t

    die with him. It is outliving him.

     In our past century, not too far back, there was a simply clothed brown little man

    named Mohandas Gandhi. He found the center. He found the essential. He called it

    „truth force.‟ That truth force enabled him with non-violent means to create a new nation

    in India. It remains to this day.

     Ardis Whitman tells the story of his father. His father was a kind and gentle

    country minister in Nova Scotia. He didn‟t have money or fame. “No one,” writes Ardis,

    “I am sure, was ever afraid of him.” When he turned 64 years old, he decided to retire.

    When word got out about his retirement, he received a letter from a church official in one

    of his old parishes. The letter said this: “We hear that you will soon be retiring. Would

    you come and settle here? We feel that we‟d be a better community and better neighbors for having a man whose life is so genuine living among us.” Did you hear that? Let me

    read it again: Would you come and settle here? We feel that we‟d be a better community

    and better neighbors for having a man whose life is so genuine living among us.”

Here is a man who went to the core, who went to the center, who captured the essential.

    He wasn‟t distracted by the look instead of the life. Don‟t get distracted (worried or

    anxious) about the look instead of the life!

II The Value of our Lives to God V. 26.

Let‟s move to the second value that Jesus reminds us of in our text today. Listen as I read

    verse 26:

26 "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into

    barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Jesus invites us all to look. Remember. We are still in the Sermon on the Mount. They

    are out of doors. Jesus turns to an illustration right before their eyes: birds of the air. Do

    you see them sowing seed in fields? Do you see them reaping and gathering into barns?

    Yet they are cared for by a heavenly Father. Now think about your value for a moment

    asks Jesus.

Do you realize you are valuable to God? Don‟t you just love going to restaurants where

    waitresses wait on you and call you sweet names like „honey‟ and „sweetie‟ and „love‟?

    Ellen and I were at a local restaurant the other day and a waitress came to our table to

    take our orders. When she got mine she said to me, “Thank you Sweetie!” And then she

    moved on. After she left the table I smiled and looked at Ellen and said, “I‟m a Sweetie!”

We are all Sweeties! We have value in the eyes of God!

     Many years ago, Goldie Hawn recited a poem on TV entitled “Here‟s to the Kids

    Who are Different.” It was written by Digby Wolfe, an Emmy Award-winning writer

    who penned it in 1982. It talks about our value in the eyes of our Heavenly Father:

     Here’s to the kids who are different,

     The kids who don’t always get A’s,

     The kids who have ears twice the size of their peers,

     And noses that go on for days…

     Here’s to the kids who are different,

     The kids they call crazy or dumb,

     The kids who don’t fit, with the guts and the grit,

     Who dance to a different drum…

     Here’s to the kids who are different,

     The kids with the mischievous streak,

     For when they have grown, as history’s shown,

     It’s their difference that makes them unique. We have value in the eyes of God and as he cares for the birds He will care for us who

    are of more value than simple birds. And if he cares for the birds, won‟t he care for you

    and me?

In 1904 Mrs. Civilla Martin visited a bedridden Christian friend. Martin asked the

    woman if she ever got discouraged because of her physical condition. Her friend

    responded quickly. “Why, Mrs. Martin, how can I be discouraged when my heavenly

    Father watches over each little sparrow and I know He loves and cares for me.” Within a

    few minutes, Civilla Martin had written these lines:

    Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,

    Why should my heart be lonely and long for Heav‟n and home,

When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:

    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me;

    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.”

    I sing because I‟m happy; I sing because I‟m free. For his eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.”

We are valuable in the eyes of God. He‟ll take care of us. Don‟t get distracted!

Conclusion

The book Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen, includes a story

    about an American couple who went to Bangkok, Thailand on vacation. While they were

    there, they visited the temple of the Golden Buddha to see a huge statue of the Buddha

    made of pure gold. A monk at the temple told them this story about the Golden Buddha:

    Several hundred years ago, Thailand was invaded by Burma. Before the Burmese troops

    overran the city, the monks covered the Golden Buddha, made of pure gold, with about

    six inches of clay to hide this precious treasure from the invaders and then they fled for

    their lives. Eventually, other monks came and reopened the temple and prayed in front of

    a huge clay Buddha. They worshiped before the clay Buddha for centuries without

    knowing that beneath the clay there was a beautiful Golden Buddha. About 1957,

    Bangkok was building a new highway, and they had to move the temple. When they

    lifted the statue of the Buddha with a very large crane, the clay began to crack open. One

    of the monks looked in a crack and saw something glistening. He began to chip away the

    clay and discovered to his complete surprise a beautiful priceless Golden Buddha beneath

    the clay covering. For all those years there was a Golden Buddha beneath the clay, but

    no one knew it.

    Don‟t get distracted by the clay in life. Value life over the look and remember we are sweeties to God!

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