Securities and Exchange
March 29, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Topic: Anxiety Verse: Luke 12:22–12:34
Theme: Anxiety results from looking to ourselves instead of God.
Introduction: Our sophistication and “societal accomplishments” have lured us into the illusion of invulnerability. Especially in the US where we know undisputed domination over every other nation in the world. Yet, despite the affluence, luxury, and technology, we are a society filled with anxiety. Every worry imaginable has a disorder named for it – obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, arachnophobia, claustrophobia, acrophobia, aquaphobia, atychiphobia, and even coronaphobia and on and on it goes. Treatment for such things is a multi-billion dollar business and usually merely masks the impact of such fears through drugs without ever bringing an overcoming peace and victory. Jesus in our passage addresses the issue of worry by calling people to look to someone outside of themselves and their own resources for hope. He teaches us that anxiety results from looking to ourselves instead of God.
I. Don't Worry! – You Are Prioritized by God – 12:22-24
A. The Corrupted Priorities of Sinners – vv. 22-23
- The problem of our attention being consumed with temporal, earthly, material priorities keeping us from pursuing the priorities of God and His glory is serious.
- In the previous section, Jesus addressed the emptiness of living for selfish promotion and materialistic fulfillment.
- He now elaborates on the benefits of seeking to be “rich toward God” that He had advocated in v. 21.
- The phrase: “And He said to His disciples …” indicates that he was broadcasting this as a statement of authority to all who followed Him – including us.
- He then states “For this reason I say to you …” – a reference to the watershed that exists between being consumed with earthly priorities and heavenly priorities – Matthew 6:24.
- Because of our flesh, we constantly wrestle with the tyranny of the immediate concerns that marginalize spiritual, heavenly priorities.
- Hence Jesus says “do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”
- The structure of Jesus command indicates the presupposition that we are consumed with such priorities – “worry” [μεριμνᾶτε] – Present Act. Imperative means to “stop being worried …”
- The reason is clearly provided: “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”
- Earlier, Jesus had indicated that life does not consist of the abundance of what we possess – and here he clearly indicates that life, true life, is far more than material provisions – cp. 1 Timothy 6:8; Romans 14:17.
B. The Clarifying Priorities of God – v. 24
- Jesus provides the rationale for not being consumed with temporal priorities – “Consider the raven, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them …”
- “Ravens” [κόραξ] – a reference to an unclean fowl – a bird that is very low in esteem and is a reference to birds generally as Israel is a major location on the flyway between Africa and Eurasia with hundreds of millions of birds passing through Israel every year.
- Such birds do not obsess over provisions – they don’t prepare by sowing or reaping or storing things in a barn – “… and yet God feeds them.”
- Jesus then warms our hearts by assuring us that we are of greater priority to God than these unclean birds so faithfully cared for by God – “… how much more valuable you are than the birds!”
- This does not advocate for laziness, slothfulness, or recklessness in living responsibly, but rather speaks to the overall and underpinning perspective of trusting God – cp. Psalm 23:1; 34:10; 37:25.
What makes your life about more than material things?
How do you know that you are more valuable to God than birds?
How does man’s value to God bring assurance in time of difficulty or disease?
II. Don’t Worry! – You Are Provided for by God – 12:25-28
A. The Limitation of Self-Provision – vv. 25-26
- Jesus then addresses the futility of anxiety – what does it really do to provide for the things that you lack?
- He says: “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?”
- We live in a day where people are obsessed with health – and being disciplined and moderate in diet, exercise, and behaviors is a good thing.
- However, there are some who idolize physique, diet, and nutrition to the point of haughtiness and despising of others who fail to conduct themselves just as they do.
- Bodily exercise and nutrition are both helpful in self-discipline but are both outstripped and overshadowed by the greater priority of godliness – cp. 1 Timothy 4:7-8.
- Scripture tells us that God has established our days and we cannot extend our lives one-moment longer (“a single hour”) by “worrying.”
- If that is true, and we “cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?” – such as food and clothing?
- “Their heavenly Father will sustain the lives of those who obey His Word until the end of their God-determined time. On the other hand, sin may shorten that time from what it might have been (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:29-30; 1 John 5:16).”
B. The Limitlessness of Sovereign Provision – vv. 27-28
- Even as our resources as underwhelming and insufficient to provide for ourselves, God’s resources are limitless.
- Jesus points to the fields around the crowd to all of the wildflowers that were decorating the hillsides around them and said: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither oil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.”
- The beauty of the “lilies” [κρίνον] – a term that can be used to describe the wonderful blooms that adorn the fields of Galilee and grow as wildflowers.
- They just “spring up” without anyone tending to them, sowing them, cultivating them, etc. … - they are merely a work of God.
- But they are of greater beauty than what the wealthiest, wisest, most capable of men are able to produce.
- “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you?” – God is not restricted in his resources and can do far more than what any man is able to do in providing for the needs of His children – cp. 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 4:19.
- These realities cause us to all the more responsible to not look to ourselves and our own resources but to realize that God delights in providing for us – “You men of little faith!”
Worry cannot accomplish anything – why is it that we so readily engage in it?
Can you reflect on how anxiety and worry about something recently has actually been a lack of faith?
What confidence does Jesus provide in these verses that enable us to be confident?
III. Don't Worry! You Are Privileged by God – 12:29-34
A. The Privilege of God’s Paternity – vv. 29-30
- As the people of God, we have the distinct privilege of being under God’s direct care.
- Jesus continues here by exhorting us to simply trust the good heart and benevolent hand of God – “And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying.”
- Such anxiety is characteristic of those who have no heavenly Father – “For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but you Father knows that you need these things.”
- To anxiously obsess over what you need expresses a foolish dismissal of God and His promises to provide for His own.
- Pagan people – “nations of the world” – do all kinds of things to seek to induce their gods to provide for them and yet have no guarantee that they will come through.
- Our God is a faithful Father who “knows that you need these things,” and actively cares for His own – Matthew 7:11; Psalm 84:11; Isaiah 63:7; James 1:17.
B. The Privilege of Godly Pursuits – v. 31-34
- Given the privilege of knowing God’s faithful provision for us as our Heavenly Father, we also have the privilege of seeking His glory in our circumstances – “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
- Jesus here declares if our greater concern was how our lives can bring glory to God, how God’s work in providing for us can bring Himself glory, and His fame be spread for the ways that He works to meet our needs, all of the things we would otherwise so covet will be ours.
- If God has made the kingdom available to us – as a gift – how will He not provide everything for us? – “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” – cp. Romans 8:32.
- Hence, we ought to rid ourselves of anything that obstructs our full hearted commitment to the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom in our lives – “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.”
- This is not a command that serves as some point of entry or litmus test for our salvation – but rather a comparative statement designed to confront the obsessions with the temporal as opposed to the eternal – cp. Luke 18:24-25.
- Are we to live for the temporal, earthly indulgences and comforts or for the eternal heavenly blessings and rewards – “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
- Salvation is for those who see what is to come as a greater priority than the here and now; who see the joys of heaven the greater delight than the pleasures on earth.,
What causes the “nations of the world” to possess anxiety in the face of their need?
What distinguishes you from those who cannot be confident in God?
How have you recently demonstrated a priority on the Kingdom of God that He has granted to us over the fears and pursuits of the world?