Biblical hope can encourage us, despite the reality of suffering in our lives

Wednesday, September 4, 2013, Part 1

“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? 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? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:25-34).

IDEA: Teaching the Bible requires both balance and an awareness of listeners.

PURPOSE: To help listeners be aware of how difficult it is for teachers to apply the Bible accurately.

We have been discussing the section of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus tells us not to worry (Matthew 6:25-34). I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve begun to worry. Why?

I. I worry about what we have said about worry. Teaching the Bible demands both balance and accuracy.

Balance is needed because all truth is held in tension. We are tempted to ignore the tension in order to teach the truth in a passage more easily.

Accuracy is needed because there is a temptation to say what the text may not be saying. Why? We want to make a point that appeals to us.

We can take a verse out of its context.

We imply that what we are teaching is all there is to say on the subject.

We may say in the name of God what the Bible does not say.

II. There are different kinds of listeners who listen to us.

There is the Alfred E. Newman listener from MAD magazine: “What, me worry?” He is carefree and not concerned about anything much at all and believes that every Christian should always be as happy as he is. Worry is no problem at all.

There is the hyper-sensitive Mary. She takes other people’s burdens seriously. She worries about her grandchildren, the economy, what happens to people in Africa, and if she will have enough money for her retirement.

How does she hear the words of Jesus telling her not to worry? She begins to worry about disobeying Jesus’ counsel not to worry.

There’s Hurting Harry: He is a balanced young Christian, but one day one of his sons, swimming in a river, dived into the water and hit a rock he didn’t know was there and severed his spine. He will be paralyzed for the rest of his life.

How does Harry hear what we have been saying about worry? We’ve said that it is a reflection of a lack of faith and that it’s useless to worry. He responds, “You’re kidding. I can’t stop worrying, and if you were in my place, you would worry, too.”

Conclusion:

We want to help listeners, not hurt them or add unnecessary burdens on them. We worry about that.