Don’t Worry, Give Thanks / Thanksgiving Eve

Matthew 6:25-33

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear . . .”?

What are you worried about today? If you’re like most people, you’re probably worried about your weight. That might not be at the top of your list, but according to a survey that’s the # 1 concern for most people. Here are the Top Ten Worries counting down from #10 to #1:

  1. Diet
    9. Job security
    8. Rent/mortgage payment
    7. Credit card debt
    6. Low energy level
    5. Overdrafts and loans
    4. Overall fitness
    3. Lack of savings/financial future
    2. Growing old
    1. Overweight

Don’t you think it’s ironic that on Thanksgiving Eve when we’re worried most of all about eating too much, our text for today should begin like this: Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear? Many of us would say, Thank the Lord. He’s giving us permission to indulge and not feel guilty.

Jesus begins by saying don’t worry about what you eat, at least, the thing we most worry about is their weight. Wonder how we’d come out if we took a survey? Fortunately, our text tonight isn’t on gluttony, but on worry, which is a really a big issue in many people’s lives.

I’m not going to ask you to raise your hand if you’re a worrier. Not many of us, thank God, have to worry about our life, what we will eat or drink; or about our body, what we will wear. But we treasure Christ’s words nonetheless: Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? He asks. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do we worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They don’t have a job. Yet not even King Solomon was dressed like one of these. If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe us? So don’t worry. The pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that we need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Let’s begin here: Worry is a destructive force in our lives that rarely does any good. Wouldn’t you agree? I read somewhere that about 40% of all adults suffer health problems due to worry and stress, and about 50% of all visits to primary care physicians are stress-related disorders. Worry is a destructive force in our lives that rarely does any good. The same survey that asked people what they worry about also asked people how much time they spend worrying. Here’s what they found out:

Each week, we spend approximately 14½ hours worrying. That equals 744 hours of worry each year. Which turns into 45,243 hours of worry over a lifetime. That equals 1,885 days in a lifetime spent doing nothing but worrying. Which means that we spend 5.2 years of life captured by worry. That’s a lot of time feeling tied up in knots fretting about something that’s probably not going to happen anyway.

Do you know why many people worry? We’ve talked about this before but bear with me. Worry is a substitute for faith. Worry does for some people what faith does for others. Have you ever heard anybody say, don’t tell me it doesn’t help to worry? Most of the things I worry about never happen! They really mean that. Some people are genuinely concerned that if they fail to worry, the things that they fear will happen.

So, some people worry because, in a primitive way, they believe it keeps danger away. In a sense they’re substituting worry for God. But there’s a better way to deal with your life.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving. The best preventive to worry is to focus your mind on giving thanks to God.  We must believe that we can trust God to handle any situation that we may confront and then relax. God’s resources are greater than our resources. Live our lives in perpetual praise to God for God’s goodness, and fear and worry will melt away.

Worry and trust can’t live in the same house. When worry is allowed to come in one door, trust walks out the other door; and worry stays until trust is invited in again, whereupon worry walks out. Think about that for just a moment.

Notice Jesus’ words in today’s text: Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Do you see why we’re not to worry? It’s because we’re valuable to God.

Do you believe that you’re valuable to God? The God who created the heavens and the earth and everything that exists upon it cares about you. What are you worried about? The birds don’t sow or reap or store food, and yet our heavenly Father feeds them. Then He adds a very practical warning: Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? No, we can’t, but we can sure take many hours, days, months or even years off of our lives by indulging in an exercise that can poison every cell in our body. That’s worry.

There’s a popular Bible App from an organization called YouVersion, that allows you to read or listen to the Bible on your cell phone. I downloaded it and I know several others who have. This app has 400 million users worldwide. Recently the group that produced this app announced that the most popular Bible verse from this past year on this app was Philippians 4:6 which reads like this in the New Living Translation: Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. That’s the most popular verse in the Bible according to this survey: Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He’s done.

That’s the secret to a worry-free life. You can’t maintain a spirit of gratitude and a spirit of anxiety at the same time.

Or we can think of it this way: I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, I am gasping for breath, these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely, this are my native air.

When doctors tell you that you have only three months to live, there’s no such thing as a bad day. Think about that for a moment. If you only had three months to live, wouldn’t you appreciate every one of them? That’s when you start appreciating life.

Look at the birds of the air; they don’t sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? That’s the primary reason to give thanks today. We are of value to God. He cares so much about us that He gave His beloved Son in our behalf. Don’t worry about a thing. Relax in the knowledge that God loves all of us.