We live in worrisome times. Anxiety disorders effect 42.5 million people in our country.  Half of all young adults between 18-24 report anxiety and depression symptoms. Ninety percent of the public believes there is a mental health crisis right now! We’re worried about how many people are worried.

In the midst of military, moral, and financial instability, the words of Jesus are timely. “Stop worrying”, he says. The ancient Jewish sage challenges us in Luke 12 to discontinue our ruts of angst and fear. Worry is not solved by better times, but by a God who cares. In Matthew 6, Luke 11, and Philippians 4, we connect to the gracious character of God by praying. Let’s assume you’re already praying! Luke 12, then adds some other behaviors that are helpful ways for us to remember this God who cares. Jesus gives the general command in Luke 12:22, “Do not continue to worry about your life”. And then he summarizes his advice in verse 32, “Do not continue in fear, because your Father delights to give you his kingdom.” How can we remember our Father’s delight when the fretting starts? Jesus gives three practices: consider nature, give to the needy, and stay ready for action.

First, Jesus says we should consider nature.  This is not just for “tree-huggers.” King Jesus commands it. He says, “Consider the ravens: they don’t plant or harvest, they don’t have storage or barns, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than birds!” (Luke 12:24) Do you ever watch birds? There are jokes going around on the internet that caring about birds is a sign of old age. But according to Jesus, it’s a sign of wisdom and positive mental health! Jesus also says to enjoy flowers. “Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t work or sew. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his beauty was clothed like one of these! …how much more will God do for you?” (Luke 12:27-28)  My son shared a song with me by Jon Guerra that helps me remember this, “I lose my faith by the hour or day, and I want to call quits. Would you help me hear it? You said the lilies are prettier than Solomon, I don’t gotta worry about tomorrow. And the little birds they don’t ever ever work. I don’t gotta worry about tomorrow. Even in napalm or a nuclear bomb. I don’t worry about tomorrow”. Do you believe it? Jesus says considering nature helps us to remember this truth.

The second practice Jesus commands is giving to the needy. It’s a major theme of Luke. Christians break the power that stuff has over us by giving our stuff away. Christians give cheerfully because Jesus joyfully gave himself to us! (2 Corinthians 8:9&9:7) Jesus says, “Sell your stuff and give to the poor. Make wallets for yourselves that won’t wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:33-34)  As we practice generosity to those in need, it helps us remember how Jesus did so for us, and it deepens our faith that eternity with Jesus is our true treasure. A great way to stop worrying about tomorrow, is to help someone else have a better tomorrow, and help someone else know about the hope that Jesus provides for eternity. “Instead, seek His kingdom, and these other things will be added to you.”

The third practice has a surprise twist. Jesus says that anxiety can be repelled as we stay ready for action. “Be ready for service and keep your lights on.” (Luke 12:35) Jesus echoes this in Matthew 24-25. Instead of selfish anxiety, we shouldd spend our lives and talents serving others because we have a gracious master. A great way to minimize fear is to take decisive and faith-filled action on behalf of others. Are you staying ready for action? Do you believe the master is gracious? This last parable Jesus gives about serving surprises us. “Happy are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I tell you, he will dress himself for service and have them rest at the table, and he will come and serve them.” (Luke 12:37)  He will serve us! We have a Father who delights to give us his kingdom. He proved it by the life, death, and resurrection of His Son!

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Dave McMurry

Author Dave McMurry

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