“What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.” A. W. Tozer

Sermon #87: Don't Worry. Be Joyful!

This sermon is, at least as far as I am concerned, very important. By the way, I never publish anything unless I am convinced that it will benefit at least one person, and I hope that you will find the teaching contained in this sermon not only useful, but also practical.

I must say that I find it extremely amazing that a number of people choose to ignore very clear and valuable instructions; and these people obviously do so to their own disadvantage.

I will start with a very clear instruction that Jesus Christ gave his disciples. It says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry…” (Matthew 6:25, NIV).

I love this. Clear. No ambiguity. No exceptions. Jesus said, “Do not worry.”

Is this instruction flexible? No; it’s rigid. It says, “Do not.” It does not say, "You may not..." You are instructed never to worry, whatever your personal circumstances might be. You sure need to give yourself some time to reflect on this.

I know that there are people who, after reading the above verse, rush to say, “It’s not possible,” and that mentality is the very reason some people are worrying themselves to death right now; real death, I mean.

You are free to choose how you want to live your life. You are also free to choose where you want to live. You could opt for Wonderland; alternatively, you could opt for Worryland. The choice is yours. But whichever place you choose to live in, you need to first convince yourself why you have to live there!

You need to grow yourself into the kind of person Jesus expects of you. I know that many people can't help worrying but the truth is that their worrying actually never accomplishes anything positive for them. So why hold on to worry if it is counterproductive?

“Don't worry,” Jesus Christ instructs us.

If you continue to read the verse a little further you will note that Jesus went on to teach that you should not worry about what you will eat or drink, etc. This, however, does not mean that you are expected to be loafing around waiting for manna from heaven. It actually means that you should never waste your time worrying; instead, you should use it to engage in useful activity. There indeed is a strong work ethic contained in some of the teachings of the Bible.

Jesus Christ values work and hates worry. Worry is not work; nobody has ever profited from it. In reality, many people have suffered great loss because of it!

Amongst your friends and relatives you sure could easily pick out experts at worry. I call them “accomplished worry warriors”. All these people do is brood over their circumstances. They are always sullen, with faces deliberately disfigured, always sighing, always hissing, shaking their heads and talking to nobody. And these people think they are doing themselves service!

But why does Jesus Christ detest worry this much? Why did He teach against it? Why do I accept His teaching? Why should you accept it too?

Just listen to this: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27, NIV). That’s exactly the point!

Jesus Christ expects you to always engage yourself in activities that are beneficial. Worrying is certainly not one of such activities. I am yet to see a man or woman who can stand up and testify that they got something positive by worrying. But I have already seen a lot of people who have been destroyed by it!

I am yet to see a man or woman who has managed to solve their problems by worrying. But I have seen that everybody who befriends worry only adds to their problems.

If you are facing one problem and all you do is worry about it, then you add many more problems that you might even end up with at least five more, sometimes with each additional problem bigger than the original!

It’s common to hear somebody say, “I can’t find sleep; I am so worried,” and they say so as though they would be talking about something cute. Can one solve problems by going without sleep? No.

You find that after spending a week without sleeping the person’s problems are still sticking to them. In some cases the problems would have multiplied due to lack of solution.

Can one solve their problems by looking sullen? No. That won’t help! And do you think that by looking sullen somebody will come to your assistance? If that’s your mentality then you are still missing the point. Adults are not expected to be like that; rather, they are expected to deal with their problems and take charge of their lives.

Can you add an hour to your life by worrying? This question still begs for an answer from you.

I suggest you do the following if you are faced with a problem:

First, write down, as clearly as possible, the nature of the problem that you face. I have spoken to a number of people who thought they had problems when in reality they had none; the people had, instead, become their own problem because of the way they viewed the circumstances of their lives, as well as how they reacted to such circumstances. And after some discussion I would hear one say, “So why was I worried?” You therefore should make sure that you are clear about the nature of your problem before you start running around broadcasting that you’ve got a problem.

Second, and if you are convinced that you indeed have a problem, write down how the problem came about, i.e. your understanding of the source of the problem. If you know how the problem started this might help you in solving it or in preventing its recurrence in future.

Third, and probably the most critical step, you need to ask yourself the question, “What are my options.”

I believe that for every problem there’s a range of possible solutions, which are the options available to you. Write down all your options, including those that might appear silly. Once you complete the list, and convinced yourself that there are no more 'possible' options remaining, you should go on to select what you consider to be the best option and implement it.

For example, somebody may be mad at you because of something you did to them, and have told you that they no longer want to see you. You might, however, still conclude that the right course of action to take, from the options available to you, is to go and see them and offer an apology. So you should go and offer an apology. It might be accepted; it might not, but you would have done your very best under the circumstances and should therefore consider the matter closed.

Instead of taking this course of action, some people spend eternity worrying about their situation. “Oh he no longer wants to see me!” they lament day and night; but what benefit does it bring? Will you be accepted because you’ve worried about it? No.

So, all that’s needed is for you to take positive steps to solve the problem. Situations are not changed by worrying. Problems are not solved by worrying. Rather, the only person who will live a quality life is one who has sent worry to hell. All that this person does is to take positive, calculated steps to rectify whatever problems they might encounter in life.

If you lose sleep because of worry, then you are most likely to develop sleep disorders, hence related health problems. In addition, people who operate in partnership with worry lack proper concentration on virtually everything pertaining to their lives…their work, their family and their future, because all the time they are lamenting, and thereby neglecting the useful things of life. Such people are perpetually overwhelmed by their problems. So they lose out on health. They lose out on wealth. They lose out on relations. They may even lose their lives. So worry is negative; it is therefore clear why Jesus Christ taught against it.

I have also noted something - i.e. many of the problems that people face today are self-created. People often bring problems on themselves because of the manner they choose to conduct their lives. It may be by what they plan or decide, the ideas they choose to implement or the words they choose to utter. One sure way to minimize problems is to tread the path of life well, all the time being sensitive to the feelings of other people.

But somebody might ask, “But how could I overcome worry?” The simple answer is: “Just change your focus”.

When faced with a problem, you have two basic options. The first option is “worry”. You could opt for worry whenever you are faced with a problem. By the way a number of people actually do so!

The second option is called “solution”. It is only those people who do nothing about their problems who are prone to worry. Those who immediately take steps to solve their problems have no room for worry because they are always consumed by their quest for solutions. It’s really a choice one has to make, and I sure hope that you will always opt for solutions!

Having come this far I now take the honour to give you a sparkling instruction. Here goes: “Be joyful always” (1Timothy 5:16, NIV). Wonderland! The fact that you’ve read this article up to this point suggests that you understand the language used. But I pray to God that He gives you a deeper understanding of the meaning of two words used in this verse. The words are ‘joyful’ and ‘always’. Praise God!

Is the teaching contained in the above verse flexible? Absolutely not! It says ‘always’. Are there exceptions? No.

Should you be joyful when it’s raining? Yes. Should you be joyful when it’s overcast? Yes. Should you be joyful when the sky is clear-blue? Yes of course.

Should you be joyful when you have enough? Yes. Should you be joyful when you lack? Yes. That’s the point! That’s the definition of ‘always’. But it’s not just about being always joyful; what it means is that in your joy you should solve whatever problems that you might face.

Now that’s what I call joy!

So, don’t worry - be ever joyful!

God bless!

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