Dr. John Hoole – August 20 & Sept 3, 2017



Today, in our continued series on The Sermon on the Mount, we are going to discuss a subject that probably, in one way or other, affects every one of us.  Some of us are less affected – some more – but we are all touched by this topic.



Have you seen the book that was published some time back: “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…        and it’s all small stuff” (by Richard Carlson).  Although this is not a Christian book, its title provides advice that would benefit many Christians.


The author is a stress management consultant, and in the book he has 100 chapters providing 100 tips on how to put things into a perspective that will reduce stress.  As I mentioned, this is not a Christian book, but except for a few chapters that make some reference to Zen Buddhism, he has some good points.  He seems to know a lot of Christians I know when he says,  "Have you ever noticed how uptight you feel when you’re caught up in your thinking?  And, to top it off, the more absorbed you get in the details of whatever is upsetting you, the worse you feel.  One thought leads to another, and yet another, until at some point, you become incredibly agitated.”


The topic of today’s lesson is WORRY.  Anxiety, worry, fret, distress, agitation, tension, irritability.  These are words that describe a feeling of an inner turmoil leading to an outward uneasiness.  I heard of a man who said to a guy, “I want to hire you to do my worrying for me and I’m going to pay you $100.000 a year.”  The guy said, “Where are you going to get $100,000?  He said, “That’s your first worry.”


We live in a troubled world.  So many negative things – No. Korea, ISIS, Terrorism, Opioid addiction, Wars – Can we have peace even if things are falling down around us?  There certainly seems to be no peace around us in the world.


There are going to be times in our life when we feel ourselves full of anxiety and worry.  But that is not what God wants for us.  The portion of the Sermon on the Mount that we are considering today is found in Matthew 6:25-34.  Let’s read it.


Matthew 6:25-34 NKJV


25     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?

26     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?

27     Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28     "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;

29     and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30     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?

31     "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'

32     For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

33     But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

34     Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


If you were to take an airplane trip to Athens, Greece then take an ocean liner eight hours into the Mediterranean Sea you could find yourself on the Island of Naxos.  Naxos is one of the most primitive of the Greek islands, and it has been the least affected by tourism.  But one of the things the island is known for is “Worry Beads.”  These worry beads come in different shapes, and sizes and colors.  And everyone on the island of Naxos has them.  The old people and the middle aged people and the young people all have “worry beads.”  Whether on the coast or in the city or in the mountains or anywhere else, everywhere you go, you will find people fingering and manipulating “worry beads.”


I haven’t met many Americans who carry “worry beads” around with them.  But I have met many who continuously bite their fingernails, or pace the floor, or lie awake at night staring at the ceiling, all because of this problem called “worry.”


A few years ago, the University of Michigan did a study on worry, and this is what they found.  They discovered that: 


60% of our worries are unwarranted


20% of our worries have already occurred


10% are petty


Of the remaining 10%, only 4% - 5% are real and justifiable.  And of that 4% to 5%, only half of them are solvable.


Their conclusion:   Only 2% of the things that we worry about are real, which means that 98% of the things we worry about are a complete waste of time.


Someone has quipped:  “Worry is like sitting in a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”


Here is an e-mail I received recently from Paul Boyd 18 years ago:   ENRICHING THOUGHTS

The highest aim in life - To know God and do His will!
The most enriching good habit - Complimenting others
The most destructive bad habit - Worry
The greatest joy - Giving
The greatest loss - Loss of self-respect
The most satisfying work - Helping others
The ugliest personality trait – Selfishness

The most endangered species - Dedicated leaders
Our greatest natural resource - Our youth
The ugliest look - A frown
The greatest "shot in the arm" - Encouragement
The greatest problem to overcome - Fear
The most effective sleeping pill - Peace of mind
The most crippling failure disease - Excuses
The surest way to limit God - Unbelief
The most powerful forces in life - Love
The most dangerous piranha - A gossiper
The Greatest Life-Giver - The Creator
The world’s most incredible computer - The brain
The worst thing to be without - Hope
The deadliest weapon - The tongue
The two most power-filled words - "I Can"
The greatest asset - Faith
The most worthless emotion - Self-pity
The most beautiful attire - A SMILE!
 The most powerful channel of communication - Prayer
The most contagious sprit - Enthusiasm
The most urgent need - SALVATION
The greatest attribute of Jesus - Obedience


Did you notices what was listed as “the most destructive habit”?




Here are a few quotations from a few people you may know or have heard of.


Charles Spurgeon:


         “It is said that our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”


Dale Carnegie


         “If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there and worrying.  It’s the worry that gets you, not the loss of sleep.”


George Washington:


Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.”



Charles W. Mayo, M.D.


         “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system, and profoundly affects heart action.”


Dorothea Dix:


I have learned in the great University of Hard Knocks a philosophy that no woman who has had an easy life ever acquires.  I have learned to live each day as it come, and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow.  It is the dark menace of the future that makes cowards of us.”


DIX, Dorothea  (1802-87). A social reformer and humanitarian, Dorothea Dix devoted her life to the welfare of the mentally ill and the handicapped. Through her efforts, special hospitals for mental patients were built in more than 15 states, and in Canada, Europe, and Japan.  

   Dorothea Lynde Dix was born on April 4, 1802, in Hampden, Me. When she was a teenager, she opened a school in Worcester, Mass. She later operated a school in Boston until her ill health forced its closing in 1835. In 1841 she began to teach a Sunday school class at the jail in East Cambridge, Mass. There the thoughtless confinement of mentally ill persons in cells with criminals disturbed her deeply. After touring similar jails throughout Massachusetts, she revealed in a public report the shocking conditions she found. Her report helped to bring about major reforms in the treatment of the mentally ill. Dorothea Dix died on July 17, 1887, in Trenton, N.J.


         If you are a serious Philatelist, as I am, you would know of Dorothea Dix because her face is found on a one cent postage stamp issued in 1983.


I love what Mickey Rivers said:


“Don’t worry about things that you have no control over, because you have no control over them.  And don’t worry about things you have control over, because you have control over them.”


Henry Wheeler Shaw:


         “There are people who are always anticipating trouble, and in this way they manage to enjoy many sorrows that never really happen to them.”


Winston Churchill:


When I look back on all the worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of troubles in his life most of which never happened.”


James Russell Lowell said something very similar:


         “Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never happen.”


George Macdonald:

“It is not the cares of today, but the cares of tomorrow that weigh a man down.  For the needs of today we have corresponding strength given.  For the morrow we are told to trust.  It is not yet ours.”


Now let’s return to our passage in Matthew 6.  There are several ways to more fully understand a passage of Scripture.  One is to look at the way the verses are outlined.  And one indicator of an outline is to use repeated phrases or words.  The word “worry” is found five times here.  And in three of these occasions, it is preceded with the word “therefore.”


Verse 25:        Therefore, I say to you, Do not worry…


Verse 31:        Therefore, do not worry…


Verse 34:        Therefore, do not worry…




It has been said that in your reading of the Bible, whenever you come upon the word “therefore,” you should not go on until you understand what it is “there for.”  And if that is true of just once instance of the word, it is much truer when the word is repeated several times, as it is here.


“Therefore” means “because” or “because of this” or “for this reason.”  It is a word that links what He is about to say to what He has just said.  Because this is a statement of conclusion, we must understand what statements were made that led to this conclusion.


The word, “therefore,” points out that the command that is now going to be given is predicated upon the principles given in the prior verses.


There is no cause for anxiety if you and I obey the directives given by Jesus in verse 20, to: “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in or steal.”


In verse 25, Jesus begins concluding what He had just stated in verses 19 - 24.  He invites us to look clearly at the three sets of alternatives he had just given them.  We are to weigh them carefully.


He asks, “Do you want to accumulate treasures?”  Then which of the two possibilities is the more durable?


Do you wish to be free and purposive in your movements?  Then what must our eyes be like to facilitate this?  Are your moral spiritual eyes easily distorted and darkened?


Do you want to serve the best master?  Then we must consider which is the more worthy of our devotion.


It is only when we have grasped with our minds the comparative durability of the two treasures (corruptible and incorruptible), and the comparative usefulness of the two eye conditions (light or darkness), and the comparative worth of the two master (God or mammon), that we are ready to make our choice.  Only when we have made our choice – for heavenly treasure, for light, and for God, can Jesus conclude by saying, “therefore, this is now how I want you to behave.”  “Do not be anxious [Don’t worry] about your life……nor about your body…….nor about the future, but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (vs 33).”


Verse 24 is a very key verse, and the selection we make between the two alternatives is pivotal.  God or Mammon (money, material possessions).  Our choice of which of these two masters we intend to serve will radically affect our attitude towards both of them.  We no longer have to be anxious about money and possessions, for we have rejected Mammon as our god -- but we can concentrate our mind and heart and energy on the other, for we have chosen Him.


Matthew 6:25 NKJV


25     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?


“Therefore,” in light of what I just said, and in light of having made God as my choice, “Do not worry!”  At this point, I think it is necessary to understand the Biblical definition of “Worry.”  If we have chosen God to be our Master, and He instructs us not to worry, we need to understand what it is so that we can avoid it.




Definition:               To feel uneasy or anxious; to fret; to suffer from disturbing thoughts; overly

burdened with care. 


In the Greek we find an even more pointed definition.


                   Greek:      Merimnao


       Meaning:      It is used two different ways


The last time I taught about “worry,” Cheryl Campbell was in our class.  She could sign for the deaf.  And in sign language, the sign for “worry” is very similar to the sign for “going around in circles.”  I think that accurately depicts a person who worries.  They go over the same concern again and again, like going in circles.




Let me give you some Scriptural examples of the use of this word.


Philippians 4:6 NKJV


6       Be anxious [Merimnao] for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;


Luke 21:34  (NAS)


34     "Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries (MER-IM-NAO) of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap;


Matthew 13:22  (NKJV)



Matthew 13:22 , in the Contemporary English Version, reads:


22 The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they start worrying about the needs of this life and are fooled by the desire to get rich. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything.


This verse says that worry can hinder your ability to listen to this lesson.  Worry blinds a person’s eye to the truth of God’s Word.


The Greek word for “cares” is MERIMNA.  These cares – these worries – choke the life of the Word, making the person unfruitful.


Another occasion is found in Luke 10.  Here we find Jesus visiting the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus


Luke 10:39-42 NKJV


39     And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.

40     But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."

41     And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried [Merimna] and troubled about many things.

42     But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."




Let me ask you a question: Do you worry often, or are you just concerned?  And what is the different?  We sometimes use them interchangeably. I want to begin our talk about the difference between “worry” and “concern” by again reading Verse 25.


Matthew 6:25 NKJV


25     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?


Matthew 6:25  (KJV)


25     Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life,….


The words used in the King James have led some – hopefully none here – to believe that any kind of thoughtful planning is wrong.  That is not the kind of care that Jesus is addressing in Matthew.  Jesus is not teaching us to be irresponsible.


I offer you two propositions:

The first is simply the concern of the follower of Jesus to be faithful and useful in his or her master’s service.


The Bible tell us to care one for another (1 Cor. 12:25).


In 2 Corinthians 11:28, (NAS) we find Paul stating:


28     Apart from {such} external things, there is the daily pressure on me {of} concern for all the churches.


So the same man, who in Philippians 4:6 wrote: “Do not be anxious about anything,” admits that he is greatly concerned for his churches.


1 Timothy 5:8 NKJV


8       But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.


Earlier, we looked at the Greek word translated “worry” in the New Testament.  One thing that may complicate a full understanding of the differences between “worry” and “concern,” is the fact that the same Greek word is also used in verses that speak of concern.  When Paul speaks of his concern for the churches he started, Merimnao is the root word he uses.  So, our understanding of the two terms must, then, come from the context in which they are used.


So what is the difference and how can we be sure it is referring to “worry” or “concern?”  So, what does Jesus mean when he teaches that we should not worry”  I am certainly no expert on the subject we are embarking on today.  But I think my wife would corroborate that I almost never worry – unless it is about her.  But is that really worry or just great concern.


Let me suggest some ideas on how to define the difference between “worry” and “concern.”


CONCERN embodies embracing the proper mindset for caring about important issues, decisions, events or conditions.  It also means taking proper steps to create effective resolutions, making changes where necessary.


WORRY, on the other hand is a cyclic process of rumination moving in a circular pattern, where no concrete resolution is found possible.


When we are concerned, we wade into the shallow end of the pool first to “test the waters.”  When we are worried, we merely circle the pool staring into the abyss, pondering what the water feels like – never taking the plunge.  Worry is draining and saps energy.  Concern is more positive and fuels energy.  Worry invites runaway stress.  Concern ushers in emotional intelligence and stability.  Worry finds you repeatedly going over a problem in your head.  Worry is ruminating  about an issue that is plaguing us without actually making substantive progress in addressing the issue.  So, don’t worry about being concerned: but be concerned about worrying.


To say it differently, concern is solution oriented.  It focuses on solving the problem.  It is not, as is true of worry, going over the same points over and over without adding value to the thoughts.


Maybe it is possible that worry and concern are the same at the very beginning of a problem or issue.  Maybe you can call it a “ventilation phase.”  It is what happened thereafter that makes it concern or worry.


When wondering the difference, maybe we can consider these distinctions.


         •  Worry distracts us: Concern focuses us.


         •  Worry disables planning:  Concern helps us plan.


         •  Worry blurs our vision; Concern clarifies our purpose.


         •  Worry tends to give up; Concern perseveres.


         •  Worry exaggerates; Concern pinpoints problems.


When Jesus says not to worry, or as the KJV puts it “Take no thought,” He is not prohibiting planning, prudence and initiative or hard work.  He is not advocating a shiftless, thriftless, reckless, thoughtless, improvident attitude to life.  The reason I am taking as much time on this as I am, is because some well-meaning Christians think that even buying insurance is a form of worry.  They say: “I’ll just trust God to take care of me.”  That is admirable, but not necessarily prudent.


God has called each of us to be his ministers.  And it is appropriate to plan and put thought to these ministries.  He tells us to do what we do with all our might, as unto the Lord.  We are to use our spiritual gifts responsibly.


“Take no thought” does not mean to take a “que sera, sera --- whatever will be, will be” attitude.  It is OK to be concerned about toddlers playing too close to a busy street.  It’s appropriate to be concerned for others, especially aged parents, walking unaided up icy steps.  It’s OK to keep a safe distance from the edge of a cliff.  It’s even OK if you have concern about eating the wrong kinds of mushrooms.  And it is proper to be concerned for the spiritual well-being of all people, and because of that, we share the gospel, and missionaries go to the ends of the earth.


When Jesus tells us not to worry, He is talking about being engulfed with some sense of foreboding --- an anxiety that takes away the security we have in Christ.  Both Jesus and Paul admonish Christians to be joyful.  But have you ever seen an overly anxious person who also exudes a spirit of joy?  Christ is talking about those things that put a strangle-hold on our emotions and mind.  He is addressing that kind of worry that diminishes our trust in God’s ability to care for us.


He says to us not to worry about……


         •        things which you cannot change.


Matthew 6:27 (NIV)   Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?


         •        things which God has promised to provide.


Matthew 6:32 (NKJV)   ….your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.


One of the most difficult things to do is to control what we think or how we think.  Yet it is one of the most important tools we can possess.  Control your thoughts by ridding yourself of worry.


The difference between worry and concern from a biblical perspective has to be framed in the context of how you face troubles.  The bottom line difference between worry and concern is how you position God in relationship to your trouble.  Shut Him out of the loop, and you worry.  But mentally put God between you and your problem, and you have concern, but the problem is not hopeless because God is your hope.