Sunday, 25 November 2012

Trust & Priorities: Matthew 6:25-34


A man was seen fleeing down the hall of the hospital just before his operation.

"What's the matter?" asked a receptionist.  

He said, "I heard my nurse say, 'It's a very simple operation, don't worry, I'm sure it will be all right."

"She was just trying to comfort you, what's so frightening about that?"

"She wasn't talking to me. She was talking to the doctor.


The truth is that if you do suffer from worry and anxiety, it is not laughing matter.  


It’s a problem that affects many people in our society.  People worry about their health, getting older, their jobs, the future, their appearance, the rising cost of living, politically instability in the world, and what all of this means for us and our children.  There is no end to the kind of things we can worry about.

According to the charity Anxiety UK, anxiety and depression in the UK has risen by 13% since 1993.  It is a problem that is also said to affect 1 in 10 children and young people.  


Studies have even shown that social media such as Facebook and Twitter can feed anxiety. There is a Swedish which says that worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.  Worry and anxiety robs us of joy and peace, and can affect us mentally and physically. 

It therefore makes Jesus’ words from our reading this morning are so relevant.  I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

There are two themes from what Jesus says that I want to explore, trust and priorities.

TRUST

I tell you, do not worry about your life.” 

Jesus isn’t just talking about having a positive mental attitude – as good as this is, he is really challenging us to think about whom and what we place our trust in.  Many of the institutions and people in whom we used to place our trust such as politicians, bankers, journalists and even the church, has been shaken, we know longer know who to trust. But Jesus is saying place your trust in God. 

This is at the heart of the Christian faith, learning to trust God with our lives.  To trust our heavenly Father with our every need, because unlike others, He will not fail us, or let us down, because He knows are every need. 

I asked my children the other day why do they trust me?  Their answer was simple, because I’m their dad.  Their whole assurance is based on the fact that as their father I am trustworthy, and won’t fail them.  Isn't this even more true when it comes to our heavenly father? 


Hudson Taylor, missionary to China and founder of what is today known as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, gave this excellent advice: "Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into God's hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about."

We also need to recognise that many of our worries are often unfounded and unnecessary.  Such as in the case of the bassoon player who came up to his conductor, Toscanini, and nervously said that he could not reach the high E flat. Toscanini just smiled and replied, "Don't worry. There is no E flat in your music tonight."

PRIORITIES

Jesus gives us a great antidote to worry - put God first.  That is the other message contained in today’s reading.  Jesus said “seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” 


In a Berlin art gallery there is a painting by German painter Adolf Menzel. The painting is only partially finished.  It shows Fredrick the Great speaking with some of his generals.  Menzel painted the generals and background, but he died before he could complete the king. 

To be a follower of Christ, means to learn to put Christ centre stage.  And it is only when we do this, when we seek to make him our true priority, that everything else falls into place. 

When we put Christ first we focus our attentions on Him, rather than on our worries, and most importantly of all we learn to trust Him. 

This of course doesn’t mean that our lives will be without its challenges or troubles, but it is the path that leads to peace and joy.  Because our hope and confidence is built not on our outer circumstances, or on people or institutions, but on the God of love and compassion, who promises to be with us always, in good times and bad.

It is this knowledge, and confidence that produces the joy filled life.  


The joy filled life which enabled Richard Wurmbrand who was imprisoned for 14 years in Romania for preaching the Gospel, to declare that “Alone in my cell, cold, hungry, and in rags, I danced for joy every night.”  It is the confidence and hope that enabled Paul to write I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

When we trust God, and place Him first in our lives, we find the path to true peace and joy.    

I want to finish with a poem:

Trust Him when dark doubts assail you,
Trust Him when thy strength is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
Seems the hardest thing of all.
Trust Him, He is ever faithful,
Trust Him, for his will is best,
Trust Him, for the heart of Jesus
Is the only place of rest.