The Acceptable Sin: Worry
Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm. Psalm 37:1-8 NKJ
If I were to ask from the pulpit how many people struggle with adultery, idolatry, lying, cheating, etc., I doubt any hands would go up. But if I were to ask how many people struggle with worry or anxiety, undoubtedly most of the hands in the room would go up. This particular sin in most churches is often overlooked, and yet, this infinitesimal sin has monumental consequences. In Jay Adams’ little booklet What to Do About Worry, he says the following:
“The Scriptures have much to say about ‘worry’ and its cousin ‘fear’. Unfortunately the Greek word for ‘worry’ is seldom translated as such, but instead with phrases such as ‘be not anxious’, or ‘take no thought.’ As a result, many do not understand the biblical teachings on this very important subject…in the Greek, ‘worry’ literally means to divide, rip or tear apart, to strangle.”
We have all experienced this strangulation to one degree or another. We have had those feelings that tie us into knots and dominate us to such a degree that we can think of nothing else. Oftentimes those feelings hold us captive and even begin to turn into physical ailments such as ulcers, hives, and sleeplessness. We have all lain awake at night disturbed about something. Our hands may sweat, our stomachs may churn, we may be unable to eat, or worse — we can’t stop eating. This particular sin is one of the great enemies of joy and contentment in our lives. However, we have only been describing the effects of worry (what worry does to us). Worry itself is concern over the future, a concern over things that we cannot control and worse yet, over things that may never even occur! Worry causes us to doubt or question God’s goodness and sovereignty concerning His plan for our lives. And when we worry, it causes our spirits and emotions to be strangled or eventually torn apart.
In Psalm 37, notice before David begins to instruct others, he instructs his own heart. Matthew Henry comments: “We may suppose that David speaks this to himself first, and preaches it to his own heart (in his communing with that upon his bed), for the suppressing of those corrupt passions which he found working there, and then leaves it in writing for instruction to others that might be in similar temptation. That is preached best, and with most probability of success, to others, which is first preached to ourselves.”
As we have heard in countless sermons from our pulpit, we must remind ourselves first and foremost, who our God is! If you begin to worry this week, remember the God we serve. Our God is: Most High God (Gen. 14:17-24); God of Might (Josh. 5:13-6:2); Yahweh, I AM, the Eternal God (Exod.3:1-18); God Our Creator (Ps.95:1-7); God our Fortress and Protector (Ps.91); The Lord Our Provider and Shepherd (Ps.23). Beloved, when we remember aright our God and what He has revealed about His nature and character…“What, then, shall we say unto these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom.8:31-32)