Text: Luke 10:38-41
It is natural or part of human nature to be concerned about unpleasant situations in our lives, family, church and nation. For example, in 1 Samuel 10:2, the Bible tells us that when the donkeys of Kish the father of Saul, were missing and he sent Saul to go and look for them, he became worried when after a long time he hadn’t seen his son. This was natural concern. No parent won’t be concerned if your child who normally gets back from school at 2pm, isn’t back by 10pm in the night.
We are not to go through life with a carefree, indifferent and nonchalant attitude to things happening in our lives, family, church, nation and world at large. But there is a kind of concern that aggravates to worry. Worry that can weaken your spirit, soul and body. John 10:10 tells us that the devil is out to destroy; this is his mission in life. Worry is a perfect tool for him to carry out this mission.
In Luke 10:41, Jesus told Martha that she was “worried and upset about so many things”. I believe He is saying the same thing to you and I today. We are worried and upset about so many things. Perhaps your own worry is that your rent is due, your landlord is threatening you, and you don’t have the money to renew you rent or move to another place. Or maybe your own worry is that you are not sure you will pass the job interview you went for last week so you are worried and afraid that you are still going to be jobless or you still have to remain in that job where the pay isn’t very good. Your own worry could be that you got a negative and frightening report from your doctor and you are worried and afraid that you might not make it, you may soon die. Many people are worried about the state of the nation and other problems happening around the world such as terrorist attacks and economies that are crashing all over the place.
These are genuine reasons to be concerned. But as genuine as they sound to us, the Lord is saying to us like he said to Martha, “you are worried and upset about so many things”. Do you know that a genuine concern for national issues if not checked, if not controlled, can grow into a type of worry that sends believers to the valley of dry bones? Proverbs 17:22 tells us that a crushed, broken, anxious or worried spirit dries up the bones. In Ezekiel 37:10-11 reading from the New Living Translation, we see that the main reason why a vast army; soldiers of God, those equipped and empowered to do battle for God and face any kind of opposition, ended up in the valley of dry bones was that they started thinking and believing that all hope was lost for Israel, their nation was finished. The worry and fear in their hearts about what was happening in their nation started drying them up physically and spiritually till they were nothing but dry bones with no life, no power, no strength, no hope, no joy.
In John 14:1 Jesus said “do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God, trust in me”. If our hearts are troubled about anything whether it is a personal issue, family issue, national or global issue, it means that we aren’t really trusting God. The two don’t go together. You can’t trust God and be troubled at the same time. You can’t be troubled and at the same time trust God.
At different times in Jesus ministry, He pointed out that if you are troubled, worried and anxious it shows that you have little faith. In Matthew 6:30, He said that if you are worried about clothes to wear, food to eat and what to drink you have little faith, you don’t trust that your Heavenly Father is able to meet your daily needs. In Matthew 8:24-26, when a storm broke out in the boat Jesus and His disciples where and His disciples told Him that they were going to drown. He told them that for thinking they would drown; they wouldn’t make it, the storm would overwhelm them, they wouldn’t survive, they had little faith.
WHY WE NEED FREEDOM FROM WORRY
Worry is a much more serious problem than that person you believe is a witch and is out to get you. Medically we have been told that worry can cause so many diseases such as high blood pressure, panic or anxiety attacks. This is what worry looks like in the spiritual realm:
- Worry is a spiritual traffic light giving you wrong signals
We have all seen traffic lights before. Those lights that tell you when to GO, when to STOP and when to get ready to go or proceed with caution. When a person is drunk, the person starts to see double. The drunk person can see GREEN as RED, YELLOW as GREEN. That is how worry is. When you are fretting, anxious and worried, you don’t really think clearly and properly. You can misread and misinterpret the voice of God because of the fear in your heart. When God is saying GO you think He is saying WAIT, when He is saying STOP you think He is saying GO.
One medical report I read said that it has been proven medically that sixty percent of women are more prone to anxiety than men. I’m not a medical doctor, but if we are to go by the experiences of some women in the Bible, one may conclude that perhaps that medical report is true. Let me give three instances where some couples in the Bible where going through a trying period and it was the wives who were more anxious and agitated than their husbands. When Hannah was believing God for a child, it got to a point that she could no longer eat, she had no appetite, she was always crying, she was really troubled. In 1 Samuel 1:8 her husband had to tell her “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” In Jacob’s case, when Rebekah was worried that she didn’t have a child and was putting pressure on her husband, he got angry with her and shouted “Am I in the place of God who has kept you from having children” (Genesis 30:2).
For Sarah when it was taking so long for the promised child to come and she was anxious and desperate for a change, she began to see wrong traffic lights; she began to imagine that when God promised them a son of their own, He wasn’t necessarily saying the son had to come from her womb. And that was how she pressurized her husband into sleeping with her house help to have a son. A decision she later regretted (Genesis 16:3-5). The fact that she regretted the decision shows that when she was worried and anxious, she wasn’t thinking straight. Ordinarily, no woman would to hear that her husband is sleeping with their house help. But when you are worried and anxious, things you would normally not do, things you frown at, things you would never consider as an option, appears like the best option to your problem. Worry can make you take some very costly decisions. In Luke 10:42, Jesus told Martha who was worried and upset about so many things that “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”. In essence, Jesus was saying Mary had made the right choice, because you were worried, you didn’t make a right choice, you confused the traffic lights, you thought I was saying GO and get busy with all those preparations.
- Worry is a spiritual load slowing down your progress
Hebrews 12:1 tells us to throw off everything that hinders or holds us down from running the race God has marked out for us. Worry is a heavy burden, load or weight that can keep us from running. It can limit our progress. The Contemporary English Version of Proverbs 12:26 says that “worry is a heavy burden…”
If someone places a suitcase full of books on your head and tells you to go to the gate. Even though the gate is not so far away from where you are, it can take you forever to get to the gate because of the heavy load you are carrying on your head. This is what is happening to many of us. Places, levels and heights we should have gotten to in our spiritual lives, ministry, business and career, it is taking us forever to get there because of this heavy load of worries we are carrying on our heads. But thank God that Jesus Christ our burden bearer is here today to remove every heavy load and burden of worries that has been weighing us down and slowing us down.
- Worry is a spiritual rope choking or strangling your spiritual life and relationship with God
In Matthew 13:22 when Jesus told the parable of sower ; the parable of the different categories of people that hear the Word of God, He said there is a category who don’t grow in the Word because the worries and cares of life choke out the word they have heard.
Worry is a big and major distraction to being in the presence of the Lord. Worry is a great hindrance to your spiritual growth.
This brings us back to our main text the story of Mary and Martha. In Luke 10:38-41, we saw how these two sisters behaved when their family wasn’t facing any major problem. Jesus just came to visit them. At that time, Martha was distracted by so many things she didn’t have time to learn at the feet of the Lord, to be filled with the Word of God. Let’s move to John 11 to see how she responded when there was a storm in their family, when they lost their brother Lazarus.
Most times when we look at the story of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, the focus is usually on the great miracle Jesus performed. How he brought a man who was dead for four days back to life. But today I want us to look deeper into that story to pay attention to what the Bible shows us about the spiritual lives of these two sisters and how being worried and upset about so many things greatly affected Martha’s spiritual life and growth.
- The first thing we see is that when there was a storm in their family, Martha was fretting and running helter-skelter while Mary was calm (John 11:17-20, 28-30). Two sisters faced with a similar problem, going through a trying period but with two different reactions. As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, he hadn’t even gotten to their village, she started running all over the place looking for Jesus. But Mary stayed at home. Meaning that Mary was calm. She adopted the attitude of Psalm 46:10 – be still, be calm, don’t fret and you will know that I am God.
- Secondly, Mary was able to worship Jesus in the midst of a storm. Martha couldn’t. In John 11:21 and John 11:32, we see that when Mary and Martha came before Jesus during their crisis situation, they both told Him exactly the same thing but their approach was different. While Martha just said “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died”. Mary first fell at Jesus’ feet in reverence, worship and adoration before she said “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died”. Are you like Martha? In the midst of a personal, family, national storm or crisis can you sincerely worship God or the worries of life keep you from doing this? Can you say in that present trial you are going through that “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him (Job 13:15)”? “I know my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25). Even in the grave; even in the worst of situations can you say JESUS IS LORD (Acts 2:24). Are you convinced without a show of doubt that “neither death nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39)?
- Thirdly and the saddest part to the whole story is that Martha wasn’t able to positively affect lives for Christ. In John 11:19-20, when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, when she got up to go and meet Jesus not one person followed her. There were many Jews in the house with her and her sister Mary. They had come to visit and comfort them. But no one followed Martha when she ran to go and look for Jesus. But the minute Mary got up to go and meet Jesus, all the Jews that where in the house followed her (John 11:45). The result was that they were able to witness and experience the power of God when Lazarus was brought back to life and that was how some of them surrendered their lives to Christ (John 11:45). The truth of the matter is that worry makes you a very negative person that people would rather not be around. When you are full of worries, it’s hard for your life to attract anyone to Christ because rather than assuring people that all is well, you would just be pointing out all kinds of negative things to them which would even increase their fears. We are the salt of the earth. When people around us are worried, panicking and afraid, we are to assure them that God is control, all will be well. That way we release God’s peace into the atmosphere not fear and tension. That way we are able to point people to the love, peace and power of God.
YOU CAN OVERCOME WORRY
Worry is dangerous as we have seen. It has the potential to destroy. But you and I can overcome worry. We are more than conquerors over any situation troubling our hearts (Romans 8:37). In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul makes us understand that there is a remedy, a solution, a relief to all those worries and cares in our hearts and it is PRAYER. It is a divine remedy that works. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 “come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest”. Psalm 55:22 says “cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall”. When we come to the Lord in prayer with all those situations that are troubling us, something special happens. There is a divine exchange. In place of all those worries, a peace that transcends human understanding floods our hearts. Burdens are lifted. The anointing of God destroys every yoke of fear and anxiety. The Lord shall give you all round peace as you cast; as you give him all those situations that are troubling your mind.
Jesus made this statement when people were worried “O ye of little faith”. Note that he didn’t say you don’t have faith. He said your faith is little. Meaning that you need to increase your faith to stop worrying, to overcome worry. Faith and worry can’t partner together. Worry dies when faith increases. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing the message, by hearing the Word. Pray that whatever is distracting you from God’s word, God should remove from your life so the Word of God can dwell richly in you and you can be full of faith to extinguish all the fiery darts of worry and fear the enemy has been throwing at you (Ephesians 6:16).
You need to also exercise spiritual authority to be free from worries. In Matthew 21:21, Jesus said that when there is a mountain before you, exercise your faith, exercise your spiritual authority and command the mountain to move. Jesus didn’t say focus on the mountain; focus on the problem because that won’t help you. It will only increase the size of the mountain; the size of the problem. He didn’t say you should cry about the mountain. He didn’t advise us to run away from the mountain. What he said was say to the mountain; speak to the mountain. So with the authority you have in the name of Jesus and the unfailing Word of God, speak to every mountain before you to move in Jesus name. Confess and declare that you won’t be crushed by any mountain. You won’t crumble under the weight of that problem. You will scale over the mountain; you will overcome that situation in Jesus mighty name, AMEN!
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