As a member of the Rotary Club, I joined with other members as we sang a few songs just before the program began. One of these songs still lingers in my mind. These are the words:
“Smile and the world smiles with you, sing a song.
Don’t be weary; just be cheery all day long.
Whenever your trials, your troubles and your cares
Seem to be more than you can bear,
Smile and the world smiles with you.
Sing a song.”
We knew there was little truth in these words, but it was fun to leave the real world and just make believe our cares could be whisked away that easily.
Now listen to the words of Jesus as he addresses the subject of facing our troubles and cares:
“Therefore 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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? . . . So do not worry, saying, ÔWhat shall we eat?’ or ÔWhat shall we drink?’ or ÔWhat shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-27, 31-34).
This is quite different from the Rotary song. It could be labeled Advanced Christianity, because it takes years to learn the full impact of what Jesus is teaching us in these words.
Jesus is speaking these words, not to an unbelieving world, but to his followers. How we need this message when life’s problems are too big for us to handle! He is telling us not to carry the whole load of life alone. He also assures us that we are not walking through life alone, but with our Savior.
What are some of these daily cares?
One quick look at the newspaper tells us that the stock market is giving a great deal of concern to some people these days. One man, with a disturbed look on his face, asked me, “Will I have enough money to last me out?” When I asked why he was so concerned, his response was, “Well, I count on my investments to see me through this life, and today I lost thousands of dollars in the stock market.”
A few days later I met the same gentleman. This time he had a smile on his face and said, “It has all come back, so now I feel better.”
I do not know whether this man is a Christian or not. However, if he is, Jesus is speaking to him when he says not to worry.
Worry is one of my many sins. That is why I have titled this sermon “Advanced Christianity.” A person has advanced far in the Christian life when they have the grace to place all things in God’s hands.
Money is not the only thing that worries us. Children also can give their parents great concern. Those worries do not stop when they are grown, either. One mother told me how concerned she was about her daughter, who was marrying for the third time. It is natural for any parent who loves their child to worry. However, in a situation like marriage and divorce, we need to remind the loved one that she should not be married to an unbeliever. This is what the Bible says. The parent has to give it all to God in obedience to this command.
Sickness brings many fears to our lives. When we face a serious illness that will bring pain and an inability to be active in life, it is quite difficult to follow Jesus’ words not to worry. These words would mean nothing to a person who is not committed to Christ.
What do we do with these words of Jesus? I like the prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote, “God, grant me the serenity to accept those things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” King Solomon said it well: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path” (Proverbs 3:5, 6).