What Are You Worried About?

A Bible study
on Luke 12

 

Is worry futile? Does worry ignore God’s provision for us?

Jesus teaches about worry in Luke 12.

 

When you are stressed and worried, what do you tend to dream about at night?

Do you have a particular recurring dream that alerts you to dread in your life?

What do you most often worry about?

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Context

In the previous section, Luke 12:13-21, Jesus warns about greed by telling the parable of the rich fool. Verses 22-34 flow naturally from this topic, as Jesus tells His disciples that in contrast to greed, they can trust God to provide for their needs.

In the previous section, Luke 12:13-21, Jesus warns about greed by telling the parable of the rich fool. Verses 22-34 flow naturally from this topic, as Jesus tells His disciples that in contrast to greed, they can trust God to provide for their needs.

What's The Problem?

When we focus on this world rather than the kingdom of God, not trusting the Father to provide what we need, we experience worry and fear and we miss out on finding joy in His provision for us.

When we focus on this world rather than the kingdom of God, not trusting the Father to provide what we need, we experience worry and fear and we miss out on finding joy in His provision for us.

All Scripture quotations from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.


Luke 12:22-28

And He said to His disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!”

Explore: Luke 12:22-28

  1. Jesus has just been talking about greed. How does greed relate to worry?

  2. In vv. 24-28, Jesus illustrates two main lessons about worry. What are they?

  3. How have you experienced those lessons?

  4. In the first century, worry would have been focused on food and clothing (12:22). What are today’s big worries?

  5. In what ways have you already seen God provide and take care of you?

  6. Given how you’ve seen God provide and take care of you, why do you think you still struggle with worry?

  7. If Jesus stopped His sermon at 12:28, would you have the instruction you need to stop worrying? Why or why not?

In this passage, Jesus addresses the mind as He unravels how illogical worry is.

Luke 12:22-28: Change Your Thinking - Worry is Futile →

Jesus begins with the futility of worry. In the first century, worry centered around food and clothing. He gives these issues explicit treatment, returning to a familiar form of Jewish teaching — an argument from the lesser to the greater. Jesus notes that God provides food for the birds and clothing for the flowers and then He asks, “How much more valuable are you than birds?” The answer is obvious — a great deal more.

Luke 12:22-28: Change Your Thinking - Worry is Fruitless →

To further emphasize the futility of worry, Jesus asks, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” His point rings experientially true. In the end, worry changes nothing; it is a fruitless activity.

Luke 12:22-28: Change Your Thinking - Worry is Inappropriate →

Lastly, Jesus mentions that worry is an activity the pagan world engages in. His point is that worry makes sense for those who don’t know God because they have no assurance that God will care for them. In contrast, worry is inappropriate for Christians because we have a heavenly Father who loves and cares for us and has infinite power and ability to meet our needs, as well as a complete knowledge of what our true needs are.

Ceasing to worry is much easier said than done. Most people know they shouldn’t worry but don’t seem to have the ability to stop. So in the next section, Jesus deals with the root of worry — the heart.


Luke 12:29-31

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

Explore: Luke 12:29-31

  1. In 12:29, Jesus warns about setting our hearts on these issues that cause us to worry. How is worry a problem of the heart?

  2. What does Jesus teach as the cure for worry?

  3. What does seeking His kingdom involve personally? Relationally? In ministry?

Luke 12:29-31: Change Your Heart - Seek First the Kingdom of God →

In 12:29 Jesus says not to “seek” (set our hearts on) these needs which produce worry. His point is that at the root of the problem are hearts set on the wrong thing: meeting our needs alone. Instead, Jesus says to “seek first the kingdom of God.” In other words, set your heart on knowing God and serving Him, as well as meeting the needs of others. Ultimately, it’s not just our thoughts that need to be redirected in order to halt the encroachment of worry; it’s the direction and focus of our heart.

Luke 12:29-31: Change Your Heart - Antidote: Priorities + Assurance + Provision →

When we focus on God, our worry recedes as we gain fresh perspective on what truly matters. This reconfigures our priorities. We also gain an assurance that God is going to meet our needs as we are engaged in fulfilling His will. This sense of assurance is further strengthened as God actually does meet our needs and we taste of His wonderful provisions. This is an antidote for worry that truly works!


Luke 12:32-34

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Explore: Luke 12:32-34

  1. This is weird advice. How does it apply to worry?

  2. Can you think of a time when Jesus was worried?

  3. What did He do in that circumstance?

Luke 12:32-34: Take Action - Lose What You’re Afraid to Lose →

In this last section, Jesus gives what sounds like some pretty weird advice: He tells the people to get rid of the very thing they are worried about losing. There is a great — albeit disturbing — illustration of this principle in the film “The Usual Suspects.” A rival criminal takes supreme criminal Keyser Soze’s wife and kids hostage and threatens to kill them unless Soze yields control to his competitors. Soze’s solution? He whips out his gun and kills his own wife and kids so that no one will have any leverage on him.

Though murdering your family is hardly the application we are looking for, Soze illustrates Jesus’ principle: Take the very thing you are disposed to worry about (money, in the case of Jesus’ audience) and give it away. It’s the surest way to break its control over you. And if giving it away in the full sense isn’t possible, find another way to release it so worry has nowhere to land.

Luke 12:32-34: Take Action - Focus on Things That Last →

Releasing whatever you are afraid to lose also frees you to focus on the things about which worry isn’t possible — things that can’t run out, be stolen, or be destroyed. When we believe it’s true that the Father has been pleased to give us His kingdom, everything else we worry about seems less important.

Luke 12:32-34: Take Action - Follow Jesus’ Example →

Consider the only time Jesus is clearly depicted as worried in the gospels — in the Garden of Gethsemane before the crucifixion. Jesus was so overwhelmed that He was literally sweating blood. In His worry, Jesus’ solution was to surrender the thing He feared losing — His life — and to embrace the suffering. That’s how salvation, and ultimately resurrection, comes — via surrender and death.

This lesson is consistent with the inverted values of the kingdom. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. If you want to have everything, possess nothing. What do you most fear losing and how might you need to give it away? What prevents you from trusting the God who has promised to give you the kingdom and a thousand things besides?


Apply

  1. Is there something you are currently “running after” like the pagans in v. 30?

  2. Jesus paints a beautiful picture of the Father’s tender care for us. Think about the things that worry you in relation to this picture. What might look different in your life if you were to experience this at a heart level?

  3. What do you need to give away that would demonstrate trust, refocus your heart and help you to see God’s provision?

Respond

  1. We need to change our thinking about worry. However, without changing the focus of our hearts, our thinking will not change. But…

  2. Our hearts rarely redirect on their own without us taking practical steps. Those steps involve seeking God’s kingdom and trusting Him to provide. So…

  3. Jesus directs us to give away what we worry about and elevate the value of the things we cannot lose.

Memorize

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.”

Watch: When You Worry

Rick James explains how “seeking the kingdom” can push worries to the periphery.


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