1 As thousands of people crowded around Jesus and were stepping on each other, he told his disciples:
Be sure to guard against the dishonest teaching of the Pharisees! It is their way of fooling people. 2 Everything that is hidden will be found out, and every secret will be known. 3Whatever you say in the dark will be heard when it is day. Whatever you whisper in a closed room will be shouted from the housetops.
The One To Fear
4 My friends, don't be afraid of people. They can kill you, but after that, there is nothing else they can do. 5God is the one you must fear. Not only can he take your life, but he can throw you into hell. God is certainly the one you should fear!
6Five sparrows are sold for only a few cents, but God doesn't forget a single one of them. 7Even the hairs on your head are counted. So don't be afraid! You are worth much more than many sparrows.
Telling Others about Christ
(Matthew 10.32,33; 12.32; 10.19,20)
8If you tell others that you belong to me, the Son of Man will tell God's angels that you are my followers. 9But if you reject me, you will be rejected in front of them. 10 If you speak against the Son of Man, you can be forgiven, but if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you cannot be forgiven.
11 When you are brought to trial in the synagogues or before rulers or officials, don't worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say. 12At that time the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say.
Oh, how quickly we let worries define us and take charge of our lives! Even as I write, savvy online advertisers raise the alarm about the state of my wrinkles, relationships and waistline. I am encouraged to fixate on food and be consumed with my career.
Worry gravitates towards the trivial, distorting our priorities. Rather than examining the state of our souls before God, we concern ourselves with how we look to other people. Far more often we fuss in front of a mirror rather than spend time with the One who knows each of our visible and invisible features.
We are most likely to fall into the trap of worry when we believe subtle untruths about God. It’s easy to listen to an internal voice telling us that God is distant, idle and uncaring. The only solution, we rationalize, is to take on the role of looking out for ourselves.
Jesus reminds us that the power of God is absolute – he takes action as he sees fit to maintain the structure he has designed. But to set our hearts at rest, he reassures us that though we are as fragile as a sparrow, God wraps his caring hand around us.
When we acknowledge God’s ultimate authority in our lives by our words and lifestyle, we remove ourselves from the stressful situation of having to keep all things under our control. It becomes easier for us to receive his love, knowing he is well aware of even our most mundane concerns, and no marketplace transaction, early morning sigh or tongue-tied moment will go unnoticed.
Worry cannot stand up to competition. In declaring truth about our Living God we rob it of its power to paralyze us. And Jesus says we are worth it.
Great King, we humbly acknowledge the rightful authority you have over our hearts. We give you the worries that take your place on the throne. Lift our eyes to you and let us see the love you expressed so beautifully in the gift of your Son. Amen.