The Worry Commandment: The Worry-Free Tree
The Worry Commandment: The Worry-Free Tree
Week of February 24, 2019 by Tom Deighan
At this point in our study of worry and anxiety, we should be able to agree that the Worry Commandment means what it says: Do Not Worry. We are called to peace (Col 3:15) by the Prince of Peace, and according to the scripture from Philippians, God’s peace will “guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (4:7)
Of course, Jesus is the best illustration of a worry-free life, since He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:22). We also know that He did not worry during His earthly ministry, despite facing incredible challenges. He was rejected by His family. Enemies constantly sought to kill Him. He experienced all the physical needs we face. He even knew for years what faced him at Calvary. Yet, He did not worry.
Jesus does not worry because He is the Prince of Peace, and He does not intend for us to worry, either. Jesus’ example shows us that worry is not a fact of life. And when scripture admonishes us to reject worry and anxiety, we know God provides us a way to do so. Sometimes, however, we see Jesus as too lofty an example. Likewise, Paul instructed us how to battle worry with prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving, but again, that is Paul the “Super” Apostle. Do we have any other examples?
Let’s consider the “Suffering Prophet,” Jeremiah. He had more reason to struggle with worry than most of us can imagine, yet he teaches us that God desires us to have peace through one of the most well-known verses in The Bible: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Jesus commands us not to worry, and Paul provides us the tools to “be anxious for nothing,” but I needed another example of a worry-free life, and I found it in Jeremiah. He not only trusted God through incredible hardships, but he also provides the perfect illustration of a person who lives without fear or anxiety:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
This section from Jeremiah paints a vivid picture of a worry-free life, how it is possible to be fearless in the face of pressure and without anxiety when everything around us is drying up and falling apart. Jeremiah does not paint a worry-free life as mindless or childish. It is not free of stress, challenges, hard work, or even failure. Instead, it is a picture of faith and stability. Several things from this Scripture should encourage us as believers who have stressful jobs and lives:
First, the tree has been planted exactly where it should be. A worry-free believer trusts God’s sovereignty. He has planted you where you are, no matter the circumstances.
We must either believe that we are where God wants us, or we must consider doing something else. We should also realize how hard it is to transplant trees! Times of drought and heat do not change that God planted you where He wants you and will sustain you – trust Him and do not worry, even when it is hard.
Second, the tree does all it can do, spreading out its roots wherever it can.
This is not a lazy or complacent tree, but neither is it a tree with an overdeveloped sense of self-importance that must pine over every facet of life. God calls us to spread our roots wherever He plants us. This requires effort, responsibility, and vigilance. Biblically speaking, a worry-free person is a good steward of his or her family, career, and personal affairs. As Solomon teaches us in Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.”
Third, the tree does not fear the heat and pressures of life.
It still stands strong and still produces its leaves. During times of heat, the tree becomes a refuge for others, a source of shade and relief. Being where God planted it and having done all it can do, it simply stands, allowing God to use it as He sees fit. As Paul told the Ephesians, “having done all, to stand.” (6:13) When you stand still, others find confidence – refuge in your shade. Do not fear the heat because God will sustain you!
Fourth, the tree is not anxious, even in a drought!
Planted by God . . . having spread out its roots . . . having endured the heat . . . and having been a source of comfort for others, this tree is not worried. Despite tremendous pressure and heat, we can live lives free of anxiety. Even when things are at their worst, the peace of God can guard our hearts from worry. We must still work hard and meet our obligations, but those stresses are all on the outside. Inwardly, we can be at peace because we have been planted by God.
And finally, the worry-free tree does not cease from yielding fruit.
The tree could have worried and stayed awake at night. It could have micromanaged itself into insanity. And it could have even isolated itself from family, friends, and activities – but none of those things would have helped it bear more fruit. Instead, it trusted God. And because trees can only bear fruit in the presence of other trees, it even trusted that others would do their part!
Psalm 1:3 teaches us that we are like trees “planted by the rivers of water.” Like the tree in Jeremiah, we are called to be at peace, without fear, and without anxiety. Dear Leader, you carry some very heavy burdens that God never intended you to carry when you worry. God has called us to peace and a life free from worry. After all, Jesus called the workers and the worriers! “:Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden . . . and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-20) When the temptation to worry comes this week, rest in Him who promises rest for your souls!
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