When I was a kid growing up, one of my parents’ frequent pieces of advice was, “Don’t let them upset you.” This advice often revolved around the older boys who seemed to enjoy teasing me and would often choose me last when picking teams. What my parents were teaching me, was that I was responsible for “how” I reacted. I had a choice. “Don’t fall into their trap; Keep your chin up;” and, “Go about your business.” Really good advice, looking back. In John 14, Jesus gives some similar advice to his disciples to prepare them for the fact that he would soon leave them.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14 NIV)
Did you catch his opening words? “Do not let your hearts be troubled”…
Jesus is saying we have a choice. While we do not control troubling circumstances, and we cannot control the choices and actions of others, bullies will at times try to make life difficult. One of the best pieces of advice that I read early on in this Covid19 pandemic was offered by Henry Cloud on a Facebook live event for church leaders. He encouraged us to make a list of the things creating stress, which are beyond our control. It is okay to complain about them and even grieve them, but “don’t let them control you.”
Instead, give them to God and focus on “what we can control,” which is how we respond. Jesus was telling his disciples something that we need to constantly remind ourselves of. Giving into fear and worry, is a choice. “Do not let your hearts be troubled” sounds a lot like what Jesus said in the sermon on the mount…
“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 than food, and the body more 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)
The question we must ask ourselves is this: How am I allowing worries over the circumstances that I control, or the people I don’t control, rob me of experiencing God’s peace today? Why not identify those things and then give them to God? As one of Jesus' closest followers, Peter, would later write…
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)
As men, too often we feel that carrying the weight of worry is being responsible. It is not. As Jesus said in John 14, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” In other words, trust me. Carrying around a troubled heart is not a sign of responsibility or concern, but a lack of faith.
Praying you will continue to identify the source of your worries, and as you do, give to God those you have no control over. That’s not only responsible, it’s being obedient to Christ’s command:
Do not let your heart by troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.
Lead Pastor, Frisco First Baptist Church