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Observing God's Care

Thursday, November 08, 2012 | Comments (5)

by John MacArthur

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective, Sherlock Holmes, is one of the most intriguing creations of literary fiction. He is, quite simply, extraordinary. His famous cohort, Dr. John Watson, is ordinary, at least by comparison. Watson has often been erroneously portrayed as a bumbling fool, but that flies in the face of Doyle’s attempt to make the average reader relate to Watson.

In this well-known interchange between Holmes and Watson, see which character you more closely resemble:

HOLMES: You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.

WATSON: Frequently.

HOLMES: How often?

WATSON: Well, some hundreds of times.

HOLMES: Then how many are there?

WATSON: How many? I don’t know.

HOLMES: Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed. (“A Scandal in Bohemia” in The Complete Sherlock Holmes [New York: Doubleday, 1927])

You probably don’t know how many steps you regularly ascend each day, and therefore you relate to Watson. But here Holmes is making a point similar to the one Jesus makes in Matthew 6:25-34. There Jesus directly addresses the topic of worry, telling us what to do about it and why. Like Holmes, He says we need to take a good look around us and observe, or think deeply about the meaning behind what we see. This is what Jesus tells us to ponder if we want to be free from worry:

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing?

Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Emphasis added)

The often-repeated phrase “Do not be anxious” is the theme. The Lord is issuing a cease-and-desist order against anxiety, based on the sovereign care of a loving and omnipotent God. While many worldly professionals offer therapeutic and chemical suggestions for managing your worry, Jesus commands us to stop it altogether.

We’ll take a closer look at His instructions next week.

(Adapted from Anxious for Nothing.)


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#1  Posted by John Ferguson  |  Thursday, November 08, 2012at 5:21 AM

I'm not suggesting the intent or even application of this passage is to spend more time in nature, but for me at least there seems to be a connection with observing the birds of the air and flowers of the field with the serenity that the outdoors, i.e. God's creation, brings. Every time I read this passage I can't help but think perhaps I need to enjoy God's handiwork more as a remedy to anxiety. Logically, this would seem one method of combating the introspection of anxiety.

This is an excellent and timely series. Thanks!

#2  Posted by Mae Ella Jones  |  Thursday, November 08, 2012at 7:59 AM

That is a commanding thought! Just stop it!

#3  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Thursday, November 08, 2012at 9:54 AM

My anxiety stems more from my "perfectionist-type" personality and all the failures I see in myself in the form of disobedience to the one I love. I thank God for Paul's statements in Romans 7:19-25 and verse 19 in the NKJV states it best in my opinion. "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice."

Much of my anxiety is relieved when I learn to FORGIVE myself; knowing that in repentance God has already forgiven me, but sometimes the hardest person to forgive is oneself.

Chronic and often excruciating pain to the point where I am on disability whereas I would MUCH rather be working and thus freeing my godly wife to be around more for the nurturing of the children in a way that only a godly mother can.

I agree with the post #1 and John Ferguson that getting out into nature, something I could and did routinely, gives a great appreciation for the wondrous works of our God. Can't wait to see what no eye has seen nor ear has heard - what a great day it will be to be with the Lord and the saints in a body and world without the presence of evil...come Lord Jesus come!

God bless all of you and may we be all the more bold in proclaiming the truth and more faithful to bear one anothers burden as we are closer to being with our brother, Savior and Lord!

#4  Posted by Hanna Morton  |  Thursday, November 08, 2012at 3:45 PM

Thanks Pastor MacArthur! I often times get overwhelmed about the way our country is heading...Like how this Election turned out. But I have to keep reminding myself that God is in control...And rest in His promise!

#5  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Sunday, November 11, 2012at 6:16 AM

I came across a wonderful quote the other day; but I have no idea who wrote it.

"There is blessed peace for a troubled soul in obedience to God in Christ."

This will be a really good series to follow.

Mary Elizabeth Palshan