Do Not Worry

by Scarlett Stough

The paychecks have stopped. The unemployment has run out. The mortgage payments are so far behind that catching up would be impossible if you got a new job yesterday. For someone to say, “Do not worry about anything” feels like a slap in the face. But Jesus is the one who said it. If we believe that he is who he claims to be, then his words have substance we can count on. This is the point at which we prove our faith and commitment to be genuine. This is the point at which we decide to trust beyond the point of losing everything. We either believe that God exists and rewards those who diligently seek him, or we don’t.

When we face impossible odds, disputes over fine points of doctrine fade into insignificance. Differences of opinion with others that lead to hard feelings and estrangements seem petty. Survival concern wipes out everything else that usually occupies our thoughts. We begin to evaluate what is really important to us. We can use these adverse conditions to examine our priorities. Jesus is not telling people to stop planning or thinking about godly ways to make the most of these situations. He is telling us to do so in faith that God is our Provider. But, how do we stop the worry that is the normal and natural response to a dire situation as Jesus counsels us to do?

“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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes (Matthew 6:25?)”

My Bible has a break between verses 24 and 25 of Matthew 6 with a subheading: Do Not Worry, but Jesus did not change the subject. The word “therefore” beginning verse 25 takes us back to verse 24 which says,

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Therefore, I tell you, do not worry….

If we love God and are devoted to him, money takes its place as one of his gifts to us instead of being the “god” we serve; therefore, we have no reason to worry about the things of this life because we are looking to God to provide exactly what we need when we need it according to his will. We have no reason to feel desperate as long as we are serving the living God and not the love of money which is a root of sin (I Timothy 6:10).

We need to go back at least as far as verse 18 of Matthew 6 to see more of the context of “do not worry.” Jesus has been teaching his disciples that their ‘acts of righteousness’ (verse 1) should not be done to earn the approval and praise of men, but to do them as a private act of worship toward God. He goes on to say in verse 18 that God will reward those secret acts of righteousness. Then he says:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 7:19-21.)”

We usually focus on Matthew 6:33-34 as the climax of this section:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The primary goal of life of a person who loves God is to seek to know and please God. Physical life, food, clothing, and shelter are the gifts of God and his prerogative to provide. God intends for all people to enjoy these necessities of life. How much more will he provide for those who are seeking to serve him wholeheartedly? We don’t serve God so he will give us these necessities; we love God because he first loved us. He created us and he is the source of all we need for life.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he wrote:

“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:5-6.)”

We can drive worry and anxiety out through prayer and thanksgiving to God who in turn will grant us peace in the knowledge of his love and care for us. We can rely on his love.

The same Greek word translated as “worry about” and as “anxious about” is also used in a positive way using the English word “interest” about Timothy in Philippians 2:20-21:

I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

The same word is also translated “have concern” in I Corinthians 12:24b-25:

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

Although God does not want us to be anxious over those things he can easily and generously provide, he is pleased when we have an interest in the welfare of others and are concerned for one another. Those of us who have enough, and give some of it to those who do not, out of compassion for their need, are showing that interest and concern in a way that relieves suffering in this world (Matthew 25:40; James 1:27).

Our problems are real and need real solutions. We can take those problems, our own and those of others, to God in prayer with thanksgiving. He cares about us and knows our needs and is eager to supply everything we need for this life and the life to come.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be self-controlled and alert.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen (I Peter 5:6-11).

We do suffer in this life. Life does have its troubles. But we have a God who is greater than all of those troubles (Romans 8:31-39).

Bible Study Guide: Where Your Treasure Is

 
Volume 10 Issue 1 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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