Not Worth the Worry
My two-year-old daughter loves The Lion King, especially the song “Hakuna Matata,” which means “no worries.” Even though that song was at one time very popular, we still live in what is called the “Age of Anxiety.” Apparently, the problem of worry is not unique to our generation or Jesus never would have devoted a large section to this issue in His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:25-34). And in the Parable of the Sower, He identified “the worries of the world” (Mk. 4:19) as thorns that choke out the life of the Word of God.
That’s where we get our word worry. It comes from an Old English term that means “to strangle.” The Greek word paints a picture of a mind torn in two directions, one that is divided and distracted. It seems logical that Jesus would address His concerns for worry after saying that “no man can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24). If you’re occupied with worrying, how can you be working for the Master? Before we are too quick to sympathize with Jesus’ audience, notice that the things we worry about are completely different than what they were worrying about. “Do not worry, then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’” These people were anxious about whether they would be able to put food on their tables or clothes on their backs. In other words, what they worried about make our concerns pale into insignificance. And if Jesus had to get on them for worrying about the necessities of life, what do you think He would say to us about the things that distract, and divide our minds?
I offer these suggestions as to why worry is, in fact, not worth the worry:
Worry Sets Our Minds on the World, Not on the Kingdom
That’s why so much attention is given to the subject in Scripture. Jesus introduces this topic in a section on materialism — serving God vs. serving mammon. This makes an easy transition to talk about worry, because the devil doesn’t care whether your heart is carried away by riches or by anxiety, just so long as it is carried away from God. When Martha was upset about Mary’s listening to Jesus instead of helping her serve, Jesus told her, “you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary” (Lk. 10:38-42). Worry distracts us from the one thing we ought to be doing. In all the opinions that seem to be available in life, there are actually only two. Which will you choose?
“Do not be anxious…but seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:25,33,34). If you want assurance of provision, you don’t seek things, you seek God. And upon securing your relationship with Him, making spiritual sustenance your priority, He will provide the daily bread. Upon making the decision to improve that area of your life, to make the righteousness of God your own, improvement in every area of life is the inevitable result. Don’t get that backwards.
Worry Demonstrates a Lack of Faith in God
Worrying about food, drink, and clothing are things that the “Gentiles eagerly seek” (Matt. 6:32). Jesus calls them “men of little faith,” because they were acting like the Lord didn’t know or care that they were hungry, thirsty, and in need of clothes. They were in covenant relationship with God but were demonstrating less faith than those who didn’t know Him at all.
Consider the sparrows, five of which were sold for two cents. “And yet not one of them is forgotten before God” (Lk. 12:6). If the smallest and humblest of God’s creatures are given such rich provision, what then, for the pinnacle of His creation, for those who have been made in His image and have become His children through the blood of His Son? And what about the lilies of the field, generally used for kindling? If the God of heaven has tended to the flowers whose life is but a breath and a sigh, will He not clothe with righteousness those whose destiny is eternal life? Surely a God who has given Jesus to satisfy our spiritual needs has sought out ways to provide for our physical ones as well. If He can solve our most basic problem, salvation from sin, we ought to trust Him with any other difficulty that comes our way.
Worry is Worthless
Having worried and worried and worried about something, what good does it accomplish? What does it change? It is a useless endeavor. “Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life” (Matt. 6:27)? In fact, worry doesn’t lengthen life, it tends to shorten it. Not just in the sense of “worrying yourself sick.” But all too often, life is what happens while we’re worrying that something else will happen. Our time here is short enough as it is, a “vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14). How much more is that vapor abbreviated when what little time we do have is wasted away with fretful, anxious care?
These passages on worry do not promote idleness, a spirit that says we can just sit back in the recliner and let God take care of everything for us. Other scriptures tell us that we must “labor, performing with our hands that which is good” (Eph. 4:28) and that we ought to provide for our own and for our household (1 Tim. 5:8). We need to do what we can. But we do so with the understanding that “God will take care of what we cannot” (Paul Earnhart).
Worrying about tomorrow gives no respect for the troubles of today. And even those really aren’t worth the worry.— Via Articles from the Timberland Drive church of Christ, Lufkin, Texas
We often hear people use the expression: “Everything happens for a reason.” This saying is the modern, New Age version of the old religious saying: “It’s God’s will.” Is this true? Is there a reason for everything? Does God’s will regulate all things?
First, some things happen because the Lord has placed certain ‘natural’ laws in place that cannot be violated without predictable results. For example: a man broke his leg. Why? What was the reason? He stepped off of a ladder and the ‘law of gravity’ prevailed. In this sense, we can understand and acknowledge that this ‘happened for a reason,’ though we doubt that this is what the New Age crowd means when they use that expression.
But, we must essentially protest the claim that God has totally predestined our lives, or that His ‘will’ controls every aspect of our existence. The Scriptures make it clear that God gives man choice. Joshua’s famous statement makes this abundantly clear: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). We know that the invitation for salvation is open to all, but each one must decide: “The Spirit and the bride say, Come . . . and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). So, obviously, God has not predestined everything, else these statements about our freedom to choose would be senseless.
Further, we know that some things do, in fact, happen as a consequence of the choices God allows us to make. Good choices typically bring good outcomes, and bad choices produce bad ones. Many are suffering the ill effects of things they chose to do or not do, while others are enjoying the benefits of wise selections. Moses advised the Israelites: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). To put it simply, choices have consequences. And while this is a definite rule of God, the specifics are determined by us and our free will, not His.
Finally, we must note that there is not always a clear, one-to-one corollary to be seen in every event in our lives. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and vice versa. Why? Frequently we can ‘see’ it, but often we can not answer, other than to lay it to the reality of living in this present world with its physical suffering and death. We may not be able to explain them, but we can use even the ‘bad things’ to provoke us to do what is right and just – as we seek for a world where such will never happen again (2 Peter 3:13).— Via The Beacon, February 23, 2014
News & Notes
Shirley Davis was back in the hospital for about a week, due to a surface infection on her knee replacement, and returned home last Friday evening. Her doctor told her that it was not as serious as he initially thought it might be.
Pat Joyner had an allergic reaction to the dye used in her tests, on December 3rd & 6th, for her upcoming aortic valve replacement, which has led to a rash, stomach cramps, and other physical discomfort. Her heart surgery is scheduled for January 8.
We are glad to hear that the open heart surgery for 16-year old Ben Lingenfelter went well.
Let us continue to remember in prayer the loved ones of Billy Lowe (Barbara Kirkland’s father) who passed away November 27.
Also for prayer: Bryan and Hannah Greer’s two premature infants, Everleigh and Hazel; and with sympathy for the loss of Amelia Kaye, the smallest of the triplets, who passed away soon after birth.Others to remember in prayer: Joyce Rittenhouse, A.J. Joyner, Jim Lively, Melotine Davis, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Mary Vandevander, Judy Daugherty, Marilyn Roberts, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery, Mary Aldrich, Rick Cuthbertson, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Michelle Rittenhouse, and Tommy Lin