There is a funny story about a certain woman who, for many years had trouble sleeping for fear of home invasions and burglars. She worried that she would wake up some night to find an unwelcome stranger in her house. One night her husband heard a noise in the house and went to investigate. When he got downstairs he encountered a burglar and said, “Good evening! I am so glad to see you, I was wondering if you would be so kind as to come upstairs with me and meet my wife? She has been waiting ten years to meet you!”
Jokes aside, a burglar can steal from you once, but worry can steal from you day after day, night after night for years. Worry (and the anxiety it produces) can steal your peace, it can rob you of sleep, it can confiscate your health, it can make off with your happiness, and it can defraud your relationship with God of its power and pleasure. Worry is a thief, and when it trespasses and invades the Christian heart, it brings with it partners in crime such as discouragement, despair, distraction, deflation, and disbelief. And yet, sadly, we open the door to this “thief” and its accomplices on a regular basis. We unduly worry about our health, finances, the state of our nation, the future, terrorism, our children, retirement, death, and even God’s faithfulness and love for us.
Worry as we might, it is never right! In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus tackles the sin of undue worry with His disciples. In the previous verse, the Master had talked about the beguiling nature of materialism and the need to stay God-centered (v. 24). That said, His disciples were all too aware of the daily struggles faced by those in Israel to make ends meet, and then on top of that they had left their nets and livelihoods to follow Christ which exposed them to greater financial insecurity. Confronting this temptation to worry about food, clothes, and life’s necessities, Jesus tells the Twelve not to be anxious (vv. 25, 31), and in doing so, gives them five angles of attack in the battle with anxiety.
First, don’t make things more important than they are (Matt. 6:25-26). Life is more important than food and clothing and the God who gave the greater gift of life will provide the lesser gifts of food and clothing. Second, remember that worry is a waste of time and energy (Matt. 6:27). Worry is not productive; it does not add inches to your height, but it can subtract days from your life. Third, be mindful that God knows and cares about you (Matt. 6:26-30). The God who watches over the birds of the air, and tacks the grass down with colorful lilies, loves and looks over you in a far greater manner. God doesn’t love his pets more than He loves us. Fourth, keep the main thing the plain thing (Matt. 6:31-33). Don’t let worry distract you from pursuing your God-given responsibilities. If we will make God’s concerns our concerns, God has promised to make our concerns His concerns. Fifth, don’t borrow from tomorrow (Matt 6:34). Life is to be lived one day at a time, there is grace for today, and there will be grace for tomorrow, but there is no grace for living both today and tomorrow, today.
Like David’s five stones, these principles and practices will help you slay the giant of worry.