Maybe worry is one of the dirty secrets of the church. Perhaps it renders us timid, passive, and doubtful when our theology tells us we have every reason to be courageous, active, and confident. Could it be that many of us live with a huge gap between the theological confidence that we celebrate on Sunday and the street-level fear, worry, and anxiety that accompanies us the rest of the week? Why do so many of us worry so much? Why do we not experience the rest that the gospel is meant to give us? Why do we have sleepless nights, nervous stomachs, and fretful days? Why does worry so often enter our door? —Paul David Tripp
Worry! It’s all-consuming. It’s exhausting! Many times it seems we can’t escape its stranglehold on our thoughts and lives.
Take a look at the biblical definition of worry:
- anxiety/worry – merimna – anxiety, care that brings disruption to the personality and the mind. From root word merizō – to divide to separate into parts, cut into pieces to divide into parties, i.e. be split into factions – through the idea of distraction – care anxiety.)
- anxious – merimnao – to be anxious about, to be troubled with cares, to seek to promote one’s interests. (Matt 6:27)
Worry at its root is a heart issue. It’s rooted in unbelief and doubt about God’s nature and character and it reveals what we truly treasure (Luke 12:34). Worry, in essence, is saying we don’t believe or trust God to handle this area of our lives. It’s sin. What we truly treasure controls our hearts and our hearts control our behavior. When we feel we are at risk of losing what we treasure, we tend to worry.
In Matthew 6:25-34 we find Jesus addressing this issue of worry in our lives. Jesus poses FIVE QUESTIONS to His listeners in this passage. These questions struck me as I studied and I realized they each reveal an area of our hearts/lives that can be fertile soil for worry to take root and grow. Let’s take look at some of the heart issues behind our worrying:
#1 – Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Matt 6:25b
Priority and Purpose! When Jesus speaks of life in this passage he is referring to the life of our inner man —that which drives us, our affections, desires, and passions. Do you live for a purpose higher than food and clothing (earthly/material things)? I believe this question addresses the purpose and priorities in life. If our priorities and purpose are things of this world, i.e. position, power, success, happiness, then when those are at risk of being compromised, we worry.
#2 – Are you not of more value than they? Matt 6:26b
Identity! Where do you find your value and worth? What is the foundation for your identity? Is it in performance, the approval and perception of others, or your past? Again when these are at risk of being devalued, we will worry.
#3 – And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matt 6:27
Control! How can our worry affect even a single hour of our lives? We cannot control all things in life. In fact, God calls us to live out of control, in total dependence upon Him! When we feel we are losing control in an area of our life we treasure, then we will worry.
#4 – And why are you anxious about clothing? Matt 6:28
Appearance and Perceptions! Do you place value on how you look and what others think of you? Are you living to impress the world with your lifestyle? Again when these are at risk or when our value of them is out of balance, we will tend to worry.
#5 – But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matt 6:30
- little faith – oligopistos – lacking confidence (in Christ), of little faith, trusting too little.
Unbelief! Jesus sums it all up for us, “O you of little faith”. It’s all about where we are placing our trust. Do we really believe and trust God? Worry reveals areas of our heart where we don’t truly trust and believe God. It’s when we have climbed up on the throne of our hearts in an attempt to control life.
Here are a couple more questions for you to ponder:
What do you truly treasure? Who or what is ruling in the kingdom of your heart?
Do you expend as much energy and effort over your spiritual heart condition as you do worrying and being anxious about your physical/earthly condition? (whether it be provision, relationships, comfort, convenience, etc…)
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this:that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.—2 Cor 5:14-15
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. —James 4:13-15
Defeating worry is about daily feeding your soul on the promises and truths of God’s Word. Like the definition in the New Testament describes, worry divides, distracts and distorts our thinking. So we need a realignment in our thinking. Our focus is naturally drawn to the temporal/the world/the flesh and we need a renewed mind and spirit to refocus us.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
There’s quite a bit here to digest and ponder about worry in our lives. So for now, I’ll leave you to it. I’ll be back next week with more truths from God’s Word and practical steps you can take to overcome worry in your life.
©2014 Susan Cady, susancady.com