The motto of many twenty-first century Christians seems to be, “Why trust when you can worry?” Some realize it is wrong and try to hide their worry by giving it other titles such as “concerned,” “troubled,” “disturbed,” “interested,” or “bothered.” Regardless of the term used, worry saps your energy, drains your joy, destroys vision, curtails evangelism, and aggravates physical ailments. Unfortunately, it is also contagious—easily caught and fearfully experienced.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Mat 6:33-34)
The Greek word for worry is merimnao, a combination of two words—merizo (to divide) and nous (mind). Worry actually means “a divided mind.” In the Bible, the word is translated “worry,” “anxious,” “anxiety” or care.” It is not to be confused with diligent care and concern toward your responsibilities (2 Cor 11:28; Phil 2:20; Gal 4:19). Planning that acknowledges God’s sovereignty is not worry (James 4:13). Worry is over-anxious concern regarding the future and trepidation that keep a person from fulfilling current biblical responsibilities.
Worry is Sinful
In Matthew 6:19-34 Jesus addressed worry and He forbade it three times (vv. 25, 31, 34). The Apostle Paul also tells believers to, “Be anxious for nothing …. ” (Phil 4:6). Christ’s teaching in Matthew 6 exposes the two sinful roots of worry and the cure for each.
Worry is Idolatry, and the Solution is Repentance (Matt 6:19-25)
Idolatry means to worship someone or something other than the true and living God. It means giving yourself to some person, goal, ideal, concern or object rather than Christ. And it means putting your desires above God’s desires and commands for your life. It is allowing your concerns about the future, situations, and material objects to be more important than thinking and acting God’s way. Worry expresses idolatry in the heart (v. 21).
When we worry we tend to have an inordinate focus on:
Material objects (vv. 19-21)
Goals (vv. 22-23)
People (v. 24)
The things you worry about reveal your idols—finding a mate, getting a promotion, health, money, success, children, peoples’ opinions, etc. Jesus declares that you cannot serve God and something or someone else simultaneously (v. 24). A worrier needs to be called to confess his false master, false gods, and false refuges and renew his faith in Jesus Christ, His Savior and Lord.
Worry is unbelief and the Solution is Faith (Matt 6:25-34)
Jesus described worriers as people of “little faith” (v. 30). Worry is the fruit of remaining unbelief and doubt still residing in a Christian. The presence of worry indicates that there is someone or something you are living for other than the Lord. The worrier should be helped to identify the specific idols and lies that are ruling him and called to confess them as sin. The fruit of repentance for someone who worries will be manifesting faith in God by disciplining his mind to focus on:
God’s care for mankind, argument from the lesser to the greater (vv.25-30)
God’s omnipotence, He knows your needs (vv. 31-32)
God’s promises are real (vv.33)
Pleasing God by caring for today’s responsibilities (v. 34).
The idolatry and unbelief of worry is to be replaced by a worship of and faith in God. This will manifest itself in a lifestyle marked by:
1) Right relationship with God (Phil 4:6, 7): confesses worry as sin; this gives hope. General as well as specific requests, requests for God s love and care; for how He is using the trial to spur growth; for the peace He provides. Make it our goal to please him (2 Cor. 5:9).
2) Right thinking (Phil 4:8): Faith, a clear conscience and thankfulness frees the mind to be used correctly. The mind will need to be disciplined to “dwell on these things.” Plan according to biblical principles and priorities; be solution oriented in dealing with problems. Study and meditate on other passages such as John 14; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Psalms 27, 37, 46, 56, 73, 94.
3) Right acting (Phil 4:9); Focus attention and energy into fulfilling today’s responsibilities. Live your theology. Learn from the lifestyle of productive Christian leaders.
*Note the progression: Right Praying —>Right Thinking —> Right Acting
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Bridges, Jerry. Trusting God. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1988.
Fitzpatrick, Elyse. Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2001.
Jones, Robert D. “Getting to the Heart of Your Worry.” The Journal of Biblical Counseling, volume 17, number 3, 1999, 21-24.
MacArthur, John F., Jr. Anxiety Attacked: Applying Scripture to the Cares of the Soul. Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1993.
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