As a pastor, the topic of worry is one that keeps arising. Worry is a part of almost every situation. Either we worry, or someone is worrying about us. We worry about money, our health and the well-being of others, our safety and security, and well… the list is endless.
What makes this topic really dangerous, however, is that worry has a wide range of impact. We can have worrying personalities that are hereditary, or have self-induced worry, or perhaps experience medically unbalanced situations. As believers, it’s really important to figure out where we stand with our worry, as it will dramatically impact how we deal with it. With that said, we all have to start at the same place – that’s with Jesus.
Jesus is pretty clear: If we first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, there is no need to let worry distract us (Matthew 6:33).
“Seeking”, “Receiving” and “Worrying”
The Greek word for “seek” (zeteite) implies an unceasing journey.1 That means, we are to first seek the Kingdom and His righteousness, and do so as long as we live. The key is FIRST. It’s a growing daily journey of trust, where God is to be our focus (His will and His plan), and our job is to live selfless lives (ie. the beatitudes, loving, serving, giving, praying, and fasting,2 This is not to say, however, that our needs aren’t important. It simply means that our attention should be towards the Kingdom, knowing that God will take care of the rest.
Worrying About Our Money
Early believers knew how to seek the Kingdom. Believers sold their possessions to care for those in need (Acts 4:34). Even the Roman officials noticed how the “Christians” were unstoppable because of their lack of worry and response to the daily needs around them. Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate once told his officials:
“We ought to be ashamed. Not a beggar is to be found among the Jews, and those godless Galileans [he meant the Christians] feed not only their own people but ours as well, whereas our people receive no assistance whatever from us.”3
The early Church took care of, not only their own, but, anyone in need. So much could be learned from their passion to seek the Kingdom. What kind of impact would the Church make if we were known as those didn’t worry about tomorrow and simply took care of the needs around us today? Our generous hearts have the potential to prove God’s faithfulness.Our generous hearts have the potential to prove God's faithfulness. Click To Tweet
Worrying About Our Health and Well-Being
Jesus explained that the birds don’t worry about tomorrow, and yet God provides for them each day (Matthew 6:26). I love this example because birds work hard. They might prepare and build a nest for future seasons, but they simply do whatever is required of them each day and God provides. God takes care of His creation, so why don’t we trust Him to provide for us?
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27) If we truly seek God’s Kingdom and not ours, we’ll begin to trust and understand that no amount of worry will change tomorrow. God is calling us to be faithful with our time; not distracted by worry.God is calling us to be #faithful with our time; not distracted by #worry. Click To Tweet
Worrying About Our Safety and Security
This happens in two ways: we worry about the personal security of ourselves and our families, and also the safety of others while they are away from us. In the West, this conversation seems to always come back to the worry of terrorism, boarder security, and immigration. But if we seriously believed in seeking the Kingdom of God, we would trust God is bigger and any threat to our freedom or security will be combated with God’s protection and ultimate plan.
We also worry about others. A good friend of mine admitted that this is true about how he worries about his college-aged kids. My daughter is only two. Time moves fast, but for now, she’s not usually far from us. That said, worry can take over just as easy – you just have to watch her jump down the stairs to know what I mean.
But again, we have to seek the Kingdom first. By seeking the Kingdom we let go of the things we can’t control, and start trusting God to care for our needs and the needs of others. These times of worry, then, become times of trust.
When We Trust God
As we learn to trust God, our worry decreases. It may be easier said than done, but I think we often focus on the wrong issue. We tend to wonder why we worry and end up worrying about worrying. But we need to ask ourselves, “Who do we trust?”
If we trust anyone, other than God, we set ourselves up to worry.
If we “…seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, [than] all [our needs] will be added to [us].” (Matthew 6:33)If we first seek the Kingdom of God & His righteousness, there's no need to worry.. Mt 6:33 Click To Tweet
How Do We Respond To Worry?
Can we truly stop worrying? Probably not – we’re human. In order to start trusting God, however, we’ll need to respond to our worry. Here are three things to consider:
- Jesus doesn’t call us to be “care-free”.
Sometimes we think “care-free” and “worry-free” are the same thing. God wants us to have concern for things. A healthy level of concern will cause us to act. We need to be self-disciplined and have a good work-ethic (Colossians 3:23-24).
- Too much worry, will cause you to worry.
Worry is real and, if we were honest, we have all faced that real feeling. According to Jesus, however, not even our needs (food, clothing, and health) are reasons to worry. If we don’t learn to trust God, our natural sense of concern will turn into worry and distract us from God’s plan.
- “Medically Unbalanced Worry” is combated with love and grace.
Some may find themselves in an uncontrollable unbalanced state of worry. We live in a broken world, and our bodies are no different. If you find yourself there, seek medical support and know the Church is there to love and serve you. If you know someone in that situation, don’t simply give them scripture verses about how we shouldn’t worry. This only adds more questions to why they are so unbalanced. Instead, give them brotherly/sisterly love, support, a shoulder to cry on, and lots of prayer.
I would love to hear from you! What have I missed? How do you build trust in God and decrease worry in your life?
References [ + ]
|1.||⇑||The word zeteo is written in the present imperative tense zeteite implying an active and continuing journey.|
|2.||⇑||Other examples and further explanation can be found in Matthew 5-7.|
|3.||⇑||As quoted by: D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 99.|