The Tyranny of Worry

The Tyranny of Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 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? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)

Worry is a crazy thing. It can make us change our behavior even though many of the things we worry about never happen. One Penn State study showed that about 8% of the things people worry about come true. A similar study by Huffington Post showed that about 15% of the things we worry about come true. If it is something that doesn't happen, why does Jesus give us this instruction?

Anxiety disorders plague around 31% of the population at some point in their life. I'm not convinced that Jesus had those in mind when he gave this instruction. Many anxiety disorders aren't really "worrying about things," but more finding things to worry about. When our brains can't process information correctly, that's not really worry. Worry comes down to trusting in something other than God. 

When we worry, at least to some degree, we are saying to ourselves that we have more control over a particular situation than God does. We have convinced ourselves if we give more time and energy to the situation we will somehow change the outcome. This is complicated by the fact that as mentioned above, most of the things we worry about never happen. This reinforces our false belief that our worry changes something. 

In this golden passage, Jesus tells us that God will take care of us. Seeking after material things is a worldly venture according to this passage. Even necessities-food, clothing, and shelter-are considered unnecessary worries. I think I can make an argument these are pretty important. However, Jesus gives us a test to determine the strength of our faith: How much do you worry? (v30). 

When I was in college I had a Bible professor who had some flying fears. One of his fellow teachers would give him a hard time. He would tell him, "Roy, look at it this way. If we die, we go to Heaven. If we live, we go to Denver" (or wherever they were flying. What if we adopted that attitude more in our lives? What is your worse case scenario? 

If you fail at your job, it's possible you may be reprimanded. Then what? Well you may lose your job. Then what? You may have to sell a car or move out of your house. Then what? All these infinite scenarios all end with the possibility of losing your life to starvation, or injury, etc. How does that end? You get to be with Jesus. For the Christian, there is nothing that the world can take from them. Because of whose they are, they have nothing to fear. 


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