Today we will look at Jesus' command that we not worry. It's a tough one to follow, but maybe these studies will help us to make things different in 2017!
Let's refresh our memory of our focus passage:
Wow. I didn't realize until I started this study that Jesus says "do not worry" THREE times in this short passage! I guess it's good that we are working our way through this, right? (Grin)
Before we go any further, let's also look at three words that frequently are bandied about, but have different meanings:
Concern -- to be interested in, engaged with
Worry -- to torment oneself with disturbing thoughts, to fret
Anxiety -- distress, uneasiness of mind caused by fear, agitation
Concern is something that identifies probable difficulties, but focuses on resolving those problems. Concern usually results in action on our part. Worry and anxiety are identified as "what if?" issues, and are typically the uncontrollable problems that we envision. What if I have a wreck on the way home? What if my child receives a cancer diagnosis? What if war starts with North Korea? The big difference is that with worry and anxiety, there is little or no action as a result of our thoughts.
We do need to be concerned. We need to identify problems that we can solve, and work to resolve them. That is being careful, and being good stewards of our time and our resources. Giving attention to problems that we can take action for, and resolve, is a good thing!
Years ago, when I was a little tyke, and my parents were navigating our family car in between the dinosaurs' paths to get to our kinfolks in a neighboring state, I looked out the window at a huge flock of birds. They had stopped circling and were settling down on a stretch of high voltage wires. I wondered aloud why they were gathered there. One of my parents chuckled and said, "I guess they called a meeting. Maybe they are discussing their migration plans!" I rolled my eyes and dismissed the remark as silly, but it does make a point for us. Birds do sense that the seasons are changing, and they react to prepare for those changes. In much the same way, we are expected to prepare for changes in our lives.
In other words, Jesus' words "do not worry" are not to be taken as instructions that we should disregard tomorrow's potential problems. It makes sense to plan ahead!
So, saving for a rainy day, buying life insurance, or planning ahead with a fully-stocked pantry is not a sin. (Grin)
The difference is, we are told not to be "anxious." Just like Jesus mentioned in verse 27 of our passage, which one of us can add a single hour to our lives by worrying? No one! In fact, worry can shorten our life span.
Tomorrow we'll glance down the list of things that Jesus told us NOT to worry about!