A humorous moment in my early ministry years back in New Jersey was when I was visiting one of the many elderly shut-ins of the church. This particular lady was telling me about some of the challenges she had physically, and then she spoke about a fear of also developing some kind of dementia. She said, “I used to worry about getting Alzheimer’s, but then I just figured, ‘Oh, forget about it!’” She wasn’t making a joke and looked surprised when I laughed at the remark.
The truth is that most of us worry about many more things than we should. I’m rather guilty of this one, more than most things I write about. When I’m worrying too much, and then I confront myself internally about it, the argument I give myself in return is, “Well, there really is something to be said for reasonable responsibility!” And that is true. But still … worrying is over the top!
One time in my life when I did have some success in defeating worry was during my academic years in college and grad school. Between the two, there was a total of nine consecutive years of post-high school education. I was really into getting good grades, a mentality that drove me often into excessive worry and deep anxiety. After seven years of this, I finally wore out. Often, the difference between a B+ and an A- was double the effort. I told myself I had done well enough and wasn’t going to flunk out, that there were other life priorities I was not accomplishing well enough, and that I would henceforth do the best I could with a responsible amount of time applied to the academics. Beyond that, I wouldn’t worry if the grades were not of the “Dean’s List” category. It was a great relief. But I’ve had trouble applying this principle to other areas of life and responsibility. Being overly-competitive does not help!
Here are some points that Jesus made to his disciples on the issue of worrying, particularly about material assets and the supply of basic needs …
- The meaning of life is not about keeping score on material things.
- The God who takes wonderful care of the beautiful, natural world will certainly take care of his own people who are so much more valuable.
- Worrying does not accomplish anything, quite the opposite.
- Worrying about material things is the way the unbelieving world functions, and to worry means you are not kingdom-oriented.
- When you put the things of the kingdom onto the top of your mindful priorities, you find that the things of this world tend to somehow solve themselves.
- Things of this world can vanish and cause worry, things invested in eternity cannot perish – so obviously that should be a priority.
- When you get your mind set on true treasures, your heart – including control of emotions like worry – naturally follow.
So, don’t worry! It’s stupid to do that! Stupid is as stupid does. I know something about this.
Luke 12:22 – Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.