BY DONNA CHURCHILL
“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?...Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
(Matthew 6:27, 34)
Jesus addresses many things in Matthew 6:27-34; my focus is on the sin of worry. We often don’t call it a sin because we mostly see worry as something that shows we are concerned and care about someone or a situation, but when we don’t relinquish to God our cares and concern, they most often slide the slippery slope right down into worry and anxiety.
My husband was employed at IBM in Essex Junction many years ago when the company experienced its first major layoff of almost 1000 people. When my husband was hired by IBM in 1978, the company had never experienced a layoff; in fact, it was known for their “no layoff” policy. In the area of Burlington, VT, where the major employer up until the days of IBM, was General Electric, this was a big deal. General Electric (GE) was known for layoffs and picket lines that would often escalate into violence. So to this community, IBM represented job security. It was generally thought if you were hired by IBM, you had a job for life. But after the layoff of 2002, the promise of job security was shattered.
My husband was a worrier. It was one of the things he and God wrestled with – a lot. I was not, by nature, a worrier. God and I did not much struggle with this. After the IBM layoff, my husband’s worrying took on a whole new level. He was 55 in 2002 and he became “concerned” that he would not survive future layoffs to make it to his retirement at age 67. The stark reality is my husband died in 2004 and not a bit of his worrying added another year unto his life. He did not live to see retirement.
I share this story with you, not to berate or belittle my husband; we all deal with besetting sins. I share this with you to drive home the truth of the Scriptures in Matthew. God was in control over my husband’s life; He was always in control over his life. God knew he wouldn’t live to make it to retirement age, so all that time he spent fretting and worrying was for nothing! This very example is why God wrestles with us over besetting sins – to set us free!
How many of our precious minutes, hours, days do we waste worrying about things we have no control over??
After my husband died, I had insurance monies that I needed to invest for my future. Never having had to deal with this type of thing, I sought individuals who could help and advise me as to what to do. For the first time in my life, I was watching the stock market. All of a sudden, I was a worrier and “concerned” about my financial future. For those who might remember, we had somewhat of a stock market “crash” in 2008 and I saw some of my finances wiped out. I was advised well during that time, but what my advisors couldn’t help me with was my worrying. Keep in mind what I stated previously. I was not, by nature, a worrier and never had been. So, this was new, uncharted territory for me and I didn’t like it! I found myself fretful and frustrated. I was checking the stock market daily and always calculating how long my money would last! I had no control over the stock market and there was not a thing I could do about it!
It was then that God gently reminded me of Phil’s worrying and how that worked (or didn’t) for him. I repented and finally relinquished my financial future to the only One who could be trusted with it. God gave me grace for the day because as Matthew 6:34 says, today has enough problems of its own. My prayer each day then became, “God, I have everything I need for today and I trust you with tomorrow.” That prayer and relinquishment became freedom to me. God is, always has been and always will be, my Provider. As I trust Him each day to provide all my needs, not just financially, I trust Him to show up tomorrow, too. In these uncertain times we live in, I sometimes find myself again “concerned” about my future, but as I place it back in His capable hands, I find peace.
How many of you have “cares” and “concerns” regarding certain areas in your life? Your worry may not be for finances; it could be for the trip you’re going to take next week, maybe for a loved one’s salvation, a colleague’s attitude, a child in trouble, job security, the state of the world, a grandchild’s mental health, what someone thinks of you; any number of things that may be weighing on your mind and heart; often many things all at once.
The reason worry and anxiety is a sin is because it negates the Lordship of God. It finds us placing our trust in something or someone other than the Lord. Is He the Lord sitting on the throne of His Kingdom or are you establishing (or trying to establish) yourself as lord over your own little kingdom? Worry cannot add “one cubit to your stature” or add one day to your life, or add one dollar to your bank account or give you any measure of peace. Rolling that worry unto the Lord can bring you freedom and peace because God can be trusted. He is always in control and even when you think you are in control, you’re not. Wrestle with the Lord if worry is a problem for you. Let Him win the fight.
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your cares upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:6, 7
It is humbling to trust God and cast all your cares upon Him; your pride doesn’t want to acknowledge that you are poor and needy (Psalm 40:17). Knowing and believing that He cares for you allows grace to humble yourself and admit your neediness, both to Him and to yourself.
Philippians 4:6-8 gives us a blueprint (not a magic formula!) on how to turn away from worry:
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”