Tuesday, March 18, 2008

on worrying

Well, here I am, finally posting again. I think about potential blog posts all night long while I'm at work, and then somehow they never get written! So here is something I wanted to write about while it is still fresh in my mind.

Our pastor preached the Sunday morning message on the topic of worry, using the passage in Matthew 6. "Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself." Well, that's one of the verses anyways. Jesus talks about how He cares for all the little things of the earth -- He genuinely cares and provides for every living thing. But we, as humans, are His pride and glory -- we are the most beloved in the eyes of our Saviour. We see Him taking care of the birds and flowers and even the most disgusting insects. But somehow, every once in a while (or often!), we question His ability to care for us.

The pastor took this passage and pulled the topic of worry out of it. "Take no thought" equals DON'T WORRY! Why worry when you can pray, right? We've heard this all our lives. Stop worrying. Worrying doesn't help anything (which it doesn't). Worrying means we don't believe God is able. Worrying is not trusting God. Worrying is a SIN.

While I definitely take all these statements to heart, and I definitely believe them, I still have questions. (I'm so curious -- my husband says all I do is ask questions :) What, exactly, is worry? When does a concern for others become worry, and therefore sin? I think my pastor's POV here was that any concern of any kind means worry, and thereby sin. But I can't completely meld with that idea.....yet.

I think God has created us with emotion, emotion that allows us to feel for others. Most of all, I would say any parent (not having experienced this myself) "worries" about their children. My husband is in a line of work that might not always be the safest. When he's at work, I find myself thinking occasionally "I hope he's okay!" I don't obsess about it (unless he's maybe 10 hours later than he said he would be), but I think I am concerned just a bit. And what wife wouldn't be? I don't think I could claim to love my husband and not think about his well-being. But is this worry? At what point does this become sin? Maybe it's sin all along (although I don't tend to believe that). If this were true, then I would think that any Christian at any given point of the day would be guilty of this sin.

So what exactly is worry? I have thought a lot about this in the last couple of days, and still I wonder. I asked my husband, and his answer was pretty much along the lines of what the pastor had said -- that any worry means you don't believe God is in control, and that's a sin. I think this is where I am right now -- worry means obsessing or thinking constantly about things you have no control over. To let this control your life would definitely be sin. However, to have a healthy concern for your family/friends/loved ones, in my opinion, cannot be called sin. Maybe I'm liberal, and maybe I'm just making exceptions for myself. I don't find myself "worrying" about too many things except maybe my husband's safety and my mom's health. In fact, I had always prided myself (oops, another sin right?) on the fact that I really DON'T worry about most things, I just take the days as they come.

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Call me out if you think I'm completely off base here. But this has definitely got me thinking.......


Andrew said...

I don't have my Bible handy, but I think in that passage Jesus talking about things that amount to your "daily bread." Don't worry about food or clothing, the birds and flowers don't and your Heavenly Father takes care of them.

It seems to me that worrying is close to fear of the unknown future. It's like hope, but the opposite. In hope, you concentrate on the possible positive. In worry, you concentrate on the possible negatives.

I would need to either: 1) see the verse and find I'm wrong about Jesus' scope and context or 2) see other verses that talk about worrying more general. But I don't think that passage is a blanket "worry is sin" passage.

Tim Lytle said...

In the context of the whole chapter (or at least verses 24-34), it seems to be an issue of balance - "no man can serve two masters", "is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?", "but seek ye first the kingdom of God".

It also seems to be an issue of control - "which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?", "the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself".

I believe Christ is teaching his disciples that their focus needs to be not on the 'worries' of this life (as in day to day needs, desire for riches, wanting a tomorrow that's better than today), but on the unlimited resources, and the unconditional love of a heavenly Father.

There's the balance, are we more concerned with the things of this life than we are confident in the love our our Father?

What's our perspective? Are we made for things - clothes, food, riches? Or are those things made for us - and we, in turn, made for God? "Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?"

If our perspective is unbalanced, we'll spend our time and energy trying to change that which we can't control. "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?" If our perspective is balanced, we'll turn those things we can't control over to the one who can. "for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things."

I think there are two questions to ask in relation to this passage: 1. Is my focus on the things of this life, or on the purpose of my eternal life? 2. Am I trying to change those things I can't control, or am I taking care of what I can control (the things of today)?

Melissa said...

thanks so much for your thoughts, guys! I agree that most likely a better/different passage could have been used for this subject. However, we can all learn from this Scripture, and more about the subject of worry as well. I know I have learned a lot over the past 2-3 days.

Thanks for your help. :)