A formidable opponent. A worthy adversary. An antagonist.
I'm Italian. Worry is what we do. Usually while partaking in a large dish of pasta and an occasional glass of vino. But I am also a Christian. We are told that worry is the opposite of faith. Jesus addressed it. Scripture tackles it. God says don’t do it. But yet, I fret.
In 2011, when I gave my life to Christ, the very first thing I did was start at the beginning. Matthew. At that time in my life I was starting a new company, ending an engagement and was in the worst place financially than I had ever been in my life. I was a wreck and worry consumed my heart and mind. I remember reading Matthew 6 for the first time and I think I clung to that chapter for months!
Reasons to worry are plentiful on any given day of the week. Just last week I wrote about coping and addressed many reasons of late that I could completely justify some linguine.
But should we consume carbs when confronted with uncertainties and anxiety feelings in our circumstances?
I once heard that everyone should have a worry box. The purpose of the box is to hold the issues that arise in our daily lives until the designated time of the week that we are going to sit and fret. Bills, health, bad grades, relationships, work....write every little (or big) situation on a slip of paper and put it in the box and go about your day/week. Then, let's say at Sunday night at 6 pm, take out your worry box and start reading your worry slips. Actually spend time sitting and really worrying over every issue and problem (orzo is optional). I bet you will find, that most, if not all the issues have resolved themselves by Sunday night and you honestly have nothing, or very little to worry about anyway.
Jesus commands in Matthew 6:25:
25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34Take 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. (KJV)
I want to look at one specific command in this passage. Take no thought. This is the all-inclusive word.
In this passage one injunction is repeated three times. "Therefore I say unto you, take no thought" (Mt 6:25). "Therefore take no thought" (Mt 6:31). "Take therefore no thought" (Mt 6:34).
Let us see how He enforces it:
- First, He declares anxiety to be unnecessary in the children of such a Father. (Mt 6:25)
- In the second movement He declares anxiety to be unworthy in the subjects of such a Kingdom (Mt 6:31).
- In the third movement He declares anxiety to be unfruitful. (Mt 6:34)
Anxiety is unnecessary, unworthy and unfruitful. Yikes. Pass the penne, please - I am going to need a bowl after that. Worry is a waste. It leads to no good outcome and it is a sin against our Father. There is hardly any one sin against which Jesus largely and earnestly warns than the sin of disquieting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of life, which are a bad sign that both the treasure and the heart are focused on the earth and not seeking things above.
If I could choose the perfect partner verse to Matthew 6:25 it would be Philippians 4:6
“Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
There is no greater source of spiritual stability than the confidence that the Lord is near, not only to hear our cry for help but also able to provide help and strength. You're never closer to Jesus than when you are coming to him in prayer. Prayer is the way by which God helps us to overcome our anxiety and worry. Prayer is the perfect antidote to anxiety, worship erases worry.
Jesus knew we would have trouble (he addressed that too) so while God's word says not to worry in the bible over and over again, one piece of advice from Jesus stands out to me when I am deep in distress:
"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
Come. Not "do this" or "don't do that" but simply "Come". Jesus does not say come to the church, to a creed, to a clergyman, to a "denomination" or to anything but to Himself. As Oswald Chambers says "Personal contact with Jesus alters everything."
Who can come? All.
Corrie Ten Boom offered a great prescription for anxiety, worry and fretting...
Look around and be distressed. Look inside and be depressed. Look at Jesus and be at rest.
Rest sounds good in the midst of a mess, and it's ok to do so while partaking in some pasta.