Do not Worry, A Choice to Make
Before I can follow the command, “Do not worry” or “Take no thought for your life,” I must realign my thinking. Which takes time and is part of the daily walk of dying to self.
Matthew 6:19-34 ESV – 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
The Choice Empowers the Command of Do not Worry or Take No Thought for Your Life
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Do Not Worry
Do not worry. To be able to make this choice, I must decide where my treasure will be. If I want to hold onto treasure here, then I cannot have the peace contained in ‘ do not worry.’ A reminder of what is necessary is in verse 33 to ‘ seek first his kingdom. By filling up my life with living for him each day, I can be free of trivial concerns and fulfill his command of ‘ do not worry.’
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” or better in another translation: “give no thought to tomorrow.”
I need to treat it as a commandment; as when I worry, I’m not trusting my Lord. When I catch myself, I must confess it and ask for for his aid.
When I treat it as a sin, something to overcome with the Holy Spirit, I understand it isn’t just “will power” required it’s transformation; transformation is tactically describe here by Oswald Chambers.
“If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He does not ask you to put it right; He asks you to accept the light, and He will put it right. A child of the light confesses instantly and stands bared before God; a child of the darkness says — “Oh, I can explain that away.” When once the light breaks and the conviction of wrong comes, be a child of the light, and confess, and God will deal with what is wrong; if you vindicate yourself, you prove yourself to be a child of the darkness.”
Consider the context of the passage, ‘do not worry.’ Choice of who I will serve or where my treasure will be precedes ‘do not worry.’ That is preceded by the discussion on fasting which is preceded by prayer. Consider the sequence. Prayer + fasting + choosing God only (or trusting him or embracing dependence on him) = freedom from worry. Without the sequence, there is no freedom from worry. It is a formula for increasing dependence. Many try to serve Jesus or try to stop worrying but still continue to think about possessions, money, clothes, food, and more. They don’t fully depend on Jesus or trust him and therefore don’t experience full peace. The tendency to explain or vindicate ourselves described by Chambers also means we’re not depending on Him.
A Contrast of Values
Luke 16:14-15 closes this section in Luke and the latter part of verse 15 sums up the inverse contrasting attitude God has toward man’s love of money when Jesus says to the Pharisees, ‘For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Things that I may value highly when viewed by the eternal God who sees me and the earth across time appear only as dust to him. I may see a valuable Mercedes or boat. In contrast, he sees it across 10,000 years. Across time, it starts as iron ore and petroleum (the waste of rotted creatures) and ends as rust and dust. The toys are just dust. Clearly, God doesn’t want me to worship dust.
If I worship dust, I cannot be free of worry.
Do not worry means to think about pleasing God, filling up my life with gratitude, his word, prayer, seeking obedience in circumstance, seeking ways to serve, seeking ways to give, seeking to remain in his rest — his peace which he gives to me if I ask (Philippians 4:6-8).
A Habit of Trusting
Getting into the habit of trusting Him and resting in His peace takes persistence and I can make the most progress if I fight fear and anxiety head on in prayer during the worst storms. 70 x 7 confession and asking, begging for help. Keep at it. These Bible passages and quotes for Oswald Chambers can help. Read each of them five times: silent, aloud, silent, and so forth. By the time I finish the page, I’m usually calmer. Assurance: Defeating Fear Daily.
Additional Help From Meditation & Prayer
The sibling of prayer, Christian meditation, also assists with resting in his peace. A post on this topic can be found at: Christian Meditation for Panic and Fear.
This post on the aspect of dying to self in prayer may also be helpful: How to Pray, Part IV
Questions to Ponder
- When I hear ‘ do not worry,’ can I simply stop worrying? Why?
- The KJV says, “Give no thought to tomorrow.” Is this a better passage for how I think about worry?
- What do I usually worry about?
- In my observation and experience who worries more, those who have many possessions or those who have few?
- Next time I want something, try to see it as God does across time. What lasting value does it bring me?
- Often my desire for a thing comes about because I want an experience: respect, status, recognition, etc. How can I obtain these experiences without material possessions? What hunger lies behind these desires? Is there something better? What are the best of the experiences? The best of experiences by seeking the Godly fruits of the Spirit found listed in Gal 5:22-23? See the choice appearing again in Gal 5:24-25?
- If I believe I have the love and respect of the eternal God, what else do I need? Are these things promised to me?
- If I were to consistently obey ‘ do not worry,’ how would this impact my neighborhood, church, and business?
- Write down 20 things and blessings I am thankful for in life. Write a list of things I want. Which of my blessings would I trade for what I want?
Passage for Meditation
For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15b
Forgive me for holding onto material things and desiring wealth. God help me to depend upon you only, to rely upon you for my daily bread. Help me to be alert to unhealthy desires to accumulate wealth. Enable me to see and share with those in need. Help me to be busy in my relationship with you and to trust you to provide for my needs. Help me to remember that if I will fulfill your command of ‘ do not worry,’ that this will offer a great testimony to those around me.
Originally published August 6, 2013