Jesus gave us some pretty clear commands, one of which was: ‘do not worry’. Pretty simple right? So why is it that so many of us feel choked by worry? I don’t mean the odd concern about an exam or a big event, but worries that consume us and hold us back. Anxiety* is on the rise and we get stressed out about all sorts of things. It’s like each worry is an item of clothing in our wardrobe and the more we put on, the harder it is for us to move.
When I read the book of Acts I can’t help but contrast how we as the Church are now, compared to the freedom of the early church. They were always praying for healing, prophesying over people, and giving their money away. They were living in such a different way that it was contagious and it drew people to them. We can be a bit more like Lazarus: we’ve been raised from the dead but we’re still wrapped in the grave clothes and so they hinder us. Worry can restrict us from doing the things God wants us to do.
In Luke 12 Jesus spoke at length about worry; take a read of verses 4-32. Here Jesus tied money and worry together so let’s do the same as we look at three reasons why we shouldn’t worry.
1) Firstly – money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! We think it’s hugely valuable not just because of what we can buy with it but because of the things that come with it like respect, security and influence. Yet the Bible teaches us it’s not as valuable as we might think. Psalm 49:16-19 (The Message) says:
So don’t be impressed with those who get rich
and pile up fame and fortune.
They can’t take it with them;
fame and fortune all get left behind.
Just when they think they’ve arrived
and folks praise them because they’ve made good,
They enter the family burial plot
where they’ll never see sunshine again.
However much money we make in this life, we will all still die and we won’t be able to take any of our worldly wealth into heaven with us. Even in this world money isn’t as trustworthy as we think; it is a fickle friend that will betray us. We think that if we have a little bit more we’ll be satisfied but the evidence all seems to suggest that in fact it’s like drinking salt water – the more you drink the thirstier you become. Let’s not make an idol out of money – only God deserves our worship.
2) Worry isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
Jesus tells us that worrying can’t add a single hour to our lives. It achieves nothing and yet we can waste hours, months and years in a state of worry. We can even think that there’s something wrong if we’re not worrying, as though it means that we don’t care. The background hum of worry that has become so normal to so many of us, is not how God wants us to live. Worrying is useless; it’s like a rocking chair in that it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
3) Jesus doesn’t just say ‘don’t worry’ – he adds ‘Your heavenly father knows what you need’. This is the key to helping us let go of worry: we remember again who God is and how he looks after us. God has everything under his power. He never changes, he’s kind, and he’s on our side. He is everywhere so he sees and understands all our needs even better than we do. God wants us to depend on him and to be in a relationship with him where we know how much he loves us and how much he wants to take care of our needs. He may not always give us everything we need in advance, more often, he’ll ask us to come and get what we need from him on a regular basis. Let’s demonstrate our trust in God by remembering what a good Father he is and coming to him with our needs and concerns rather than holding on to them and our worries for ourselves.
One more thing we should note from Luke 12 is that Jesus isn’t saying that our aim is to have a carefree life. Rather he’s saying we should stop worrying about the things that God has already said he’ll take care of and instead we should seek after God’s kingdom.