Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Onfire #264 Little Faith Big Faith: Worry

OnFire Encouragement Letter

Onfire #264 Little Faith Big Faith: Worry

I read lately that worry is a negative emotion. Really? Is there someone who thinks that worry is a positive emotion? Would anyone mistake it for something good? Look at all the synonyms: anxiety, nervousness, concern, disquiet, anguish, apprehension, fear, torment, uncertainty, and the list goes on. I don’t think people lie awake at night because they have so much joy in their hearts.

Worry is the first of the “little faith” topics. Jesus spoke about worry in the sermon on the mount. “O, you of little faith,” he said. Why worry about what we will eat or wear since God feeds the birds and dresses the flowers? Aren’t we are more important to Him than these? I’m summarizing, so be sure to read the whole passage in Matthew 6:24-34.

It would be interesting to know how much worry costs us. We take expensive trips to “get away from it all.” We treat ourselves to take our minds off our problems. We fill our lives with activity and distraction hoping our problems will just go away. We haven’t even talked about the more destructive things we might do to try to forget our problems for a time. Nor have we talked about the cost of illnesses brought on by worry. Ironically, it all comes with a price tag, and then we worry about that, too.

Speaking of irony, sometimes we worry because we have nothing to worry about. How many times have we wondered how long it would be before something bad happens again!!

The solution to the problem of worry comes from the context of the passage. In v. 24 we read, “No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.” The first mistake we often make in understanding the passage is to separate this verse from what follows. Often we insert a stop here and read the next section as a different topic. Money, then worry. But we cannot separate the two because Jesus connects them in v. 25: “Therefore...”

The second mistake we make is thinking that love of money is the source of the problem. We get this from Jesus’ statement, “You cannot serve both God and money,” but this is not where Jesus started: “No one can serve two masters.”

Worry is about divided loyalties. We say we follow Jesus, but actually we’ve allowed another master to step in front. That other master may be money, but it could also be pride, our ability to think, plan, to improve ourselves, or even the desire to escape. In order to discover the other master we are trying to serve, we might ask ourselves, “My life would be better if only...”

How do we get back on the right track, to serve God wholeheartedly, and with great faith? “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (V.33) Jesus tells us that we can leave worry behind by choosing to focus our thoughts and attention on God and serving Him. We can choose not to worry. This is not like the old song, “Don’t worry, be happy.” This is the choice to focus on something better than worry, on making God’s thoughts our thoughts. When we do this, worry goes away, and God makes sure we have the things we really need.

I’m not going to pretend to have this one mastered. I have to admit that I’m a little uncomfortable writing because I feel the sting of rebuke. I find myself worrying about things all the time, maybe not about what I will eat or wear, but certainly about finances, problems and situations, and all sorts of “what ifs.”

For all of us it all comes down to trust. Do we trust God to provide what we need, when we need it? Worry is the clue that we’re trusting in something we think we can provide. Jesus reminds us that our way doesn’t work. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (V.27) Jesus calls us to trust in God’s ability to provide.

I hope this helps. Be on fire.

OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published Sept 12, 2011. To subscribe or reply, email onfireletter@gmail.com. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com. Blog located at http://www.onfireletter.blogspot.com/.

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