If I say to you, “Don’t think about elephants!” What is the one thing you think about? Elephants. It kind of feels that way with worry too. Seth directs us how to handle worry with Christ’s perspective.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
When I am worrying about something or someone, it seems the worst piece of advice is, “Don’t worry.”
Yet Jesus does not just give us advice, he commands us not to worry! And even though he said it 2000 years ago it seems like we have not gotten any better as a society in regards to this issue of worry (in fact it feels like we have gotten worse).
How can we live our lives in obedience to Jesus and not walk with the burden of worry? How can we set our kids up not to worry about little things knowing that increasingly big things will come their way down the road?
- Focus on the big picture. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” – Matthew 6:33. This is one of the topics of Jesus’ longest recorded sermons (The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7). In this passage Jesus gives a negative and a positive command. The negative is “do not be anxious/worry”. The positive command is “seek God’s kingdom”. Jesus knows (because He made us) that we lose our focus. We tend to focus on the wrong things (what we wear, eat, etc…) instead of focusing on the things God is concerned about (His kingdom and relationship with Him). There is a proactive element to battling worry and anxiety … the pursuit of Jesus and the righteous things He calls us to. When we and our family are tempted to worry, we should look for the ways God wants us to further His kingdom in our family or in our community.
- Live in the present. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” – Matthew 6:34. Jesus concludes His speaking on worry by reminding us that each day has more than enough to think about and it deserves all our attention. Our flesh begs us to always look to what is next and in doing so we miss out on the present.
- Change our perspective. This is an issue that will not go away. It applied in Jesus’ day and it applies today. What Jesus seeks to teach us is to undergo a perspective shift. If we were all able to see God for who He is and what He is able to do and how much He loves us, our worries would melt away. If we were able to see the world as God sees it, our worries would look a lot different.
So maybe our questions should be: Who is God? He is a loving Father. What is God able to do? Create the entire universe and provide for all in it. How much does He love us? So much that He would die for us while we were still hopeless sinners. What worries will we ever encounter that can’t overcome a God like that?
What is something you are worrying about? Instead of thinking about that stressful situation, think about God…how much He loves you, how He is worthy of your trust, how He has worked out so many situations in your life before this one, and how you can love others well.