By: Rick Warren
Do you tend to expect the worst? Do you panic when you get a letter with the government tax service address imprinted on the envelope, or when you hear rumors about possible layoffs at work? Do you find yourself worrying even when there is nothing to worry about – convinced something bad is about to happen that you will need to worry about?
The word worry comes from an old English word meaning, “to choke or strangle.” Of course, that’s exactly what worry does to your productivity and happiness. Worry is nothing but a self-defeating waste of time.
In his famous Sermon on the Mount in the Bible’s New Testament, as recounted in Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus presented four reasons for not worrying and also provided two secrets of overcoming it:
WORRY IS UNREASONABALE. To worry about something you CANNOT change is useless. To worry about something you CAN change is stupid! And every time you review a worry in your mind it gets bigger and more burdensome. Worry amplifies problems out of proportion. “Don’t worry about the clothes you need. Life is more than what you wear” (Matthew 6:25).
WORRY IS UNNATURAL. You were not born a worrier. It is a learned response to life. In fact, you have to practice to become good at it. Fortunately, worry can be unlearned. The only species in God’s creation that worries is human beings. We do not believe God will take care of us. “Birds don’t worry but God takes care of them. Don’t you realize you’re more valuable to God than mere birds?” (Matthew 6:26).
WORRY IS UNHELPFUL. It does not work. It cannot change the past. It cannot control the future. It only makes you miserable today. Worrying about a problem never solves the problem. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27).
WORRY IS UNNECESSARY. God has promised to take care of you if you will trust him with the details of your life. As a child, if you asked your father for lunch money, you never worried about where it would come from. That was his problem. Let God be God in your life! “God will take care of you, just have faith” (Matthew 6:32).
HOW CAN WE FREE OURSELVES FROM THE WORRY HABIT?
First, trust God with every area of your life. Part of our problem in worrying is the realization that there are so many factors in life that we cannot control. Worrying might seem like we are doing something, but in fact it is wasted mental and emotional energy. Trusting God, who is in control, frees us of this burden. “Your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well what you need and he will provide it if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to” (Matthew 6:32-33).
Second, live just one day at a time. So often we spend time agonizing over what could happen tomorrow or next week, while the challenges of today are still looming over us. Focus on the what,not the what if. “Do not worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).