Noting the title of this post, you are probably wondering what the “it” is to which I am referring: it is worry. Many readers will be able to identify with me as I confess I am a worrier.
Yesterday our four year old grandson had dental surgery. We had known for several weeks that it was scheduled for today, but as the date grew closer I realized I was worrying more and more.
For the past few days I’ve been thinking about my habit of worrying. My recollection is that I have been a worrier pretty much all my life. My worries have never been debilitating, but they have had an impact on me. Many times worry has added stress to my life and eroded my joy.
In retrospect I remember my mom was a worrier. I don’t know if worry is hereditary or can be learned from a parent, but I have always been grateful for her interest and concern. I just wish she had not worried so much. However, as a worrier myself I understand.
But I’m asking myself, “Is worrying a sin?” The New Testament suggests in at least two places that it is.
One is from the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:34 Jesus concludes a section of his teaching, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Respected author John R.W. Stott, and one of my favorite writers, concludes from Jesus’ teaching that “worry is incompatible with Christian faith.”
The second passage is from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (New Living Translation). Commentator Ralph P. Martin notes, “[worry] betrays a lack of confidence in God’s protection and care for his people.”
It seems obvious from Jesus, Paul, John Stott, and Ralph Martin that worry is indeed a sin.
Possibly as an excuse for my own worry, I’m not sure all worry is sin. My worry is not due to a lack of faith and trust in God. In connection with my worry I practice what Paul instructs in Philippians 4:6 – I pray taking the things I worry about to the Lord.
I find some comfort and encouragement from what a couple of other writers say about Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Commenting on Jesus’ statement, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34), D.A. Carson notes, “It is as if Jesus recognizes that there will be some unavoidable worry today after all.” Archibald Hunter concludes, “. . . the principle is surely this, that, taking reasonable care, we are to face life with [trust], accepting each day fresh from God, and leaving the unknown future in his hands.”
My sense is that most of us need this teaching from both Jesus and Paul. I know I do. As a matter of fact, I’m a little worried about what some may think about me in light of my admission that I worry.
Feel free to leave a comment below and/or share this post on Facebook or other social media.