As I reflected on the sermon passage this week from Matthew 6, I was curious about how Google defines the word “worry”. Of course, I wasn’t surprised by the result, but nonetheless, here’s what it said:
verb – give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell
on difficulty or troubles.
noun – a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.
Reading the definition of the word “worry” can easily be a catalyst for worrying in and of itself and brings to mind a wide array of illicit thoughts. Whether it’s a concern over a person, a place, or a situation, a worrisome thought can cause our mood to change and our body to tense up as our mind is consumed with the problems and laundry lists of things that will lead us to toil. We burn emotional energy and often trick ourselves into believing we can worry ourselves into a solution.
When I worry, I am the type of person who will say to myself, “come what may, I will succeed,” but my past experiences result in me falling flat on my face in exhaustion from worrying. But I can take a deep breath when I read through Matthew 6:25-34.
It’s interesting how Jesus starts this passage with a “therefore.” And, this passage exists here for a specific reason, which is to remind His disciples that God and His Kingdom is greater than any circumstances we could find ourselves in. And taking our worrisome thoughts captive by keeping aware of God’s presence and promises through prayer, worship, Bible study, and service are just a few ways we can stay aware of the reality of God’s Kingdom.
While there are many spiritual practices that can help lead us into the awareness of God’s presence, I have recently found that a good prescription for worry has been to meditate and memorize scripture.
In the first nine verses of chapter 1 in the book of Joshua, God reminds Joshua to be strong and courageous (1v6) and meditate on His word day and night (1v7). And, in verse 9, again God reminds Joshua to “be strong and courageous” with the assurance that God’s presence is with him,
“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Memorizing these verses in Joshua and reflecting on Jesus’ words in Matthew 6, can help foster an awareness of the Holy Spirit and help reduce the trivial matters in my heart to what it really is: trivial.
Being surrounded by the presence of His community allows us to let the trivial worries go and let the Holy Spirit’s presence free us to live and love on the people around us.
Gracious and loving God, help me to take my anxious and worrisome thoughts captive and replace them with Your life-giving word. Help me to embrace a strong and courageous life, knowing that Your presence is with me. Give me strength and courage to pursue You, knowing that You go with me everywhere.
Written by Matt Clay
Matt and his wife Joanna have two young daughters, Emery and Madisen. The Clay’s have been members of the Sheridan community since 2014.
Matt’s spiritual growth has been influenced by the teaching of the late Dallas Willard, which led Matt to pursue an M.A. in Spiritual Formation from Spring Arbor University.
Matt works full-time in the financial industry and believes that God has called him to be a steward of His grace and presence in the marketplace.
Do Not Worry
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.“