Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
If you’ve ever read the Bible you will have seen many statements by Jesus. Some Bibles have his words in red so it’s easier to see them. There are many wonderful statements, but I think there is one he said that is the hardest statement he made.
It’s so difficult to put it into practice. What am I talking about? Jesus said in Matthew 6:34 “Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself”. It’s not difficult to read and understand what he meant, but how can you put it into practice every day?
The Enemy of Pleasure and Enjoyment
It goes against our natural thinking—being worried and concerned. Isn’t it true that Jesus wants us to enjoy life? Yes, he does. There are many pleasures that God has given us—for example he gave us taste buds so we could enjoy life. Very simple—he wants us to enjoy some of the things in life.
If there is an enemy in our lives to pleasure and enjoyment, it would have to be worry. And as some translations have it here in verse 34, ‘being anxious’. It is amazing how much we worry in this life, even when we know that it accomplishes nothing. We still keep on worrying.
I read a little poem that I guess summarises the way most of us go through life and it describes how futile it is to worry. It says:
Worry never climbed a hill,
Worry never paid a bill,
Worry never dried a tear,
Worry never calmed a fear.
Worry never fixed a heal,
Worry never cooked a meal,
Worry never composed a song to sing,
Actually, worry never did a worthwhile thing.
And we know that. In spite of that, we continue to worry about things and to be anxious about things in this life. I thought it would be interesting to look up the word ‘worry’ in the dictionary. So I took the Merriam-Webster’s 10th Collegiate Dictionary, and before they give a definition of a word, they give the background and where the word came from.
The Hardest Thing Jesus Told us to Do
It was shocking to find out that our English word ‘worry’ actually comes from the old German word ‘wurgen’, which means to strangle. In fact, they give some examples here from ancient literature. For example, a terrier dog worrying a rat. That is, catching a rat and strangling and choking that rat to death. That is the way the word used to be used. When we think about worry, it is a case of us choking ourselves, strangling ourselves.
The modern definition for ‘worry’ reads this way, “to afflict with mental distress and agitation, to make anxious.” It goes on to say that worry implies an incessant goading or attacking that drives one to desperation. Most of us can identify with that particular definition.
There are all kinds of things to worry about:
- If we don’t have money, we worry about having money.
- Once we get money, we worry about keeping it.
- And then we worry about how we are going to spend it.
- We worry about our health.
- We worry about various other things in our lives, our economic situation.
- We worry about our jobs.
- We worry about life and we worry about death.
Did you know that politicians actually commission survey companies to find out what people are worrying about? Once they find out, they design their speeches to appeal to those worries. If people are shown to be worrying about pollution, then politicians will talk about how they are fighting against pollution. If people are worried about drugs or racism, whatever it is, then they will design their approaches to the public based on those surveys.
It is interesting, in Western Civilisation, we have made incredible progress in technology. When I look at those computer ads, and I see that you can get computers for the office that have 6 gigabytes of memory. That is incredible. It is hard to imagine the size of a gigabyte, and yet they have 6 gigabytes for a personal computer for the office. And yet, in spite of all that technology, science does not have a cure for worry.
Despite all advances in science, the cure for worry is still elusive.
And yet our Lord does. He addressed that subject in the Sermon on the Mount, which is found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapters five, six and seven. And here, just about in the middle of this sermon, our Lord made a statement, which is in my opinion easy to understand.
Yet it is just about the hardest thing that he ever told us to do: “So do not worry about tomorrow. For tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)
(To be continued in Do Not Worry About Tomorrow – Part 2)
Ray Exum, Crystal Lake Church of Christ, Crystal Lake, Illinois, USA, August 8, 1998