Worry is a thief.
In Matthew 6, Jesus says something startling about anxiety to His disciples that ought to serve as a strong warning to us. It has to do with worry.
Keep in mind, Jesus’ disciples had ample reason to be worried, from an earthly perspective. They had left their former lives to follow this itinerant preacher around Galilee. Most had left family businesses, others had left family. They left their own religious tradition to follow a man who was swimming upstream. I’m sure their family and friends had seriously questioned their judgement, and at times I am certain that they questioned themselves. And so Jesus says to them:
“Which of you, by worrying can add a single cubit to his stature”? This can also be translated “add a single hour to his life”? V27
This is a rhetorical question, which nobody answers in return. It is self evident that the answer is no one. What is revealed in this question is the serious nature of worry. Worry is presented as what it is, a thief. Since thieves steal, what does worry steal from a Christian?
1- Worry steals your time. Notice we are talking about worry, not concern. Concern is what gets our attention to deal with a situation, worry is obsessive mind torture. When we worry, we find ourselves using huge chunks of time going over something repetitively in our mind. Worry then starts burning the clock for us. It eats away minutes, then hours and then days. We find ourselves spending more and more time worry about the situation, time that we will never get back. Can you imagine for one moment what it would be like to add back to your life the amount of time you worried about something that either turned out to be nothing or something you could do nothing about? The sad thing, is worry not only steals time, it replaces time we could use for good. Worry steals your time.
2- Worry steals your joy. Let me give you three propositions about God that are absolutely true:
A- God loves you
B- God is good
C- God is in control.
Those three propositions are vitally true and important in the life of the Christian. Worry works against one or maybe all of them. We might very well confess outwardly that we believe these things to be true, but in our mind we doubt them. For instance. when we worry, we might begin to doubt that God loves us. It might come in the form of thinking God is simply punishing us for something and making us sick or hurt. Likewise we might doubt God’s power. We might think that God loves us, but there is nothing He can do to help us. Third we might doubt God’s goodness. This is the deep dark struggle I’ve personally witnessed people who are going through some trial in life and their mind doubts God’s goodness. And here is the rub:
You cannot enjoy God and have joy in Him when you worry. Scripture describes this as double mindedness.
3- Worry steals your health. God designed your body to work as a unified whole. Your mind affects your body, your body affects your mind. The two are interconnected. Worry produces one thing: stress. Stress has been medically linked very closely to several types of health issues. For one, stress and anxiety bring about high blood pressure (hypertension). Outside of medicine, doctors treat high blood pressure by ordering the patient to eliminate stress. Worry affects the performance of the heart. Heart related diseased can be connected often to worry. Worry affects how we sleep and how we eat, which strongly effects our health. Worry can kill you. It’s that serious.
But you know the most important thing about worry? It never helps you, it only takes. This is why Jesus warned His disciples about worry.
How can we curb worry? We remember who God is (those three propositions I gave earlier are a good start). That is, we study His word and see HIs impeccable track record and His glorious love. Then we sing His endless praise and trust Him to do what only He can do.
And when you feel that sneaky little thief named Worry sneak in, don’t welcome him, give him the boot!