Monday, October 14, 2013

The Pride of Worry

Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life . . . (Matt. 6:25-34)

Why do we worry like we do?

Jesus could not have been more direct in his instruction to us about this. His meaning was plain. Do not worry about your life – about what you’re wearing or where your next meal will come from. God clothes acres of wildflowers and lilies. God feeds birds and chipmunks and every wild creature. God will care for you.

But still . . . we worry. We may be fine with our wardrobe and the groceries that fill our pantry – but our hearts are endlessly creative in finding ways to do the very thing that Jesus told us not to do. We worry about our children and our health. Grown children worry about their aging parents and their health. We worry about the economy and whether we’ll survive another downsizing. Jesus told us not to do this. We really don’t want to do it. But we do it anyway.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus calls us to a life of confident trust in God. And yet, we seem determined not to live that way. Jesus tells that our worrying won’t add a single hour to our life, but we seem to think it will. Perhaps the reason we worry, strangely enough, is that we are proud.

Anxious people don’t look proud. To the extent that anxiety is visible at all, we don’t expect to see the visage of a proud person. What we expect is quite the opposite of that. Anxious people look fearful and fidgety; they seem shrouded in a kind of sadness that shows itself in a preoccupied look or presence. Whereas the proud seem to boast in their strength, the anxious seem burdened in their weakness. But push beneath appearances and what we find is surprising. Consider for a moment the words of 1 Peter 5:6-7.

Humble yourselves therefore under God’s mighty hand so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Notice first that the simple command of these two verses is that we humble ourselves under God’s hand. Of course, humbling ourselves is the exact opposite of pride. Pride wants to be above everyone and everything.

Notice further that this humbling is done in a very specific way. As we cast our anxieties on God we are humbling ourselves under his mighty hand. Knowing that we are loved by God, we cast our anxieties on him and in doing so we humble ourselves before him. When we insist on clinging to and feeding our anxieties, constantly gnawing on what-ifs and maybes, we are not being fearful as much as we are being proud.

Next Steps:
This week we’ll get honest about our worries as we listen to Jesus words in Matthew 6:25-34. For starters, read the text and identify the specific reasons Jesus gives us for not living anxiously. What specific worry do you need to throw off today, casting it on your loving and powerful God?

Forgive us, O God, for living our days as if the things that truly matter depend upon us. Grant to us the humility that works hard while worrying less, casting our cares on you because we know you care for us. We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus. Amen.

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