Why worry is a sin

Your Monday Morning Meditation
Rev. Dr. Emmett Weir

We live in an age of worriers! Indeed, wherever you turn, you are bound to find those engaged in the anxiety, nerve racking habit, practice of worrying.

Many who are poor (and not so poor) worry audibly about how they “can/will make ends meet.” Meeting the basic necessities of daily living just simply “paying their bills.” On the other hand there are those who are rich (and not so rich) who worry about how to maintain the wealth they have, ever haunted by the prospects of returning to poverty.

Or, to put it in another way, while one part of the human family worries about how it will get the next meal, the other worries about being overweight! There are those who worry about conditions in the world, others of us, who worry about the weather, still others who worry about their health so much that they don’t have time to enjoy good moments of good health. And the list may go on … and on … and on!!! Everyone seems to have something to worry about, indeed so this pervasive has this propensity to worry become in the world today that they worry that there are those of us who seem to be worried because they have nothing to worry about!!!!!!!

Yet Jesus the Master teacher strictly and uncompromisingly warned, prohibited us from worrying. Thus, in the sermon on the Mount, the most exalted moral teaching of all time. He warns His disciples not to worry (Matt 6:25-34).

Think, then, about what Jesus advised about worrying. “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 why do you worry about clothes.

What is the Master saying to us here? Are these words spoken to the people of Judea more than two thousand years ago relevant to us today? Must the sermon on the mount be considered an “interim ethic,” as some scholar suggests, valid for the people of antiquity but having little relevance to us in the world today?

In response to such questions, it is submitted that human experience over centuries demonstrated unequivocally that the Master was dead right in warning against indulgence in the habit of perpetual worry. Indeed worry has been proved to be detrimental in every way.

First, worry is bad for our physical health. For worry and being in a state of anxiety may affect the circulation of blood, leading to disease such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and headaches and even the condition of the heart. Indeed, a person suffering from hypertension, who worries about his or her health runs the risk of even more suffering since worry can drive his/her blood pressure even higher! Worry and anxiety may, indeed, lead to poor health and a shorter life span for those who engage in it. A cheerful, worry free attitude promotes good health. There is much to be said for the adage, “LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE!”

Then, bad as the affects of worry on one’s physical condition, they are infinitely worse when it comes to its detrimental results in the case of one’s mental health. Many of those who suffer from “nervous breakdowns” or become addicted to illegal drugs or suffer from alcoholism are those who find it hard to cope with the pressures of life and worry so much that they end up mentally ill. We must be deeply concerned that so many in the world today in a vain effort to deal with life’s challenges end up suffering from diseases of the mind. We must be concerned that the rate of suicide, especially amongst youth is very high in most nations! It is submitted that worry is the main enemy of good mental health!

Moreover, worry is very dangerous for one’s moral and spiritual condition- our relationship to God. Why indeed, is it not unreasonable to describe worry as a sin. Why? Precisely because worry betrays the lack of trust in God. Now ponder carefully further what the Master advises us about it in the Sermon on the mount.

“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 that Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of them.” Here Jesus points out to the people who regarded Solomon as the richest and most wealthy person of all time as no more radiance than the lilies of the field.

Jesus, then, in illustrating God’s care for His creation exhorts His disciples to reflect on the lowly members of His creation- the birds of the air, the lilies of the field. If God cares for them, surely he cares for humankind, the principle of His creation. Thus he chides “If God so clothed the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not clothe you- you of little faith? (Matt 6:30, NRSV).

The more carefully we reflect upon these words, the more we come to realize that undue worry and anxiety are incompatible with being a disciple of Christ. When we worry much we really do so because we do not have enough faith to trust in God. Indeed, worry is a sin because it is the opposite of that which is at the heart of the Christian faith- TRUST IN GOD.

Just one more thing about worry. The Master warns that it can be very devastating because it really does nothing to improve our condition or relieve stress. Many of the things we worry about simply do not ever occur. As a hospital chaplain, it is my responsibility to minister to persons before and after surgery. Very often people say to me, while recovering from major surgery, “Rev, worrying about it before it happened was worse than going through it.”

Yes, it is true. Worry is a sin. It can be detrimental to our health in every way- physical, mental and spiritual.
The Master’s exhortation, here then is as relevant to us when so many of us are stressed out, tension filled and anxious as they to those fishermen and religious authorities and peasants to whom he delivered them on a Judean Hillside more than two thousand years ago!

Contemporary disciples of Christ, then should not engage in undue worry as they serve in the world today, but should face life’s challenges realistically, confident that, trusting in God they can, indeed, overcome them. Let us, then, not be worried when we face new challenges, but let us, trusting in God, heeding the exhortation of Christ, tackle them and continue and one of our Bahamian Bishops would say, “Walking In Victory!”

Thought For Today: Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday!

Prayer:
Help me, Lord
Amidst all the challenges, tensions and
Anxieties of daily living,
To deal with them
Not depending upon my own strength,
But by placing my trust
In your providential care
Through Christ I pray.
Amen

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