A couple of weeks ago as I preached on Worry from the Sermon on the Mount, I confessed that I am a life long chronic worrier. My mom was a worrier. My dad was a worrier. I worry.
I’m not the only one as numerous listeners that day communicated that this theme of worry was very personal and real in their lives.
One of the most common experiences in preaching is that questions or comments after the sermon tell me what I left out or left unclear. “Isn’t worry a sin?” Questions like that may add another worry to your list. The words of Jesus are clearly intended to lift our worries, not add to them; desiring to reassure us of God’s care and provision, not add guilt to our struggle.
So, is it sinful to worry? It’s an important question and certainly practical as I am dealing with a couple of fresh worries even as I write.
Worry as the opposite of trust/faith would certainly appear to be sinful. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23, ESV). It is failure to trust God and in some sense a failure to believe His promises. It is disobedience to the direct command of Scripture, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV)
But while it is sin to worry or not trust God, the antidote is not to worry more about that, but to invest in faith strengthening habits; a steady diet of Bible to feed truth into my mind and heart; a regular life of prayer, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7, ESV) and Kingdom focused service. A Bible saturated mind is much better equipped to respond to worry with God glorifying hope.
But there is another side to this subject. Paul uses this word, “worry” as a positive and necessary concept in a healthy church. He writes of Timothy, For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned [be worried] for your welfare. (Philippians 2:20, ESV)
The exact same word that is translated “worry” in Matthew 6, means, “to be concerned” or “to care.” The nuance in the English language may be subtle as worry, concern and care can be synonyms with positive or negative connotations depending on the context.
Far worse than worry is the independent uncaring attitude that neglects genuine needs. The church is designed to fill that need. But God has so composed the body, … that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care [worries] for one another. (1 Corinthians 12:24, 25 ESV)
Trust God with your needs! Be concerned for the needs of others!