It seems that no matter when or where people live, they worry. Sometimes you get the idea that people like to worry – and possibly wouldn’t know what to do if they couldn’t!
Last year, The Independent newspaper in Great Britain interviewed 20,000 people to discover what it was that people in 2015 worried about. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the list is not too different from what Jesus talked about in Matthew 6.
Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are?” (Matthew 6:25-26 NET).
It would seem that those in the first century worried about having enough food to eat and what they would wear. Two thousand years later people identified that they worried about “If my dress sense is good” (no.18), “paying rent/mortgage” (9), and “my diet” (4). Although affording a place to stay wasn’t on Jesus list, the idea of worrying about food, clothing and shelter are those things that we consider basic to being able to survive.
Jesus went on to talk about getting older: “And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27).
Getting older seems to be something that weighs heavily on our minds. “Whether or not I’m attractive” came in at number 12; “worried about my physique” was at 8; “wrinkles or ageing appearance” was 7; and the top worry people had was “getting old in general.” Isn’t it ironic that we worry about getting older, yet worry can cause us to age even quicker?!
Jesus’ point was very simple: if God takes care of the birds in the sky and the grass in the fields, insuring that they have plenty to eat and that they look good, won’t he take care of us, his children, who are more important than these things. “So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matthew 6:31-32).
Although modern men and women worry about their relationships with other people (13-16 on the list) and even their pets (20), there isn’t anything mentioned concerning spiritual matters. Yet this is the very solution to getting rid of our worries. Jesus said, “But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
If we get our priorities correct, not emphasising our physical lives but those things which are spiritual, our lives would not have the worries they currently do. We need to “pursue” (or “seek first”) his kingdom and righteousness – in other words, God needs to take the first place in our lives. If we devote our lives to him, Jesus said we won’t have to worry about these other things (i.e. food, clothing and shelter), as these will be given to us as well.
So, what is it that you are worried about?
(The Independent newspaper’s survey can be found at: http://i100.independent.co.uk/article/the-20-things-people-worry-about-the-most–xJVjF0DSox).
Readings for next week:
18 January – Matthew 11
19 January – Matthew 12:1-21
20 January – Matthew 12:22-50
21 January – Matthew 13:1-30
22 January – Matthew 13:31-58