It is not uncommon for us to worry about uncertain things in our future. As a student, maybe you’re anxious if you’re going to pass a certain subject. Or maybe as a single professional, you got too much on your plate in #adulting. You may be worrying for your job security in the midst of pandemic. You may be anxious that you are not saving enough. Or maybe like me in the past, you worry if you will still find that someone whom you are going to marry. If you find yourself sleepless at night trying to distract yourself by watching Netflix, let me encourage you instead to this beautiful sermon of the Lord Jesus:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 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? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6.25-34

The Lord’s command is emphatic—do not be anxious. And since the Lord forbids worrying, it follows that it is a sin. But why does he forbid it? Is it not normal to worry? Does not anxiety reflect helplessness and therefore humility? Why is worrying a sin?

The Apostle Peter exhorts us in his letter, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5.6-7).” In the NIV, these statements are separate: Humble yourselves. Cast all your anxiety. But in more word-for-word translations such as ESV and NASB, the second command acts as a modifier to the first: “Humble yourselves… casting all your anxieties.” That is, we are exhorted to humble ourselves by casting our anxiety on God.1 Anxiety is a sin because it refuses to cast the cares to the Father. It refuses to trust him. Rather than an act of humility, anxiety is pride in disguise.

No wonder the Lord invites us to consider his creation. The Father feeds the birds; he clothes the lilies. What is the logic here? If he cares for lowly creatures like these, how much more for his children? And if you have been adopted into the family of God, the Father loves you even as he loves his Son (John 17.23). I remember what a scholar once said to his son, “To be anxious is to be a practical atheist.” 2 It’s as if we’re denying our relationship with our Father when we are anxious. We’re denying that he cares for us. And in times like these, our Lord’s rebuke is fitting of us: “O you of little faith!”

In reality, anxiety does not even help. It does not accomplish anything. That’s why our Lord rhetorically asks: Can we even add a single hour in our life by worrying? It is utterly futile. Worrying creates an illusion of control, as if you can grab a hold of your situation. Rather than acknowledging that God is in control, it tries to grasp on something it thinks it can hold on to. It’s as if we say, ‘Maybe if I overthink enough, I can solve this problem.’ Stop this at once. Surrender to the heavenly Father. Do not worry, but rather trust your Father.

To be anxious is to be a practical atheist.
Robert H. Mounce

The promise is wonderful. If instead of being anxious, we run to God and we seek his kingdom and his righteousness and his purposes, all these things will be added to us. What a paradox! And in fact, it is how we ought to live now since God is our master, not our concerns nor ourselves (Matthew 6.24). If we fix our eyes on the Lord, he will supply all our needs according to his will. Another promise is “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5.5).” Those who are meek, those whom they know that only God is their refuge, it is they who will ultimately inherit the earth. Those who refuse to lift their cares to the Father, they are the ones who are prideful, and will not be heirs of God. So do not be anxious, but trust your Father.

Here’s the thing. When a concern comes, you have two options: will you wallow in worry and keep it to yourself; or would you humble yourself by casting your anxiety to the Father? Which of the two would you choose?

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash
  1. I want to acknowledge John Piper for pointing this out in his book Future Grace, and maybe even some of the thoughts in this article. 

  2. Robert H. Mounce, as recounted by his son, William D. Mounce.