Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

First things first; secondary things second – which is secondary here? Matthew is referring to bills to be paid and food on the table, things of that nature usually claiming our prime attention. We all need a roof over our heads, clothes to wear and food on the table. Once our basic needs are covered we turn our attention to something else, or so we think. How much food is enough? What type of roof will do? And which clothes fit us well? Before we know it, all we do is taking care of our basic needs.

God’s approach to turn things around and let His Kingdom stuff be first and our basic needs second makes more sense if we think about it this way: Let Him take care of our basic needs so we can focus on the more interesting stuff: people; this world around us; our friendship with God.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s sometimes hard not to worry. Bills are like unwanted relatives, they stick to our shoes like gum. It’s that element of trust, however, that makes all the difference. And in an awesome way, trusting God sets us free. We are not just stuck paying bills. We can actually venture out and do something meaningful.

By the way, the lifestyle of worrying does not add a single hour to our lives. If anything, worrying most likely shortens our lifespan. Worrying is unproductive, self-centered and makes us sick; trusting the Lord on the other hand frees us up to live productive lives that touch other people.

After some debate, my husband and I decided to relinquish one of us from bringing home a regular paycheck. Effective October 1, 2018, I became self-employed. With 50% of our income gone it was a huge step of faith for both of us. Meanwhile, I’ve created a client base for music entertainment, specifically Memory Care facilities. To boost their memory, I’ve been singing old familiar songs to the patients. One of them is “Don’t worry, be happy” by Robert Jr. McFerrin.

“Ain’t got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
Don’t worry, be happy”

It seems, the only thing left to worry about in the last stages of our lives is to have a bed to sleep in. If the bed is taken away, what else is left? Well, here is the thing: We can hold on to worrying until we take our last breath, or we can let go and let God. The choice is entirely ours.

Matthew 6:27: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Trouble and worry go together like an old pair of shoes. Quoting from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, a former tax collector by the name of Matthew wrote in his gospel (Matthew 6:34):

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew did not grow up dreaming of a career as a tax collector. His job was offered to him by the Roman authorities who occupied Israel at the time Matthew was alive. Maybe he was an educated man or had other qualities that made him stand out. He accepted the job because his own financial situation may have left him no choice – who knows? What we do know about Matthew is his instant attraction to Jesus when He came along. And Jesus, who knows human hearts, read him like a book.

Inspired by Matthew’s heart, Jesus told a story. In His story a Pharisee, overly impressed with his own accomplishments, is contrasted with a tax collector who humbly asks God for mercy. Matthew had never laid eyes on Jesus before, so this was the first time He witnessed one of His public speeches. And suddenly it dawned on him: The hero of the story was a tax collector. Wow, someone like him – a hero?

Matthew the tax collector was viewed as someone who supported the Roman Empire and therefore was despised by the people. As time went by he grew tough and stopped caring about the hateful comments he heard almost every day, but the life of a public enemy was lonely. Jesus’s story cut him to the core, and he wanted to be near this man for the rest of his life. He got up and left his tax collector’s booth for good. Even though he just barely knew Him, Matthew trusted Jesus completely. Following Jesus, he threw all of his worries overboard and began to live one day at a time.

Trouble is a standard byproduct of living in this world. There is no such thing as an untroubled life for anybody. What Jesus is offering us is peace in the midst of adversity. Living like the birds in the air or the flowers in the field is living one day at a time without worrying about the future. God won’t take away our troubles, but He is well able to take care of our worried minds.

Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

This is the way the cookie crumbles when it comes to NOT WORRYING:

We stop worrying by trusting in God.

Have you ever noticed that as we worry, we generally feel responsible for anything that’s happening? We tend to see this as a result of being negligent in one or more areas of our lives. Because we didn’t prepare enough, didn’t plan enough, and didn’t care enough, we now have to go into emergency mode to get ourselves out of a tricky or even desperate situation. If for instance there’s not enough money to pay our bills, now we’re obsessing about how to come up with more money.  If we’re sick, we think it’s entirely our responsibility to seek out medical treatment and to come up with some solutions.

Not worrying in situations like these seems irresponsible; however, this is exactly where faith leads us, and the secret lies in the heart of the matter: our attitude towards God and what He means to us. Here are a few common approaches that will lead us into being a worry wart if we’re not careful:

  • God is my emergency break – Or: Help yourself so help you God: With this kind of attitude God is supposed to come through for us only in emergency situations, things we deem to not have any control over: for instance our house burns down, we get involved in an accident, or we’re on our deathbed. This kind of approach is prime real estate for becoming a worry wart, since we think we’re responsible for everything except what is considered an “act of God”. Good luck with that approach! Problem is that we’re really unfamiliar with God’s caring nature since we think we’re entirely in charge. We also don’t know how to let go and let God do His thing. God will not impose His help if we don’t let Him. So with this approach we’re pretty much on our own. Even the emergency break might not be working so well, since God is no emergency break.
  • God is my crutch: We need Him only in areas we feel weak, however, in areas we feel pretty proficient we tend to go solo. No need to trust in God in the area of our expertise, right? We feel we’ve got this! Really? What if we hit the wall in the so-called area of our expertise? Now we worry that we’re incompetent. God is no crutch. God is God, and we are His children. We’re supposed to do things together with Him as a lifestyle, not as a last resort.
  • God is my excuse: I don’t want to work or take any risks, so I take on a rather passive role in my life choices. Everything now is up to God. If things don’t work out, it’s definitely God’s fault. We get into the habit of blaming God for all the bad things and probably don’t give Him enough credit for the good things (or maybe we take the good things for granted). This consumer approach – God has to take care of me – obviously does not work because God is no microwave. He wants His children to grow up, explore the world and bear fruit. This does not happen with a lazy attitude. While this attitude seems to be the most trusting – since we expect everything from God – it is really the least trusting. We don’t dare God by not taking steps of faith. We don’t trust that God has our back so we don’t venture out.

Psalm 119:114 says, “You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope”.

David’s prayer says it all. Because we know that God never leaves us nor forsakes us, we plunge into the adventure called “life on earth”; we expect good things to follow us all the days of our life – regardless the circumstances, and especially in less than favorable circumstances. We trust Him no matter what happens. And most of all: WE DON’T WORRY.

This is a very healthy and responsible lifestyle. Try it, you’ll be amazed!