Worry is also very unhealthful. It can cause headaches, insomnia, chest pains, nervous breakdowns, ulcers, and high blood pressure. You may have heard someone say, “It’s not so much what you eat that kills you, but rather what eats you.” Indeed, worry has reached epidemic proportions in our country. A huge percentage of deaths in our country are caused in part by our worrying lifestyles. Americans consume millions of dollars-worth of anti-anxiety pills every year. Worry and anxiety drain us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. At its core, worry is a spiritual problem: Either we trust God with stuff, or we don’t.
In the final verse of Jesus’s teaching on worry in Matthew chapter six, he tells us to stop worrying, for worry makes us look like pagans. He said, “The pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” In essence Jesus is saying, Don’t you have any faith—are you an atheist? The opposite of worry is faith. Jesus is saying, Don’t be a pagan—don’t live as if I don’t exist. Many churches are full of “practical atheists”—people who call themselves Christians but who live as if God doesn’t exist. So should worry be called a sin? Yes, because Jesus commands us not to worry. If we go ahead and worry, then we are breaking a command of Jesus—in other words, we are sinning. And because worry is sin, we need to take it seriously and confess it, turning from it with God’s help.
Jesus wants us to stop worrying about things and focus on him. Once, when he and his disciples came to a village, a woman named Martha opened her home to him. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said, but Martha was distracted by all the preparations that were necessary. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” Jesus answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
When I first read this story many years ago, I resonated with Martha. I could see myself being worried about all the necessary preparations for having guests in my house. To remember the point of this story, I personalized Jesus’s words to Mary and wrote them on a card above my desk: “Mike, Mike, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed—come and sit at my feet.”
Reflections: What are the “many things” you are worried and upset about? Paraphrase and personalize the words of Luke 10:41-42 and write them on a card where you can see it every day. Try to imagine hearing Jesus speak these words directly to you when you are weighed down with worry.
Martha, Martha the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.