Do Not Worry
By Alexandra Anderson, June 2019
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? …’ Matthew 6:25-34
Worry is a thing that affects us all. When it comes to worry, I know I’m pretty good at it and I know that I am not alone in this. In my role as Pastor I talk to people all the time who worry about everything from the state of their health, to the state of the world, their children, their jobs, their aging parents and some even how they are going to make it through the day. So if all of us at some point in our lives have spent time worrying what does Jesus want to teach us when he tells us not to worry?
Well perhaps Jesus’ teaching is less about never having a worrying thought and more about the time and energy we invest in worrying. Now if we think about the context into which Jesus spoke these words we will see that Jesus also lived in a time when people worried. They worried about being free from oppressive Roman rule, they worried about taxes and likely for many who followed Jesus they worried about having enough food to eat and clothes to wear as they traveled around the countryside following this itinerant preacher.
Jesus is not trying to say food is not important, or clothes are not important, or that we shouldn’t plant crops or do any work - Jesus is inviting us to put things into perspective. Worrying is a futile exercise, v.27 says, ‘Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?’
You see Jesus had a deep sense of his Father’s goodness and generosity. His teaching came out of the joy of his own experience of life. When he told his followers not to worry about tomorrow he led them by example. He didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk. Jesus seems to have had the ability to live in the present, giving all his attention to the present task, enjoying and celebrating the goodness of God in the ‘here and now’. Isn’t that what we are all striving to do in this day and age? Live in the present – not hang onto the past or worry about tomorrow? Jesus wanted his followers to do the same, by making God their priority. Not some god who was distant from the world, who didn’t care about life, food or clothes – but God the creator of the Universe who has filled our world with beauty, energy and joy – a God who invites his human creatures to trust him, love him and to receive life.
So Jesus says, ‘ consider the lilies who neither toil nor spin”. The word ‘lilies’ is not a very accurate translation. The word in Greek is probably closer to ‘wild flowers’. Jesus isn’t talking about those white lilies you find in flower shops but about flowers which are more like our wild poppies. They are actually weeds and they grow amongst the wheat in the fields. They grow everywhere even in places they aren’t supposed to and as we consider these lilies we are reminded that God’s love is generous, it is tenacious and it grows everywhere.
Jesus invites us to open our eyes and see past the worry to the beauty that is all around us. If we spend all our time worrying we miss what God is doing in the world and in our lives. God wants to bless us, feed us and clothe us generously, abundantly, extravagantly. Why? Because he loves us and he wants us to be happy.