Don’t Worry, Be Happy
A look at Matthew 6:19-34
It might surprise you to know that Bobby McFerrin wasn’t actually expressing an original idea when he suggested that worrying only makes life’s troubles worse. In fact, it was Jesus Christ, God himself, who said, “…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….”, before rhetorically asking, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25, ESV). In his hit song, McFerrin is echoing Christ, who asks, “…which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matt. 6:27). In short, one could say that worrying only makes your trouble double.
Jesus understands you; He made you!
By commanding us not to be anxious, Jesus was in no way negating the fact that people do face real challenges everyday. We all do. Most of the things in our lives that cause stress transcend time, space, culture, and worldview. As Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun”. These stressors are ultimately the result of living in a fallen, sinful world. However, Jesus was saying that our response to and anticipation of life matters should not include anxiety. Easier said than done, right?!
It’s all about perspective.
The awesome truth is, Jesus never gives us a command without telling us how to fulfill that command! God knows that my personality tends toward me being very systematic in the way I perceive the world. God knows you, and he will meet you where you’re at if you’ll let him. To fully grasp what Jesus is saying here, we must first look at the context from which he was speaking. Immediately preceding this text, he exhorts us to take the only perspective that will enable us to truly live a life free of the anxiety that so often encumbers us. We must be fully devoted to the Lord Jesus and live to make decisions that please Him. If we live this life of undivided devotion, then we truly have nothing to worry about. If you think about it, we often have cause to worry when we make decisions that are rooted in human corruption. That’s what the Bible is saying when we read, “…but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness….” (Matt. 6:23).
At this point, some might argue that nobody can be held personally responsible for all the pain in their life that causes worry. How can one be blamed when they don’t understand the way they were born? Or, how can a child be blamed for abandonment or the breakup of their parents? Are these difficulties the result of one’s own personal sins? No, these are examples of difficulties people face so that God might be shown powerful and receive glory by working in the power of His awesome might! Again, like I said, God does however hold us responsible for all of our responses throughout life. The Bible clearly shows us that life is little about circumstances and much (more rather) about choices, which include our responses to those same circumstances. Will you have a pity party, worry, and pass up an opportunity to give God his due glory? Or, will you trust Jesus with every area of your life, making decisions that honor Him?
Most importantly, will you trust Jesus with your eternal life? Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” To have the proper perspective on life, and thus have the best grounds for not worrying, your treasure must be in the right place. If we reject Jesus’ sacrifice for our salvation, we will live a life full of decisions that lead to worry because they will originate from our own fallible judgment. Then, we will face an eternity of damnation as punishment for our wrong response to God in Jesus Christ.
However, if we respond to God in complete surrender, seeking to live for Him, then we can claim Romans 8:28 as the truth it is within our lives. Though we might not always understand what God is doing, we can know that it is good. Living this way brings a peace that surpasses comprehension and is our best antidote against worry.