by Rob Tims
It occurred to me this week that in six years my oldest child will likely be old enough to live on his own. Or at least with less of my help than he currently has.
I bring this up because immediately following this revelation was an avalanche of worry.
- How will I provide a car?
- How can I afford the insurance for the car?
- Will my savings be enough to meaningfully blunt college expenses?
And on and on and on. Honestly, it weighs on me even as I write about it.
Which is why I must tell myself four very important things.
Rob, there is a relationship between material concerns and worry. In Matthew 6:24-25, Jesus said, “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money. This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. I love that Jesus doesn’t dismiss the reason I worry. He validates the fact that the need and/or want for material things can cause worry. So if you’re worried about material things, Jesus gets it. There’s a natural relationship between what it means to be human and material goods.
Rob, worry is a form of worshiping materialism. Though Jesus validates my feelings about material things, he doesn’t let me live there. There is a right way to respond to material wants and needs, and fretting is the wrong way. As John Stott puts it, “Our basic choice of which of two masters we intend to serve will radically affect our attitude to both. We shall not be anxious about the one (for we have rejected it), but concentrate our mind and energy on the other (for we have chosen him).”
Rob, worry betrays a lack of trust in God to provide and an over-confidence in yourself to provide. Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-32, “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” If God knows what I need, God is faithful to provide what I need. Amazing! There is no scenario in which I don’t have what God knows I need. He doesn’t know things I need and not provide them. So, when I worry about not having what I think I need, I am demonstrating both a lack of faith in God to give and an over-confidence in my own responsibility to make sure I have it.
Rob, you can avoid worry about seeking first the One who knows what you need and promises to provide it.. Matthew 6:33 — “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” Jesus’ conclusion is consistent theologically but counter-intuitive to my natural inclinations. Surely I should seek after what I need if I’m going to make sure I get it?! But no. If God is faithful to know my needs and give me what I need, I should first seek him, not the needs. Doing so removes the source of worry all together, grows my faith, and glorifies him.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some seeking after God to do. I just remembered that whatever my oldest needs, his three younger siblings will also need, if not more.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.