Is It Really a Sin to Worry?

Photo and art by Jodi Sparber


Anonymous asked a question:

My pastor has given two lessons on why worry is a sin and how to stop it. Is it really a sin if worry is somewhat out of your control? I have OCD and anxiety, and worry is at the root of both. Am I simply not trusting God enough? Am I a bad Christian?


Hey dear friend, I got a ton of love you. We’re fellow worriers! That doesn’t make you a bad Christian, just an honest one.

First things first: The Bible is very clear that we don’t need to be afraid or to worry. Every time an angel shows up in Scripture, the angel is always like, “Don’t be afraid!” Which is hilarious, because if an angel tore my roof off and yelled something in Hebrew at me, I would need to steam clean my floors. Twice.

So yes, your pastor is right, in that worry is a sin that will hurt you, especially when it gets carried away and exaggerates your fears into unrealistic over-phobias. It certainly doesn’t “help to worry.” It tries to conform reality to our expectations, but the more we try to bend the results, the more that we ourselves will break.

Yet on the other hand, God knows we’re going to worry. Some of us will worry more than others. Especially in your case, in which you deal with anxiety, and in my case, in which I deal with depression, we’re going to have an uphill battle. God doesn’t work in “ideals” all the time, but works in the actual gray-space of who-we-are. So while it would be very ideal if we never worried and always trusted Him, and that “not worrying” would be the healthiest things for us, it’s just not going to happen.


It’s why 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Or Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Jesus in Matthew 6 says, “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? … But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

It’s a given reality that we will freak out and melt down sometimes; these verses imply that it’s already a given reality happening right now. But notice that these verses also present an alternative option to counteract the worry.

The thing is, there’s a lot to worry about. But God gives us a strategy to take on these worries when they come. Trusting God is often about trusting Him for each decision, each breath, each step, in an uncertain world. It might feel impossible all at once, and in fact, that’s true: we cannot expect to overcome the world and all its fears at one time. Things don’t always work out; our worst fears can happen; the storm may never leave. But trusting God means that we know the final say is His, that He’s won already through His Son, and we can let go of the manic death-grip of control.

That’s not easy, but God knows that, and He’s working with each of us to renew our minds and instill the truth in our restless hearts. Peace and rest comes when we know that despite what the world throws at us, God has already taken the worst of it at Calvary. Our final home isn’t here, but was achieved when Jesus made his home in our hearts. The only two constants are change and Jesus, and Jesus doesn’t change. That’s a good thing.

J.S.

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