Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 47; 147:12-20, Leviticus 19:26-37, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12, Matthew 6:25-34
The United States is a nation of worriers. Advertisers prey on our insecurities about health, appearance, and status. The stock market can fluctuate wildly based on minuscule setbacks. Our twenty-four hour news cycle brings the most lurid concerns of the entire world directly into our homes. The difficult thing about worry is that it’s always got one toe in reality. Maybe our jobs really are in danger. Maybe the fruit we eat does contain unsafe pesticides. Maybe we did leave the curling iron plugged in.
Not many of us are like field lilies, neither toiling nor spinning yet relying on God to clothe us in splendor. Then again, few lilies have to plan for retirement. Given the nature of human life, is it really possible to be as care-free as the lilies? Or would that attitude be plain irresponsible? It all depends on what we value.
We may say “blessed are the poor,” but only the rare monastic aspires to poverty. More “Poor Richard” than “poor in spirit,” we cite “God helps those who help themselves” like scripture, then wonder why the world is full of people who do nothing but help themselves. Most things we do aspire to – big homes, nice cars, high-paying jobs, prestige education – may make life more pleasant, and are not wrong in and of themselves, but they do not serve (and may even hamper) our highest priority: relationship with God. When we put them in proper perspective, we realize our inner peace does not depend on external circumstances.
Of course we should take care of our bodies, be good stewards of our finances, and be responsible people, but not because these good habits are our primary sense of security. They guarantee nothing. The difference between responsibility and worry is the first addresses things we can control (our actions) and the second addresses things beyond our control (namely, everything else). If our health fails, our fortune fades, or our world somehow falls apart, our peace remains in the Lord. Worry changes nothing, but it can be a barometer of what sort of splendor we seek.
Comfort: The peace of God passes all understanding (Philipians 4:7).
Challenge: Make a list of the things that worry you, then burn it.
Prayer: Holy God, I will cling to your peace in good times and bad. Amen.
Discussion: What might be a more constructive response than worrying?
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