Last week I started to think about all the things I have lined up to do. Among the job, ministry, and my professional obligations, my family is working overtime to remake our house to be simpler, more austere, and significantly de-cluttered. The latter has taken a lot of time and effort, which has to be factored in to our other commitments. It means “family time” is harder to maintain. And I was thinking about all of this, I realized I was starting to spin myself up in a way that was destructive. I was about to start worrying about things I couldn’t control and couldn’t do something about right then. As a result, I would be taking focus and time away from things I could do immediately. This is what Jesus meant when He told us not to worry about tomorrow.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:34, ESV
It’s easy to get caught up in the trap of worrying about tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. Now there is a difference between worrying and planning. Worrying is dwelling on what is to come and not doing anything constructive about it. Worrying is rehashing in your mind the same thing over and over again. And worrying gets us nowhere. It increases our stress, decreases our health, and wastes our time. We have enough things to do today. What adds to Jesus’ command is the fact that we don’t know how much time we have left. Only He does. So time wasted is time lost. That’s why the psalmist wrote:
“O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
– Psalm 39:4-5, ESV
Our time in this life is fleeting. There are so many things jockeying for our attention. We don’t have time to give in to worry. But worry we often do. Now in the context of Jesus’ words, He was talking about stuff. Folks were concerned about stuff. Jesus was addressing this occupation with stuff and with worrying about whether they would have the time and resources to secure more stuff. You know, we really haven’t changed. Many of us are still preoccupied with stuff. Or we’re concerned with the money that could buy stuff and the job that provides that money or the expenses which subtract from that money. And we get so caught up in this that we miss what’s really important: our Savior, our family, and our friends. The thing of it is that if we’re so caught up in stuff and worrying about stuff that we miss on what’s important, we and the people we say we care about will regret it one day.
This hit home when a friend and mentor posted how a friend of his had just passed away in a plane crash. They had camped together, their kids played together, and they did scouting together. Now that family is left without a husband and a father. What my friend wrote about this man tells us a bit about the man’s legacy. See, we all have a legacy. We all will be remembered by those who knew us when we’re gone. How will we be remembered, though? Will we be remembered as people who always ensured time was available to who was most important? Or will we be remembered as folks who worried about jobs and money and things that ultimately are of little eternal consequence? How we spend that our time will determine that. God isn’t calling us to be irresponsible. There are plenty of admonitions in Scripture about taking care of our responsibilities, honoring our commitments, and doing the best we can. But what He is telling us to do is to really think about what is most important, what we can do right now especially given those priorities, and to not worry about the rest.