Money and Worry

On those nights when you can’t sleep, what goes through your mind as you stare up at the ceiling? If you lie awake worrying about your finances, money has made a slave of you.

There are plenty things on our minds every day, and some of them keep us awake at night from time to time. We have lots of stress, responsibilities and obligations. We may wonder what the future will look like for our families, or ponder whether we’re doing the things we ought to be doing in life. There’s plenty to plan for, pray about and strategize over. But when we let those healthy activities mutate into worry, it becomes an unhealthy addiction that can make us captive to our own minds.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to worry about money, especially in today’s uncertain financial climate. But that’s not what God wants you to spend your energy and resources doing. In fact, worrying about money will only distract you from the important things that He wants to see in your life.

Jesus had a lot to say about money — one of the fundamental concepts of this site comes from his teaching in Matthew 6:24. ““No one can serve two masters,” He said. “Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” We’ve used this verse to teach the dangers of being a slave to money, and have explored many of the ways that money can make slaves of us.

Today, we’re going to follow a little further into Matthew 6 and look at what Jesus teaches about worry, especially when it comes to worrying about money. Verses 25-27 give us a plain instruction about the futility of worrying:

25 “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? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Later on, in verses 31-33, Jesus outlines the way that we should be thinking instead:

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Jesus has made a couple of really key points here. The first one is that He knows our needs, and He has our back. Remember, God owns everything in the world, and He gives everything that we have to us. He is a loving father, who knows how to give good gifts to His children. And if he takes such good care of the birds of the air, how much more can we expect Him to take care of us? God promises that if we are faithful to work hard, He will be faithful to provide for us.

Worry has no place in God’s equation — sitting around worrying about money doesn’t actually make you any more money. Worrying about whether you’ll be able to feed your kids doesn’t put any groceries in the fridge. Worrying doesn’t create anything positive — it only binds up our hearts and minds, making us captive. Our mental, emotional and spiritual energy is sapped up in worrying over things that God has already promised to provide. God wants us to be financially free, but worry makes us money slaves.

There’s another powerful point in all of this: When we worry about money, we focus our hearts’ attention in the wrong place, and end up missing out on the things that God really values for us. In verse 33, Jesus says “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.” God’s priority for your life is not your money, it’s His kingdom. God wants you to find your joy and fulfillment in life from the things that He’s doing on the earth. He wants you to grow in Him, to get to know Him, to love Him, and to live your life out of the abundant resources that come from that relationship. The everyday needs of life — “all these things,” as the scripture says — will be taken care of along the way.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to get these things backwards. One of the biggest failings of modern Christianity in the wealthy West is that we’re seeking “all these things” first, and then pursuing God’s kingdom with the little bit of ourselves that remains once we’ve struggled to meet all of our physical and financial needs. Because our society can be so materialistic, we can easily fall prey to believing that building wealth and acquiring stuff is the chief end of our lives. We spend most of our time pursuing money, and then we may give to God whatever is left of ourselves at the end of the week.

Can you imagine what the Kingdom of God would look like if all of His people sought Him first? Can you imagine the peace that you would experience in your own life if you really trusted that “all these things will be added to you as well”? Can you imagine how fulfilling it would be to know that you’re investing your life’s focus and energy on things that will matter in eternity, instead of just worrying and laboring to get what you need for today?

If worry has made a money slave of you, it’s time to begin to put your faith in the promises of God, and then set your heart to pursing the things that really matter to Him.


Photo by Alon. Used under Creative Commons License.