Worry. Like a spiritual form of gingivitis, it's a constant threat that causes irritation, redness, and swelling of the soul. Unfortunately, our culture seems to thrive on worry, often using it to sell us all kinds of stuff:
Announcer: "Your cat might be at risk for gingivitis."
Cat owner (holding Fluffy): "What!?!"
Announcer: "You need to act now before it's too late!"
Cat owner (crying): "OK, I'll buy it! Whatever it is, I'll buy it!"
The news is rampant with this sort of technique as well:
Newscaster: "Donald Trump might have gingivitis."
You (sitting in your La-Z-Boy eating Cheetos): "What!?!"
Newscaster: "Let's go to our expert panel to dissect this startling new development for the next three hours and whip you into worry about the future of America."
Worry (i.e., soul-gingivitis) often plagues gospel-driven champions of life. We can experience much redness, irritation, and swelling of soul over things like ministry success, results, approval from God and others, resources, relationships, and more.
Jesus recently initiated a Scripture-laden conversation with me about this topic. Here are some highlights that might help us together expose our worry to Him for forgiveness and redemption.
Jesus: "I'm glad that you care and think about things, Doug."
Jesus: "Just remember to abide in Me for help guarding yourself from caring and thinking too much (John 15:1-11). After all, worry1 is simply taking a good thing (care and thought) and making it an ultimate thing (anxious and possessive care, and apprehensive, consuming, and fearful thought)."
Me: "How will I know when I'm getting into trouble in this area, Lord?"
Jesus: "Abide in Me and I'll make it clear to you when you're about to cross over into idolatrous care and thinking."
Me: "OK, Lord. You're always pushing me back on intimacy with you, aren't You?"
Jesus: "Sure am. I am your Home. Abide in me and you will bear much fruit" (John 5:1-11).
In that relational context, here are some more things Jesus shared with me that I'd like to pass long to my friends and fellow champions of life.
1 Worry is merimna in Greek and is used nineteen times in the New Testament. It means:
3 I interpret the "peace" of Philippians 4:7 as a Person who stands guard to influence and protect my heart from worry. I say this because Jesus, a Person, is called "The Prince of Peace" who gives peace to His people (Isa. 9:6, Jn. 14:27, and 2 Th. 3:16, see also "the God of peace" in Rom. 15:33 and 1 Th. 5:23). I also say it because the Holy Spirit, a Person, exhibits this kind of work in God's people (Acts 9:31, Rom. 8:6, 14:17, 15:13, Gal. 5:22, Eph. 4:3, Phil. 2:1).