In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us not to worry, not once, not twice, but three times (Mt 6:25,31,34). Repetition is the key to learning and it places greater emphasis. Jesus wants to drive a major point home.
We worry about many, many things. Jesus mentioned some of our main worries: our life in general, what we are to eat, what we are to drink, our body, and clothing. The list could be expanded to include worries over family and friends, child safety, germs, a medical condition, our reputation, the burden of the workload, unfinished jobs, the house, the car, the weather, road conditions, traffic, getting to work on time, troubles at work, the economy, job security, taxes, health insurance, and the threat of terrorism.
A worrier is nervous and stressed out, anxious and troubled about this, fretting and stewing about that. Worries can grow increasingly larger and become overwhelming. A troubled thought can escalate into a preoccupation and then into an obsession.
Worry is not helpful. Jesus asks, “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” (Mt 6:27). Worry does not add to the length of life, and in many instances may actually subtract from it. Worry can lead to high blood pressure, circulatory problems, digestive disorders, skin conditions, and a weakened immune system.
Jesus knows that everyone worries, some to a greater degree, others to a lesser degree, but all worry. Worry is pointless and unproductive. It burns energy with nothing to show. Worry poses a serious threat to a wholesome and holy life, because for the worrier, concerns for worldly things can become all-consuming while the spiritual realm receives little or no attention.
Jesus offers a three-part plan to balance our lives properly: have faith, seek first the kingdom of God, and live in the present moment.
Have faith. It is an act of faith to trust in God. If God is so great as to give us the gift of our life, we can trust that God will also give us what we need to sustain our life. God does not give and then pull back and stop giving. God is reliable and dependable. God gives and continues to give, and we can count on God to provide for us.
Seek first the kingdom of God. First is the key word. Jesus wants God to be our first thought. If we are to be preoccupied with anything, it should be with God. Our desire should be a close relationship with God, to learn God’s will, and then to dedicate ourselves to carrying out God’s will. Our predominant thought should be to live a life that is pleasing to God. When we are righteous and live according to God’s ways, peace and serenity follow, and worries vanish.
Live in the present. Jesus wants us to focus on the here and now. Worries are distractions. They diminish our ability to be fully engaged in the moment at hand. Whether it is a person, a conversation, a task, or an activity, what is happening right now deserves our full and immediate attention, and when we are alert and concentrate, when we live in the present, we are doing our best, the quality of life improves dramatically, and peace and tranquility follow.