I suppose all of us would admit we sometimes worry. Some of us worry more intensely and more often, but all of us do worry from time to time. Sometimes we worry over seemingly minuscule things, or even things that don’t exist. Whenever we worry about what may happen in the future, we are worrying about something which may not even happen. My father used to warn me against this by telling me, “don’t borrow trouble.” Jesus also told us not to worry about tomorrow in Matthew 6:34, so it must be good advice.
Sometimes though, we worry about significant issues. I have a friend who is awaiting a diagnosis that could be cancer, could involve surgery, and could be a really big deal. We would all agree this is something "worth" worrying about. It is a real issue of real importance. When there is a “clear and present danger,” we think it makes sense to worry.
In Matthew 6:27, however, Jesus tells us that it doesn’t make sense to worry about even the things which are real, present, and scary. He tells us by asking us a question.
"Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?"
He compares our life to a timeline, drawn out to represent the entirety of our years. He refers to the entire span of our life, and asks if we could add even 18 inches to the whole of our life by worrying. Imagine drawing a line representing every minute of every hour of every day of every year of your life. I am 60 years old, which is 31,556,952 minutes. If one inch equaled one minute, a line that stretched for 500 miles would represent my life span.
Jesus asks if we think we could even add 18 inches to that length by worrying. What a picture Jesus paints for us with this question! All the worrying I could possibly do about anything and everything can’t even add a foot and a half to 500 miles! It is not that worrying isn’t understandable, at least about certain things; it is just that it is absolutely fruitless. It will never do any good.
So Jesus tells us to do something that will help. He tells us to look at the birds, and to consider the lilies of the field. God provides for the needs of the birds and He clothes the flowers of the field more beautifully the “Solomon in all his glory.” Then Jesus asks another question in Matthew 6:26 and 30. He says, in essence, don’t you know that you are more valuable to God than birds and flowers? If God will provide for the birds, and gives wild flowers such beauty, just imagine how God is concerned for us who bear His image.
It is no wonder Paul tells us in Philippians to not
worry about anything, but to pray about everything.
There is no value in worrying, but to bring in prayer our needs to a loving, powerful God is value beyond compare.