I remember reading an article about Alexander the Great whose troops looked like they were about to be defeated. His soldiers had taken so much plunder from their previous campaigns that they had become weighted down and were losing their effectiveness in combat.
Alexander commanded that all the spoils of war that had been accumulated be thrown into a heap and burned. The men complained bitterly but soon saw the wisdom of the order. Someone wrote, that It was as if wings had been given to them—they walked lightly again and their next victory was assured.
As Christians, we too must rid ourselves of anything that hinders us. In the Bible, the author of Hebrews likens Christians to runners in a race “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,. To win the race, we must “throw off everything” that would weigh us down and rob us of our strength and endurance. Can you imagine an Olympic track and field participant competing while carrying a couple suitcases?
This weighty burden may be sin like lust or greed or gossip. It might be laziness or complacency, but I find that one of the most common thing that we must throw off to run well the race well is worry.
As I kid I remember going over to a friend’s house who always seemed to have the latest copy of the satirical MAD magazine. On each issue would be the face of cover-boy, Alfred E. Neuman. His was a face that didn’t have a care in the world. As a young boy his motto sparked a feeling of real freedom for me that carries over to this day. . “What, me worry?”
As a church leader I have found that those words and the attitude behind them have served me well in over thirty three years of ministry service and especially now as our world is confronted by the realities of a global pandemic. What , me worry?
The word “worry” is an Old English word which literally means “to choke”, or “to strangle”. When you’re worrying, it chokes the life out of you. The Greek word for worry is the word that means “to divide”. A small group I was once in was studying the Book of James and we talked about a double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways. James 1:8. Focusing on worry causes instability. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, deals with the worry issue by saying in Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.
Worry is emotional baggage that hinders your progress toward spiritual maturity Proverbs 12:25 says, “Worry weighs a person down.” Worry makes you feel heavy, pressed down, depressed. Because worry weighs a person down, God says, don’t run the race of life all loaded down with burdens and cares, fears and anxieties. He wants you to release those things. What does God want you to do?
“Give your worries to the Lord and He will take care of you.” Psalm 55:22 In essence he says, “Let it go. Give it to Me. I’ll take care of them. You may say how do I do that? How do I let go of my worries?
I like to say that there are two alternative choices you have when you come across problems in your life; you can worry about them or you can pray about them. My experience tells me you’re going to do one or the other through life. The more you worry the less you’re going to pray. The more you pray the less you’re going to worry.
Prayer is THE way you release your worries. Look at what the Apostle Paul wrote from prison when he could have been worrying about a lot of things.
“Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus”. Philippians. 4:6 (NLT)
Please understand, in these troubling times we are still called to be responsible citizens and follow the common sense guidelines that are laid out for us to protect our health and the health of others.
Worry is the first thing you’re going to have to let go of if you’re going to experience the peace that God wants you to give you. Prayer is a more positive alternative to the troubles that face us.