Worry vs. Concern

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.” (Matt. 6:25a).  Jesus says worry is sinful, but what about concern? 

Is it wrong to be concerned about performing well at work or school, concerned about our health, the well-being of our families, our country, our souls and much more?  Of course not!  Nowhere in Matthew 6 does Jesus say, “Do not be concerned.”  He says, “Do not worry.”

A life without concern isn’t worth living.  In The Lion King, Simba tried it, but “Hakuna matata” didn’t work.  The “problem-free philosophy” of “no worries for the rest of your days” was great at first, but it was just a “passin’ craze.”  Once Simba saw his homeland oppressed by his wicked uncle Scar, this “no worries” thing was no longer practical.  As heir to the throne, he had to be concerned!

A life without concern isn’t worth living.

The apostle Paul felt intense concern.  “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.  Who is weak without my being weak?  Who is led into sin without my intense concern?” (2 Cor. 11:28-29).  Jesus felt concern about going to the cross; He sweated drops of blood in the garden as He prayed for God to remove the cup of suffering from Him. (Luke 22:44).

If Paul and Jesus were concerned, there must be a difference between healthy concern and the sinful worry of Matthew 6.  Here it is:  Worry is rooted in things we can’t control; concern is rooted in things we can.  Worry is based on God’s responsibilities; concern is based on ours.

We should be concerned about doing well at work because it’s our responsibility to be good employees.  We should be concerned about the well-being of our country because that’s our responsibility as citizens.  We’re rightly concerned about our families, our souls, and whatever else we have responsibility to care for and manage.  That’s healthy concern, and we need it because it produces action.

Worry is rooted in things we can’t control; concern is rooted in things we can.

The worry Jesus condemns in Matthew 6 is the fear of tomorrow (6:34), which is God’s responsibility, not ours.  The only things in our control are the choices we make right now, today.

Jesus warns us not to be anxious about an unknown and uncontrollable future:  “What if this?  What if that?  What will I do?  What will happen to me?” (6:31).  Only God knows and only God can do anything about those things anyway, so it does no good to worry (6:27).

Concern produces action; worry produces fear, stress, and paralysis.  Ultimately, worry shows a lack of faith (6:30) — it says to God, “I know I can handle my responsibilities, but I’m not sure You can handle Yours.”  Starting today, let’s take action about our concerns by handling our responsibilities — then trust God to handle His.  After all, He has healthy concern for us (6:26).

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness [handle your responsibilities, B.M.], and all these things will be added to you. [God will handle His, B.M.](Matt. 6:33).

What are your thoughts?  Have you ever worried too much about God’s responsibilities?

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