“Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life?…For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:13-15).
The desire of James’s heart was that his readers would humble themselves before the Lord and not be presumptuous when they planned for the future, nor to worry about it. We might call it worry-free planning! We all probably know someone who gets worried when they don’t have something to worry about! Believers also struggle with this problem, but the Scriptures state, “Be careful [anxious] for nothing” (Phil. 4:6). In our contemporary language we would say, “Don’t worry about anything.” The Greek root word behind the term “careful” here is merimna, which means to pull in different directions or a distraction. This is exactly what worry will do to you: it will tear you apart, both emotionally and physically. Worry always dwells on the future in regard to what may or may not happen. It mulls over every worst-case scenario imaginable until you are tied in knots. We might say it this way: the past belongs to the ages, the present belongs to us, but the future belongs to God.
Worry is a sin! It focuses on the future, which is divine ground. The only suitable way to deal with it is to find a biblical solution to the problem. Thankfully, the Scriptures provide for us the key to living a worry-free life. This age-old problem that can be traced back to the Fall has a simple solution. In fact, the antidote to this venomous attack is the same in every age. We find it noteworthy that the Lord Himself dealt with this matter as He prepared the disciples to carry out the Great Commission.
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns;
yet your heavenly Father feedeth them” (Matt. 6:25,26).
We are creatures of habit! We like the security of having a roof over our heads and knowing where we’re going to have dinner tonight. The same was true of the disciples, with this exception: the Lord had uprooted them from their comfort zone and transplanted them in His field of service. When He called them, they left their families and livelihoods to follow Him. At first it seemed the right thing to do, but the more they thought about their decision, it left them with a feeling of insecurity. In short, they were worried sick! What will we wear when the weather turns inclement? Who’s going to provide our meals today, and tomorrow, and next week? Goodness gracious, we completely forgot about our families! Who’s going to supply that need? Worry always has a way of producing more questions than answers.
Sensing their apprehension, the Lord said, “Take no thought for your life.” “Take no thought” is another way of saying, “Don’t worry about what may or may not happen!” Life is more than food and drink and clothing; they were to be more concerned about the spiritual things of God. If God can provide for the birds that fly above, which neither plant nor harvest, surely He is able to supply the needs of His laborers. We must bear in mind that, if God foreordained the Cross in His determinate counsel (Acts 2:23), and the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world (I Pet. 1:19,20) in accordance with His foreknowledge, surely He knows every need of the disciples, not to mention ours, in advance (Matt. 6:32).
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34).
This passage is the Lord’s solution to the problem of worry. They were not to concern themselves with tomorrow’s circumstances, simply because those were beyond their control. It is natural to be concerned, but they weren’t to allow their concern to deteriorate into worry that consumed them because it would only serve to disrupt their service for Christ. Our Lord speaks of two days: tomorrow, a reference to the future, which belongs to God, and today. While it is impossible simply to turn off unwarranted concern, they were to redirect it. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” In other words, there were enough troubles to deal with in any given day without concerning themselves with tomorrow. The answer to the sin of worry is to trust in God and focus on resolving the problems that are facing you today (Phil. 4:19).