Keith Wishum: Do I worry enough?
I don’t worry enough! Does that seem like a strange statement? Especially since I wrote last week that I worry too much? Let me try to explain.
Without question, worry can be a problem. And the Bible clearly cautions against certain kinds of worry. But a world of totally carefree, “don’t sweat the small stuff” attitudes could be a very dangerous place. Consider the following statistics that someone has suggested:
If 99.9 percent is good enough ….
• 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents daily.
• 18,322 pieces of mail will be mishandled per hour.
• Two planes landing at Chicago’s O’Hare airport will be unsafe every day.
• 315 entries in Webster’s Dictionary will be misspelled.
• 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions will be written this year.
• 291 pacemaker operations will be performed incorrectly.
Maybe we should fret a bit about the details. Who wants to fly with a pilot who doesn’t sweat the small stuff? Or have heart surgery under the hand of a doctor unconcerned with details? Rather than recommending a lackadaisical approach to our work, God says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). It is sometimes very important to sweat the small stuff.
The Bible actually says that there are times when we should worry. In Philippians 2:20, Paul used the same word that is found in 4:6 (the Scripture we discussed last week). In the latter, it is translated as “be anxious” and has a negative connotation. In the earlier verse, however, Paul commends Timothy because he is “anxious” (“takes a genuine interest”) for the well-being of the church in Philippi. It was good that Timothy showed strong concern — that he worried about them.
There are some details for which we should have a high degree of concern. Jesus faulted the Pharisees, not for being so fastidious that they tithed from their garden herbs, but because they failed to worry about the “more important matters” (Matthew 23:23).
The problem isn’t that we worry, but that we worry about the wrong things. It’s right to worry about the things of God. We should be concerned how our actions affect our neighbors. It would be a better world if we worried more about becoming better people. Christians desperately need greater concern for eternal well-being of those who don’t yet know Jesus.
Some things really matter. Sometimes, maybe I just don’t worry enough about those things.
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.