Day by Day - Dec. 24, 2010
by Charles R. Swindoll
Do you know which sin is the subtle enemy of simple faith? Materialism and greed? Anger? Lust? Hypocrisy? No. All of these sins are certainly our enemies, but none of them qualify as subtle enemies.
The most notorious faith killer in all of life: worry. "For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?" (Matt. 6:25).
Being something of a wordsmith, I find the term "worry" fascinating. To begin with, the word used by Matthew (translated here as "anxious") is the Greek term merimnao. It is a combination of two smaller words, merizo, meaning "to divide," and nous, meaning "the mind." In other words, a person who is anxious suffers from a divided mind, leaving him or her disquieted and distracted.
Of all the biblical stories illustrating worry, none is more practical or clear than the one recorded in the last five verses of Luke 10. Let's briefly relive it.
Jesus dropped by His friends' home in Bethany. Martha, one of those friends, turned the occasion into a mild frenzy. To make matters worse, Martha's sister, Mary, was so pleased to have the Lord visit their home that she sat with Him and evidenced little concern over her sister's anxiety attack.
As Luke tells us, "Martha was distracted with all her preparations" (Luke 10:40). But Martha didn't have help, and that was the final straw. Irritated, exasperated, and angry, she reached her boiling point, and her boiling point led to blame. "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me" (10:40).
But Jesus was neither impressed by her busyness nor intimidated by her command. Graciously, yet firmly, He said, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (10:41-42).
Worry occurs when we assume responsibility for things that are outside our control. And I love the Lord's solution: "only a few things are necessary, really only one." What a classic example of simple faith!
All Mary wanted was time with Jesus . . . and He commended her for that. Mary's simple faith, in contrast to her sister's panic, won the Savior's affirmation.
Worry and faith just don't mix.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.