Jesus asked a powerful question in his most famous sermon. As he preached about our faith in God and how we should trust him for everything in our lives he posed this question, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27)
I love the imagery here. The word span describes a period of time but it was also used to measure something. A span was about the width of one’s hand. A handbreadth. David wrote in Psalm 39:5, “You have made my days a mere handbreadth…” It is like God, in his infinite power and wisdom, looks at our life and measures out the amount of time he allots us by holding up his hand and saying, “That looks about right.”
Jesus was saying that worry adds nothing to the measure, the effectiveness, the impact, the purpose, the length, or the benefit of our lives. In fact, it blocks God’s desire to bring blessing into our lives. He has already measured it out and everything he creates, measures, and plans is good. So what does worry accomplish? Nothing good!
Worry can’t change anything. Have you ever noticed that we have absolutely no control over most of the things we worry about? To be honest worry is really kind of silly. When I watch my favorite college basketball team it just tears me up inside when they are not doing well. You can ask my wife about what I do when that happens. I stand up and pace the floor. I wear team gear. I will even try to help them by pretending to shoot the ball or play defense. Of course that is silly. I am not helping them one bit. I am not even physically at the game, must less playing the game. When we worry over things that we have no control over we must look just as silly to God as I do when I’m watching basketball.
Worry destroys things. The only thing worry is good for is hindering our sleep, deteriorating our health, messing with our mental alertness, hurting our attitude, and making our outlook negative.
Resting in God’s grace is the antidote to worry. Jesus told us to rest in the fact that God is good, that he loves us, and that he will take care of us. Ultimately when we worry we are blocking God’s blessings. We are saying that we don’t believe that his grace is sufficient. We believe that the devil is true and God is a liar. We believe the lies of our enemy rather than the truth of Jesus. When we meditate on the grace of God – the unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor and blessing of God that is given to us through Jesus – it changes our worry to faith. When I realize that there is nothing I can do to earn his favor but it is simply a generous, audacious, free gift from God that he gives to me because of Jesus, then it frees me from worry. It eases my mind when I believe that the great exchange at the cross makes me the “righteousness of God in Jesus.” Do I get that because of my good deeds, or my strength, or my ability to fix things? No way! I don’t get the righteousness of Jesus because of my righteous conduct. Most Christians acknowledge this for salvation but then they try to “earn” God’s favor through good conduct after they are saved. That leads to worry because you can never be good enough through your own effort. Resting in God’s grace frees me from worry because it reminds me that God has already measured out my life. Everything he does is good. His grace covers everything. He’s got this and I can rest in him!