We all know it’s wrong to worry, right?

For those in our ranks who are natural worriers, you’ve heard all the reasons why worry is useless—and all those clichés and advice can be summed up:

prairie-dog“Worry never solved anything.”

But you still worry.

Ever been told it’s a sin to worry? If so, someone probably quoted this to you:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6-7).

And then you worried about the fact that you were sinning.

We tend to run with the idea that being anxious is bad, but Paul—who wrote Philippians 4—used the exact same word in more good ways than bad.

  • He commended the single man who “is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:32).
  • About the church, he said, “There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other” (1 Cor. 12:25).
  • About Timothy, he told the Philippian church: “I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare” (Phil. 2:20).

Since it’s the same word, how do we distinguish between good concern and bad worry?

  • Worry and anxiousness focus on the problem and what I can do about it.
  • Concern focuses on Christ and what He can do about it.

What matters is what we do with that concern or anxiousness. Most of us dwell on the potential problem. Paul gave us another approach.


Prayer draws our focus away from the concern itself to the One who can—and will—do something about it.

Next time a problem arises that tempts you to worry, don’t dismiss it. Treat it like the warning lights in your car. Those symbols light up for a reason. It’s a reminder to get your oil changed, check your tire pressure, or buy a present because your wife’s birthday is soon. (Honda, are you listening? I could use a light like that.) Those lights remind you TO DO SOMETHING.

DashboaidTreat your concerns and worries like a warning light, reminding you to pray. And every time you slip into worry—the warning light came on again!—stop and pray. Focus on Christ. Trust Him.

The result?

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).

For a printable version: click here.

This Screen-Shot-2013-06-24-at-1.41.38-PM (1)post supports the study “Practicing Joy” in Bible Studies for Life.

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