Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Don't worry - be spiritually frugal

I received an e-mail today - one of those "forwards" - so I haven't got a clue who wrote it originally. But it was filled with wonderful advice on keeping yourself spiritually, mentally and emotionally fit.

One of the best pieces of advice in this e-mail dealt with learning to tell the difference between worries and concerns. Now, I'm an expert "worrier" with years of experience so I'm writing about this for my own benefit, though I know I'm not the only one out there. LOL!

Worry prevents creativity. It's like trying to fit an object into a box filled with Styrofoam peanuts. Until you take the peanuts out, the object just won't fit!

When I worry, the thing I am anxious about ruminates around and around in my brain. It becomes larger and larger until there's no room for any other thoughts. Like the Styrofoam peanuts, the thing that I'm worried about has little eternal weight, but takes up more space than it's worth.

It steals my time - time I could use to be praying, waging spiritual warfare against the situation or circumstances, or figuring out creative solutions. Worry wastes my physical energy as well as I pace and wring my hands. Because it is based in fear, worry raises my blood pressure and causes sleeplessness which affects my health. It uses up a lot of mental energy to remain focused on the object of my worry, keeping it at the forefront of my mind so I can continue to see it at all times, leaving me mentally drained.

I like how this anonymous author put it:
'Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.'

Since one of the most important principles of frugal living is not to go into debt, it makes a lot of sense not to go into spiritual debt by worrying about something that may happen tomorrow - something I have no control over. Simply put - worry "borrows" trouble - and that's not being very frugal!

Jesus understood the tendency of human beings to worry. In the Gospel of Matthew, He uses several illustrations to show the futility of worry. "Don't worry about food," He said, pointing out how God takes care of the simple house sparrows who don't plant gardens or gather food into barns. "You are more valuable than they are." (Matthew 6:26 paraphrased)

He continues on. "Don't worry about what you will wear. The wildflowers in the field are glorious to look at - I provided all their finery. Don't you think I will take care of your needs?" (Matthew 6: 28-29 paraphrased)

So the key is to learn the difference between worrying and being concerned. Concern is rooted in love. When we look at the world around us, our concern for the things we see should spur us to action - both heavy duty praying and doing what we know we can do. It means loving enough to be committed to obedience and trusting Him for the knowledge and strength to do His will.

It's like taking the object of our concern, packing it in an empty box and surrounding it with Jesus' love and compassion rather than those empty worries. Then we take that box and give it to Him , allowing Him do what He will. If He asks us to do something with our concern, we do it. Otherwise, we let Him handle it.

Matthew 6:34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (The Message)

Lord I give my empty worries to You. Show me the things I need to be concerned about - what things I need to act on and what things I need to leave in Your capable hands. Help me to become spiritually frugal for you!

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