Last updated on October 31st, 2019
Is worry a sin? I hope that’s not a question that increased your worries. But if we’re trying to live a Godly life, it’s important to know if it is a sin.
Jesus said “do not be worried about your life”. Apostle Paul said “do not be anxious”. Both of these are commands given. So to not follow them would seem like an act of disobedience. So it’s a sin right?
As always, We take a closer look at the context of verses before making a conclusion. Let’s do that with the commands mentioned above.
Jesus states in Matthew 6:25-33, ““For this reason I say to you, [n]do not be worried about your [o]life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the [p]air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single [q]hour to his [r]life?
28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But [s]seek first [t]His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be [u]added to you.“
Matthew 6:25-33 Meaning
To understand this passage, it’s important to note what Jesus said prior to this passage. He speaks of not being able to serve two masters at the same time. Matthew 6:24 states, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and [m]wealth.”
And as you see in this passage, the things he said not to be worried about are essential needs. Foods, drinks, clothes… all things wealth helps to provide us. Jesus closes by stating these things will be added to us if we seek God first above seeking these needs. So is it maybe the larger emphasis of this passage to put our focus on God over wealth?
Perhaps, though the command “do not worry” is still an explicit statement that’s staring us right in the face. So we can’t ignore that. But for now, let’s look at the other passage where Paul talks about not being anxious.
In Philippians 4:6-7 Apostle Paul states, ” 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all [d]comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Prior to verse 6 and 7, Apostle Paul talks about rejoicing in the Lord always, letting one’s gentle spirit be known to men, and that the Lord is near. Philippians 4:4-5 states, “4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is [a]near.”
And after verse 6 and 7, Apostle Paul talks about virtuous things that one’s thoughts should dwell on, and what we should practice in our actions. Philippians 4:8-9 states, “8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is [e]lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [f]dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:4-9 Meaning
Perhaps what we’re to take from this is that as opposed to having thoughts and feelings of anxiousness, one should instead focus on rejoicing and putting their thoughts on the virtuous things Paul noted, and practicing what Paul taught and lived, in order to maintain peace. And that we respond to any feelings of anxiousness trying to rise in us by making requests to God with thanksgiving.
But as we still should remember, it is a command that’s given to be followed in the passage, “do not be anxious”. Not only that, it’s a command to be followed in doing the opposite of being anxious, rejoicing always, dwelling on virtuous thoughts, and practicing what Paul taught and lived. Because of that, it almost seems like we’re committing two sins to do the former and also to neglect to do the latter.
Greek translation of Worry
Looking at the meaning of a word in the Greek language can also be helpful sometimes. Particularly with the New Testament, because that’s what it was originally written in. The Greek word used for worry in Matthew is “merimnaō”. The definition for the word is to be anxious about, or to be troubled with cares. Additionally worth note, this same word is used in Philippians when Apostle Paul commands the Philippine Christians not to be anxious.
So is worry a sin?
Based on the verses we’ve read, the answer to if worry is a sin would be yes. To worry and to be anxious appears to be an act of disobedience to those commands given, and thus a sin.
Now I know what some of you might be feeling. You feel that kind of conclusion might come off a bit harsh. I can understand that, because for many of us, worry seems like it’s a part of the human condition. In particular, it perhaps seems really a part of it for those who have mental illnesses caused by chemical imbalances not of their own doing. Thinking of a person in that situation, being anxious would seem like a sin that would almost be impossible not to commit sometimes.
Though of course it is possible to not be anxious even with having a mental illness. Cognitive behavioral therapy being one of the most effective tools in combating it. It was quite useful for me during my times of anxiety trying to wreak havoc on my life.
We seek God as our sole master, believing He leads or allows us to get to the things we need. And also in that thinking, we should be able to more often focus on the better things we’re instructed to focus on in Philippians 4.
Final thought on worry and sin
I’ll leave you with this final thought. Remember when Jesus prayed to God that the cup would pass Him before he eventually got crucified. Luke 22:44 states, “44 In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.[a]”
So Jesus was in agony, but instead of worrying, he prayed more earnestly in the face of distress. He gave us the example and lived the example for us to follow in difficult situations in life for us. Trusting that God would provide peace in the most distressing situation any person could ever face.
So I hope this is an encouragement to you to pray to God and focus on Him in your greatest moments of stress. And you can have all the peace in Christ you need to calmly push through your difficult circumstances.