Do Not Be Anxious, But Do Not Be Idle

In this week's "Ask Anything" Quick Query, Amy described her situation:

"I have recently 'come home" from a full time job, I have a husband and 3 boys... I was under conviction about this for awhile and just took the plunge, with my husbands blessing. ...[We have] alot of [expenses] that would make it seem like I NEED to work to help... So my question is, how far do we go with these verses, Matthew 6:24-34?"

Here's the passage she's talking about:
"Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
I have several thoughts about this, Amy, somewhat in the order of how they appear in the passage. The bolded part is the main thought and then I'll do a little commentary on each point. These thoughts aren't aimed only at you, but at myself, and anyone else who would lean towards worry or anxiety in times of difficulty...
  • LOOK AT THE WORLD AROUND YOU- Consider the birds, look at the flowers. God takes care of all things. Rest in Him. He takes care of EVERYTHING (more than even we mommies take care of) and He does it well. LEAN on the everlasting arms; they're strong and they'll take care of you.
  • LOOK AT YOUR SITUATION OBJECTIVELY- Life is more than food or clothes. And anyway, God's the One Who does it all... do you really think it's your own talent and abilities that have provided for you this far? We think that way sometimes, but it is inaccurate to think that we are the ones earning the salary. GOD is the One Who graciously gives us skills and abilities, gives us favor in the interviews and in our careers, and gives us the jobs we need. Don't trust in you own ability to provide. Oh, and just in case that doesn't convince you, you're not lengthening your life any by worrying, so stop it!
  • PRIORITIES- First, the Kingdom of God. First, seek righteousness. And notice- it doesn't say, "Then, after you've done those things, you can be anxious about your food, drink, clothing, etc..." No- it says, then all these things will be added to you. So even then, we're not to worry. We're to be about our Father's business. That's where our focus should be.
  • TRUST ME, YOU'LL HAVE ENOUGH ON YOUR MIND. "Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble." Kind of a Yoda-like statement, isn't it? I haven't consulted any commentaries about this, but taking it at face value, it seems to be saying, "trust me... you'll have enough on your mind if you JUST focus on today." Don't worry about tomorrow, don't fret about the future... just rest in me TODAY. I took care of you yesterday, and I've taken care of you so far today, haven't I? Trust me enough to not worry about tomorrow.
  • DO NOT BE ANXIOUS. Did you notice he repeated this three times? Having listened to enough sermons in my lifetime, I can recall hearing that in Jewish culture, repeating something three times signifies its importance to the speaker. This is the primary thrust of the passage. Do not be anxious. Don't worry, don't stress. Seriously, don't be anxious. Take those worrisome thoughts captive.
Now, having examined all of that (I know there's much more to be gleaned from it, but to me, today, those are the main points), there are a few other things that need to be said, in order to put this passage in the context of the whole counsel of the Word of God.

IS IT WRONG TO CONTRIBUTE?
Proverbs 31 shows a woman who does not fear for her family, works hard, trades, works with her hands, contributes to her family, makes things for her home, and laughs (is not anxious) at the future.And there are other verses like these as well... my point is this: no, we're not to worry. But that doesn't mean we have to sit still while we're not worrying.

Is there a skill you have that could contribute to your financial situation? Or a talent or craft ability you have that you could make money using? Could you start a small business from home that would help pay off those extra bills? Or could you begin looking for ways to SAVE money from your normal family expenses and thus, in a way, be earning extra money for your family to pay off debt, etc.?

There are a lot of blogs devoted to being frugal. I think those would be a good place to start. Here are a couple of my favorites: Frugal Upstate and Frugal Homemaker Plus. Look for ways to cut costs from what you're already doing. The Ladies Against Feminism website has a whole section devoted to "How to Get Back Home". I know you're already home, but you could spend a few minutes reading through those articles to get additional ideas for ways to make staying home more financially-friendly for you.

YOU WILL FACE OPPOSITION
Finally, too, you need to realize that there will always be opposition to staying at home, from our enemy, the devil (who likes frazzled and guilt-ridden moms and latchkey children), as well as from the world at large who will not understand this kind of decision. "Your kids will be fine", they'll say. "Put your skills and talents to better use", they'll say. But the God who called you will use your skills and your talents in the place that He called you, make no mistake. Just seek first His Kingdom. Seek His righteousness first.

And let me encourage you, Amy: staying at home will always mean there is something else you could be doing.... something else that would drain your time but probably leave you feeling very fulfilled- whether that is a ministry, a job, or blogging. (Threw that last one in, just so you know I'm not just talking to you- I'm talking to me, too!!!) But once we become moms, we have been "hired" for an exceedingly important job- by God Himself. Being at home will mean big returns in their lives and yours.

* * * * *
The overall point of that Matthew passage is this: Don't be anxious. But- I see no reason to take Matthew 6 to mean that we aren't to ever do anything to help our situation. 1 Thessalonians 4: 11-12 says:
..."aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one."
So, while we aren't to be anxious, we're also not to be idle. First, if we're called to be stay-at-home wives or moms, then we need to be workers at home, but if we can do that well AND earn a little extra income (for example, through selling dresses or hairbows or having a resume service, or whatever), then I believe it is acceptable and even honorable to do so. If there's something you can do to contribute to your family's financial situation while still operating under the conviction God put on your heart (to stay at home), then do it!

ANYONE ELSE HAVE THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS?

3 comments:

Allena said...

I think that is right on! Thought right now i'm on the opposite side of this by having to work outside of the home.. and i have to admit, lately i've been having a hard time. I'm so frustrated with it and just at war with myself and feelings b/c i want to be home but right now i'm working. I do so love that verse from Matt. b/c it calms me down when I start worrying about me working and the effect that has onthe rest of everything.
anyways thanks for your blog!

Sharyn said...

I like the point Jess brought up about seeing not just how you can add to the coffers by bringing in money, but by not sending it out. Staying home can help this in terms of trimming costs of eating (making food instead of getting more expensive carry-out), staying on top of expenses and having more time to comparison-shop so as to not spend more than you need to. There is some great advice on the web about minding your money wisely, which is also part of our challenge as home manager -- to spend the family's hard-earned money wisely.

There is that transition period of learning to live on one income instead of two which I think is a natural transition -- I cannot tell from the original question if it is day-to-day expenses or debts that must be erased that is causing the anxiety. Money can indeed provoke so much anxiety!

I wish us all luck in finding that anxiety-free zone (in money and everything else!)

Anna S said...

I'm not a wife yet, but I think it's very important to say, "IT CAN BE DONE". Commit yourself to your decision. Don't look back.

My family has always lived on one income, which was so tiny at times it would make you laugh. We did this because we had no choice. But it means this can also be done with choice and planning!

Good luck!!!