*I wrote part 1 to this post a couple of days ago, so if you haven’t read part 1, I suggest that you do so before you continue to read this.*
Assuming that you are continuing to read this because you have read the previous post, I’ll dive right in. In my last post, I talked about my experience with worry and anxiety. God used my deadly worry to open my eyes to see that I shouldn’t worry about anything. I started off the last post with a couple of questions. I’ll ask them again. Do you ever catch yourself saying that you’re worried about something? Do you ever catch yourself saying that you’re concerned with something? Probably more often than not, you use the word “worry” instead of the word “concern”.
I don’t quite remember where I was or what was going on around me when I was thinking of this, but for whatever reason, one day I was thinking about a certain situation and I was pretty worried about it (or so I thought). Then I recalled Matthew 6:25 where I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to worry. “But if I’m not supposed to worry, does that mean that I don’t care about the situation?” I thought to myself. I got to thinking and I realized that I wasn’t as much worried as I was concerned about the situation.
I think that a lot of people get worried and concerned mixed up. I’ll give the definition of worried and the definition of concerned and we’ll see how they stack up. The definition of worried according to Dictionary.com is “to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts, uneasiness, or anxiety.” The definition for concerned according to Dictionary.com is “a matter that engages a person’s attention, interest, or care, or that affects a person’s welfare or happiness”.
Clearly, they are similar, but that doesn’t mean that they should be used interchangeably.
When we use the word “worry” when we are actually concerned, it can paralyze us. I was preparing to write my last post and as I was reading through Matthew 6, I got to the end of the chapter where Jesus tells us not to worry. I was reading my application Bible and at the bottom there was some elaboration on the idea of worry. It said, “Here is the difference between worry and genuine concern- worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action.” “Wow”, I remember thinking. How true is that (and how fitting, considering I planning on writing about the difference between the two)? Jesus told us not to worry, but he never said that we shouldn’t be concerned. When we worry, it makes us feel out of control and anxious, but when we have genuine concern we feel the urge to do something about that concern and change the situation.
Worry puts us in a ditch, but concern puts us in the passenger seat (next to God who is in the driver’s seat, of course).
I was reading a book by John MacArthur called “Found: God’s Peace”. In the first chapter he talks about avoiding anxiety through prayer (Fun fact: you can get the book for free if you email his people). Anyways, one of the lines in the first chapter says, “Some people assume that worry is the result of too much thinking. Actually, it’s the result of too little thinking in the right direction.” This got me thinking. When we talk about worry and anxiety, we often say that it is caused by thinking too much about a certain situation. While that can be true, we need to understand that thinking about it day and night won’t change the situation and will only continue to drown us in our worry and anxiety. We need to surrender all control of the situation to God and think about how perfect His plans are. After all, Jesus said it himself, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” (Luke 12:25)
I encourage you to use the word “concern” instead of the word “worry” when you are genuinely concerned with something. If you change the way you think and speak about certain things, it’ll help you focus more on right thinking and you’ll most likely end up feeling better about that situation. I’ve started saying “concerned” instead of “worry” and honestly, it changes your perspective on the situation, so I encourage you to do the same. It could change your life!