Editor’s note: I admit that the title of this article probably sounds like clickbait. It’s not intended to be so, but if you were looking for some sort of nutritional supplement or magic elixir to make you live to 100, you won’t find it here. However, I’d like to take a look at what God says about this topic in the Bible.
Let’s start with a passage from the book of Matthew:
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Matthew 6:25-27 NLT
I don’t know about you, but I am a “good” worrier. I have practiced a lot, and have become quite skilled at it. If there was a post-doctoral study in worry, I would probably have received an honorary degree. Of course, that’s not something to be proud of, since Jesus tells us not to worry (specifically about some of the things that I worry about).
We know that worry not only doesn’t cause us to live longer, but it can actually shorten our lives, through the physical side effects of prolonged fretting. It also reduces our effectiveness in living life to its fullest, just like anything else that consumes our time and doesn’t add value.
In addition, Jesus leads into passage above with some well-known teaching about the impossibility of simultaneously serving both the God of the universe, and the “god” of money (see Matthew 6:24). In fact, having practiced worry myself, I think that worry can become our master, just as much as money.
So, worrying won’t lengthen our days on this earth. But what do we do instead? When I am given a medical diagnosis, if the doctor tells me to stop doing something, that doesn’t seem very active. Stopping something doesn’t make us feel like an active participant nearly as much as starting a new, better habit. After all, I don’t want to just stop getting sicker. Instead, I’d rather do something tangible to get better. (Maybe that’s why fully appreciating the free gift of salvation – see Romans 6-8 – is challenging for so many of us to just receive. We feel like we need to do something to earn it, even though we can’t.)
Now, medicine doesn’t always work that way, but similar principles apply when getting in shape or learning something new. We can’t just give up laying on the couch or stop practicing a new skill the wrong way. Instead, we must actively go out and practice the right things, if we expect to succeed.
While reading from the book of Proverbs the other day, I came across this verse:
Wisdom will multiply your days
and add years to your life.
Proverbs 9:11 NLT
Unlike worry, wisdom can indeed help us to live longer. Now, this is a proverb and not a promise, so we can’t get a little bit of wisdom, and then live recklessly, claiming that our wisdom will save us. After all, that wouldn’t be very wise, would it?
Still, those who are wise certainly avoid a lot of common pitfalls that trap the unwise. Unwise habits, unwise relationships, unwise decisions, and unwise behavior can all take their toll on us. Sometimes, their effect is sudden, while other times they accumulate harm to our bodies, minds, and souls, hurrying us towards the eventual breakdown of our selves.
This brings us to our next question: How do we get wisdom? I suggest that reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible is a great place to begin. Written, in part, by an incredibly wise man (see 1 Kings 3:10-14) there’s a lot of specific wisdom in this book. (In fact, I suggest that even those who don’t believe in the Bible read through it, if only for solid life advice.) And, for those who need more, God offers it for free (see James 1:5-8), if we will only ask and have faith in Him.
So, the next time you (or I) are tempted to worry, let’s seek out some wisdom. It’s a lot better for us…and our lives!
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.