Most people would agree that worrying and being fearfully anxious about the future is not a pleasant way to spend our time. So when these anxious thoughts arise, how can we stop them? One wonderful principle we can operate is to live one day at a time.
Realistically, we do need to think about our future, and two productive things we can do about it are to pray and to make positive plans. Planning has actually been referred to as bringing the future into the present so we can do something about it today. But once we’ve prayed and planned, we can stop our anxious thoughts about the future by putting the majority of our energy and actions into living one day at a time.
Jesus Christ taught his followers to live one day at a time.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat [in the future], or what ye shall drink [in the future]; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on [in the future]….
And why take ye thought for raiment [clothing]? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
Take therefore no thought for the morrow [the future]: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
The words “take…thought” are translated from a Greek word meaning “be anxious about” or, as we might say, “worry.” Jesus Christ told them not to worry about what they were going to eat, to drink, to wear—not to worry about “the morrow,” the future. He assured them that “sufficient [enough] unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Thayer’s lexicon helps clarify the King James Version of verse 34 as “Let the present day’s trouble suffice for a man, and let him not rashly increase it by anticipating the cares of days to come.” There’s enough to take care of in every twenty-four-hour period. If we anticipate the worries of the future, we may actually increase the challenges we’ll need to deal with. We can put our focus into living in the day at hand, one day at a time.
E. W. Bullinger translates Matthew 6:34 as follows: “Have, then, no anxiety for any future day….” That includes tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after that. Every care or concern we may have about the future can be handled one day at a time. It’s going to require full attention to stand for God one day at a time, and we won’t be able to be our best for God if anxieties about the future dominate our thinking.
So how do we put the majority of our energy into the day at hand? We daily “perform our vows.”
So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.
This is all God expects of any believer: to perform what we’ve committed ourselves to Him to do, one day at a time. Our commitments could include our marriages, our children, our jobs, our schooling, our fellowships, our volunteer work, stewarding our physical acquisitions. We take up our commitments and responsibilities daily, and when each day is over, we thank God and go to sleep. Staying busy and committed to the tasks at hand, and doing them well, can help us stop anxious thoughts about “the morrow.”
Spending time in every twenty-four-hour period, each day, with our thoughts on God and His Word can also help stop worry and anxiety about the future. God’s Word shows us what we can do:
- Pray and praise God daily (Acts 2:42; Psalms 44:8)
- Build the Word into our lives daily (Psalms 1:2; Acts 17:11)
- Speak and teach the Word daily (Luke 19:47; Acts 5:42; Acts 17:17)
- Continue in one accord with the believers daily (Acts 2:46)
- Inspire, love, challenge, bless, exhort one another to a more worthy endeavor daily (Hebrews 3:13)
- Witness to God’s goodness daily (Psalms 71:8,15)
And while we are putting the majority of our energy and actions into living every twenty-four-hour period for Him, God is daily loading us with benefits. And He is faithful to His Word every day.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.
Because of His great love for us, we can stop those anxious thoughts about the future by living our lives to the fullest one day at a time.