Anxiety can be a problem that becomes so great that professional help is needed. Please don’t seek to fight this on your own. Battling the worries of this world is a much different fight than a battle against intense, consuming, controlling anxiety. If you are overwhelmed with anxiety, it’s time to see a doctor and a counselor. These are counseling centers that I am personally familiar with that are local to the Gonzales area that I would recommend. Please let me know if I can help you in any way.
STCH Family Counseling Guadalupe Valley Christian Counseling Center
Victoria, TX/Gonzales, TX Seguin, TX
Appointments at FBCG
Jesus Teaches about Worrying
The Sermon on the Mount is the most well-known sermon recorded in Scripture. At the peak of Jesus’ ministry, the crowds had been following him around, so finally he went off by himself to a mountain. The disciples followed him so he began to teach them, despite the fact that he was hoping for a bit of peace and quiet by himself. By the time the sermon was over, the crowds had caught back up with him and had been hanging on his every word. This whole sermon focuses on how to live a righteous, kingdom-focused life.
Take a minute to read Matthew 6:25-34.
Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush. He comes right out and says, “DO NOT BE ANXIOUS” or “DO NOT WORRY” three times in this one short passage. From his teaching, we can learn a few important things about worry.
- Worry is a SIN. (Matthew 6:25, 31, 34)
Often we treat worry as if it is something we shouldn’t do. We act as though Scripture just suggests that we avoid worrying, not as though it’s actually a sin. One of the largest problems facing Jesus-followers today is the refusal to call sin what it is: SIN. Sin is defined as an offense or transgression against divine law. The way we explain it to unbelievers is that sin is anything that you do that’s wrong. Sin separates us from God and hinders our relationship with him. Of course, Jesus paid the price for our sin through His death and resurrection and if we accept the free gift of salvation that he offers to us, when God looks on us He doesn’t see sin any longer. He sees Jesus. But as believers, when we let sin enter our lives, we find that our relationship with God is no longer what it used to be when we first repented. Further repentance is needed to restore that relationship between us and God.
We also like to distinguish sins into different categories or different levels. We think of sins as “little sins” and “big sins”. While it’s true that different sins have different consequences, some being bigger and some being smaller, the sin itself is all the same. The size of the consequence is different, but the sin of the heart is the same in the eyes of God. Sin separates us from God and WORRY is SIN.
2. Worry is a FAITH STEALER. (Matthew 6:30, 17:20)
The actual wording here for “you of little faith” is “Little faith ones”. Here it wasn’t a harsh term of rebuke, but more of a loving term meant to encourage the disciples to grow in their faith. Worry will steal your faith. Jesus spoke to the disciples over and over again about their need for their faith to increase. In Matthew 17:20, Jesus taught the disciples about faith. He told them that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed, it would be enough to move mountains. When we allow worry into our minds, even the slightest bit is enough to choke out the mustard seed of faith, rendering us crippled in our efforts for the kingdom.
“Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.” ~Francis Chan
3. Worry is a STUMBLING BLOCK. (Matthew 6:32)
Jesus reminds the disciples that the Gentiles (those who do not believe) are consumed with worries about clothing and food. He wants the disciples and us to be different. He knows that when we worry about the cares of this world, failing to trust Him for the provision of our needs, the unbelieving world takes note of it. In fact, just a few verses before in Matthew 5:16, in the same Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory your Father who is in heaven.” Refusing to worry brings glory to God.
The Heart of the Matter: Contentment
The real issue here is contentment.
We only need to look back a few verses to Matthew 6:19-24 to see what exactly it is that feeds the monster of worry. Jesus teaches that where your treasure is, your heart will be also. If your treasure is found in the things of this world, your heart will be caught up in the pursuit of those things and worry is sure to follow. However, if your heart is pursuing the kingdom of God, you will find true contentment and will have no need to worry.
A few years ago when Karalyn was about 5 years old, she walked into our kitchen and said, “Mom, these countertops are awful- we really need to get granite countertops.” Any five year old that is concerned in the least about what type of countertops are in her kitchen is a five year old that has been influenced by the wrong things. It only took me a split second to realize that every time she saw HGTV on our tv, she was being taught discontentment. I had always enjoyed the house hunting shows and the remodeling shows, but the more I watched, the more I realized that no one is ever satisfied and there’s lot of whining and complaining that goes on there. I try to be much more careful about letting those shows into my home and since then Karalyn has become much less concerned about what kind of countertops we have! More importantly than that, we are trying to instill in our kids an awareness of God’s perfect provision for our family!
It did cause me to do a bit of introspection as well. I don’t want the things of this world to be things that I care about. Is it wrong to have granite countertops? Absolutely not! Is it wrong to have nice things? No! Matthew 6:29 reminds us that Solomon had all the riches in the world but that God still provided for his needs, even more than he did the flowers of the field. The sin is the love of money, not the money itself. The sin is the discontent when God has provided for all of your needs. The sin is the worry where there needs to be trust.
PREPARING FOR BATTLE
Remember a few weeks ago when we talked about doubt? We identified two important components in the battle of faith vs. doubt.
The Battleground: YOUR MIND
The Battle Plan: EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE
The battle against anxiety is the same. The battleground is our minds. The battle plan is to take every thought captive, which is a command according to 2 Corinthians 10:5. That’s a good one to commit to memory if you haven’t already!
Let’s look at Philippians 4:6-8. Here Paul is writing a letter to the believers in Phillipi, giving them instructions in how to live a righteous life for the kingdom of God. He tells them the same thing that Jesus told his disciples – “Do not be anxious about anything!” Then he goes on to explain to them how to fight this battle of the mind. “But in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” When that worried thought enters your mind, take it captive by asking God to remove the worry from you. Unfortunately, sometimes we get caught up in asking God to fix things. We forget that we can ask Him to remove our worry. Don’t just ask Him to fix the situation, ask Him to remove the worry. Ask Him to take away the anxiety about the situation. Ask Him to take it captive and make it obedient to Christ. Thank Him for it in advance – He will do it!
The best part comes next- “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This promise of peace is sweet relief to the person struggling with anxious thoughts. Remember what we learned about the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer – the peace is already in you as a believer because the Holy Spirit himself abides in you. All you have to do is ask Him to take away the worry and replace it with peace and he will do it. His peace will guard your heart and your mind against the worry that threatens to eat you alive. And how does it guard you? In Christ Jesus. We have access to the peace of God because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Because of the Gospel. Praise God for Jesus Christ and the peace that he offers us!
Verse 8 is one more strategy to use when taking the anxious thoughts captive. Do NOT think about the things that are making you anxious. Instead, think about the things that are true and honorable, etc. You will have to make a conscious decision to refuse to think your anxious thoughts. It is not out of your control. Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Do not believe the lie that your anxious thoughts are outside of your control.
Obedience when I’m Worried
This message of Jesus and later of Paul is simple. There’s nothing new or creative or extraordinary here. How do we obey when we are worried? We STOP thinking anxious thoughts. We STOP worrying. Instead of worrying, we say “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your law, we wait for you. Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” (Isaiah 26:8) Take the first step in the battle against anxiety by saying no to worry and yes to obedience!