25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry 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? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
My name is Richard, it is three o’clock in the morning and I cannot sleep. I went to bed early but as soon as my head hit the pillow the raging swells of anxiety replaced the peace that surpasses all understanding with a fear that drowns my mind with unending insecurities and “what ifs” that are terrorizing my soul. With images of my loved ones’ sick from this illness and the constant threat of our country once again being shut down. I fear for both my physical and financial well-being! And even if this great tribulation for the most part passes me by, I still can’t help but wonder what if anything, have I truly accomplished in my life? I must admit when I compare my “stuff” to the expensive homes, cars and vacations of others, my covetousness rarely leads to repentance but instead to insatiable cravings and self-degradation due to my meagre accomplishments!
I know the Bible says I am to “seek ye first the kingdom of God” and “consider others better than myself” and care for them. With tears running down my eyes and a cold sweat starting to pour down my head, I realize what is crushing my soul the most is the fear that the best of my “filthy rags” that I offer to my Lord, Savior and King amounts to nothing more than mere carnality and indifference to His grace! When “anxiety buzzes in the ear, who can ever hear the music of grace anyways?” And with such filthy rags how can I effectively spread the Gospel message or raise my children in the ways of the Lord?
I cannot carry these burdens myself and I fear if I don’t soon find relief my “lamp will die out in darkness!” My name is Richard and lest you think this is all about me, please look in the mirror for I know on more than one occasion you too have figuratively shared my bed of anxiety!
The biggest business in America is not steel, automotive, or television. It is the manufacture, refinement, and distribution of anxiety! Anxiety and depression, are the biggest industry in all the world. Self-help books, medication, Dr. visits, all costs a great amount. But the battlefield is truly in the mind…
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
For this is where both real and imagined calamities grow in the fertile grounds of fear that we too will share in the greatest tragedies known to humanity. While the roots of this fear can be the product of one’s imagination it can also be based on facts, for we know beyond a doubt that each of us has and will once again experience a soul crushing calamity such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, divorce, financial devastation or injustices!
The devil is so successful in placing fear in our minds that to mitigate the risks of the unknown future. But no matter how rich or well insured people become the burden of worry remains so heavy on their shoulders that maintaining the pillars of pleasure and avoiding pain destroys their peace of mind and causes them to sin by prostituting themselves before the many gods of this world. And if this were not burden enough, our self-seeking gratification has left our minds filled with guilt for having ignored God’s command to seek ye first the kingdom of God!
Two Main Cases of Anxiety:
The first major cause of anxiety is due to our fixation on those things that are seen. Ever since we heard the words “for dust you are and to dust you will return,” one of our greatest concerns has been to secure our “daily bread.” Tapping into our drive for self- preservation Satan instills fears in our hearts by constantly bombarding us with images of stock market crashes, people losing their jobs or those who become too sick to work and within just a few weeks struggle to keep their homes and feed their families.
Even though Jesus promises to provide our necessities of life (from our opening text. Matthew 6:25-34), time and time again, we catch ourselves worrying that tribulations will come and leave us with nothing to live on! And even when we find ourselves blessed beyond all measure our anxiety remains for what we have deemed a “necessity” has gone beyond flesh and blood needs to the carnal desires of our heart!
This causes not only anxieties within, but coveting is also the source of many quarrels and fights, even amongst God’s children (James 4:1-3)! O what poor witness of sin we weave because we seek first the things of this world instead of standing on God’s promises of good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28)!
The other major cause of anxiety is pride. When Peter commanded the Christians of his letter to Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia to be humble their anxiety greatly increased (1 Peter 5:6).
1 Peter 5:6
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
While one can easily see anxiety being linked to a lack of faith due to persecution, financial loss or injustice, why does Peter suggest seeking humility is the source of our greatest levels of anxiety? Casting one’s cares upon Jesus is a very humbling act… for unless one truly believes in His promises to care and do good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28) then one simply will not trust an unknown future even to a sovereign God.
Often Christians refuse to love one another with acts of kindness out of fear that in taking care of others there will be no time or resources left to take care of oneself! Anxiety is a sin because it comes from pride in our wisdom and abilities to change the present and plan for a future for ourselves that is far better than what God can provide!
And even if we don’t feel we are wiser than God often we resist placing our trust in Him because of our love for this world…
1 John 2:15
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Anxiety is the product of an unrepentant heart that lacks the courage or desire to dethrone self and all other gods and faithfully place oneself in the hands of a sovereign God who has promised to eternally take care of His own!
Two Solutions for Anxiety:
How is a believer to eliminate anxiety so that he/she might live a carefree, servanthood life for Christ? The first solution to anxiety is to cast one’s cares upon Jesus (1 Peter 5:7)! Let me share with you a story from Charles Spurgeon: (From a devotional)
“What would you say of your workman who should come to you in the morning with a heavy piece of family furniture upon his back. He calls himself your porter, he is about to carry your goods, and you see him going out of the door with your load, which is properly proportioned to his strength, but beside that he is carrying a heavy piece of his own upon his shoulders. You say to him, “My good man, what are you doing there?” “Oh sir, I am only loaded with household stuff.” I think you would say, “Well, but you are not fit to do my work which you are engaged to do. I do not employ you to carry your own load, I had you here to carry mine.” “But sir,” says he, “I am so weak, I cannot carry both.” “Then leave yours alone,” say you, “and carry mine.”
Our sympathetic high priest Christ is not apathetic to our anxiety for in Matthew 11 he says…
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am [a]gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
We need not fear that one day we might not have enough food, water or shelter to stay alive for if God takes care of the birds that don’t gather and the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34), how much more will He take care of those whom His Son died to set free? When we cast our concerns upon Christ in faith in His sovereignty over of all things seen and unseen (Colossians 1:16), in our minds and hearts we are humbly surrendering control of our lives to our Creator! To boldly approach His throne of grace and lay one’s burdens in His mighty hand is the first key to eliminating anxiety and fear in our lives.
The second way to eliminate anxiety in our lives is to “seek ye first the kingdom of God!” We need not fear that in spending our time and resources to help others nothing with be left for us.
5 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him.
One day Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret and the people were so close to Him that it was making it extremely hard for Him to be seen or heard. Jesus noticed at the water’s edge there were two boats and fishermen washing their nets in preparation for another evening fishing trip (Mark 1:19). Boldly Jesus got into the boat that belonged to Simon Peter and asked him to put out a little from shore so that He could teach the crowds the truth concerning His kingdom.
Since evening was prime fishing time Peter could have interjected, they had worked hard all night and caught nothing and now Jesus wanted him to drop his nets so He could preach to the crowd? If he did not catch fish how was he supposed to provide the necessities and maybe even a few for his family? Peter remained silent and after Jesus finished speaking, He taught Peter and his comrades an amazing truth. Jesus told Peter to “put out in deep water and let down the nets for a catch” (verse 4). Despite their lack of success earlier so that they might learn a sovereign God can do all things they caught so much fish, that their nets began to break, and their boats began to sink (verses 6-7)
During the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told the crowd they were not to worry about the future, what they would eat, drink or wear because those who “seek first the His kingdom” will receive all these things and so much more (Matthew 6:33-34)! Christ was not saying that one would receive what pleasures the selfish, carnal desires and ambitions of one’s heart but instead promised those who put His kingdom first would receive spiritual blessings of unspeakable joy.
Why would one ever want to serve one’s carnal desires in anxiety and fear when God is standing at the doors of one’s hearts asking you to plant seed in His kingdom that has no end? And when it comes to raising our children is not serving the Father in His kingdom the very best witness... we can give to them when it comes to how much we love and are cherished by our God?
Jesus does not promise us an easy, tribulation free life of no pain, anguish or sorrow but instead to give us eternal life and as we draw nearer to Him He will draw nearer to us (James 4:8) and in doing so we will know our true identity as masterpieces of His grace, truly loved and cherished in His sight! Who in God’s loving, sovereign arms could ever fear or be anxious for our future is known … an eternity of bliss, worshipping our Lord, Savior and King!
How to Become Anxiety Free:
The expression of one’s self-humbling position of entrusting of oneself and one’s troubles to God.” While this solution is easy to understand here is where the rubber meets the road, how do you practically cast your cares on Jesus? To the church at Philippi Apostle Paul writes what I believe is the key to care-free living as follows…
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Casting anxiety upon the Lord is not a human but a divine endeavor! No matter how hard we try we simply cannot turn over our fears and worries in trust to our Savior without prayer and petition that He might guard our hearts and minds from the ferocious attacks of Satan. Since anxiety free is “trust turned toward God and spoken,” the next time you cannot sleep because the raging swells of anxiety of both realized and imagined tribulations fill your soul, in faith ask your sympathetic high priest Jesus to take the burdens you cannot bear and in unmerited grace to grant you His peace that surpasses all understanding! And should He leave you in your trials look up and to the glorious, eternal future He has planned so that like Apostle Paul there might maintain peace in your heart knowing that your suffering now is nothing in comparison to the spiritual blessings you have and will receive, eternally in His presence!
Pastor Richard Santos
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