Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Eight Reasons Not To Be Anxious

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I pray that all is well with you today. As I write this blog, I sit in my recliner battling bronchitis. Physically I don't feel very well, but spiritually, God has poured truth into my heart this morning about the direction to go with my blog this week. I feel the Lord leading me to discuss worry and anxiety. So, every day this week, we will look at what the Bible has to say about anxiety. Much of what I am going to share in this blog I got from author John Piper.

As we look at Matthew 6:24-34, I see at least eight reasons Jesus gives why his disciples should not be anxious. Who knows which one might be perfectly crafted to meet your special need?

1. Life Is More Than Food and Clothing

The first is given in verse 25. "Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on." Why? "Because life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing."

What does this mean? Why do we tend to get anxious about food and clothing?

Because there are three things that we would lose if we did not have food and clothing.

  • First, we would lose some pleasures. Food tastes good. It is pleasurable to eat.
  • Second, we would lose some human praise and admiring glances if we didn't have nice clothes.
  • Third, we would lose long life if we had no food at all or weren't protected from the cold with warm clothes.

So we get anxious about food and clothing because we don't want to lose physical pleasures or human praise or length of life.

And to this Jesus responds: If you are gripped by anxiety over these things, you have lost sight of the greatness of life. Life was not given primarily for physical pleasures, but for something greater—the enjoyment of God. Life was not given primarily for the approval of man, but for something greater—the approval of God. Life was not even given primarily for extension on this earth, but for something greater—eternity with God in the age to come.

We ought not to be anxious about food and clothing because food and clothing can not provide the great things of life—the enjoyment of God, the pursuit of his gracious favor, the hope of eternity in his presence. We get anxious about food and clothing to the same degree that we lose sight of the great purposes of a God-centered life.

2. The Birds of the Air Work, and Count on God

The second reason Jesus gives for not being anxious is in verse 26: "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"

What we see when we look at the birds is not a lesson in laziness. They dig their worms and snatch their bugs and pad their nests with strings and leaves. But Jesus says it is God that feeds them. What we see when we look at the birds is a creature who does not act as though God is only a merciful provider for today but won't be tomorrow. Birds don't anxiously horde things for the day of God's demise. They go about their work as though when the sun comes up tomorrow, God will still be God.

How much more, then, should we reckon with the reality and mercy of God tomorrow, since we are not brute birds, but children of our heavenly Father. The biggest difference between a disciple of Jesus and a bird is that we have the capacity of honoring God by our faith. And God values the exercise of our faith more than he values birds. So we ought not to be anxious, because the birds have taught us that God can be counted on to work for us tomorrow just as much as today.

3. Anxiety Doesn't Get You Anywhere

The third reason not to be anxious is in verse 27: "And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?" The argument is very pragmatic: anxiety doesn't get you anywhere. It doesn't do you any good. Whatever problem is causing you to feel anxious, you can be sure your anxiety will not lessen the problem. It will only make you miserable while you try to deal with it. So don't be anxious. It's useless.

4. God Delights to Adorn Things

The fourth reason Jesus gives for not being anxious is in verses 28-30—this time from the lilies. "And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"

When you look at a lily, which has no will of its own to labor and spin, yet adorned with beautiful form and color, if you believe in God, you must draw at least this one conclusion: God delights to adorn things. But if his delight finds expression in adorning grass, that's here today and gone tomorrow, then surely his delight in adornment will express itself in how he clothes his children!

But someone may protest: God has not adorned me! He has not adorned the poor Christians of our land or overseas. Are you sure? Very few of us are dressed like Solomon. True. But we couldn't do our work if we were. I would only ask this question: Where have you ever seen a disciple of Jesus who did not have the adornment he needed to do what God had called him to do? Be careful. Do not measure the perfection of God's provision by some standard below his calling. And do not forget that when we have finished carrying our crosses on torn shoulders in this life like Jesus, there will be kingly robes for us all.

I am going to stop right there for today, and will post the other four tomorrow. My prayer for you today is that you will meditate on these first four reasons not to be anxious, and allow faith to begin to build in your heart!

I love you guys. Please know, as always that your comments are welcome and appreciated. Blessings!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty L. Blann


Churchchipmunk said...

Too often we forget the "Serenity Prayer"...to be granted the peace to accept what we cannot change, the peace to chage what we can and the widsom to know the difference. I think we somewhat accomplish the first and second part of this...but often fail on the third. Thank you for the sharing of His Word and your heart to remind us that we are to be anxious for nothing in all things. I hope you get to feeling better, Pastor...I am covering your health and healing in prayer!
Resting in His Grace and Mercy,

Pastor Rusty said...

Thank you for your prayers and comments Cindi! I love the serenity prayer as well. Blessings!

Aaron said...

John Piper is an amazing author and leader. Being in school, I often get anxious and overwhelmed about what is going to happen in the future. The tension and pressures of school are mounting more and more every day, so today's message hit home within my spirit. I'm already "anxious" for the other 4 points tomorrow! Get well soon.