In this study I want you to consider the subjects of fear, worry and anxiety. First, let me put this text into its context in the Sermon on the Mount. In the fifth and sixth chapters of Matthew, Jesus is addressing three basic issues. First, how the disciples can keep themselves from external religion. This is why Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Second, how the disciples can be kept from hypocrisy by not doing their righteousness to be seen by men. Third, Jesus wanted to keep His disciples from having divided hearts by keeping them from trying to serve God and mammon. He warned them, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Jesus wanted them to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Jesus then went on to say in Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I say to you do not worry.” Put the concept of worry into the context of serving the god of mammon which He had just taught them. Jesus obviously believed that serving any other god would produce anxiety, worry and fear. What is anxiety or worry? These two emotions are in reality a low-grade fear. When anyone is worrying, they are fearful that something will or won’t happen that they want. Therefore, you must understand that anxiety, worry, and fear are all dealing with similar issues. These issues will cripple you as a Christian and your ability to mature and be an effective servant for Jesus Christ.
When is fear and worry a problem?
Now it is obvious that everyone gets anxious and worrisome at times with the stress of life. But, most of us quickly get a grip on our attitude, and we commit whatever the issue is into the Lord's hands and move forward. Even some of the greatest and most well-known characters in the Bible struggled with fear, anxiety and worry. Remember the Prophet Samuel, when he was commanded to anoint David as king expressed his own fear to the Lord about going to anoint him as king. Samuel said to God, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me” (1 Sam. 16:2). The Lord in effect told him to go anyway and He would show Samuel how to handle it. When you consider David and the psalms he wrote, he refers to his fears often and how he sought the Lord and He delivered him from all his fears (Ps. 34:4). Even Paul the Apostle said in 2 Corinthians 7:5, “Outside are fightings, inside are fears.” Paul said at one point in his ministry that he even began to despair that he would survive (2 Cor. 1:8-10). He found his only solution was to trust in the Lord to deliver him. So, everybody experiences fear and worry at times in their lives. But most people get a grip on their fears, trust the Lord, and come back to a place of rest.
But, some people don’t get a handle on their anxious thoughts, worries, and fears and they end up battling with these issues on a daily basis. They are fearful sometimes over the smallest things and very rarely get victory in these struggles. I have counseled people for more than 45 years and have met many people like this who are consumed by their fears and anxieties. These fears rule their daily lives. They literally live under what I would call terror every day. In Psalm 73:19, Asaph also described those that were consumed by the terror of fear. “Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.” Therefore, when someone is consumed by their fears and anxieties, that is a real problem because it dominates their life and destroys their relationships with others. This is a problem that must be addressed biblically and as quickly as possible. If you have physical symptoms that accompany your anxiety and fears, this reveals that there is a major problem. Some of these physical symptoms I've seen with people in my office are trembling, heavy breathing, perspiring, and panic attacks. If this is going on in your life right now, you need to get some help. I would suggest you do two things. You first need to go to your doctor and get a complete medical checkup. Some of these physical symptoms can result from medical problems or hormonal issues. Some people that I have sent to their doctor over the years will come back to me with the results of what their doctor has found. Sometimes these issues were very serious.
Other times people come and tell me there was nothing wrong with them physically. This means that the problem is a spiritual issue as well as learning to take control of their thought life. If you are struggling with some of the things I am about to describe, I would strongly encourage you to go to your pastor for counseling.
Why you should not worry.
The next thing we must do is examine exactly what Jesus taught in this passage, because He explains why you should not be anxious or worried. In Matthew 6:25 Jesus declared, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Notice the first thing that Jesus declares is His command, “Do not worry.” He not only makes this command here, but also two more times in verses 31 and 34. When anyone says something to you three times in a short period of time, they are trying to make an important point. In other words, Jesus does not want your life to be controlled by worry. The word worry is also translated other places in the New Testament as being anxious or having anxiety.
1. You should not worry, because Jesus said so! Remember, this is a direct command from Jesus to you. Do not worry! That means you! Jesus stated this as a command that He wants you to obey. If you desire to obey His command, then you will do the rest of what he instructs here in the context of this statement, and in the rest of Scripture. What do I mean? Jesus said at another time of potential worry for the disciples exactly how they might not worry. In John 14:27 Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The word troubled is a Greek word that means to be anxious, or fearful. He said, “Don't let your heart be anxious.” Jesus explained that it's a choice that you make. You can choose to let your heart become troubled or anxious. You need to make that choice to come to the Prince of Peace and receive His peace within your heart. When you trust Jesus to take control, then He is going to bring His peace. Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Jesus said that He would give you this peace if you would choose to come to Him and ask. Nothing in this world can ever give you peace like He gives peace. In other words, the kind of peace Christ offers is unavailable in this material world. This brings me to my second point.
2. You should not worry about material things, because things can never satisfy you anyway. Jesus said in verse 25, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” In other words, real life does not come from things or material wealth. Life doesn't come from some physical thing that you put on, what you eat, someplace you go, or something that you do. Life is not some external issue. Life is an internal spiritual aspect of the heart. Life is something that happens inside you, which is an essential truth to understand. Material things can never satisfy. There is no place, or any circumstance or experience that can give you lasting peace. Life and peace are only found in a Person, the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. This is a fundamental concept that every person who wants peace must come to understand. Things will not and cannot ever satisfy you. In Proverbs 27:20, Solomon said, “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” Note the absolute here: “Never satisfied.” You can never be satisfied by anything that your eyes can behold. Your heart will never be satisfied with things, places, or positions that you hold. You will always see something else that will make you think, This will make me happy. Remember what God has said, “Never satisfied!”
However, in Luke 12:32, Jesus said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” In other words, God wants to give you what will satisfy. He wants to give you a gift. Life, peace, and a satisfied heart are gifts, not something you obtain by your own personal effort, or by achieving some position in life. They’re something that He gives to you and you receive them by faith. However, when your focus is on trying to find life and peace in this world, the life He gives is literally choked out by your desire for other things. In Matthew 13:22, in the parable of the sower, Jesus explained this to us. He said the person who received seed, which is the word of God, among the thorns is, “he who hears the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” I don't think anyone wants to become unfruitful. Yet, this is one-way believers become unfruitful. Notice that Jesus said specifically that when the cares of this world enter in, with the deceitfulness of riches, these are the causes of the unfruitfulness. Also, notice that Jesus connects the cares, anxiety, and worry of this world with the deceitfulness of riches. These two things are directly connected together. The word care in the phrase the “cares of this world” is the same Greek word for worry or anxiety. Jesus is saying that if you allow worry and anxiety to control you, then you will be choked spiritually. It would be just the same as if somebody put their hands around your neck and choked the life out of your body. This is why Jesus said, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Don’t go to the world, and the things of the world, and think that they will give you the rest and peace you need. That won’t happen! Jesus is the only One who gives this rest, but you must come to Him to receive it.
3. You should not worry because you are highly valued by God. This third reason why you should not worry is given in Matthew 6:26. Jesus said, “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?” This is a great question. If God takes care of the birds of the air and feeds them, will He not take care of you? This is an argument from the lesser to the greater in value of His creations. So, who is of more value? You! Yes, He cares for the birds, because He cares for all of His creation. But, man is made in God’s spiritual image, so we are more highly valued than animals. Remember, Jesus is the One who says here that men are of more value than animals. Therefore, you must not worry because of how highly valued you are among God’s creations. You are cared for by the Father. Probably the easiest and most obvious way that you know that this is true, is by the fact that the Father gave His Son to die for you. He gave Himself for you! So, if He gave His only begotten Son so that you could have life, then He must value you very much. You are precious to Him. You are more precious than anything He has created, because you can make a choice to accept or reject Him. Animals don’t have that option. God declares in Lamentations 4:2, as He is speaking about His people, He calls them, “The precious sons of Zion, valuable as fine gold, how they are regarded as clay pots, the work of the hands of the potter!” Paul used the same image in the New Testament when he said that we have this incredible treasure of Christ within us. Christ is the treasure held within, these earthen vessels, or these clay pots (2 Cor. 4:7). Clay pots are a good way to describe our physical bodies, because we are just made from the dust of the earth. Yet, within you is the most incredible treasure of Christ! That's why He calls His people, “Precious sons of Zion, as valuable as fine gold.” If you are valued like this and cared for as an individual, you should not worry! He will take care of His treasured one.
4. You should not worry, because worrying can’t change one thing. This fourth reason why you should not worry is found in Matthew 6:27-29. Jesus said, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” If you have ever looked at a flower petal under a microscope, it's one of the most incredible things you could ever view. You would see intricacy and detail that is truly amazing to behold! All of the glory of some fine piece of embroidery on the clothing of Solomon can’t be considered even close to the glory of what God creates in plant life, that is here today and dies tomorrow. And the most important thing to remember is that man cannot on any day make even one flower pedal to match what God does every day. So, the equation is obvious. Jesus says that you should not worry because you are powerless to make one lily in the field on any day, but He is so powerful that He does it every day. You can't add one cubit to your stature, but He has created you to grow into adulthood. His point is that you can fret and worry about it all you want but worrying is not going to change anything. Think of all the things you have no power to change. You can’t change the weather, when the sun comes up every day, if you will be healthy or sickly, or whether you live in a world at war or peace. There are innumerable things over which you have no control. But, God has control of all things. However, you can control something very important, which is how you respond to these things. What do I mean? Simply obey what God commanded in Philippians 4:6-7. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” You may not be able to control many external things, but you can change what is going on inside of you. If you don’t want to be worrisome and anxious, then pray, and God will give you His peace inside. You can also change your conduct. God told His people through the Prophet Jeremiah, “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place” (Jer. 7:3). When you repent and amend your ways then God will bring good things and blessings upon your life. This is what He is promising the Jews if they will turn to Him and change what they are doing. Therefore, there are things that you cannot change, but there are things you can change through prayer and repentance. You must trust in God’s sovereignty that He is going to take care of those things that you need.
5. You should not worry, because worry reveals your lack of faith in His love for you. Jesus connects this issue of worry with a lack of faith in Matthew 6:30-32. Jesus said, “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? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” If God knows the needs of every animal and plant, then He knows every one of your needs as well. If you are going to live as a true believer and not as one who just professes faith, then you cannot live like the Gentiles who only seek after their material needs. This would reveal a lack of real faith just as Jesus said, “O you of little faith” (vs. 30).
Why is seeking after only material things a lack of faith? Because this reveals that you believe the material world is all there is. But Jesus said that His followers must first seek after spiritual things and the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). When you are caught in worry, anxiety, and fear, this reveals that you are not trusting God, who knows that you need these things. Jesus wants you to put the spiritual things of the kingdom first. Remember, worry and fear are opposed to faith. If you want to reject the control that worry and fear have over your life, then you must grow in your faith. But, who should you put your faith in? Put your faith in the God who loves and cares about you. Jesus has already touched on this issue when He talked about His care for animals and how much more He cares for you.
Do you realize that when you question God’s love, you are going to stumble in your faith every single time? Let me explain this truth from a story in Mark 4:37-40. In this story Jesus told the disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side of the lake. It then says that, “a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Note the question, “Do You not care?” Don't you see what's going on here?” Have you ever heard yourself say those words? “Jesus, don't you see what's going on here? I thought You loved me, that You cared about me.” This is questioning His love, just as the disciples did. Then notice how Jesus responds, “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’” Jesus makes the connection between their lack of faith and their fear. Therefore, faith and fear are diametrically opposed to one another. If you struggle with worry, anxiety and fear, you are struggling with your faith in His love for you. Do you trust His loving care over your life? Do you trust that He sees your needs? You must trust His love! The Scripture says, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). It casts out all fear. Is there a need for maturity in your love relationship with Him?
What is Christ’s solution to fear and worry?
Jesus has a solution! He wants you to live your life without fear and worry. So, let me give you some principles for overcoming your fear and worry.
1. Begin to seek first the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). This is such a simple principle. I like simple! Jesus didn’t want to make following Him to be complicated. In fact, all of the principles I’m about to explain are summed up in the principle of seeking God’s kingdom first. Jesus is simply saying, “put Me first and everything else second, and you won't have to worry about the rest.” The whole context of this passage of Scripture is about who is first in your life. Go back to Matthew 6:24 and you can see this clearly. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for he will either hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” The question is, who is first? Who and what do you love first? Whatever you love first is what you will seek first. There is no way around it. So, is He first? Do you seek Him first? Do you seek His kingdom first, or is your own kingdom and wealth more important than His? When you forget the simple issue of priority, you are going to have trouble. Jesus said in Matthew 10:37, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” He said in Luke 14:26-27, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” The term Jesus used here to hate father or mother is a hyperbole, meaning that you must love them less than you love Him. In other words, Jesus is saying, “I must be first in your life.” He will not take second place. If He's second, He's not Lord. It's that simple.
Probably the best place to see the struggle with this issue is in the life of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10:40-42. In this passage, Martha and Mary have Jesus as their house guest. As He rested, it says that, Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Jesus and said, “Lord, do You not care?” So, she is questioning Jesus’ love. “Do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” Martha is commanding Jesus as to how He should respond. Have you ever told the Lord what He should do? I'm afraid we have all done that a few times, thinking we know better than He does. Jesus responded to her, “Martha, Martha,” Do you hear His love and gentleness in these words? “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” Note how Jesus coupled being worried and anxious about many things with her questioning His love. Jesus continued, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.” If you read the context of this story, where was Mary? She was seated at His feet seeking and waiting upon Him. She had put Jesus first. Now, this doesn't mean you should not take care of making dinner. It doesn't mean you should refuse to go to work and just sit around and read your Bible all day long. It all has to do with Martha being distracted. This word means anxious or worried. She was so anxious and worried she became distracted. Let me give you a simple illustration of distraction. Distraction is like tuning the dial on your radio just a little; you still hear the message, but you are not fully tuned in. You are distracted by all of the hiss and static. Then there are some people who aren’t tuned in to hear Jesus’ words at all. Which is it for you today? Do you need a slight adjustment to get tuned into God’s frequency? You might not be listening at all, or do you have your radio off? I believe it is essential that you see what is it that distracts you, and deal with that issue. If it is distracting you, it is stumbling you, and it will continue to do so you until it is resolved. This is why Jesus encouraged Martha to address this issue in her life.
2. Commit your tomorrows into His hand. Another of Christ’s solutions for worry, fear and anxiety is found in Matthew 6:34. Jesus declared the third time, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” In other words, Jesus was saying, you have enough trouble to deal with today, without worrying about tomorrow. Does this mean that you should never think about tomorrow? Does Jesus mean that you should never plan for tomorrow? Absolutely not. He is not talking about planning, He is talking about worrying. In addition, the Scripture is full of encouragements to good planning in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus is saying don't be distracted by thinking about tomorrow. Don't let worry and anxiety captivate your attention. You need to be careful about your thinking process. Planning is an important aspect to clear thinking. I heard a Bible teacher this week make a powerful statement that I think you need to consider. He said, “Many people crucify themselves between two thieves, the regret of yesterday, or the worries of tomorrow.” This is so true. People kill themselves and the life that is in them, because they are worrying about the future, or beating themselves up over the past. Don't do that! On the contrary, when you hear people say, “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I have enough to deal with today.” Where did we get that concept? It comes right from this passage, “Do not worry about tomorrow!” So, don't worry. Don't get caught up in the anxiety of tomorrow. Proverbs 3:5-6 declares, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.” When you lean on your own understanding, this incites anxiety, because you are usually thinking about how you are going to handle whatever the problem is. You are trying to figure out what is going to happen tomorrow. Instead, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.” In other words, give the problem up into His capable hands. Trust Him!
3. Stop avoiding the places and activities that you fear. The third solution for worry is to stop avoiding what is fearful or worrisome; instead deal with your worries, fears, and anxieties. But, this is not how people usually handle them. If you are avoiding places or activities that cause you fear or anxiety, then you are only prolonging your own torment! People have said to me, “I'm not going there ever again. That’s where I almost lost my life last year.” Or, “I can't deal with that individual. I don’t want to be around people like that because they are just like that person who hurt me.” Or, “I can’t go to big stores, because that is where I had that panic attack.” Yet, when you avoid your anxieties and your fears, do you know what happens? Those anxieties and fears grow even stronger. Why? It's because anxiety and fear are sin, because they are rooted in unbelief. Any sin that you try to avoid and control in your own strength will only gain strength inside you, because you are trying to deal with it in your own power. It will only get worse. The Bible teaches that the “strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56). This is why as Paul revealed in Romans chapter 7 that the harder he tried to resist sin by his own will power, the greater it gained control over him (Rom. 7:16-20).
Many years ago, I counseled a man who was trying to deal with a parent who was completely bound to his room because of fear. His father had been traumatized in a grocery store during a robbery, and believed he was almost killed. From that day forward he said to himself, “I'm not going to the grocery stores anymore. As he yielded to this fear and avoided all grocery stores, he then believed that all big box stores were unsafe. Then he decided he wouldn’t go anywhere where there were large crowds. After a while he would not leave his house because of his fears. As he continued to avoid what he feared he then wouldn't go out of his bedroom. Consequently, this man was locked inside of his bedroom by his own fear and anxiety. His family member came to me and said, “How do I help him, because this person is completely captive and consumed by his fear and anxiety.” I explained to him that the order must be reversed. His father must do what he feared and realize that nothing was going to happen to him. He had to start going out of his bedroom, then out of the house, and then back to a store. It was a long hard road back, but he did it.
Therefore, if you yield to your fears, worries, or anxieties, and you just try to avoid that circumstance or place which seems to create your anxieties, you are misplacing your faith. Peace is not found in a place or circumstance, it's found in a Person. Peace is experienced by viewing the situation or circumstance in faith, trusting that He is with you, and He is in control. As I mentioned earlier, Paul made this point in Philippians 4:6-7 when he said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.” Peace is found through trusting prayer. Let Him have your anxieties and fears. He gives a peace that passes all human understanding. Seek Him!
4. You must become a man or woman of believing prayer. Now I just finished my previous point writing about believing prayer. This is how you exchange your anxiety for God’s peace. If you want to be free of anxiety and worry you need to become a man or woman of believing prayer. You must connect with the Prince of Peace, Who is the only One who can give you personal peace. Touching Him through prayer is where you will find the infilling of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:22 it says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace...” If you struggle with anxiety, you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit; that’s where peace will be found. The God who cares for you, will fill you, and will deliver you. David declares in Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all of my fears.” Note that David didn’t say God delivered him from some of his fears, but all of his fears. He found that prayer was his solution and the answer to his fears and anxiety. Peter also taught the same thing in 1 Peter 5:7. “Casting all your care on Him, for He cares for you.” The word care in this verse means anxiety. You must cast all your care and anxiety upon Him through prayer, and He will give you His sufficient peace. Why not cast your cares on Him right now? He will gladly take them.
5. Learn how to control your thoughts and fight the spiritual battle in your mind. Controlling your thought life is another important way that you can overcome anxiety and fear. You need to learn how to control your thought life. This will be a fight within you. It is a spiritual battle in your mind. I have found that this is where most people lose the battle with fear and anxiety. First, people don’t realize that they can control their thought life. Second, they also don't understand that it is a spiritual battle that they are waging with the enemy of their soul. Third, people allow themselves to play the “what if” game. What if this happens? What if that happens? What am I going to do if they do that? I'm telling you, you can play this “what if” game all day long, but this only proves that you are not trusting the sovereign God Who loves you. You are not trusting that your God is big enough to take care of you. That’s what the “what if” game reveals. Stop it! Declare to yourself and the devil, “I'm not going there in my own head. God has control of my life, my mind, and my future. God, I’m trusting you!”
I have found that many Christians think they can't control their thoughts, that this is not something within their ability. But, that's not what the Bible teaches. Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” These verses declare that there is a war going on for the control of your mind. Paul makes it clear that this is a spiritual battle. There are weapons that you possess that will enable you to win this battle. What kind of weapons do we have? These weapons are not carnal but mighty in God, such as prayer, faith, and the word of God. These weapons are for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments that come up in your mind, which enable you to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. But, you must cast down anything that is contrary to what God declares in His word. The words cast down are in the present tense, which means that you must continually reject thoughts throughout your day that exalt themselves against the truth of God. To cast down means to throw down or destroy completely. That's something you must do continually when you realize your thought life is not in a good place. This command to cast down and bring into captivity every thought means that you are in control of every thought. “Bringing every thought,” not just some thoughts, or most thoughts, but every thought “into captivity.” The word captivity means to control. So, when you are thinking in a prideful, lustful, resentful, or envious way, whatever thought is contrary to what you know is right, you must cast it down and reject it! If you don’t, your thoughts will captivate and overcome you. That is how it happens, and that’s what you must do. Fear and anxiety must be controlled and rejected.
6. Turn your focus off of yourself and toward serving God and helping others. You need to take your focus off of yourself and put it on serving God and others. Anxiety, fear and worry are basically you turning your focus on yourself. What will happen to me? What will someone do to me? What if that happens to me? What am I going to do if this doesn't take place? This kind of selfish thinking feeds anxiety and worry within. You have to recognize this self-focus, turn from it, and turn to the Lord and His kingdom. This was why Jesus commanded the disciples to, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” This is how you take your focus off yourself. That's where fear and anxiety will be conquered.
This concept is seen so clearly in the prophecy of Zacharias, who was John the Baptist's father. He declared that God would, “Perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham: to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear” (Luke 1:72-74). This is the promise of God. That is what the Lord wants to do in His people’s lives. He wants to give you the ability to serve Him without fear. Trying to serve with fear does not work very well. Therefore, seek Him first. Seek His kingdom first and fear, worry, and anxiety will be overcome.
7. Trust in the sovereignty of God. Anxiety and fear are not only issues of self-focus, but also issues of trust. This is why Jesus questioned the faith of the disciples in Matthew 6:30. When you worry about your clothing and food, when God feeds the animals and clothes the flowers of the field it is definitely an issue of faith. To conquer worry and fear you must trust in your caring, powerful, sovereign God. Your focus must be on the Holy God that you serve. This is why Jesus said in Matthew 10:28-33, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Our sovereign God knows when every bird falls to the ground and dies. He has understanding of everything that is happening everywhere on the earth at every moment. He knows everything about you too. Yesterday, I saw a strand of hair on the floor, and I thought to myself, He knew when this hair fell out of my head. Think of it! While you are worrying about this one little thing He knows about every hair falling from your head, and every other little thing that is happening in 7 billion people’s lives around the world. If this is true, then He is a sovereign and powerful God that has power and ability well beyond anything of which you can conceive. Shouldn’t you then trust Him to care for you? God is working all things out according to the counsel of His will in your life. Why not commit yourself and your life into His hand and say to Him, “Lord, you have all things under your control. I'm going to put You first, and I’m not going to worry. I’m going to trust that You are going to take care of all the little stuff in my life. I don't know how You are going to work all these things out that I’m worrying about, but I’m going to trust that you will. I don't know how you're going to take care of this financial need, or how you're going to fill the needs of my personal life or that of my family, but I trust you, because You are big enough. You can handle me and everyone around me.
This is the exact counsel that Daniel gave to King Nebuchadnezzar when anxiety filled his heart. The King said to Daniel, “I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream” (Dan 2:3). Notice God's counsel to this anxious King. Daniel explains that God is completely sovereign over him and all the kings that will come after him. He told him, “He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings” (Dan. 2:21). In other words, God is saying, “I'm in total control of your kingdom and all kings and kingdoms. I raised you up, and I take you down and remove you. I’m the Sovereign here, not you!” In other words, God’s assertions that He is sovereign over all should calm the king’s anxious mind because the Lord is in control! So, are you trusting in your abilities to control everything, or in a sovereign God who is truly controlling everything? Put your trust in Him!
8. Get some good counsel. If you struggle with worry and anxiety, you should talk to someone who can give you good biblical counsel. Let them encourage you. The person may be your best friend, it may be your spouse, or it may be one of the elders or pastors at your church. But you need to talk with somebody about your anxiety. I have found that when people verbalize their anxieties and they refuse to stuff them all inside, freedom can be found. People have said to me after they have shared their struggles, “Boy, it feels better just being able to talk about it. I've just been battling inside my mind for so long. It feels good to talk about it.” Counsel allows that person to apply the word of God to their fears and worries. Hopefully, what I've written here will give you some encouragement and strength. Remember, in Proverbs 12:25 it declares, “Anxiety in the heart of a man causes depression, but a good word makes you glad.” So, let somebody speak that good word to you that will make your heart glad, because that is God's intention. He wants you to be glad. He wants you to have peace with Him.
Let's go to Him in prayer. “Father, we thank you that You have changed our hearts and have drawn us to Yourself. I pray that You would make these truths a reality in each of our lives. Set us free from worry and anxiety. Cause us to trust in your powerful and sovereign hand that controls all things in our lives. Turn our focus off of self and on to You so that we might first seek Your Kingdom.”