Vol. 5, No. 12
~ Page 17 ~
If we are to develop the mind of Christ, we must learn to overcome anxiety. Most of us would like to, but do not know how to start. Perhaps this article will help you learn how and then to practice developing the mind of Christ.
Back during the depression, my father walked 10 miles and cracked rocks all day for about $1 per day -- when he was able to get work. During the spring, I would plant peas in the corn field for five cents a day, and worked my way through elementary school as janitor -- sweeping the floors and building the fires each day for $1 per month. For supper some days, if we had a piece of corn bread and a glass of milk we were thankful, and I remember once when we ate all week on a washtub full of hominy.
However, when I was about eight years old, I read Matthew 6:25-34, and when I heard my mother express concern that we might starve, I said, "Mama, what about these verses? Did God mean what he said or not?" She said, "Honey, you just don't understand." I replied, "Then explain it to me, for it seems to me that God is saying for us not to worry." She was not able to explain it away very well, so I just trusted that God would provide at least as well for me as he did for the birds. Some 60 years later, I weigh about 165 pounds, and did weigh about 30 pounds more until I had open-heart surgery! So, I have not starved yet.
Many times since that I have preached on the sin of worrying, and some dear soul would say to me, "I know it is a sin. That is what is worrying me, for I can't help it!" I wanted to say, "Don't add lying to your sins, for you CAN help it," but I never did. This article is concerned with trying to give you some suggestions for preventing or overcoming that sin, for it is a sin!
When Jesus says in verse 25, "Take no thought for your life" the Greek text is "me merriment," which actually means, "be not anxious." Time and space forbid my showing why this was translated in King James' day by "take no thought," but although he does not forbid being concerned, he forbids being worried and anxious. But, the question with which I want to deal now is: How do I keep from it?
First, be fully conscious of the sinfulness of this anxious, worrying, fretful attitude. Second, earnestly desire to overcome it. As long as you think of it as a natural mental attitude with which you were born, then it is God's fault, and you can neither repent of it, get forgiveness of it nor overcome it! Third, try to phrase questions or statements about the situation that will show the real nature of the faithless assumptions on which the worry is based.
For example, the 10 spies who came back from Canaan and reported, "There are giants in the land," etc. could have asked themselves such questions as, "Are the giants bigger or stronger than our God?" "Does the God who overcame Pharaoh and his armies now find himself powerless?" "Would he have brought us all the way out here with all that concern if he meant for us to just die at the hands of these heathen?" If they had asked those questions and answered them properly, they would not have so easily acted in a manner so devoid of faith.
If you can see that your worry is actually placing you in a position of saying, "God does not really care about me enough to do the best thing for me," or "God is not able to overcome this circumstance," or "Romans 8:28 is not really so," it might be easier for you to take the next steps.
Fourth, memorize Matthew 6:25, and related passages such as 1 Peter 5:7 which show we should cast our care on him, Romans 8:28 which tells us that all things work together for good to those who love God and 1 Corinthians 10:13 which tells that there is no temptation (testing) that will be more than we can bear. Fifth, meditate on them, and when the temptation comes to deny your faith in God and worry, consciously say, "Lord, I believe your promises, and am now relying on them."
If, when you worry, you will realize it is a sin, repent of it and ask forgiveness of it and then do the five things mentioned above, it is almost certain that you will make progress in preventing and/or overcoming this sin.
We also need to be aware that we may add to the problem by the improper use of the English language. We may say, "I am anxious to see my children or grandchildren" when we are not anxious at all. We are merely eager to see them. Because there is a close connection between thinking, talking and acting, we should try to be as nearly correct in all three as we can be.