A paraphrase of I Corinthians 7:32 can read,
“I do not want you to be anxious.”
Anxiety is not part of God’s plan for the believer’s life. Are you anxious about anything? Someone compiled this list of statistics about worry, have you seen it? “An Average Person’s Anxiety Is Focused On…40%—things that will never happen; 30%—things about the past that can’t be changed; 12%—things about criticism by others, mostly untrue; 10%—about health, which gets worse with stress; 8%—about real problems that will be faced” (Source: www.bible.org, “Sermon Illustrations: Worry, Anxiety”).
The Bible addresses human worry in strong terms. Jesus called worry a lack of faith. And a lack of faith is called sin in the Bible. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) By implication, to worry is to sin against God. And yet, even knowing this, we do it too much of the time!
However, Jesus died for the sin of worry, too. Chronic worriers can know pardon and forgiveness through Christ. Run to Him, and He can bring calm and peace.
However, let us contemplate where worry comes from–what are its sources?
I believe one major source of our worry is “thinking too much about tomorrow.” But listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 6:34,
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Now, your mind might race to the fact that we all have to plan and give some thought to what comes next. Planning for tomorrow is not condemned.
In fact, the Bible even commends it:
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8)
So we have to learn the difference between “planning” and “being anxious.” A word study might help. Anxiety comes from the Greek word merimnao, which means “to be troubled with cares”.
Sometimes we worry about the past. We should learn from the past, but not let it control us in the present.
St. Paul wrote,
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.”
Progress is mighty hard if you never do anything but look in the rear-view mirror.
Worry is never presented as a solution in the Bible for the Christian. What is its antidote? Consider Philippians 4:6,
“Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
We are counseled to replace worry with “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, bringing our requests to God.” The biggest enemy that worry has is faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of the salvation He has brought, our sin debt is paid, and thus our gravest problem in this life and the world to come is solved. As we enter into praise for our salvation, worry is crowded out.
Another worry killer is a consistent, structured, ordered prayer life. And the way we get that kind of prayer life is by making the time to do it every day, day in and day out. I sometimes find myself saying that I do not have time to pray and read the Bible. Yet, I find that I have little difficulty finding the time to do other things I enjoy.
African-American Methodist pastor and hymn writer Charles A. Tindley was once visited by a fellow who was a constant worrier. Out of that exchange came the song, “Leave it There,” whose first stanza says,
“If the world from you withhold of its silver and its gold, And you have to get along with meager fare, Just remember, in His Word, how He feeds the little bird; Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”
These are good words!