Third in our series of “Jesus takes away” – shame, fear, worry, rejection and apathy. Most of them are pretty interconnected. Some of you worry that your shame will be exposed. Some of you are worried that your fear of rejection will mean you will never get a partner. Some are so apathetic that you can’t face dealing with your worry about your fear of rejection!
Worry is feeling uneasy or troubled – can get unreasonable even irrational pretty quickly.
Researchers at the University of Idaho say that worry is the act of continually repeating the same thought pattern over and over. When we are worrying, we are in the midst of repetitive thinking, but it never resolves the situation – we only think it might. Key features of worry are that it is repetitive and non-productive. A common form of worry is when someone is filled with negative questions and dwell on endless “what if’s.” Worry is like a rocking chair – it’s always in motion but never goes anywhere.
Anxiety is when worry becomes embedded in your life and turns into a disorder.
Here’s some helpful quotes on worry
As Corrie ten Boom put it: ‘Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow; but it empties today of strength.’
Henry Ward Beecher said, “Worry is rust on the blade which renders us incapable of cutting through life’s real problems.”
Bill Johnson: Why does worry shout so loudly for our attention? Because if we look at it long enough, it will gain our trust. Pretty soon we begin praying out of fear and eventually we quit praying and start looking for sympathy. We have trusted that other voice and it won the affections of our heart. We must get our minds set on spiritual things because as long as we fill our minds with what’s happening in the natural, we restrict our effectiveness. We may rise up now and then and score a victory with the gift of faith, but we won’t have the continual influence of Kingdom transformation flowing through us.
A.S. Roche Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained
E Stanley who was a missionary in India: I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath–these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely–these are my native air.
There are lots of causes of worry and anxiety in our lives
Constant noise (ipods, tv, radio, internet, email Greek word for demon!), Traffic – no one else can drive,
Fractured family life, Finances, Daily Mail, Success (when you are failing, you get a pat on the back and a cup of tea)
Underneath it here are three big causes…
1 Not trusting God
Worry is the opposite of faith, and it steals our peace, physically wears us out, and can even make us sick. When we worry, we torment ourselves—we’re doing the devil’s job for him! Worry is caused by not trusting God to take care of the various situations in our lives. Too often we trust our own abilities, believing that we can figure out how to take care of our own problems. Yet sometimes, after all our worry and effort to go it alone, we come up short, unable to bring about suitable solutions.
2 Holding onto sin and shame
All of these things we are talking about in this series that Jesus takes away are somewhat interconnected.
If we are caught up in a habit of sin we can worry about being found out and the shame that would bring.
It’s probably an apocryphal story, but Arthur Conan Doyle said that it had always been his opinion that there was a skeleton in the closet of every man who had reached the age of forty. This led to a lot of discussion, some of the guests resenting the idea that there was no one who had not in his past something that were better concealed. As a result of the controversy, Dr. Doyle said, it was suggested that his views as to family skeletons be put to the test. The diners selected a man of their acquaintance whom all knew only as an upright Christian gentleman, whose word was accepted as quickly as his bond and who stood with the highest in every respect. ‘We wrote a telegram saying ‘All is discovered; flee at once” to this pillar of society,’ said Dr. Doyle, ‘and sent it. He disappeared the next day and has never been heard from since.
Holding onto a pattern of sin, because of the worry or fear of the shame that would be experienced is actually a symptom of the third cause we will look at in a moment “Pride”.
Jesus takes away sin because He died in our place so we could be forgiven. If you are holding onto a destructive pattern of sin because of the fear or worry of confessing it – you will find grace, forgiveness and the power of the Spirit to stop. Anything else is an infernal lie from the pit of hell
Worry is a form of pride because it is saying we and our thoughts are better at working out a situation than God.
Worry is a form of pride. It’s the opposite of humility. When you choose to worry and take on the cares of this world, you are essentially saying that God can’t handle it. That you’ve got to take it out of “His mighty hand” and worry about how to fix it yourself.
Interestingly on the best verse on worry – cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you 1 Peter 5:7 is preceded by v6 funnily enough. There is no full stop in the Greek between the two verses, so it reads
1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Casting your anxieties is thus part of humbling! It’s a subordinate clause, rather than a new sentence!
Humble yourselves . . . casting your anxieties on him.”
Casting your anxieties on God is an expression of humility. It’s like saying,
“Eat politely . . . chewing with your mouth shut.”
“Drive carefully . . . keeping your eyes open.”
“Be generous . . . inviting someone over for a meal.”
“Humble yourselves . . . casting your anxieties on God.”
Sarah Vonk’s story…
So we worry because we don’t trust God, or we are holding onto sin through shame and because we are proud.
67% of us worry, 21% are tempted to get medication
50% have sleepless nights.
One pre credit crunch survey found that said our biggest worries are ID theft, terrorism and health – I guess commissioned by an insurance company
– nudge the person next to you
Mood swings, Anger, Depression, Exhaustion, Wanting to run away or die, Comfort eating, Irritability, Sexual temptation (certain sins are tantalising to me right now), Sleepless nights – tossing and turning and thinking, Drinking red bull “I was anxious, now I am anxious and excited!”,
Everything is a burden – even snuggling on the sofa with the kids
Magazines say more exercise, more sex, anti-depressants, yoga, smelling something yellowy help.
Sleep, exercise and diet help, so does the Bible!
Worry is a sin to be repented of not a condition to be managed – controversial but true.
Paul “Do not be anxious about anything” – sounds like a command to be obeyed to me
Jesus “Do not worry” Matt 6:25 among other places
There are many reasons why I can say anxiety is a sin rather than a condition to be managed.
* Expressing a lack of trust in God “God can’t handle this. Only my mind can process this”
* Denial of the sovereignty of God
* Disobedience of a command or two to not be anxious
* Not making the most of time – worrying is a time waster. It’s like sitting in a rocking chair – it keeps you busy, but doesn’t get you anywhere.
* Damages the temple of the Holy Spirit – your body – physically, emotionally and mentally
Sometimes we need treatment, but here Paul is going to give us 9 things to make habits that will be preventative for when circumstances could make you tempted to be anxious.
Let’s turn to Scripture for some answers, because the Bible fantastically timeless and helpful
1 Anchor your joy in Jesus
“Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” This is important because Paul has repeated it, and because he repeats it throughout the letter. Our circumstances change, but Jesus doesn’t. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Every circumstance we go through has something negative about it. But Jesus doesn’t. If your circumstances determine how happy or sad you are, they rule. Paul commands us to rejoice always because there is always a reason to rejoice in every circumstance. There are always reasons to complain and reasons to rejoice – it’s a choice which one you do.
2 Respond gently
When we are emotional, anxious and stressed we often behave unreasonably and make crazy demands. Gentleness is not our default, freaking out is! I had to deal with a BT call centre – enough said, I am afraid. I replied to an email and then was convicted by this passage, repented and rung a good call centre.
Gentleness is a miracle – part of God and us in relationship. Jesus is between us and our circumstances allowing us the chance to respond differently – top let the gentleness that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit transforming us to be evident to all – even to call centre staff from another nation who tried to order an extra line rather than cancelling one!
Allowing Jesus to work in us the habit of responding gently as we work out our daily lives, means that when circumstances come, we avoid the sin of anxiety.
3 The Lord is near
He is always with us, never will I leave you or forsake you. Though you walk through the valley of death, his presence is always with you.
4 Pray lots
Talk to Jesus, he will not be disappointed when you tell him you are struggling, he knows anyway. Pray until the peace comes and the anxiety lifts. Those times when I can’t sleep because I am worrying – I have to get up and pray until it goes, then I drop of straight away. That is actually quicker and you end up sleeping more than just worrying lying there!
What do you do in anxious circumstances first? Phone a friend who will give permission for that sin of anxiety, email, gossip, leave a nasty voice mail. Train yourself to pray as your first inclination.
Talk to Jesus until your heart attitude and emotions are better
5 Choose to not be anxious
Lord I’m going to talk to you about this. I’m not going to ignore or pretend. I ‘m not going to let 1 thing ruin everything.
Bill Johnson: In Eastern occult religions, meditation means emptying the mind. But Biblical meditation is the opposite – it’s filling the mind with God’s truth. Some Christians don’t like the idea of meditation because they’ve only seen it demonstrated in a corrupt way through the diabolical religions. But if you have ever worried about something, you already know how to meditate.
Paul lists 8 good things to think about – positive things, not negative anxious things that all come ultimately from Scripture. It is so easy not to think about Scripture, to get consumed with the circumstance. Paul urges to think about the good.
Ask yourself some question based on Paul’s list in verse 8
Is this true or is it lies?
Is this noble? Would I be ashamed or glad about this?
Is this right? Just or injust? Seeking reconciliation or revenge?
Is this pure? What about my motives here? My words, actions and thoughts?
Is this lovely? Is everything about this situation and what I am considering beautiful or ugly?
Is it admirable? Would mature Christians see good change in me? Or would they be confronting me – you always do this, freak out, blame others, despair, loose sight…?
Think about Jesus, about Scripture, about how to respond…
7 Respond instead of react
Verse 9 “Whatever you have learned, or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice ” Respond not react. Often we think or act in way that makes it look like anxiety gives us a blank cheque to do what we shouldn’t. “I was angry”, “I was anxious”, “I was frightened that…”
Anxiety does not let us off the hook. Our response is our responsibility. We need to live according to our theology not anxiety. If God is sovereign, act like it. If God works out for our good, act like it. There is always something we can rejoice about, always something we can use to get closer to Jesus.
8 Plug into the Church
Euodia and Synteche (at the start of Phil 4) were fighting. Paul didn’t as far as we know send them a personal letter each. He wrote to the church, because it was pretty public anyway. He wrote to the Church, asking someone in the Church to be a mediator, to act like Jesus the ultimate mediator to sort it out.
We need Christian community –small groups, because anxiety is diminished in community. Where you are loved, supported, affirmed, rebuked and admonished. Where people do not just agree with you, but help you examine your motives and challenge your behaviour.
Wiser to begin in community before life gets tough!
9 Accept the peace of God.
Just as gentleness is part of the miracle of God working in you growing the fruit of the Spirit where there is a lack of gentleness around you. So too, peace is gift of God. It will not make sense, you are not getting as stressed and anxious when life presses is, but God is working in you bringing a peace that transcends all understanding in v7