Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Worry – 1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. (RSV)

There are three point of clarification in this passage: what is anxiety, does God care for you, and how do you cast your anxieties. The first thing to consider is what makes up anxieties. According to the Encarta Dictionary, anxieties come in four flavors.

  1. Feeling of worry: nervousness or agitation, often about something that is going to happen
  2. Something that worries somebody: a subject or concern that causes worry.
  3. Strong wish do to something: the strong wish to do something, especially if the wish is unnecessarily or unhealthily strong
  4. Extreme apprehension: psychiatry a medical condition marked by intense apprehension or fear of real or imagined danger.
The common denominator of 1, 3, and 4 is that the subject of concern has not happened. Only the second definition suggests that the subject of anxiety could have already occurred. While it might make sense to address these differently, the Bible doesn’t appear to make a distinction as how to handle the situations.

In Matt 6:19-34 Jesus’ addresses the subject of worry and the fact that God does care for us. Most people divide this passage into separate parts, the first dealing with money and then the second dealing with worry. However Jesus put a word in the middle that ties them together. The part about worry starts with the word “Therefore.” The biggest cause of worry is an incorrect perspective on money or things. Jesus sets the correct perspective in verses 19-21 by telling us to store up treasures in heaven so that our heart will be there also. He then reminds us that we can’t serve two masters. Matt 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (NIV) The first clue to being able to handle anxiety or worry is to make sure you have a heaven perspective and to know who you are serving.

Jesus says not to worry about anything. He talks about food and clothes and the fact that God knows we need these basic of life. He tells us that our worth is much greater than that of birds and grass yet he takes care of the needs of even these. He tells us to contemplate the complexity of a flower and consider that it is much greater than the splendor of our best clothes. If God takes care of the things of nature, how much more is He going to take care of us?

Matt 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NIV) Jesus brings it all back to the proper perspective. When Jesus’ kingdom and being righteous is more important than anything else, God will take care of us. Does this mean that we will never be hungry or without clothes? No, Jesus also told us that we would have troubles in this life including persecution. So look back at the beginning of 1st Peter and remember what the purpose of suffering is. Get your focus back on the eternal and not the temporal. Isn’t it interesting that one little question or doubt and suddenly we’ve lost perspective?

So how do you cast your anxieties on the Lord? There are some examples in Scripture of people doing this. 1 Sam 1:10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. (NIV) The priest, Eli, observed her praying and after talking with her, he encouraged her with a short prayer of his own. Hannah’s face was no longer downcast.

1 Sam 23:15-16 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. (NIV) Here is another example of a friend that encourages and helps another who is concerned.

Matt 26:37-38 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zeb'edee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." (RSV) Even Jesus knew that friends can help when we are distressed.

Jesus prayed, Hannah prayed, and David wrote his prayers down in the Psalms. The Psalms are great examples of David pouring out his heart to God. He didn’t deny the problems he was facing or his discouragement. Prayers dealing with anything must be honest. God knows our fears and worries so denying them will only hurt our communication with Him. Be honest in your payers; however don’t let that honestly overshadow what God can do. Remember that you need an eternal perspective and then trust in God. Ps 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? (NIV) David always came back to the basics.

God is in control. This life is only preparing us for eternity. Maintain the proper eternal perspective.

Phil 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

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