DUNCAN/True religion, Part 6: Anxiety’s antidote

DUNCAN/True religion, Part 6: Anxiety’s antidote


Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 6:25-34. Worry is the respectable sin. Christians know that they are not supposed to murder, commit adultery, or lie, or cheat, or steal, or, at least they are not supposed to admit that they do; but we all admit to one another that we worry. And perhaps we do so because we do not realize what a vital spiritual issue it is. It’s interesting, isn’t it? The Lord Jesus Christ, in this passage today, is addressing you and His disciples asking you to examine your hearts in regard to worry. And He teaches us at least two great things here. We will see two things in this passage.  First, we must wage war on anxiety in our lives. Second, our chief purpose should be God’s kingdom. 

I. We Must Wage War on Anxiety in Our Lives. 

The first thing that Jesus makes clear throughout the passage is that we must wage war on worry and anxiety in our lives. He opens in verse 25 with these words to the disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried for your life, as to what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on.” The Lord Jesus is not saying that it is improper to concern yourself with how you’re going to feed your family, nor is he saying that we are exempt from our responsibilities to help one another when we’re in a time of need. We must concern ourselves with the practical assisting of one another in times of need. Nor is Jesus saying that we are exempt from troubles in this life. In fact, in this passage He promises us that we will have trouble. So the Lord Jesus is not condemning our proper provision for the future and He’s not condemning an appropriate concern for the present, but He is attacking that wearying anxiety which frets over whether God will give us what we need or that preoccupation with those things which are temporal to the point that it clouds our eyes to the most important thing in life.

Worry occurs in all those forms and it’s roots can be found in these problems. The root of worry, or the roots of worry, can be found in the problem of trust. Some of us who worry have a trust problem. We don’t believe that the Lord is going to provide what we need. We fear that we may be left without something we need so we worry about it. A lot of good that does us, but we feel better after we’ve worried about it. Sometimes worry’s root problem is a problem of submission. We say that Christ is Lord, but really, we want to be Lord of our lives. And we’ve got wonderful plans for our lives. And we’re working very hard to make those plans come about, and we know that we ultimately can’t make them come about because we’re not sovereign and we have a problem submitting ourselves to His Lordship in our life and consequently, we worry.

Others of us have a desire or an ambition problem. We worry because we are essentially worldly. The Lord Jesus knows that worry may manifest that you care more about the things of this world, that you’re not sure whether you’re going to get or not, than you do about your eternal fellowship with the living God which is something that no believer fears is ever going to be taken away from him or her. To worry is an opportunity for self-examination and its roots can be found in problems with trust, with submission, and frankly, with worldliness.

Now Jesus knows that worry is a powerful enemy; and He knows that the only way that worry can be beaten, the only way that this insidious sin can be rooted out of our lives is through truth and through trust. He knows that our minds must first be brought past it with the word of truth. If we don’t think rightly, we’ll never beat worry. But he also knows that, ultimately, worry cannot be conquered by right thinking. It is only conquered by faith. So it takes both truth and trust to beat worry. We may review Jesus’ words about right thinking in these passages and still not beat worry in our lives because worry is ultimately at bottom a sign of a lack of trust in our heavenly Father. We don’t know what troubles will come; we don’t know when those troubles will come, and it does no good for us to fixate on them and worry about their coming. Instead, we must deal with those things as they come because trouble is just a part of life in a fallen world. Your Father who is in heaven knows what you need. And when we realize that, when we realize our heavenly Father knows our needs and He provides for those needs, we can trust in that. Here is the root weapon against worry.

II. Our Chief Purpose Should Be God’s Kingdom. 

Jesus then directs us to a second truth. He directs us to the truth that we must make sure that our prime ambition, our first purpose, our chief end, our most important desire and motive in life is God’s kingdom. He teaches us this in verse 33 where He says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Jesus is saying, When you’re dealing with worry, stop and ask yourself: What am I seeking in life? What’s the most important thing to me in life?

And notice again the order that He says we’re to seek it. We’re not just to seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness; we’re to seek it first. Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom.” Do we seek first God’s kingdom? Does it show in our choices? Does it show with what we do with our money? Are we really seeking God first with what we do with the resources that God gives us? Does it show? When we worry it is a sign that perhaps our priorities have gotten out of order or perhaps they were never in order.

You see, the cure for anxiety is to recognize that the heavenly Father knows and sees and understands our lives. He cares for us, and so we can give ourselves over to the cause of the kingdom. We do not have to worry that we will be provided for because we know that He provides for us. We can abandon ourselves into His care and give everything for Him because we know that all these things will be provided for us in the here and hereafter if we will but trust in Him. Where is your trust? Have you trusted in Him? Does it show even in the hour of anxiety? May we commit the whole of our lives into God’s generous hand and seek first the kingdom, for Christ’s sake. 

The Rev. Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III is Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. He can be reached at 601-923-1600 or by email at jhyde@rts.edu.

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