Do not be anxious. Fear not. Let not your heart be troubled. Do not be weighed down with the cares of life.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Easier said than done, right?
The Bible is replete with commands not to worry. The admonitions against it are so clear and repetative that one can easily become worried about becoming worried!
But God's word is clear: We must wage war on worry. We have a duty to not let ourselves be distracted with it or dominated by it.
But how do we do this? How can we experience sanctification in this area?
The first step is to confess it and take responsibility for it. That is to say, when thoughts begin to race around in our minds and we become obsessed with particular situations (real or fantasized), we must own up to the fact that we are in sin. We are disobeying God.
One of the reasons anxiety persists in our lives is because we fail in this, the most simple and basic part of repentance. Instead of turning to God, we will do one of the following:
1. We blame others - I'm worried because my kid is 10 minutes past curfew. My boss was supposed to tell me if I got the promotion last week. It's not my fault I'm strung out, right? Wrong. You may worry about others, but they are not the cause of your worries. Your anxiety is due only to your own sinful proclivity. Don't pass the buck onto them.
2. We minimize it - To many people, worry is not a sin. We don't want to admit that it is a transgression against God and a form of disobedience. We'd rather think of it as "deep concern" or think of ourselves as having a full heart. But we must be true to Scripture and recognize that it is indeed an offense to our Lord.
3. We excuse it - I have a right to be worried, after all I'm his father/mother. I'm a worrier; it's just who I am. Someone has to be concerned around here. We will come up with all kinds of justifications. We will rationalize our sin into perfect reasonableness. But the truth is, we do not have a right or excuse to be all hot and bothered about anything.
4. We think we have no power over it - I can't stop it. I've been this way all my life. It is a disorder. I can only cope and make do. This is the defeatist mentality. Its saying that redemption isn't possible, so why even try repenting? In the words of Churchill, "Never, never, never give up." The Lord has not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
5. We gloss over it - For many, worry isn't even considered to be a sin. They don't think of it as being a real infraction against God's law. It could be thought of as a problem or struggle that they have, but not a sin. But Scripture is clear: it is a grave error and serious offense to God. It must be confessed and repented of.
If we are ever going to seek victory over worry, we must wage war on it. This means we must first come to terms with it and own up to it before God. As we begin taking responsibility for our sin and acknowledging our failures to God, we will be well on our way to victory in that battle.
Emotions are God’s creation. They are part of who we are as creatures who were made in his image. We see something of emotional joy and excitement in the very first couple, when Adam first set eyes on Eve and exclaimed, “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” etc.
Christ, in his earthly life, demonstrates the beauty and place of human emotion. He wept and was considered the ‘Man of Sorrows.’ He reclined at table and attended festivals, which implies that he laughed and was merry. He delighted to do God’s will and displayed righteous anger as he confronted the irreligious practices of his day.
In the fall our emotions became subject to sin and misery. God’s curse would produce in man sorrow and sin resulted in a new range of feelings: sadness, anger, despair, loneliness, etc.
Part of the corruption is that we begin to follow our emotions, rather than God’s word. Just as Eve found delight in the fruit and ate of it, we can let our feelings be the guide of our behavior instead of God's word.
Part of our redemption is having our emotions conform to Christ and being subject to God’s will. Part of our sanctification is taking control of our emotions and dictating how they operate.
We are not to follow our feelings or let our emotions dictate our actions. Instead, we are commanded to put our hope in God (Psalm 130), rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 4:4), grieve over sin (James 4:9), be righteously angry, and not let our anger cause us to fall into sin (Eph. 4:26), etc.
At the same time we should recognize that emotions can be indications of a deeper problems in our lives; issues of sin and misbehavior.
For instance, a depressed person is one who has excessive sadness or emotionally low. It may be that they lack joy and vibrancy because they have acted (or reacted) wrongly in some situation. They become melancholy because they are not living the way God would have them. Their sullen state, in this case, is evidence that they need deeper change or redemption.
Another example may be anger. Anger is usually an evidence of deeper issues of selfishness or self-centeredness. One becomes enraged because they do not get what they want or they lack control.
To be sure, there can be expressions of righteous anger. But in many cases, the emotion of anger, is representative of a heart that is out of align with God.
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