It is a rather puzzling thought that the people with the most wealth and resources appear to be the people who are most prone to anxiety. The Bible has much to say about the topic of anxiety. The world also has their thoughts on the matter. While there is some carryover between the words of Scripture and the thoughts of the world concerning the topic of anxiety, the contrasts must be noted.
Americans have a tendency to be anxious people. What this tells us is that money and material things will not quench the anxious beast that looms greatly in the lives of many. The world would say, “Run to the doctor and get medicine.” The Bible tells us something different.
Jesus devoted a large portion in His Sermon on the Mount to the topic of anxiety. The logical conclusion is that anxiety must have been a major issue during the earthly ministry of Jesus. Some may wonder how much time He would devote to the topic today if He were preaching on the streets of America.
While it is hard to know for sure, what we do have is a marvelous Sermon that is invaluable for the Christian today in his fight against anxiety. Scripture says, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (KJV, Matt 6:25) . Let’s take a look at the previous Scripture and see what Jesus had to say about anxiety.
At the outset, it is important to define terms properly. If definitions are not clear from the beginning, the reader may be sidetracked, thus drawing improper deductions from what is being stated. So what does the Bible have to say about anxiety?
The phrase “Take no thought” that is used in the KJV is translated in modern versions as “Be not anxious.” The Greek word that is used to depict anxiety in Matthew 6:25 is merimnao, which carries the meaning of being anxious about something and/or taking thought about something. In other words, the Greek word would carry both meanings that are presented to us in the Bible. But we still need to dig a little deeper to understand what is at stake.
Anxiety can come in many different forms. From a biblical perspective, anxiety can also be thought of as fear, worry, and dread. The one who is experiencing anxiety is in a state of fear, which at times can be rather crippling.
The Greek word merimnao, which was discussed above, is derived from the word merimna, which is likely connected to another word that consists of being drawn in different directions and also carries the meaning of being distracted. The anxious person is torn between two alternatives and is highly distracted from the truth. Merimna also carries the meaning of anxious care. On the other hand, to be free from anxious care is to be secure. Thus, the anxious person is an insecure person.
It is also important to understand what anxiety is not. The Bible makes it clear that there is a line that divides the anxious person and the concerned person. There is a proper way in which the Christian can be concerned about matters of life. Paul would have been concerned about the Christian community in Jerusalem when he took up an offering for them (as seen in the book of 2 Corinthians). Paul would have been concerned about the people at Philippi getting along when he told them to humble themselves in the book of Philippians. Paul would have been concerned about Philemon receiving back his slave Onesimus with gentle care rather than punishment. The list could go on in this manner, but the point is clear: Christians ought to be concerned about matters of this life.
However, Christians must never be anxious about matters of this life. Scripture makes it clear that anxiety is ultimately a lack of faith. While anxiety may be deeply rooted and hard to overcome, the Christian can grow to know Christ and trust in His Savior.
The Word of God
In Matthew 6:25, the Scripture starts with Christ saying, “Therefore I say unto you…” . The Christian must fight anxiety by standing upon the Word of God. The world will not offer solutions that will suffice. The world will not provide a real solution to the problem at hand. One of the main reasons as to why this is so is due to the fact that the world does not recognize sin – nor does it recognize the God of the Bible. God and sin are at the heart of the matter.
Jesus has told us what the Christian must do to fight anxiety in his life. This does not mean that it will be an easy road. It may take some time to put the Bible into practice and to see the fruit, much like much patience is required to produce a thriving garden. Nevertheless, Jesus tells us the way in which we ought to walk. Anxiety is not a modern-day problem that must be treated through modern medicine and psychology. Jesus spoke of anxiety thousands of years ago, and the Christian would be wise to take note of what Jesus said on the matter.
The mind and anxiety
Jesus continues on and says, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought…” . Here, we see that Jesus was highly concerned with the way in which the people were thinking. The Christian must take control of his anxious thoughts if he desires to be free from anxiety.
Anxiety does not need to reign in the life of the Christian. Scripture says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom. 6:12-14) . The Christian must get into the habit of yielding his mind unto the Lord. When the Christian learns to the think biblically, he will encounter transformation (Rom. 12:1-2) and peace (Is. 26:3).
God will take care of the Christian’s needs
Jesus does not leave the Christian in the dark as to what thoughts he must fight against. Instead, He goes on to say, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on…” . Simply put, do not be anxious about the basic needs of life. Jesus has promised that God will take care of them.
While Jesus does not cover every anxious thought in His list, the point is clear. The Christian need not be anxious about this life. God is in control, and He will also provide for the Christian. The Christian need not worry about the events of his life for God has already said that He will work all things for the good of the believer. The problem is not that God fails to promote good in the life of the Christian; the problem is a lack of faith to believe in the promises and character of God.
The gift of life
It is at this point that Jesus points the Christian to a simple but profound statement. He says, “… Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” . Here, we can see that Jesus argues from the greater to the lesser. God has given life; will He not also give the Christian food to sustain his life? God has given man flesh; will God not also provide the Christian with clothing? God will surely care for His children. The question is, do you believe?
Father, I thank You for Your tender care. Please help me to trust in You more. Take control of my anxious thoughts. Forgive me for my lack of faith. You have given me many reasons to believe, and I pray that you would guide me into a deeper trust in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.