“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Worry is a funny thing isn’t it? Not funny “ha ha,” but funny weird. You could be sitting on a park bench all by your lonesome with nothing happening–looking calm, cool, and collected–yet worry is flooding your mind like a raging waterfall. It’s impossible to stop worrying 100%, but we can worry a lot less often when we recognize where it comes from: fear. Fear-filled thoughts of the future. We can even worry about something that’s happened in the past, but is not yet complete.
Fear stems from three main things, none of which are from God:
I want to go over all three in detail because if we can point out what the root cause of worry is, we can enjoy our lives even during the most strenuous circumstances–because we have nothing to fear. But first, let’s look at Webster’s definition of worry: to think about problems or fears : to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen.
Ole’ Webster was on to something, wasn’t he?! Thinking about and feeling fear causes worry! Based on truth or not, thoughts and feelings can’t always be controlled. As a part of our soul, they’re like vapors. Our spirit is anchored in Christ, but our soul–mind, free will, and emotions–can easily flap like a flag in the wind. However, thoughts and feelings that cause worry can be directed and sorted into the proper bins. For this reason, Paul never told the early church, “You better feel different! You better have different thoughts!”
No. He gently advised them what to think about and what to focus on. Why? Because he knew if they would shift their minds onto the truth of Jesus–onto the truth of His grace and what He’s done to them–only then would their thoughts and feelings shift as well. In turn, they’d be less worrisome and anxious, they’d be effective in infecting others with grace, and they’d enjoy their lives despite dire circumstances.
Paul understood that worrying would never change their identity, it would just make them shrink back and be quiet. So he encouraged them into what to think about. Look at this amazing advice:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (See Romans 12:2)
“we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (See 2 Corinthians 10:5)
Thoughts lead to fear. Fear leads to feelings. Feelings lead to worry. Therefore, if we can corral the stuff in our mind with counsel from the Spirit, we can sift through Truth and Lies, Controllable and Not Controllable. Anxiety can then fade away.
When worry hits you, ask yourself a handful of questions to doubt your doubts:
“Has this happened yet? Is it going to? Do I have any control over this right now? Can I change the outcome while still living out my true self as a saint?”
All Christians are saints. Saint simply means holy, or set apart. Set apart from what? Sin. The world. That’s exactly what happened to our spirit the moment we first believed (see John 1:12, 17:16, Ephesians 2:6, Romans 8:9-11, Hebrews 10:10,14).
Certain denominations have twisted this word saint by awarding it to individuals based on votes. Wrong. Every Christian is equally holy. Not by what we do, but by who we are. There’s not a single verse in the New Testament where God, an apostle, or otherwise, awards sainthood to a particular person based on actions and attitudes. Instead, the Bible says we are all part of a royal priesthood! (See 1 Peter 2:9).
Since we have sanctified supernatural DNA as saints (sanctified also means holy), sometimes God wants to teach us the art of doing nothing at all. Personally, this is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to learn. My old, unrenewed thoughts loved to worry when I wasn’t actively trying to solve a problem. Just like Jesus telling the waves, “Peace! Be still!” my spirit was learning to do the same (see Mark 4:39).
Other times God is coaching us into how to conduct respectful confrontations, and how to establish healthy boundaries. You are not a punching bag. You are valuable. You shouldn’t have to worry about being “less than” because you’re standing up to unacceptable behavior. God wants you to help others but He doesn’t want you to be responsible for them. Just look at the Good Samaritan. He helped the man who was hurt, but still went about his own business. He didn’t stop his trip and coddle the injured fellow, hanging out at the inn, neglecting responsibilities. Not at all. He helped because he wanted to, and then moved forward with his own life (see Luke 10:25-37).
Religious manipulation will teach you the opposite of this. Don’t fall for it. Be confident. Even if you’re stammering, shaking, or stuttering, the Holy Spirit will empower you to stand up to fake spiritual extortion from a church. Not all churches are like this, but some are. Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry. Be you. You are loving, you are respectful, and you are holy. Help if you want. Don’t help if you don’t want. Your identity remains the same.
The ability to discern such things is fueled by God’s grace not by self-made efforts. Remember, we are branches, He is the vine (see John 15:5, 2 Corinthians 12:9). The vine never stresses the branch out or tells it to worry. Nor does the vine ever guilt the branch into producing fruit.
My friend, worry comes from dreading the future. Most of the stuff we worry about in the future, never even happens. But if it does, we know who holds our future, we know who isn’t bound by our human sense of time, Jesus (see 2 Peter 3:8, Revelation 22:13, Deuteronomy 31:8). If we look even deeper into the sovereignty of our Creator, when we rightfully deserve a bad outcome, we can still find rest in our minds and enjoy our lives because we know He is infinitely merciful. Just look at how He blessed Ismael, who was the result of Abraham attempting to rush God (see Genesis 17:20).
If you’ll begin to question the questions of worry in your head, the Holy Spirit will give you the correct answers; answers which will lead you into peace, hope, confidence, and a sound mind! Let’s look at the three things which can attempt to steer our thought life into the ditch:
So today, my friends, know this: You can stop worrying so much by thinking about what you’re thinking about. Where is that worry coming from? Is it legit? Even if it is, is God still in control? Does He still love you? Are you still His child?…Yes. He’s still in control. Yes. He still loves you. Yes. You’re still His child…Don’t worry, friend. Trust God and enjoy your life!
A prayer for you: Father, today I want to thank you for the renewing of my mind. I know I’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg, but I’m SO thankful! Keep teaching me more about who I am because of what Christ has done! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this directly to you. Dad, so many of them are struggling with great worries, you know that. Help them begin to sort through their thoughts and feelings with your grace. Dilute their worries. Your grace will cause them to become focused and more courageous! Your grace is sufficient to improve the lives and mindsets of ALL who believe in your Son! Constant worry will be an afterthought when their minds start to match up with your goodness, infinite love, and counseling into WHO they really are–your kids! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 1. Get your copy here!