Do you worry? Many people are “worry warts." They have worried all their lives. Perhaps you are such a person. If so, anxiety has robbed you of your peace. You have not been able to enjoy your life and your faith. Can this destructive habit of anxiety be put out of your life? The answer is yes! The Bible gives us hope that this emotion not only can be but must be "put off." Anxiety displeases God. Your worrisome ways do not demonstrate a Bible faith, but faithlessness. But, there is hope. There is hope because of what you are doing right now, seeking a Biblical solution to this problem. Don't stop. Keep reading this brochure. You are on the right track.
Now, just what are the steps to finding God's solution to this bondage of worry? There are three.
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Number one. You must know God personally before you can expect Him to give you the help you need. In I Peter 5:7 we read “Cast all your anxiety (or worry) on him because he cares for you." Here Peter is encouraging Christians to throw their worries on Christ, because Christ cares for them. Now the problem we have here is that this passage is written to Christians, not to unbelievers. The unsaved have no access to God’s loving care. Certainly Satan does not care for you! If you do not have Christ as your Savior you have no one that really and eternally cares for you. But you very much need someone who cares. That someone must be Christ. The solution to this type of worry is repentance of your sins and faith in Christ who died for sinners at Calvary. If Jesus Christ is not your Savior, you must make him so, for without Christ you have much that you should be worried about.
Number two. You must understand that a major part of worrying is the attempt to do those things today which are really tomorrow's responsibilities. The attempt, to solve tomorrow's problems today, is actually a form of irresponsibility. Now, many people who consider themselves to be very responsible are in fact irresponsible at this point. The effort, to do tomorrow's work today, is irresponsible because it diminishes your capacity to do today's job well. In Matthew 6:34, Christ says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Notice that you have a command by Christ Himself here. He says, “...do not worry….” That is reason enough to deal with this problem. Next, notice he says, "Each day has enough trouble of its own." If you add tomorrow's troubles onto today's responsibilities you will find that you have more trouble today than you can handle. Christ does not want you to have more problems than you can bear. So you must not be irresponsible and add tomorrow's problems onto today's agenda.
However, let us take note that it is not wrong to plan tomorrow's work today. In fact, if you begin to deal with your irresponsibility of worrying about tomorrow's problems by not thinking about them at all, you would be involved in a second form of irresponsibility. You would be irresponsibly preparing for tomorrow's challenges, by not preparing for them at all. You must not be irresponsible in that way either. Many never worry because they never consider what responsibilities may be theirs to deal with tomorrow. You must not take either extreme. You must take time to plan tomorrow's work and its duties, for that is a part of today's work. However, having done that, you must not continue to think about, dwell on, or mull over the responsibilities of the next day. After the planning is over, there is not a constructive thing you can do about tomorrow's problems. You don't have time to spend hours thinking about tomorrow's problems, because to do so would be to fail in today's responsibilities.
Number three. Let's build on this point of taking the middle road between a constant focus on tomorrow's problems and not considering your future responsibilities at all. Notice what the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:6, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." I want you to understand what this word “anxious" means. It means, "Do not think about with worldly care." Now this is a critical point. Worry and thinking must go together. If you do not think about or mull over a problem, then you will not worry about it. After you have made all the reasonable plans you can, to deal with tomorrow's problems, and before you spend the rest of the day doing little but mulling over these problems, you must intentionally stop worrying, that is thinking, about the future. Now just how do you do that? Have you ever tried to stop thinking about something? The very thing you try to stop thinking about is the only thing it seems you can think about! Here is the reason; you can only put off by putting on. What does that mean? It means you must consciously and intentionally think about what is right and proper in order to stop thinking about what is wrong.
For instance, lets look at that verse again in Philippians 4:6 that tells us how to deal with worry. Notice after Paul tells the Philippians what not to think about, worry, he begins to tell them what should be on their minds. He says “...but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Notice that we are told to do something new in the place of worry. We are told to pray and give thanks. Now most people say, "But I do pray about this problem all the time." But here is what they do. They pray and think about all the miserable circumstances they are in, then they pray and think about all the miserable circumstances they are in, then they pray and -- well you get the idea. They never stop thinking about what is bothering them. But what does the Scripture say, “... by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving….” There is where you are failing.
Now let us talk solution. Here is a practical plan to solve this problem. First, make a list of 50 things that you are thankful or grateful for. Don't stop until this list is complete. And don't put generalities on this list, but only list specific detailed subjects for which you are grateful. Next pray about the problem and then begin to work down your gratitude list. Spend as much time giving thanks through the day as you did spend mulling over your problems in the past. Notice what verse 7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." That is what you want, and that is what God has for you. But you say, "I can't go all day just giving thanks, I've got to think about other things." Yes you do. And that is the reason Paul goes on and says in verse 8, "Finally, brothers, 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." Did you get that? Think about such things! The things mentioned in verse eight. That brings us to our second step. Make up a list of 50 things that you could think about that fulfill the requirements of verse eight. What could go on your list? Start with Bible verses. Next add hymns and Scriptural songs, next add hobbies, your salvation and faith, the beauty of God's creation, your upcoming vacation and much more.
When you are done with your master list, transfer this material and your gratitude list to 3X5 cards, and carry them with you all day every day for the next six weeks. Every time you begin to worry, get out your cards, give thanks, quote Bible verses, sing Bible songs, and think about the next vacation you have planned. Get in the constructive habit of focusing your thoughts on Philippians 4:8 type topics and, as a result, replace that destructive habit of faithless worry.
Start right now.
Now, here is where we are. We have identified the two central elements that produce this problem of worry, an irresponsible focus on tomorrow and an undisciplined thought life.
Let's summarize. Worry is the sinful habit of irresponsibly thinking about tomorrow. The solution is, one, plan today as best as you can on how to deal with tomorrow's problems and, two, think Scripturally about your life in accordance with the instructions of Philippians 4:6-9. Next, find an accountability partner to help you stick to your list of needed actions. Perhaps your pastor or one of the leaders of the church will fill that roll. Get started on this project today.
If you are committed to do the things mentioned above, you have made an important first step in overcoming the problem of worry, but just a first step. Besides the practical steps given here, there are some other important things you must do.
First, you must pray about this problem. God tells us that prayer accomplishes much. Jesus Himself spent much time in prayer, and you should also. Pray that God will help you "put off" the old sinful patterns of your life and “put on" patterns of righteousness.
Second, you must find a Bible believing church, if you are not in one already, and join it. Tell the pastor what you are dealing with and what you have learned in this brochure. Ask for his help and the help and support of the church.
Third, you must get into the habit of a daily Bible study. Set aside time every day to read the Bible and pray, preferably in the morning before the start of the day. If you read three chapters in the Bible every day, you will read it through once every year for the rest of your life.
God bless you.
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