Charles Stanley - Dealing With Anxiety
This is an age of anxiety. Everywhere you turn, people are anxious about something. They're anxious about their job. Either they've lost it, they're trying to fine one and can't. They're anxious about their children, where they go to school; that they'll be able to go to school where they'd prefer them to attend. They're anxious about their family; about husbands and wives, both of them having to work. Or maybe at this point, neither one of them have a job. They're anxious about their future. They can't save any money. They've anxious about the things that are happening in our government, and they can't change them. They're anxious about what's happening in other countries of the world; and they seem so far away.
But somehow when we think about them, that anxiety boils up on the inside. And that anxiety and worry and fretting begin to take its toll on people's lives. And so I want you to turn to the sixth chapter of Matthew. Let's start in the twenty-fifth verse. Now people know all about blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed, blessed, blessed. Then Jesus gets over here to something that all of us have to deal with and that's worry and fretting and caring. And so beginning in this twenty-fifth verse, listen to what He says, "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life".
You say, Well, that sounds pretty simple. Well, is it true or not? "Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat, what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing"? There are things more important than food, clothing and so forth. He says, "Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they"? Then He says in verse twenty-seven, "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life"?
Well, nobody can, "And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they don't toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory," who was so very, very wealthy, "clothed himself like one of these. But if God clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? Oh, You of little faith"! Cause that's what we're dealing with here, little faith, "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles," that is the unbelievers, "eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But then He says, "seek first His kingdom," that is the rule of Christ in your life, "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, a godly life, and all these things". Which things? All the things He just mentioned "will be added to you".
So, on the basis of that, "do not worry," don't be anxious, "about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own". Now let me ask you a question. Doesn't that sound real simple? Birds, flowers, God taking care of us. What are you worried about? So, let's think about what we mean by anxiety, because anxiety really same word, worry and anxiety, same word in the original as we said. And it simply means that my mind is distraught about something. I have a divided mind. I'm going more than one way, two ways. I'm drawn in two different directions. And, it's an emotional state.
There are people who live in anxiety. So what do they do every night before they go to bed? They go to the medicine cabinet and they find something that will help them sleep because they can't sleep. And the reason they can't sleep is they, their mind is boiling with something that they're very anxious about. Now it may be something that's legitimately concerning them about the position, for example, of their children and what they're into and up to and with whom, and all those things. But, God knows how to enable us to face these issues in life, lay them down. And in fact, when Peter talks about this it's interesting what he says. He says in this fifth chapter and the seventh verse, listen. "Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you". Which means there is a method by which I can lay them down.
In other words, I don't have to live with anxiety and caring and fretting and worrying. I can lay it down. God has given us the capacity as His children to be able to shed those things that you don't want to go to bed with. Because you go to bed with it, you're going to wake up with it. You wake up with it, you're going to carry it with you all day. Fretting and caring and worrying are dangerous attitudes, dangerous emotions to have, because they divide our mind and we become distraught in the process of doing so. And if you'll think about it, fear and anxiety are real close.
If I'm really anxious about something, it's because I fear something may happen. I fear this'll take place or that'll take place. And so, we are anxious. And He says, Don't be anxious about these things. And anybody who lived in Jesus' day or Paul's day knew what anxiety, trouble and fear and heartache were all about, because they had no safety, no assurance, no confidence of anything if they didn't have the Lord. And the truth is, we really don't either.
So when you think about anxiety, it's a distraction in the mind, the heart and soul and the spirit. Now. You say, Where does that come from? Well, God is not the source of anxiety. He is the source of peace. He's the source of confidence and assurance, but He's not the source of anxiety. The truth is, it's a reaction to our circumstances. So there are passing moments of anxiety. And then there are those that don't pass. And there are people in situations and circumstances, for example, they're facing a divorce maybe. Or maybe their children are. And maybe they have a note due on the house and right now, they don't have any money. And they would say to us, Well, listen. I have a reason to be anxious and worried. You have a reason to be anxious and worried when you hear about it, but then what do you do about it? God does not intend for us to live with that, because one thing this passage promises us that our Heavenly Father is able to take care of, deal with, supply every single thing we need. And it's interesting that He put this in terminology of nature, birds and flowers. Those are the things we understand.
So anxiety is a choice. You say, Well, now wait a minute. If you knew what I was facing you wouldn't say it's a choice. Watch. I may acknowledge that it's true and it's terrible and horrible and I'd love to change it. But God, You do not expect me to live like this. You expect me to live with a sense of peace. You say, Well, how can you have that kind of peace when things are going on that are really difficult? Only God can give it. And that's what He's saying in this passage.
So, let's look at this for a moment and I want you to see what these causes are. And this is what He says in this passage. For example, one of the causes of our anxiety is our feeling of inadequacy. That is, what do we feel about our own sense of self-worth? This is why He starts off with birds. He says, for example, "Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, they don't reap, they don't gather into, yet your heavenly," listen to this, "your heavenly Father feeds them".
Now here's the key, Are you not worth much more than a sparrow? Amen? You are. And so, He says, Here's what I want you to see. I don't want you to be worried and fretting because, if you'll notice, look how well I take care of the birds. You've never seen a bird in a farm with a hoe or a shovel or anything else. Birds are just birds, and you see them flitting around and flying around and listen, beautiful thing. They can sing all kind of beautiful songs that are absolutely awesome, and they don't have to fret and worry about it. So if you'll notice what He says, If I'm willing to take care of birds, I can handle you and I'll meet your needs, whatever they are.
The second thing is this. He says, one of the causes of anxiety is our attempt to change things, which we have no control over. Now that really gets us frustrated. We, in other words, if I want to change something I have no control over, listen to what He said in twenty-seventh verse, "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to your life"? You can't add any hours to your life by worrying about them, but you can cut it short.
Anxiety, worry, fretting, care affects the human body; affects your mind; affects your emotions; affects your thinking; affects everything. And He's simply saying, "Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to your life"? So there's a third cause of our anxiety. And that is, our failure to trust God to provide our needs. In other words, listen to what He says, "Why are you worried about clothes? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin".
You say, Well, does that mean that I'm not to care about how I look? Yes, you're to care about how you look, for the simple reason you're a child of God. You represent the Lord Jesus Christ. You ought to look your best. And as we say, Look your best, do your best, be your best. Watch this. Not look better than somebody else, necessarily, but look your best. And if the best you have is a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, fine. If the best you have is a suit and tie and a white shirt, or whatever it might be, if that's your best, and that's what you need, then wear it. But here's what he's saying. God's going to provide.
Look at this, "Why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, And I say to you that not even Solomon," who was so rich and so powerful, "in all of his glory and wealth clothed himself". He says, he couldn't clothe himself like a beautiful flower. And so, what He's saying here, look. He says, "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and, thrown into the furnace," because that's the way they cooked and so forth, "will He not much more clothe you? Oh, You of little faith"! Now He, listen, He's not just talking about stuff like this. Whatever the need is, that is, if He can meet the need of birds and flowers and all the rest, He can meet our needs.
So, notice what He says. He says, "Oh, You of little faith"! Which says if I'm not trusting Him, I'm not believing Him, then I'm doubting Him. And if I'm doubting Him, what happens? I have a major problem. If I'm doubting God, here's what I'm saying. I know You're powerful and I know all these other things about You, but I can't trust You for this particular situation. Let me ask you a question. What is it that exists that you cannot trust God for? You see, our problem is our faith. And we can't, listen, you can't judge God by what you're hurting it right now. But He says, for example, that He can, that He's going to meet our needs and we can trust Him to do it. Whatever brings anxiety in my life, my heavenly Father knows about it, has promised to give me the strength and ability to survive it.
And this is why Peter didn't say, Lay it down gently. He said, "Cast your anxieties upon the Lord who cares for you". You can't think of anything that He won't take care of. And notice this for example, here in this passage. He said, "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink?'" Then He says in verse thirty-two, "For the Gentiles," the lost people, unbelievers, "Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things". He knows how you got where you are. He knows your real need.
And lot of times people think they know what their need is. Only God knows our need. And what He's promising in this passage is to meet those needs no matter what the situation may be. And when He says, those who are eagerly seeking all these things, what things? Money and popularity and prestige and prominence and this and success and all the rest. That's not the answer to it. Because they'll seek those things but He says your heavenly Father knows that you need what? What you really need, the things that He's mentioned.
Then He says in verse thirty-three, if you'll look at it for a moment. He says, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added". So what is He saying? If my priorities are misplaced, I'm going to have a problem. If my priorities are on money or popularity or whatever it might be, getting my way in some situation. If these are my priorities, I'm going to have a problem because listen to what He says. He says, All these promises He's made, He said now, you, "seek first," not second, first, "His kingdom and His righteousness". And what's His kingdom? That is the rule of God in our life. The kingdom of God.
In other words, if I'm seeking His kingdom, that really applied here, I want God in my life above everything else. Seek ye first, not second, third, fourth and fifth, first. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, what? I want to live a life that's characteristic of Jesus. I want to live a sanctified life. I want to live a life in which Jesus is very evident. So He says, "Seek you first His kingdom and His righteousness, and," look at that next promise, "all these things will be added to you". He says, Remember all these things I just talked about? Birds and flowers and needs and so forth. He says, watch this, When you put the priority of your life on allowing the Lord Jesus to rule and reign in your life, He will see to it, look, He will see to it that "all these things will be added to you".
Now notice He said, added to you. That is, He assumes full responsibility for meeting our needs when our priority is to be obedient to Him, follow Him, walk in His ways, acknowledge His lordship in our life. So, does God meet our needs? Yes. If our needs are not being met, it's not God's fault. He says, "Seek ye first His kingdom, His righteousness, and all these things," that we just talked about, "all these things will be added to you". When we misplace our priorities, we get ourselves in trouble. Put your priority on obeying God, following His will for your life; and you know what? Everything you need God will provide it. It's just that simple. That's who He is.
Now, when I think about that, I think of one other thing here, and that is, the problem some people have. They try to live tomorrow today. You can't do that. You can plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, you can't live tomorrow today. So listen to what He says, "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own". Don't try to live tomorrow. Live today. Because think about this. You and I can plan all week long; and sometime I look at the calendar and I think, Ohhh, help me Jesus, help me Jesus. Because it gets loaded up, no matter what. And they're good things, and if I don't think they're good, I don't do it, but sometimes it gets loaded up.
He says, Mm-mm-mm-mm. Don't worry about tomorrow; so I have to look at that verse every once in a while and say, Lord, here's the calendar. Here's what You promised and I'm going to leave that to You; because only You can handle that. You're going to decide beginning tomorrow morning, when I first wake up, the first thing I want to think about is the Lord and I want to talk to Him. I'm going to tell Him that the Lord day, today, if You'll guide me, I'm going to be obedient to You. I'm going to do whatever You say, when You say and how You say. I may not do it the best in the world, Lord, but here's my life today and I'm going to trust You to meet my needs. Lord, when I look out there, it looks pretty skimpy, but I'm going to trust You and I'm going to watch You work. Your life will change, because you know what? He wants to bless you. He wants you to be blessed. And He wants you to have a sense of peace and joy in your life.
So, we make a choice. I will fret and fume and worry and be anxious. Or, I'm going to begin my day with Him, knowing in my heart that He's going to watch over me, guard me with His peace and love and joy. And He promised to meet every single need I have, so I don't have to worry about that. I may not always like the way He provides, but He's providing what He knows I need. Let me ask you a question. When you go to bed tonight and you wake up tomorrow morning and you put that in your own words, Lord, I thank You for today. I thank You that You said You're going to provide my needs today. You said You're going to watch over me and care for me. I'm going to be like the flowers in the field and like the birds in the sky, flitting around. And no matter what I face, You're there to walk me through it. You're going to keep me.
If you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, this won't work. You say, What do you mean? It won't work for the simple reason you have to start out with faith. And, it is by accepting His death on the cross and believing that His death on the cross paid your sin debt in full. It's believing that He's willing to save you. It's believing when He said whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. It's believing that if you're not willing to start with that, no promise. But if you are, every promise. You have to decide. Will you let Him live your life through you? Or will you keep struggling and fuming and coming to the end of life. And end up with these words, If I'd-a; if I'd-a believed. If I'd-a trusted. If I'd-a listened. If I'd-a, If I'd-a, If I'd-a, If I'd-a. And the heart rate over here's just beating, beating, beating, beating and finally, whooh, it's all over.
So I would say a person is a fool not to live for Christ. Person is foolish to turn away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because everybody in the world wants what Jesus and Paul were talking about, peace, assurance, confidence; their needs met. But many people go about it in a separate way, different way. If I have enough money, if I have enough prestige, have enough popularity. If I get elected to this, you name it, then I'll be happy. No you won't. The peace of Almighty God guards you, protects you and supplies your need. Amen?
Father, I pray the Holy Spirit will sink these simple truths into every heart. And I pray, Father, for those who came loaded with heartache, burdens, anxieties, fears, doubts, worry, that right now in these moments they would be willing to pray this simple prayer. Heavenly Father, I lay down all my worries, all my doubts, all my fears, all my hurts, all my disappointments. And I'm trusting You to fill my life with Your peace, Your joy, to meet all of my needs in Your way in Your time. In Jesus' name, amen.