Anxiety is a form of high treason for a Christian to commit against his God. Your anxiety says that God cannot be trusted, and therefore I've got to worry about it.
This is the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Don teaches God's people God's Word. I'm Bill Wright, and friend, when you consider all the sins we human beings commit, the first ones that come to mind might be anger or violence related, and then sexual sins and so forth. But succumbing to anxiety, such that worrying characterizes your life, is no less a sin, as you'll be reminded today. And Don, you've often said that if our thoughts are God-centered, worry should disappear. Bill, that sure seems to be what our Lord is teaching in Matthew 6. Friend, as you listen to the broadcast today, realize that our Lord Jesus Christ is showing the way to a life of inner contentment and trust. David said in Psalm 23, I fear no evil, for you are with me.
You know, friend, every true Christian can live that way, including you. Bill, why don't we get started today? Thanks, Don.
And friend, let's get right to it. Here's part two of Don's message, titled Jesus' Cure for Your Anxiety, from the Truth Pulpit. Your earthly anxieties expose your earthly priorities. What you're anxious about shows what you think is important. Maybe it's good things, maybe it's your family, maybe whatever. All we're saying is that your anxieties are a quick barometer.
They're the shortcut to see what you think is important in life. Now, when you understand that, a discerning Christian can quickly see that his real problem isn't with his circumstances at all. Your real problem is what you love. It's that you're loving things that are subject to loss. You're loving things, you're making a priority out of things that you cannot ultimately keep. That's the problem. It's that your heart is preoccupied with the wrong things. Jesus said, you cannot serve God in wealth.
You can't hang on to these things. And so, that should lead you to the logical implication that you have to put your priorities on things that are eternal, because those things can never be taken away from you. What should your priority be?
Look at verse 33. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Your first priority, the kingdom of God, seeing His righteousness played out in your life, and in the lives of those around you.
Seek it first. Seek it as that which exceeds everything else in importance. When we have our priorities in order, we will discover, number one, God will provide all that we need.
And number two, many of the things that we thought we needed, we do not even want anymore. I'm not saying these things to diminish the importance of your trials, or to diminish them in any way. What we are saying is, is that take the worst trial that you have, and we hold that up to the glory of Jesus Christ. We hold it up to the incarnate Son of God.
We hold it up to the fact that He chose His people and He redeemed them to take them to heaven, to a place reserved for them forever. And we look at the glory of Christian salvation, we look at the glory of God's revelation, and we say, everything else compels in comparison to that. Christ is more important than my worst trial. The security that my soul enjoys is more important than the worst earthly anxiety that I could ever face. And therefore, beloved, what you have to come to in the deepest throne room of your heart is that nothing can shake me from that kind of foundational joy in my soul. Because I understand objectively the surpassing greatness of Christ, the surpassing greatness of His Kingdom, and the surpassing blessing that is mine, that He chose me and bought me to bring me into His Kingdom. And everything else pales in comparison to that.
It has to be that way. Nothing is more important than that. Just on a principled level, that's true, but what I'm saying even more is that you have to take that and adopt that as the supreme thought, priority, and motivation in your heart. When you love Christ and you love His Kingdom more than everything else, then there is a settled peace that comes upon you when you realize that can't be taken away. The Apostle Peter understood that, writing to precious believers who were struggling in the midst of awful persecution. In 1 Peter 1, beginning in verse 6, he said this. Listen to how Peter's words echo what Jesus teaches here in the Sermon on the Mount and this whole matter of priorities. He says, In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. He says, Your faith in Christ is more precious than gold, and in that you can greatly rejoice even though the fires of trial lap at your feet.
Beloved, that is not the special province of first century martyrs. That is the birthright of every true Christian to live in that kind of glorious release. That is what your heart should aim after. But there's more to overcoming anxiety as Jesus lays it out for us here in this Christian life beyond examining your priorities. You have to examine more than just what you treasure because there's more to it than that. Point number two, you have to examine Christ's command. Point number two, you have to examine Christ's command. Look at verse 25. Jesus says, Do not be worried about your life. Look at verse 31. He says, Do not worry.
Verse 34, So do not worry about tomorrow. You see, beloved, Christ commands you not to be anxious. That means, follow me here, that means that you have a moral responsibility to obey Him in this matter of anxiety just as much as you do when He teaches against murder and hatred, when He teaches about loving your enemies, when He teaches against adultery and lust. We don't slide the authority of Christ based on the topic. If Christ said it and He commands it, we have a moral imperative to respond to. Beloved, listen, I don't know how else to say it except plainly, you cannot continue in your anxiety after you read these words of Jesus, you cannot continue in your anxiety without being disobedient to Him.
It becomes that much of a spiritual issue. When He says in verse 25, He says, Do not be worried, He uses a Greek form that could be understood as saying, Stop worrying. He says, I understand that this is going on.
He says, I want you to stop what you're currently doing. Stop worrying. In verses 31 and 34, where He says, Do not worry, don't worry about tomorrow, He uses a form that expresses a command never to do a thing.
It's interesting when you look at the grammar that underlies this. Taken together what Jesus is saying in this passage, as we look at it in an overview fashion, taken together what Jesus is saying is, Stop worrying and don't start again. And beloved, here's the point. When you recognize that Christ has spoken on such a personal matter, you realize that you can no longer nurse your anxieties like you have done in the past. You have to change.
Let me say that again. When you realize that Christ has spoken and totally preempted the area of anxiety in your life, you can no longer nurse those anxieties. Christ forbids it as a moral imperative. Beloved, when you think it through, anxiety is a form of high treason for a Christian to commit against his God.
High treason. Because when you think it through, your anxiety says that God cannot be trusted. Either you are saying that you do not trust His power to sustain you, or you are saying that you do not trust His love enough to sustain you.
Either He can't do it, or He might not. And therefore, I've got to worry about it. What an awful charge to lay at the feet of the Son of God who died on a cross to take away your sins, who before eternity began chose you. And remember, I'm speaking to Christians here, who before eternity began chose you to be an heir of salvation, who has been faithful to you up until this very day, who this very day has given you clothes and food and everything that you need for your earthly life, and has poured out innumerable unspeakable spiritual blessings besides, and who has reserved heaven just for you, and says, you will one day see me face to face. But God, you know, what about my mortgage? I mean, come on, give me a break!
Just can it! That is not worthy of Christ. It is not worthy of what you say you believe. And you have to kill that, because it is the grossest form of ingratitude, it is the grossest form of insult against the faithful character of a sovereign and loving God, who has been nothing but good to you throughout your entire life and will be nothing but good to you throughout all of eternity. How can you call his character into question with your anxious heart? Abominable, dear beloved Christian, brother and sister in Christ, I say this gently, I say it in love, but look at yourself in your anxiety.
Look at yourself in your worries and in your distressed state of mind. Hasn't God always provided for you? Hasn't he promised to do so throughout your entire earthly life?
Isn't he wise and faithful? Why such distrust toward your loving Heavenly Father? What is wrong with you, beloved, that you would allow that kind of treason to ferment in your heart?
That's not right. Philippians 4, 6, and 7 says, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Christian, when you get wrapped up in that anxiety, twisted and torn about and your thoughts are just running away with you in panic, understand that when that happens, beloved, you have strayed into forbidden territory. You have a spiritual responsibility to Christ to get it under control. You cannot stay there.
That is the wrong place to be, it is wrong to be there, and it's also just not a whole lot of fun, is it? Now, with that said, you've examined your priorities, you've examined Christ's command, you see this is a matter of moral imperative. This isn't just whether you have a good quality of life or not, this is a matter of sanctification that we're talking about. With those things in mind, I want you to notice something very key about the rest of this passage. Jesus doesn't just command you to stop being anxious. If that was all that he said, I say it reverently, if he just told us not to be anxious, that would not be helpful. Frankly, it would exacerbate the problem, because not only do you not have a cure for your problem, now you've got the added guilt on top of that that's saying, oh, it says not to be anxious, but I am anxious, and oh.
And you tie yourself up into even tighter knots. No, Jesus in his brilliance as a teacher, Jesus in his genius as the Son of God, doesn't just command you to stop being anxious. As you go through the rest of this passage, you see that Jesus gives you reasons to help you overcome anxiety.
Unanswerable logic to help you overcome your anxiety. So point number three is examine your thinking. You examine your priorities, you examine Christ's command.
Point number three, you examine your thinking. What Jesus does here in this passage, verses 25 through 34, is he goes beyond the command not to be anxious, that's the negative side on it. He gives you, on the other hand, positive commands so that, get this, he gives you positive commands so that you can replace your inner anxiety with right thinking about the nature and character and actions of God.
That is the cure to anxiety. Your thinking is messed up when you're anxious. You're not thinking rightly about God, and you have to straighten out your thinking in your head before you can get rid of those anxious thoughts in your heart. There is a reason that God puts your head on top of your shoulders. It's because your head is supposed to govern what goes on in your heart.
What you think is supposed to govern and does govern how you feel. Now, with that in mind, look at verse 26. After just commanding his disciples, don't be worried about your life. In verse 26, he gives a positive command, not a negative prohibition, a positive command. Verse 26, he says, look at the birds of the air. They don't sow, they don't reap, they don't gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not worth much more than they? Positive command. Look at birds and think about them. Verse 28, another positive command.
Why are you worried about clothing? Observe! Positive command. Think!
How the lilies of the field grow. They do not spoil, nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. Jesus in this passage, praise be to his blessed, glorious, gracious, good, loving name, doesn't simply say, don't worry. In essence, what he is saying is, replace your worry with right thinking about the nature and character of God. He says, think about this. He says, and then he takes you to such a simple illustration that a child could understand it. It's completely humbling to think that you could go out into your backyard and if you were thinking properly, spend 10 minutes, watch a few birds, look at a few flowers, and deal with all the anxiety in your life. That's how simple this is. Charge me $75 for cognitive behavior therapy. Give me 10 minutes in my backyard with a clear mind and I'll deal with anxiety, okay?
And you can too. Jesus says, think about this. God feeds birds who cannot feed themselves. God clothes ordinary flowers with stunning beauty. If he does that for animals and for inanimate creation, don't you think he'll do so much more for you since he is your heavenly father? If he'll pour out that kind of care on birds, what's he going to do for those that belong to his kingdom?
The logic is inescapable. Child of God, you, in the midst of your anxiety, solve it this way. You examine your fundamental thinking about the character and activity of God. As an objective matter, he is absolutely sovereign over everything. His hand is in everything that happens. He rules over creation. He is your heavenly father.
He holds the future in his hand. He will certainly provide for you even more certainly than he does for birds and flowers because of your surpassing worth as one created in his image and bought by the blood of Christ. It is absolutely inescapable. There is no other conclusion to come to. So look at verse 30. Jesus says, if God so clothes the grass of the field which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will he not much more clothe you, you of little faith? Do you believe what you say or no?
If I had gotten up here and started this saying, who believes that God created all and that God cares for the birds, you'd all hold up your hands. As soon as you do that, you have forbidden yourself to be anxious. You just have to work through what that means.
If he'll do it for lesser creatures, how much more will he do it for those that Christ purchased with his own precious blood? Beloved, your anxiety and my anxiety is completely unnecessary. Whatever comes will be in the hands of God and he will work it together for good for you.
So here's what I want you to see. Your anxieties show forth the health of your soul. Your anxieties intersect with what your priorities are. They intersect with your obedience and your attitude toward Christ himself. Your anxieties intersect with your fundamental thinking about the nature and character of God and how the world works.
All of that is on the table as we talk about anxiety. When you get right down to it, since Adam and Eve fell into sin, life is messed up. It's just messed up. Good people die prematurely. Loved ones lose their health. Wicked people wrong you and get away with it. Investments go bad. Children rebel against Christ.
People in authority make decisions that go against you. From an earthly perspective, your future is uncertain. The question for you as a believer in Christ is, what are you going to do with that as you contemplate your uncertain future? Are you going to go through life fretting over things that you can't control anyway?
Things that are an inevitable result of living in a fallen, broken world? Or will you stand like a man and declare, I am not living for this world. I will live my life, no matter what anybody else does, I will live my life on this fundamental premise. My Heavenly Father is good. My Heavenly Father loves me. My Heavenly Father is in absolute control. He provides for the birds and He will provide for me.
It is guaranteed. I will rest and I will trust Him for my every need. Beloved, that kind of fundamental commitment of faith deals the death blow to anxiety. It frames your entire approach to life, because it means that you live life from a position of unconquerable strength. It's where you as a Christian can live, nay more.
It's where Jesus says you must live. That is the standard to which your heart is accountable. That is the glory to which your life can attain here and now. In John 16 33, Jesus said, In the world you have tribulation, but take courage.
I have overcome the world. Beloved, will you embrace what Jesus said and let it transform your life? Let's pray. Our gracious Father, You are worthy of all of our trust. We thank You for this teaching from the lips of Jesus that exposes so much about our hearts and so much about You and Your goodness. Father, we confess that we are prone to anxiety.
Our hearts are prone to wander and to forget these important truths. Forgive us for that, Father. Forgive us for our anxiety and help us to see and help us to be transformed, Father, as we consider what our priorities are to be and we consider Christ's command and we consider what Your character is like. Father, help us to think rightly about all of these things so that they would create a spiritual fortress around our hearts that would give us the platform to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness. And Father, as we say that and as we pray that, we simultaneously express our trust and the direct promise from Jesus Christ Himself that as we do that, Father, all these things will be added to us.
There is no cause for anxiety in our lives, Father. Jesus reigns. Hallelujah.
Amen. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, concluding a message called Jesus' Cure for Your Anxiety here on the Truth Pulpit. And now here again is Don with a closing word.
Don? My friend, I know these things will roll around in your mind that you've just heard on our broadcast today. That kind of meditation is a key to your spiritual growth.
Ask God to help you. It's a prayer that He loves to answer. Here's Bill with some helpful information for you. Well, friend, just visit us at thetruthpulpit.com. There you'll find church service times, a complete sermon archive, a link to Don on Facebook, and much more. Plus, if you've missed any part of this two-part message, you can get free downloads of both. Again, look for the title Jesus' Cure for Your Anxiety when you visit thetruthpulpit.com. Again, that's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright inviting you to join us again when Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word. It's more from a series that will help you escape the anxiety trap here on The Truth Pulpit.
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