Replace Anxiety with Jesus
We are continuing through Paul’s letter to the Philippians at The Well, and have arrived on the topic of anxiety this Tuesday. In chapter four, Paul says this to the Philippian church, “do not be anxious about anything” (v.6).
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Anxiety is when we freak out and stress out over our lives. Many times it sinks in over something small like being late somewhere, deciding what restaurant to eat at on date night, or what clothes to wear to church. Sometimes it’s bigger things like being in debt with lots of bills, or feeling stuck at a dead-end job. Relationships can be a big source of anxiety whether you’re in one or not. Being single and alone while your friends get married off or being married and miserable while your single friends seem to have so much free time.
Anxiety can make us irritable, frustrated, discouraged, and exhausted. It can build up into an explosion, where we say or do things we don’t intend, and can hurt people we really love. We need to know how to deal with anxiety because every single person wrestles with it, because the root of anxiety is sin, and we are all sinners.
ANXIETY IS SIN
Anxiety is a sin? Isn’t that going too far? Can we even help it? Well, considering that Jesus tells us not to be anxious about our lives, and Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything, ever it is evidently not just something we are victims of, but something we commit. Something we do. At the heart of anxiety is unbelief in God, which is sin.
Our financial anxiety is produced by not trusting God to know, care about, or take care of our needs… even though he does know them, and promises to meet them. In singleness, anxiety comes from feeling like you need a person to complete you and make you happy, and putting your hope in that relationship which is really making that person your god. That is called idolatry. Anxiety sets in when we don’t trust God to be God, and our sinful, doubting hearts look for satisfaction outside of Jesus; whether that be in ourselves, in others, or in our own religious efforts. And it usually leads to more sin anxiety about finances can lead to dishonesty and cutting corners. Anxiety about a dating relationship can lead to compromising morals in order to keep the relationship going. Anxiety from sin and failure can lead us to exhausting ourselves trying to be better people and outweigh our bad hearts with good deeds.
So how do we turn from anxiety, and find joy in life’s stressful moments?
REPLACE ANXIETY WITH JESUS
Paul is writing to the Philippian church in the midst of a leadership conflict that was bringing anxiety on the people, while battling daily anxiety himself. Yet he instructs them to “rejoice in the Lord always” (v.4). He was pointing them to the truth that our anxiety doesn’t have ultimate authority over us, Jesus does. Our joy is not rooted in our circumstances, but in the Lord Jesus, who we can always rejoice in! That’s right, always. In the break up? Yep. At the job you hate? Yep. Always means always. The sin, unbelief, and idolatry that makes us anxious, Jesus paid for it on the cross! He died for our sins so that we could have peace. He rose from the dead, proving that there’s nothing more powerful than him. He’s in charge. He’s the King.
So we cast our anxieties on him (1 Peter 5:7), and we pray “help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)! He is the author and perfecter of our faith. He knows all our sin, and loves us anyway. He knows all our needs, and is interceding for us (Romans 8:34). We look to him, and through him we put our anxiety to death.
Every time anxiety sets in, a red flag should go up that says, “I need to trust God in this”. And here’s two simple things Paul said we can do in our anxiety to turn from sin, replace our anxiety with Jesus, and find joy:
- PRAY – “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (v.6)
- PRAISE GOD – “if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (v.8)
Every. Single. Time. When worry, fear, and doubt start rising up: PRAY and then PRAISE GOD. If you can’t think of something to praise Jesus for, just remind yourself of the gospel. Your sins are forgiven. No matter what you are going through, that is always good news. He says to “practice these things” (v.9). This is not a one-time event, it is shifting our lifestyle to be centered on Jesus, so that when the anxiety comes, we look to Jesus and find joy in him.