Being Afraid and the Sin of Anxiety
I hate feeling afraid. I've never liked it. Never been a big fan of haunted houses, scary movies and people jumping out from bushes to startle me - not that I have know lots of people who do that, but you get the point.
Being afraid of scary movies is one thing, but there is another kind of fear people experience that is a much bigger deal. The fear I'm talking about is often referred to by its other name - anxiety.
Anxiety is fear that is based on assumptions or concerns about uncertain future realities. Anxiety is a crippling kind of fear, paralyzing a person and preventing them from feeling peace and calm in their minds and hearts.
The Bible has a lot to say about anxiety.
Before I say anything else I should confess I am not a doctor, and I am not speaking here about the kind of anxiety that is clinical diagnosed as a mental condition. What I am more focused on is the kind of anxiety experienced by someone who is considered a 'worry-wart.'
This kind of anxiety is sinful because it represents a lack of faith in the power, goodness, protection, and provision of Jesus Christ. This kind of anxiety shouts, "I don't trust in Jesus to walk me through the circumstances of my life, for my good and his glory."
Let me share a few examples,
- For the past couple weeks I have put off making a phone call because I was anxious about the potential response of the person I was calling.
- Last week I was anxious about speaking to my boss because I was concerned with how he felt about me and how he might react.
- At times I feel anxious about my family's finances and how we are going to pay for all the things that may come up.
These are all examples of the sin of anxiety in my life.
In each situation I was more focused on myself than I was on God. I was concerned and paralyzed because, instead of looking upward for help, I was going inward and putting my hope in myself.
When we are feeling anxious we must go to God's Word to have our minds transformed and our thinking renewed (Romans 12:1-2). Look at just a splattering of what the Bible says about being anxious.
Matthew 6:34 - “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Psalm 127:2 - It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Isaiah 35:4 - Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
Philippians 4:6 - do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Joshua 1:9 which says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” When I am tempted to be anxious I cling to this verse.
Do not be frightened.
Do not be dismayed.
In all situations.
In all things.
Why? Because the Lord God is with me. Wherever. At all times.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38, 39)