The Answer to Anxiety (Part 1)

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:25-30 ESV). John Piper has said, “Unbelief is the root of evil and the essence of evil.” Indeed, our reading today is clear at this point. All our sinful behavior grows out of this faithless attitude that somehow God does not care for his children. It is rooted in attitude that God does not directly act in the lives of his children. This is the reason for our anxiety. There is a slight disclaimer I must raise at this point in our study over the next few days: I am not talking about personality disorders. There is a very real physical reason for anxiety disorders that cannot be denied. I would also say that even these can be eased with an appropriate understanding of faith in the provenance of God at work in our lives. Think about it for a moment. How many different sinful actions and attitudes come from anxiety? Anxiety about finances can give rise to coveting and greed and hoarding and stealing. Anxiety about succeeding at some task can make you irritable and abrupt and surly. Anxiety about relationships can make you withdrawn and indifferent and uncaring about other people. Anxiety about how someone will respond to you can make you cover over the truth and lie about things. So if anxiety could be conquered, a lot of sins could also be overcome. So, let’s look at our reading more closely. Four times in this text Jesus says that we should not be anxious (v. 25, v. 27, v. 31, and v. 34). The verse that makes the root of anxiety explicit is: “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothes you, O men of little faith?” (v. 30).  In other words, Jesus says that the root of anxiety is lack of faith in our heavenly Father. As unbelief gets the upper hand in our hearts, one of the results is anxiety. So when Hebrews says, “Take heed lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief,” it includes this meaning: “Take heed lest there be in you an anxious heart of unbelief.” Anxiety is one of the evil conditions of the heart that comes from unbelief. Much anxiety, Jesus says, comes from little faith. This is the kind of connection we are going to see again and again in the weeks to come. The root of a sinful condition of the heart is unbelief in the living God. The answer to our fear of the future is a faith in the One who secures...

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