Eight Reasons to Combat Anxiety
There are at least eight reasons Jesus gives why his disciples should not be anxious. Who knows which one might be perfectly crafted to meet your special need?
From the Bible - Matthew 6: 25-34
1. Life Is More Than Food and Clothing
The first is given in verse 25: “Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on.” Why? “Because life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” What does this mean?
Why do we tend to get anxious about food and clothing? Because there are three things that we would lose if we did not have food and clothing. First, we would lose some pleasures. Food tastes good. It is pleasurable to eat. Second, we would lose some human praise and admiring glances if we didn’t have nice clothes. Third, we would lose long life if we had no food at all or weren’t protected from the cold with warm clothes. So we get anxious about food and clothing because we don’t want to lose physical pleasures or human praise or length of life.
“If you are gripped by anxiety, you have lost sight of the greatness of life.”
And to this Jesus responds: if you are gripped by anxiety over these things, you have lost sight of the greatness of life. Life was not given primarily for physical pleasures, but for something greater — the enjoyment of God. Life was not given primarily for the approval of man, but for something greater — the approval of God. Life was not even given primarily for extension on this earth, but for something greater — eternity with God in the age to come.
We ought not to be anxious about food and clothing because food and clothing can not provide the great things of life — the enjoyment of God, the pursuit of his gracious favor, the hope of eternity in his presence. We get anxious about food and clothing to the same degree that we lose sight of the great purposes of a God-centered life.
2. The Birds Rely on God
The second reason Jesus gives for not being anxious is in verse 26: “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?” What we see when we look at the birds is not a lesson in laziness. They dig their worms and snatch their bugs and pad their nests with strings and leaves. But Jesus says it is God that feeds them. What we see when we look at the birds is a creature who does not act as though God is only a merciful provider for today but won’t be tomorrow. Birds don’t anxiously horde things for the day of God’s demise. They go about their work as though when the sun comes up tomorrow, God will still be God.
3. Anxiety Is Useless
The third reason not to be anxious is in verse 27: “And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?”
The argument is very pragmatic: anxiety doesn’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t do you any good. Whatever problem is causing you to feel anxious, you can be sure your anxiety will not lessen the problem. It will only make you miserable while you try to deal with it. So don’t be anxious. It’s useless.
4. God Delights to Adorn
The fourth reason Jesus gives for not being anxious is in verses 28–30 — this time from the lilies.
"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"?
When you look at a lily, which has no will of its own to labor and spin, yet adorned with beautiful form and color, if you believe in God, you must draw at least this one conclusion: God delights to adorn things. But if his delight finds expression in adorning grass, that’s here today and gone tomorrow, then surely his delight in adornment will express itself in how he clothes his children!
“When we have finished carrying our crosses on torn shoulders in this life like Jesus, there will be kingly robes for us all.”
But someone may protest: “God has not adorned me! He has not adorned the poor Christians of our land or overseas.” Are you sure? Very few of us are dressed like Solomon. True. But we couldn’t do our work if we were. I would only ask this question: Where have you ever seen a disciple of Jesus who did not have the adornment he needed to do what God had called him to do? Be careful. Do not measure the perfection of God’s provision by some standard below his calling. And do not forget that when we have finished carrying our crosses on torn shoulders in this life like Jesus, there will be kingly robes for us all.
5. Unbelievers Are Anxious
The fifth and sixth reasons why a follower of Jesus shouldn’t be anxious are given in verse 32: We shouldn’t be anxious about what we eat or drink or wear because “the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” Anxiety about the things of this world puts us on the same level with the world of unbelievers. It shows that we are really very much like the world in what makes us happy. And that ought not to be.
6. Your Heavenly Father Knows Your Needs
It also shows that we don’t think our Father in heaven knows our needs. Or perhaps we don’t think he has the heart of a loving Father. Anxiety shows that we are too close to the world and too far from God. So don’t be anxious — the world has nothing eternal to offer, and your loving heavenly Father knows your needs now and forever.
7. God Will Carry Your Burdens
The seventh reason not to be anxious, in verse 33, is that when you seek the kingdom of God first, he works for you and provides all your needs. The best reason to stop being anxious is that when you do, God starts being anxious for you. It’s such a foolish thing to insist on carrying anxious burdens which God has promised to carry for us when we put his kingly honor first in everything we do.
8. A Portion for Each Day
The last argument in verse 34 says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” In other words, God has appointed to each day its portion of pleasure and trouble. And as your days so shall your strength be. So don’t misappropriate God’s allotted troubles for tomorrow. Don’t bring them forward into today in the form of anxiety. Believe that God will be God tomorrow.
Originally from John Piper, Desiring God (1984)