Yan Handley, a visiting speaker, looked at Matthew 6:25-34 last night, talking about the Bible’s answers to anxiety.

Romans 8:37 reminds us that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus and that anxiety does not have to be part of our daily lifestyles. Anxiety can steal our joy as we carry unnecessary burdens, but Jesus repeatedly tells us not to be afraid, giving us also the power to make this possible. Anxiety (uneasiness, tension, worry, fear, dread) can affect us physically, emotionally and spiritually, but Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled (John 14:1) and Paul talks about letting the peace of God rule in our hearts (Col 3:15). There are clearly principles we can employ to banish anxiety.

(1) Renew our thinking

Is 26:3 tells us that peace is available to those whose minds are fixed on God. The thought life is where the battle is won or lost, and we need to ensure that our thoughts are fixed on God. We have to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor 10:5) and have our minds fixed on the things of the Spirit (Rom 8:6). Jesus talks to His disciples about the unspiritual things that bother them (worrying about the material, what they will eat or what clothes they will wear) and lifts their perspective to spiritual realms, understanding that God will provide. The answer to anxiety is to come to God with prayer and praise (Phil 4:6-7), allowing our thinking to focus on the higher perspective.

(2) Re-evaluate our priorities

Jesus reminds His disciples that the first priority has to be seeking God and His kingdom above all else. Ps 37:4 reminds us that if we delight ourselves in God, He will give us the desires of our heart. Jesus is our great example in this, for He only did what He saw His Father doing (John 6:38). Often, we have to be still in God’s presence and allow our priorities to be re-arranged.

(3) Recognise our worth in God

A poor self-image can lead to us becoming insecure and feeling inadequate. We are unique individuals of immense value to God. We are precious, honoured and loved by God and John tells us that perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). Jesus reminds His disciples that freedom from anxiety is possible because God is our Father and will take care of us.

(4) Realise worry changes nothing

Worry is pointless. It doesn’t alter the situations, but we need to learn to cast our burdens on the Lord (Ps 55:22). Worry is like a rocking-chair that gives us something to do, but doesn’t actually get us anywhere. So often, we are beset by fears, but fear is really nothing but ‘False Expectations Appearing Real’. God’s grace is sufficient for us in every situation; hypothetical anxiety about the possibilities of what could happen tomorrow are fruitless.

(5) Renounce and repent of all negativity in our lives

We damage ourselves and other people when we allow negativity and anxiety to dwell in our lives. Just as the spies gave a report that aroused fear in the people’s hearts, so too we can discourage and cause other people to become fearful if we constantly dwell on the negative. Worry is really ‘unholy meditation’. We need instead to see this tendency as sin and repent of it, being determined to think as God wants us to think and therefore to trust Him in every situation to take care of us, since He is a loving heavenly Father.