“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 more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26
I am a worrier. I make no bones about it. It’s a besetting sin that I have struggled with most of my life. Anxious thoughts and the feeling of impending doom have plagued me for as long as I can remember. When the Lord graciously saved me a little over five years ago, the darkness lifted but remnants of sinful anxiety remain in the flesh. I’m convinced that most all believers struggle with what the Puritan’s titled ‘besetting sins’. It may be different for you, but for me it’s anxiety and fear.
The verse above from Jesus’ great sermon on the mount has given me great comfort over the years. Like other examples of our Lord’s teachings, He uses a lesser to greater analogy. If God so cares for those little birds, how much more will He care for His adopted children who are in Christ? It’s about right thinking theologically which leads to right living.
My anxiety can stem from ridiculous scenarios I create in my mind to worry about the mundane things of this life. My anxiety can also stem from my sin. But at its absolute core, anxiety (no matter the cause) is sinful for a believer. Anxious thoughts and worry is tantamount to telling God, “I don’t believe You and I don’t trust You.” That stings. But the reality is if we didn’t have the sinful tendencies as redeemed children of God then there would be no need for the Lord to tell us not to worry. We still battle the sinful flesh. It’s one of the reasons that for the believer, death is that final step in sanctification that finally and fully releases us from sin. In a way only understood by Christians, death is the doorway to glorification and the removal of this body of sin and death to a new glorified body free from sin. I can’t wait! But until then, the battle rages on. We are called to mortify the flesh. We are called to fight the good fight and set aside the sin that so easily entangles us. (Hebrews 12:1) We do this by walking by the Spirit. And that begins by taking the very sword of the Spirit – which is the word of God.
You may deal with anxiety as I do. You may deal with it so severely that you feel crippled by it. (Believe me, I’ve been there.) What our Lord tells us is to trust Him. Realize that the very One who spoke and brought all things into existence from nothing is Your heavenly Father. He will work all things out for good for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) That may mean experiencing His Father discipline as His children. We must realize that our Father’s concern is not foremost for our happiness, but our holiness and conformity to the image of His Son.
Think about what Jesus is telling believers in this passage. When you are worrying, anxious or fearful we are commanded to stop and look at the little birds. They neither store nor reap. They simply rest in the care of God. God feeds them. They don’t run about anxious and fearful of where their next meal will come from. Jesus’ point is if God provides for those little birds how much more will He provide for His adopted children. (The Bible does not condone laziness, however. The Scriptures also tell us if you are not willing to work, you won’t eat. The little birds don’t sit on their perch while God drops the worm into their mouth – they still have to get out of the nest and “work”. The point Jesus is making is that we should not worry about earthly things since our citizenship is in heaven.) How much more will He provide for the elect whom He has given to His Son. We are co-heirs with Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are adopted into the kingdom and we now, by the Spirit, call God who resides in unapproachable light “Father”. This is enough to bring us to our knees. What glorious grace and love. As John writes in 1 John 3:1, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Paul also reminds us that everything (and that means the good and the bad) works together for our good and for God’s glory through His providential hand. (Romans 8:28) We so often forget that glorious promise and take our eyes off of God and place them on carking care.
This my friend is the cure for anxiety. It is only available to true believers – to those in Christ. Yes, we will battle sin until we die or until Christ returns. But we are to fight the good fight and renew our minds on the truths of God’s Word and His promises. Biblical theology produces doxology and right thinking – which in turn produces practical living. I admit that I so often forget these great promises. I am thankful for the Church and for wonderful godly friends and family who remind me of these truths and exhort and rebuke me when needed.
Marvel at the love of Christ to His family. Cast all of your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) Obey His loving command to look at the little birds (and in doing so to look by faith to His glorious word, promises and character) and be reminded of how much your Father loves you in Christ Jesus.
Ultimate, Isaiah 41:10 sums up the cure for fear and doubt (which God considers a great evil):
“Fear not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God.”
Soli Deo Gloria