Use Your Knowledge of Christ to Live a Better Life
We don’t get “time off” in our service to God. But when we become overwhelmed and consumed with worldly worries, we sometimes can allow our worries to make us take time off from trusting God to supply our needs. Spending too much time buried deep inside our worries and anxieties can be a signal that we are not trusting God to help us. Out-of-control worry and anxiety can be a sign that we’ve forgotten God’s cautions to us about worry and anxiety.
Here's one thing the Bible says on this topic in 2 Timothy, 2:3-4:
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
This Scripture above describes how a true believer in the son of God will not become entangled with the cares of the world, because doing that would not please The One who has chosen you to be a soldier. When I read this Scripture, it says to me that when the cares of the world are upon me—and that includes worries about finances, bills, auto repairs, job stresses, relationship problems, and so on—that is when God, the son, wants to enlist me as one of His warriors. Getting bogged down and tied up in the anxieties and concerns of this world, no matter how good a fight I might fight, is not impressive to God and it is not going to end your worries or mine. Since this is true, I'm including in this article four major points that can help us find peace and joy, so that we can overcome our tendency to engage in overwhelming worry and stress.
1. Say "No" to Excessive Worry and Stress
Do you find yourself worrying, often and excessively, about things that are either going on or not going on in your life? Are you always anxious about what you want to be happening that is not currently happening? Do you find yourself often feeling angry because you’re not doing exactly what you think you should be doing at a certain point in time? Maybe you’re not living where you think you should be living, not working where you think you should be working, or you don’t have the job or the position you think you should have at your job or in your career. Or, maybe you simply have not accomplished in your life one or more of the big and important goals you thought you would or should have accomplished by now. If this sounds like you, then it sounds to me as though you are "taking undue care" of a lot of things that God says we should "take no care," and allow Him to handle.
If we’re not careful, it can be easy for you and me to allow the “don’t haves” in our lives to become a source of incessant worry and stress. But, instead of being consumed by worry, stress, and anxiety, what we really need to be doing is thanking God for what we do have, and doing our best to make the most of that.
For example, you might think you deserve to have a better job than the one you have now. So instead of doing your best to be excellent and to go “above and beyond the call of duty” at whatever it is you do, instead, you spend a lot of your time being angry. You’re upset because you feel you deserve and/or have earned the right to have more. Maybe you want be promoted to a better position with more pay, or maybe you want a higher profile position of authority. Well, whether or not you know it, your attitude about your job is likely to be affecting your performance in a negative way, and instead of being considered for a better/higher-paying position, God, (and those in management at your company) could be waiting for you to appreciate and to excel in the job you have.
2. Do Your Best To Get Out of Your Own Way
If thoughts like the ones I’ve described in this article have you consumed with worry, then you, my friend, are probably getting in your own way. You are keeping yourself from advancing in the physical realm and in the spiritual realm by placing too much concern on worldly cares and worldly things, and you’re not showing much confidence in God’s ability to supply your needs.
God tells us in Matthew 13:22, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”
According to this Scripture, the cares of the world can obstruct, stifle and suffocate the word of God. They can essentially drown the worrier in emotional turmoil, rendering him or her as unfruitful for God. Then, when we allow worry and anxiety to overtake our thoughts and capture our emotions, we are cooperating with our ultimate enemy’s plan to make us unfit for service to God. The best way to demonstrate your faith in the word of God to lay your worries down at his feet. In other words, you and I must learn to give our problems to God. If we do not learn to do this, then God will continue to let us spin our wheels while not trusting in him, and while trying to solve them ourselves.
From reading the Bible, it is my understanding that God is not at all impressed with our anxieties and worries. In fact, He tells us not to worry, and doesn’t want us to allow ourselves to become overcome and consumed as a result of trying times and situations that come along with living in the world. It may be hard to understand how God can expect us not to worry when our worldly problems and concerns seem so big, so urgent, and so critical to our ability to carry on. But remember, not everything in God’s universe is meant for us to understand. Sometimes we must simply accept the word of God as the word of God, and go from there. We must “walk by faith and not by sight,” and sometimes obey God without clearly seeing, and/or without fully understanding.
We should find contentment and relief in God’s word, however, because while our knowledge and wisdom is finite, His is infinite. The knowledge and wisdom of God cannot be measured, and ours is measurable. We are limited in our ability to comprehend and to understand many things, and since our knowledge and wisdom is so much less than that of our God, we have to rely on and put our trust in faith, understanding that God knows and understands things that we don’t have the capacity or the ability to understand.
3. Take a Big Lesson from the Gospel of Luke
When God says “let not your heart be troubled,” and that you are to “be anxious for nothing,” you and I have to believe in, trust in, and act on His word. God teaches us this lesson through the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 12:22-32, we are told:
“And he said unto his disciples, therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
I’m not saying we’re not to be about the business of taking responsibility for our daily lives. Of course we're all responsible for doing our best to take care of our responsibilities. But being completely overwhelmed and exhausted by worry and anxiety is a different thing altogether. It is a counterproductive thing, too, because worrying about a problem doesn’t solve the problem. A much more productive use of time would be working to find needed information, people, skills, or the financial assistance you need in order to solve the problem.
4. Practice “Off-of-Your-Knees” Faith Too
As Christians, we go to and rely upon Scripture for insight and wisdom. But, even when we pray and feel a real and strong connection to God while we're down on our knees, sometimes when we’re done praying, when we're off of our knees, worldly concerns can come looming back—live and in Technicolor. They can seem so big and imposing, as though they are pressing down upon us without ceasing, making it very difficult for us to let go of them.
Do you know why that is? I think it happens because we have been taught, by our parents and by our environment which utilizes worldly standards, to be responsible for ourselves—our debts, our work/career responsibilities, our income, our personal care, and even the care of loved ones who need and rely upon us. Then, when problems arise in our lives, in areas related to these things, it can be hard to understand how God can expect us not to worry, and to rise above worry and stress as we rely on Him. But God tells us not only that this is what we should do, He tells us this is what we must do, if we are truly trying to walk the walk of Christ.
If we are going to be “good soldiers for Jesus,” then being overwhelmed with worry is not an option, and trusting in the promises of God is a command. God tells us we cannot be trusting in His word at the same time that we are worrying and being anxious over our worldly concerns.
So, does not worrying mean you have to just let go and let your problems get out of hand? Or does it simply mean letting go of overwhelming worry and anxiety, and replacing it with faith and expectancy that God will light the way and guide you to do what you can for yourself? Perhaps it means we are to replace worrying and stressing out, with the seeking of productive and fruitful activities and behavior to become involved in, while trusting, expecting, an waiting for God to help us through.
© 2013 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD