Do you remember Bobby McFerrin’s song, “Don’t Worry Be Happy” from 1988? It was a catchy tune, but did you follow the instructions of not worrying? I doubt many of us followed his suggestion. Some folks probably responded with ‘yeah, that’s easy for you to say because you’re on island time and island mindset’ without recognizing the song became Jamaica’s unofficial anthem after Hurricane Gilbert struck the island prior to the song’s release. Even today folks laugh when they hear the song, but amid the laughter you can hear a comment like this: You don’t know what’s going on in my life!
Regardless of a song or a hurricane or any other weather-related incident, the Word has a lot to tell us about worry—or the admonition not to worry! The good news is we can be free of worry. We don’t need to let worry do us in and keep us ‘under’. That certainly isn’t the freedom Jesus provides.
What IS worry? Simply stated, it is a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems. Granted, there is a lot of uncertainty in our world today, but that should not cause us to be in a constant state of anxiety. At least half of the things we worry about never materialize which should tell us something about wasting our energy and time worrying.
TRUTH: One of our key verses in this study is from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6. In verse 25 (NASB) Jesus specifically speaks about not being anxious or worried about your life. “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” It’s interesting that before Jesus said don’t worry, He said you can’t serve two masters. Hmmm. That sounds like worrying leaves you in a divided state of mind. Simply put, you’re either trusting God or you’re not. Jesus knows man’s propensity to worry. (More on this aspect in our next study).
Worry is heavy. When you’re worrying, you’re carrying an extra heavy weight, not in pounds but in anxiety and stress. I’m sure you’re familiar with doctor reports telling us worry causes stress, and too much stress is not good for our physical bodies. Proverbs 12:25 ESV clearly states “anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down.” Our hearts are not to be weighed down. The Greek word for anxious gives the idea of distraction, being drawn in different directions. It’s a picture of waffling between calmness and anxiousness. Leaning toward being anxious and worried will weigh you down. It will affect your mind and your body.
Let’s be honest. All of us have worried at one time or another in our lives. I don’t know a believer who hasn’t been attacked by worry. We’re all susceptible but we don’t have to stay behind the eight ball and keep getting knocked down and put into an anxious state of mind. That isn’t part of God’s provision for any of us.
Worry sends us into anxiousness and we allow our mind to dwell on difficulty and trouble. This mental distress and agitation dwells on perceived troubles. Herein is the problem: mental distress=worry.
Understand, worry is the mental action of meditating on fear. You find yourself meditating, thinking over and over on whatever is fearful to you. It could be your next doctor’s appointment because your friend had the same problem you have and ended up with cancer. It could be your afternoon meeting with the boss because others in your company were just laid off.
In our previous studies we provided a foundation for overcoming fear and we’re building on it because fear and worry usually go hand-in-hand. Recognize as a child of God you are able rise above worry. Worry isn’t something that has to follow you the rest of your life.
APPLICATION: Notice that 2 Peter 1:3 ESV declares you’ve been given all things that pertain to life and godliness. You’ve been given power, love, and a sound mind free from anxious thoughts, free from worry (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV). It’s time to replace your worried thoughts with His Word.
You can start today by replacing replace any and all worried thoughts with what Jesus promises you. Begin to see that worrying is a waste of time, but planting His Word into your heart and mind is life-changing. Allow the Word to create an atmosphere of peace and joy in your heart and mind. Don’t dwell on anything that causes you to worry. You’re an overcomer, and you’ve been delivered from worry in any form. We’ll build further hope and encouragement in overcoming fear in our next study. Meanwhile settle these scriptures in your heart and mind.
Matthew 6:25, NASB – “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
Make It Practical: I know God loves me and because His love is greater than anything I’ve worried about, I will not let worry weigh me down and keep me in distress. I will continue to trust Jesus.
Proverbs 12:25 ESV – “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” [Don’t carry around the extra weight of anxiety].
Make It Practical: I am more aware of how being anxious is a weight on my mind that I don’t need to have, and I am learning to release it and let it go. I will receive a good word from God’s Word that will lighten my heart and make me glad.
2 Peter 1:3, ESV – “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”
Make It Practical: God has provided everything I need to live a good life in godliness and free of worry through Him. The more I get to know Jesus, the more I walk in His blessings.
2 Timothy 1:7 KJV – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” [That’s a mind free of worry; a mind trusting God].
Make It Practical: God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear or worry, but He came to set me free from all the things that deplete His goodness. He HAS given me power, love, and a sound mind, free or worry, free of stress.
Matthew 11:28 NIV – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. [You can’t worry and be at rest simultaneously. You’re either worrying or you’re resting. Resting is letting go and trusting your Provider to take and carry your load].
Make It Practical: Daily I am yielding to Jesus and the divine influence of His grace in my heart, releasing my burdens and weariness to Him, and receiving by faith His rest, His assurance that He has me covered.
What are specific areas of worry for you?
(You know them because any time a problem arises in that area, you’re already worrying about it and going with the ‘what if…’)
In those specific areas, what are your go-to scriptures in fortifying your mind to not worry?
What are some practical ways you can change worried thoughts?
In what ways are you changing your thoughts when you start to worry?
How are you putting 2 Timothy 1:7 into practice?