This past weekend I was at a Christian conference. While I listened to God’s Word being spoken, one scripture really stuck out for me. “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34.
I thought about this word. “Do not worry about tomorrow.” Hmmm, well I guess I could try that. I’m not going to worry about tomorrow. Easy enough. I think that will work out nicely for me.
A suggestion or a commandment?
Wait a second, what am I doing? Am I taking God’s Word as just a suggestion for a better life? I mean, it is true that God’s Word will make my life better. This I have seen again and again in my own life, and in the lives of those around me. But God’s Word wasn’t written to be a suggestion. No, suggestions are something you just kind of take seriously when it suits. Suggestions can be ignored or heeded. But God’s Word is a commandment from God Himself. And yes, the intention and effect will be that my life is improved, but it is a commandment. This means that if I want to be a Christian, I take it as law in my life. As seriously as the laws that apply in the country I live in, such as, “do not murder” and “do not commit arson.” These are things that are really obvious. God’s Word is also a law that should be just as obvious and is meant to be followed.
“Honor your mother and father.” Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2. Well, this is a bit outdated, I think. I could maybe see that happening in the past, but these days it just isn’t that popular. Well, that’s not what the verse says. God’s Word doesn’t say, “Honor your father and mother as long as it is the popular and common thing to do.” On the contrary, God’s Word is firm and unshakable. “Honor your father and mother.” No ifs or buts about it. Each day I need to keep these laws before me; it isn’t something I just use when it suits to my own advantage.
The mind of Christ
Okay, what about the verse “Be anxious for nothing?” (Philippians 4:6) How do I view this verse? Honestly, as a natural person I would tend to think this way: “Not being anxious for anything, that would be nice. I can imagine this suggestion would help some people, and also be really easy for them to follow. You know, the people with their whole life sorted out. The ones with a nice little family, a blossoming career, etc., etc.” Actually, that verse is meant for me! I who struggle to figure out which way my life is going and naturally worry about every little thing. And it isn’t just a suggestion, Paul really meant that it is God’s will for me to never be anxious for anything again!
Well, how can I even obey that commandment? That’s just the way I was born. I was just born an anxious person. Let me tell you, the way I was born isn’t at all the way I am meant to end up. No, I am going to end my life completely and utterly different than I began. God has a plan to transform each and every one of us into something other than the way we were born. He wants to make us divine. (2 Peter 1:4) And it is only through being obedient to the commandments written in His Word that I can be changed in the way God wants me to be.
Temptations to be anxious will of course still come up, until I am totally free from all the anxiety in my nature. But we are exhorted in 1 Peter 4:1 to arm ourselves with the same mind that Christ had. Christ who never sinned once. This means I have to arm myself with the verse “Be anxious for nothing” when I am tempted to be anxious. So, I am tempted to be anxious: in other words, an anxious thought comes into my head. Maybe something that has been nagging at me for a while, “What am I supposed to do for a career? All my friends already have a career and I am still just working a dead-end job.” But when I am armed with the mind of Christ, I use the verse, “Be anxious for nothing!” as a weapon against temptation. And I pray to God that He will give me the strength to overcome, and that He will help me to find the path He has for my life in peace and in rest.
Free from anxiety – free from sin
Okay, these thoughts aren’t going to plague me any longer, I don’t have to worry about that. And so I cast these thoughts out of my heart. Now that’s how God’s Word is meant to be applied. It is a commandment not to be anxious. That means that if I am tempted to anxious thoughts, and I let them continue to plague me and live and dwell in my heart, that would actually be sin. I would be being disobedient, and disobedience is sin. Simple as that.
It really is that simple. God’s Word is now a commandment to me, not just simply a suggestion to be either glanced over and ignored or forgotten about. No, a commandment to hold before me in all situations and circumstances. And it isn’t a burdensome commandment. By being obedient I am being freed from sin, and my life is getting better and I am becoming better equipped to bless those around me.