"Anxious for Nothing"
Anxiety is the feeling many of us have too often. We use words like "worry" to describe the "fear" that comes inside us. We look at the uncertainty of the future and often see a life that doesn't bring us the joy we desire. What does God have to say?
Anxious For Nothing
(1 Pet. 5:6-11)
A. I am so excited about the new small group study that we as a church will experience in just a few weeks. I do pray that we as a church will take the opportunity to grow in deeper fellowship, understanding of God’s teaching on the topic of anxiety and also use this as way to share us with people who may not have a church home or group Bible study. If you have not signed up, I hope you will do so today. If you already indicated you wanted to participate, please choose a place that works for you and sign up.
B. To get us ready for these small group studies, I wanted to touch on the topic today as jump start to those who are beginning to read the material and prepare for the classes. The passage I chose comes from 1 Peter 5. I really believe the second half of verse 5 belongs in our text and helps us to see the “how-to” part of dealing with anxiety.
I. The Slave’s Apron
A. Look with me at verses 5b-6.
B. There was a garment that was worn by a slave that the very of act of wearing it, putting it on, showed others outwardly who you were. It is sometimes called an apron. So when we “clothe ourselves” with humility, it is as though Peter is calling us to take up the towel, the apron of the slave, and wrap it around ourselves to serve each other’s needs.
C. I believe Peter was reflecting back upon that night when Jesus wrapped a towel around himself and began to wash the feet of the disciples and Peter must have remembered how indignant he was when Jesus came to him. It was not because he thought he was better than Jesus, just the opposite, Peter’s desire to stop Jesus washing his feet is because he knew he was slave and Jesus was the master. But on that night, at that time, Jesus wanted to teach these men about the fullness of love and how humility and service are connected to genuine love.
D. As strange as it may sound, the beginning of letting go anxiety is becoming a humble servant to others. In verse 5 it is humility towards each other and in verse 6 it is humbling ourselves before God. I have no love for God until I have love for God’s creation – my brothers and sisters in this world. But humbling myself before God’s mighty hand is an acceptance of God’s power which is greater than mine. In that trust, Peter tells us that God will lift us up.
E. Our group study of Max Lucado’s book “Anxious For Nothing” will help walk through how we can build on this idea that God’s mighty hand is lifting us up. What joy it brings to many to realize what they don’t have to do for themselves and what God can do for us.
II. Casting Cares Away
A. Keep reading with me – READ verse 7. John would write, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). Paul would tell us that God loved us “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:6-8)
B. My point is simple, God cares for you. The reason you can cast your anxieties upon Him is because God has already proven He loves you. Burdens are lifted at Calvary. God’s mighty hand can take care of my anxiety. The question is not can He, but will I “leave with Him my cares?” That’s the real problem with worry and anxiety – I don’t trust anyone else with them.
C. I read a statement that said, “Prideful people don’t pray.” As I thought about it, I realized part of my anxiety is I treat me like God and then get upset that God doesn’t fix my problems. What happens is that I didn’t give them to Him to begin with! As along as my faith is so weak that I have to fix me and not let God deal with the issues in my life, I will carry my anxiety and it will flare up at all the wrong times.
D. The reason why I don’t give to God my anxiety and worry is because I have not humbled myself before Him and I have put on the apron of service to others. It is a spiritual battle that many people lose because the simplicity of giving it to God doesn’t fit our “enlightened minds.”
III. The Answer to Anxiety
A. If the answer to anxiety is to give it to God, then how do I do that? Peter helps us to see both the problem and the solution (READ vs 8-9).
B. I want to use my intellect, my enlightened mind, then Peter says “be sober-minded, be watchful” or as the NIV puts it, “Be self-controlled and alert.” This two word phrase calls upon us to constantly alert and ready because Satan will attack us and one of his tools is anxiety. When we let our emotions start overwhelming us, it gives room for Satan to pound us with idea that God doesn’t care, God isn’t there for you, and you are alone. Satan wants to destroy you from within and in a world like ours, it happens often.
C. When my worry or anxious heart starts to flutter I can either take it to the Lord in prayer or I can let open the door to Satan’s attack. But I will resist Satan by being firm in my faith. I know I am not alone – I know that Christians all around the world face trials and persecution, but don’t give in because their faith is rooted and grounded in God not self.
A. Peter gives great assurance to us. READ vs. 10-11.
B. The God of all grace has called me to his eternal glory. God will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish me. What power there is in letting go and letting God take control. So as we are about to sing, “Be not dismayed what e’er be tide, God will take care of you.” Yes, God will take care of you. May the peace of God be with you all, amen.
C. If we can encourage you to humble yourself before God and let God take care of you, won’t you come as we stand and sting.