We all struggle with worry. It comes with the territory of our fallen human nature. When you read the story of creation you recognize that worry was not a problem before Adam and Eve sinned. They were in a perfect world, in a perfect relationship with God, and in a perpetual state of bliss. But once they sinned they immediately began to worry. They recognized that they were naked and tried to cover their nakedness with human effort. Unfortunately, we inherited their fallen human nature and proclivity to worry.
Worry damages us. Studies link worry to high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and a host of other maladies. Worry has a powerfully negative effect on our attitude and outlook. But it affects our spiritual lives even more. To put it bluntly, worrying is a sin. Worry is the opposite of faith. God’s Word tells us that “whatever is not of faith is a sin.” The Bible clearly states that God is pleased with our faith; therefore, it goes without saying that he is not pleased with unbelief, which is the root cause of worry.
Let’s look at what three experts wrote about this. All three knew Jesus. All three became Apostles in the early church. All three faced daunting persecution and all three eventually died for their faith. The constant threat of persecution and death seems to me to be a pretty good reason to worry. But Peter, James, and Paul received God-breathed instructions on how to handle worry. What they wrote was meant for our instruction and spiritual development.
Peter wrote, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7, NLT)
Paul said, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7, MES)
And finally, James penned, “But he gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:6-8, ESV)
Here are a few transformative principles that will empower you to overcome the worries in your life, no matter how formidable they are.
1. Learn the art of the transfer.
Give means, “to cast upon.” We are to cast our worries onto God. We are to transfer them like we would put a load of lumber in a truck. You wouldn’t carry building materials from the hardware store on your back. You would place them onto something that was designed to carry them. We must learn to transfer our burdens and worries to God and leave them there. You wouldn’t pick up a load of lumber halfway home and start carrying it. Give your cares to God and don’t take them back.
2. Have a conversation with God about it.
Pray about your worries and problems and then leave them with God. Notice that Paul said we are to turn our worries into petitions and praises. God certainly wants us to acknowledge our worries, but then we are to praise him for his love, strength, and goodness. The more we praise God for things in our lives, the less power they have over us. This allows you to keep Christ at the center of your life, not your worries.
3. Rest in God’s grace.
The overwhelming beauty of God’s grace is greater than any worry. He gives us his kindness and favor because he is good and generous. We don’t earn it and we certainly don’t deserve it. When we rest in his grace, we acknowledge his love for us. We rest in his power, knowledge, and purpose. His grace frees us from worry. When you worry, you are not at rest. When you rest, you will not worry.
4. Constantly submit your life to God.
When we submit our life and situation to God, we can live in freedom. We no longer stress over things we can’t control. We act and live in faith. Being double-minded literally means to be of two souls. In other words, we trust in our strength one moment and God’s strength the next. We vacillate back and forth like a Ping-Pong ball. When we worry we rely on ourselves. When we trust in God we rely on him. In order to have the kind of faith that overcomes worry, we must have a singular mind and trust him. The more we trust him the closer we get to him and the more our burdens shift to him. We must intentionally submit to God in the midst of our circumstances. You will not naturally do this. It must be an exercise of faith.
You don’t have to worry. God wants you to give your worries to him so that he can carry them for you. He is stronger than you. He wants you to trust him and rest in his grace. Only when we do that can we live truly worry free lives.