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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Anxiety (2) (Matt. 6:25-34)

Sometimes the cause of anxiety can be in the past. Often such anxiety is connected to a particular sin we committed. Perhaps we said something to our parents that we regret, and we would give anything to be able to apologise to them. Yet they have gone from this world. Or perhaps we did something to another person – perhaps we were economical with the truth in what we said or did. At the time, our action seemed to help us, but now, years later, it rises in our memories and condemns us. Conscience can be a great cause of anxiety.

If our present anxiety is caused by something from the past, the way to deal with it is twofold. We need to repent of the wrong action and ask God for forgiveness and assurance of mercy. With regard to those who have passed on into the other world, we cannot do anything else. Nevertheless if we are genuinely sorry and confess the matter to God, he will give his peace instead of the anxiety caused by conscience.

With regard to those who are still alive and regarding whom we have anxiety because of our actions and words, in addition to repenting before God of our sins we also have to sort the matter out with the other person(s). The second feature is evidence of the reality of our repentance. Those who have done it have testified to the great spiritual benefit they have received – it became a canal along which the peace of God did flow from heaven into their hearts.

Anxiety can also be caused by the future. What has Jesus to say to us about this? As we listen to him, we will sense that his advice, which is twofold, is very simple.

First, Jesus tells us that God is informed about our situations. He knows everything that we need. Second, Jesus tells us that God is involved in our lives: just as he feeds the birds, so he will provide for our needs. Therefore, we have to remind ourselves continually that in every situation we face, God is neither ignorant of any of its details or absent from any of its moments. Of course, as Spurgeon pointed out, ‘these are soothing words to read, but difficult words to put into practice.’

Jesus is telling his disciples to use their minds when they find themselves in situations of difficulty. They are to remind themselves that they are valuable in God’s sight, far more than what birds are worth, and that he has an eternity planned for them, not like the grass which lasts for only a short time.

The Saviour reminds his disciples that there is more to life than food and clothing. Those who are not his disciples will focus on earthly things. His disciples have to be different. Jesus mentions this difference in verse 33 when he says that they should ‘seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’ In other words, if you live for this world, you will lose everything, even that which you have procured; if you live for God, things will be different; even necessary material things will be provided for you.

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