Worry, Misplaced Priorities

Most of us worry about the future, not because we fear it, but because we can’t control it. Thank God is in control and not us. Most of our worry is simply a lack of faith in the sovereignty of God as well as ignorance of his love. The time and energy we spend worrying can be draining us of strength to do something about it. We do indeed live in an age of anxiety, but Christ would have us be more concerned about the age to come. Live like tomorrow never comes, and eternity is already a part of today, John 10:10.

Anxiety that is not sinful:

There are mental illnesses that cause anxiety, which can not and should not be attributed to sin. The Lord cares for the sick, and we are instructed to pray in faith for all people that suffer ill health. For example, paranoid schizophrenia is only one of many illnesses that can exacerbate otherwise daily stressors that everyone must endure through daily life. But if a healthy person let’s our anxiety lead us to reject God and his word, then we are our own worst enemy, and will indeed fall into sin. If we are anxious by choice then being worrisome is a dangerous attitude, remember Philippians 2:26-27. But if we are suffering anxiety from a mental disorder and take worry to a paranoid level by no choice of our own, then we are at the mercy of God and need the grace of God in Christians moreso than other healthy people!

Anxiety that is sinful: 

Matthew recorded in 6:24-34, that Jesus prohibits worry. Three times he says, “Be Not Anxious”, v25, 31, 34. The way Jesus knew His Father cares for mere birds, was a great statement on God’s love for humanity, no matter how humans behave like animals, we are still worth more to Him than all the beauty of beastly creatures. To worry about being poor is to sin against the promises of a faithful God to take care of you, He’s done it for millions, he’ll do it for you. Jesus used the phrase “You of little faith” four times. In Mt. 6:30 he used it in connection with anxiety, in Mt. 8:26 in connection with fear, in Mt. 14:31 in connection with doubt, and in Mt. 16:8 in connection with human reasoning. In reverse order, it is noteworthy; human reasoning produces doubt, doubt produces fear and fear produces anxiety. Faith in Christ is the remedy for each of these heart conditions, John 14:1.

Anxiety that is actually healthy: 

Paul was right to be worried about the congregations he had a relationship with, but he needn’t be so worried about them that he would search for faults or dismiss their hopes and dreams of seeing Christ. His anxiety led him to pray and search for God’s will. See 2nd Corinthians 11:28-31. He didn’t hide his anxiety from Christians living unhealthy lifestyles, he told them the truth in love. If we trust God to share His love, then we can do something about the problems we worry about. His word is able to instruct us, He has given us wisdom, please use it, Read Ephesians 5:15-16.

Pessimism – Finding Faults

If you are one of those people that usually “sees the glass half empty and wants to point it out to others”. Most often, people like that are called pessimists, sometimes they prefer to call themselves “realists” however, reality is not as negative as they claim it is. Calling the glass half empty is a sentence of judgment on an object that could be positive. However, some people are by nature optimistic. They see the silver lining on every cloud. Others seem to have been born with a negative disposition and see no need to change it since “that’s just the way I am.” But, even if pessimism is just the way we are, should we remain that way? Being overly critical is discernment gone wrong, turning judgment into condemnation. Marshall Keeble said, “Christians are fruit inspectors”, not fruit judges. In other words, we have the goal of finding what is good, Philippians 4:8.

The opposite of pessimism is hope and the Bible is a book of hope, Psa. 119:105, Prv. 6:23. The Lord is the God of all hope, Rom. 15:13. From Genesis to Revelation, God weaves His theme of hope into the story of man’s sin and sin’s consequences. While many events recorded in the Bible seemed gloomy and hopeless at the time, God always offered a way to be restored, Deut. 30:1-2 & Zech. 1:3. 

Christians should view our pessimism as a negative trait to overcome. When we are walking with, living in, and bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, He brings with Him love, joy, peace, and an ability to strengthen our faith, Gal. 5:22. Love “always hopes”, 1st Cor. 13:7. We should learn to listen to our own words, which can become negative by habit. When we are intentional about speaking the truth in love while responding to our situations, our pessimism can change into optimism. Also, praying in the Holy Spirit can build our faith up, to overcome negative thoughts that can fill our mind, if we let the world reside in us. 

We were doomed by our sin to an eternity without God, and we have no way to save ourselves, Rom. 3:23 & 6:23. In that condition, we had a right to be pessimistic. “Life is hard, then you die” is an accurate statement for those refusing God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life. But, for the Christian, the saying can be modified: “Life is hard, but Jesus is with me. And when I die, heaven is ours!” Jesus told His followers, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” John 16:33. Because His victories are our victories, the knowledge that Christ has overcome the world should turn pessimists into optimists, Romans 8:37.

If we do not tackle pessimism, then our heart will grow hard, and hamper the fruit of the Spirit from growing to maturity. Tribulations in this world are real, remember the parable of Jesus and refuse to let the rocks stunt your growth! Matthew 13:20-21

Judgment (Possessing Prejudice)

We can easily forgive a child for being afraid of the dark but the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light! ~ (attributed to Plato)

Being prejudiced towards other people is like robbing ourselves of life and shutting ourselves up in a dark closet of ignorance, no other theft can leave us so poor as to be left with nothing but hate. We rob ourselves of opportunities to make new friends that we could have loved but regard as not worth being friendly towards. 

Here are a few facts to help prevent us from being prejudiced towards other people.

  1. Jesus the Jew died the same death and went through the same pain for EVERYONE, 1st Timothy 2:6
  2. Christ desires the good news to be spread throughout the whole world, Matthew 28:18-20
  3. When anyone is “in Christ”, everyone is united as one, Galatians 3:27-28
  4. Our God is not a respecter of persons, He looks on hearts, not skins, Acts 10:34-35 & 1st Sam. 16:7.
  5. Every person in Christ is not only reconciled to God, but also to all Christians, Ephesians 2:12-18.

When Paul says that there is no Greek, Jew, barbarian, or Scythian, (Col.3:11) he isn’t saying that each of those groups lose their identity. But he is saying that any sense of hierarchy or elitism between those groups has been destroyed in Jesus. That’s an important distinction. Our ethnicity isn’t gone—only the hostility between races, cultures and/or colors. That is great news if we want to be real with people and quit pretending to be color-blind. Jesus treated the foreign woman begging for help in this way, when he spoke so bluntly about the direction of his ministry & position in relation to her position in society, read Matthew 15:22-28. It is my belief that true freedom from being prejudiced towards other people of any color is only found in Christ, because only Christ has the solution to sin. His blood is red, just like ours, but the only red blood which was divine, and yet he painfully sacrificed it to make us one! Therefore we are obliged to love our neighbor, regardless of who they are.

Never forget that an honest person alters their opinion to fit the truth, whereas a prejudiced person alters the truth to fit their opinion. Jesus met Nathanael who was prejudiced towards anyone from Nazareth, (John 1:45-49) but he was encouraged to investigate by Philip. Jesus did not disappoint Nathanael, because Nathanael was honest enough to challenge his own prejudiced opinions and investigate. We need to be like Nathanael and admit our prejudiced feelings and examine them in prayer before God. Our prayers must never be like the pharisee recorded in Luke 18:9-14, thinking of a publican as bad as the worst publicans. The pharisee judged the publican guilty by association. We can have a negative attitude towards any rich person we meet by simply thinking he is greedy, selfish and dishonest. Some rich people are greedy, selfish and dishonest but that doesn’t mean we should think that way of any rich person we meet. Are all lawyers liars? Are all doctors quacks? Are all police prejudiced? We should do ourselves a favor and keep our mind open for investigation before we form an opinion about anyone.

The Cure for Heart Diseases

(Subjects For Future use in our Congregational Sunday morning Bible Discussions, starting 9 Aug 2020)

Judgement – possessing prejudice

Pessimism – looking for faults

Worry – misplaced priorities

Greed – loving things instead of people

Lust – the absence of devotion

Selfishness – being ungrateful

Laziness – missing the benefits of labor

Discouragement – neglecting our resources

Cowardice – letting fore-thought become fear-thought

Envy – being ignorant of coveting

Wrath – dealing with disappointed expectations

Hatred – failing to separate the sin from the sinner

Impatience – clinging on to immaturity


The basis for this series of discussions is to grow in our understanding of the difference between dignity and arrogance. Every Christian has the privilege of growing in the new creation God has for us in Christ. When we are being tempted, Satan can dupe us into committing sin and as a Christian we will need to renew our relationship with God. Paul spoke of this struggle even as an Apostle, he spoke of trying to kill off (crucify) the old self in order to enjoy the times of refreshing God has in store for us. See Acts 3:19 and Galatians 2:20. If the Apostle Paul considered his own salvation at risk, who are we to think our salvation can not be put at risk by our own sin? Read 1st Corinthians 9:22-27. Throughout our discussions we will touch on the part our pride plays in the various vices named above. Pride is our own worst enemy, because the human heart is deceptive, Jeremiah 17:9-10. However, our pride can also be healthy, see Matthew 22:39 & 1st Timothy 4:12. We should learn to trust Christ who is our only hope for keeping our pride in check and maintaining our dignity, instead of neglecting it and causing us to be arrogant. Because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, James 4:6. We must learn to understand and emulate the Apostle Paul when he taught the church to “crucify” ourselves, see Galatians 2:20. Remember the letter “i” is in the middle of sIn and prIde, which are both very dangerous subjects. A good memory verse to use, which will help us stay safe from sin and arrogant pride is John 5:30. Commit it to memory and follow Jesus with it daily. He is the cure!