Fighting Anxiety, Part 3
In Part 1 and Part 2 of Fighting Anxiety, two things are absolutely crucial if we are to experience the peace of God (Philippians 4:6): prayer and faith in God’s promises. Paul turns us to another strategy in Philippians 4:6-8, namely, the renewing of our mind.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
Paul provides for us a filter for what we should be thinking about. Some of us wonder why our joy in God may be low or our love of God may feel weak. A good first question might be, “What are you thinking about?” We should test the things we are watching or playing or reading. Are we filling our minds with the glory of God or the garbage of the world?
Now as it pertains to the fight against anxiety, engaging the mind is absolutely necessary if we are to win in this battle. Paul says, “Think!” Think about things that are excellent and pure and admirable and honorable. While many objects may fit this criteria, the ultimate object of loveliness and of excellency and purity and so forth is Jesus himself. And the more you are focused on him, the less anxious you will be. You won’t worry about the waves in your life when you’re focused on the one who parts the seas. You won’t worry about the food you’re going to eat when you’re focused on the one who can feed thousands with a few small fish and loaves of bread. You won’t worry about where you’re going to live when you’re fixed on the one who made the universe and reigns over it all. You won’t worry about your health when you’re thinking about the one who will raise us from the dead.
Now, how might you engage your mind when you are trying to overcome fear and worry? How might you practically get your mind involved in the war against worry? Let me share two quick strategies. There are many more and you may have better ones, but here are mine:
The Truth Track
1. Start your day in the morning with a series of verses you go through to arm your mind and to warm you heart for God. If you watch athletes in the locker room before a big game, they usually have headphones in, jamming to music. They are arming their mind with resiliency and they’re warming their heart with passion for the game. They’re getting ready to lay it all out there. Take a page from their book. Gather together in one place a track of 8-10 verses you meditate on each morning. Christian meditation is not trying to empty your mind. It’s filling your mind with the truths of God. Arm your mind and warm your heart through glorious, mind expanding, love enhancing, Christ-exalting truths.
Put the Worry to the Test
2. In that very moment you feel anxiousness coming on, engage your mind and test it to see whether or not it’s worth worrying about. Challenge your anxiety with these three tests:
The identity test? The greatest thing laid out by Jesus in the passage we saw in Matthew 6:25-34 from Part 2 of Fighting Anxiety is that we have God as our Father. Does what you’re worried about jeopardize your standing with God? Will it change how God sees you? Will it affect how God loves you?
The eternity test? Jesus says the lilies of the field are here today and gone tomorrow. So much of what we’re consumed with is short-lived. Is the thing you’re deeply concerned about going to matter in 10,000 years? Will what you’re worried about now have any bearing when you’re with Jesus forever in heaven?
The authority test? Jesus says don’t worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has its own worries. You don’t know what tomorrow holds. You don’t even know what the next 5 minutes hold. Only God does. The authority test is this: can you control at all what you’re worried about? Do you have any say or sway? Does it fall under your jurisdiction and responsibility?
Again, these are only a couple of strategies, but here’s the point: use your mind as a weapon. Let your mind pilot your heart and steer you towards his promises, and ultimately, his peace.