Living with Anxiety – The 1st Commandment – You Shall Have No Other Gods.

nervousIf I am honest with myself, I have lived with anxiety all my life. Even as blessed as I am, I still worry about things. Growing up I worried about having friends, getting good grades, making the basketball team, even getting a girl to like me. Today my anxiety is quite different. Money, my children, work, health and ultimately what we all must face – death. While I still consider myself an anxious person, God’s word has helped me turn the table on my anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

The dictionary defines Anxiety as distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.  There is plenty of danger and misfortune in our world today because of sin. Christians are not immune from danger, misfortune, or anxiety. Anxiety can be a serious medical condition that may require medication. Sometimes things go wrong with our brains. Some people have seasonal depression, social anxiety, or even serious depression. Anxiety can be serious or silly depending on the person. I am not trying to downplay the seriousness of anxiety and depression.  In any case, they are all caused by our sin. We are all damaged by sin in one way or another. The 1st commandment has helped me realize what my anxiety actually is. It is a sin against the 1st commandment.

The 1st Commandment – You Shall Have No Other Gods.

From Luther’s Small Catechism:

What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

What God did I love today? Today and every day, I have love many gods above the only true God. The Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – came in second, third, probably last in my love today. I love my health, my family, my stomach, and my sin today and everyday more than God. My anxiety about all those things I love, that I can’t live without; are sins against the 1st commandment. I can’t break free of this anxiety and worship of false gods.

Our sinful condition, inherited from Adam loves to worship everything but God. Everything of this world is more important to us. The Devil will help push us along with a little whisper in our ear.  God can’t possibly expect you to love him more than your family and friends. He can’t ask you to love him more than your health and well-being. He won’t forgive your anxiety about your health, your money. You are supposed to love him above all things. You fail at that daily. The devil knows all the tricks to fuel your anxiety. The world will tell you prosperity, health, happiness are the keys to life. So when things don’t go your way the world will sell you books, drugs, alcohol and whatever else to help you forget about your anxiety and your sin. Then American Pop Christianity rolls in to sell you some wacky program on how to live your best life now and become free of stress and anxiety. The only answer to your anxiety and mine is the cross of Jesus Christ.

Your Anxiety is Gone.

In Matthew 6:25-34  (ESV), Jesus talks directly to all of us who suffer with anxiety.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? [g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

The word of God and the sacraments comfort us as we carry our personal crosses in this life. The gifts of God in baptism, communion, and confession & absolution strengthen our faith. These gifts help us resist our sin, the devil and the world. They help to keep our minds and hearts focused on Jesus Christ as the perfecter of our faith. Jesus Christ is no stranger to anxiety, as he took all our anxiety and sin to the cross. Only through the life and death of Jesus Christ is our anxiety forgiven. In the resurrection of our flesh we will live without anxiety. Our love will be focused directly where it was meant to be directed -on The Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

 


Comments

Living with Anxiety – The 1st Commandment – You Shall Have No Other Gods. — 7 Comments

  1. Ok, so far so good.
    But (and is off).
    God cares about the sparrows, but they still get eaten by cats. I have every faith that I will enter heaven, etc, etc. However, I don’t see anywhere that God promises to pay my mortgage, feed my kids, or ensure that the government of the United States won’t turn into a totalitarian dictatorship and start crucifying Christians by the roadside. To what degree can I legitimately not be concerned about feeding my family and staying gainfully employed (i.e. due to the sequester)?

  2. The only answer to your anxiety and mine is the cross of Jesus Christ.

    I take Celexa. It’s now considered generic and costs only $4.00 a month. I can’t imagine staying employed without it. I’m sorry, Mr Redman, if medication does not work for you. I don’t even want to try and remember what it was like before I went to my doctor.

  3. @#4 Kitty #2
    I do not believe that Mr. Redman was trying to insinuate that medications are not helpful. He has framed this whole anxiety post in terms of the First Commandment, to which the only answer to deal with our sins against it is Christ crucified.

  4. @#4 Kitty #2
    Pastor Scheer is right, I believe medication is helpful and very necessary at times. Thankfully for myself I do not need any medication. That’s why for me – anxiety is entirely a first commandment thing. I have family members who have struggled with anxiety and depression and have required medication so I am thankful for that. I am happy it helps you and I am not trying to minimize its importance. At the same time recognizing its our sin from the fall that has us broken and anxious in this life. And if an understanding of the first commandment and the word of god can help a person get through their days – thanks be to god for that.

  5. @Paul of Alexandria #1
    I agree and understand with you 100% as I struggle with these feeling about job, government, our church, birds, etc. everyday of my life. I’m a chronic worrier.

    Maybe I can shed some light on this from what I recently experienced. I’m one of those people who are burdened with constant anxiety about all the things you mentioned. The interesting thing about it–it was the anxiety that I faced after losing my job that pushed me to depend on Christ for all things. Before, I have to say, I was quite complacent. During the time of extreme stress of not knowing my future of employment, I had the time to listen to Issues and come to this Web site more often. I gradually found that daily hearing about the greatest gift I have, forgiveness and the promise of heaven, the things of this world started to matter less. I realized that I really deserve nothing and that what I did have (although it didn’t measure up to what I WANTED) was truly abundant–even in this life. I ended up realizing that so much of these things is out of my control, that I had to “submit” to God and give the control/worries up.
    That ugly word “submit”–we all hate it, especially women (ha ha)!

    I also realized that my “vocation” in life was there to continue about my business to serve my neighbor and resolved to knowing that God would grant things to happen at His will and not my will–THANKS ISSUES FOR THE SERIES ON VOCATION!!! Believe me, it’s a constant fight–and therefore, I am constantly seeking out His Word as I know it’s the only security in this world. As in the hymn a Mighty Fortress says, “And take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife, He can’t harm us none.” I realize that anything I have in this world can be taken from me at any given moment, including my life. But ultimately knowing that my real home is in heaven.

    I was at the last week of unemployment not having a job after applying for over 200 jobs. I got a call, out of the blue, from the place I had worked three years prior wanting me back. I had never contacted them about employment because I had quit (later realizing it was a big mistake). Just when we think things are in our control, we find out that they are not. It was pretty humbling to experience this and I’m more thankful for this job than I have ever been about work in my entire life. And what if I didn’t get that job? Then I would just have to continue to trust and live out my vocation and deal with the struggles set before me. I think it goes to say that we aren’t to sit back on the couch waiting for God to act. It’s more about living out our vocation in love toward others–and then letting the chips fall where they may. I think we also get so caught up in our problems, other people’s problems, or problems that we can’t fix that lead to endless anxiety. We also live constantly in the fear of “what MIGHT happen” which is just as ridiculous. It seems like we have a never ending supply of things to worry about! I know I will never be free from anxiety this side of heaven. It’s that constant battle with sin that I’m looking forward to leaving behind!

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