Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
Worry or anxiety is something that afflicts all of us. That is why we need to look at what the bible teaching on the subject. Consider this. It is two in the morning. Stan sits on the edge of his bed with worry churning in his mind, and fear filling his belly. Sleep becomes illusive. Only a few more hours, and he will have to shuffle off to work with only a few winks of sleep and a fuzzy mind. “Where can I find relief?” he groans to himself.
Stan’s remedy is not found in popping a few sleeping pills, or tossing down a couple glasses of red wine. It is in managing his thoughts. The place to start with Stan is to help him understand the connection between his thoughts, feelings and actions. We can call the process the ABCD’s sequence of emotional relief.
Activating event is the “A” in our sequence. It refers to those events of our life that occur in our outer social, physical and spiritual world that we have to deal with.
It is the deadlines, traffic, financial pressures, family problems, or trouble at work. It can be big things, major life changes, or just the daily hassles of living life.
Anxiety can be deadly to our faith. Jesus established this Bible teaching about the danger, “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).
Belief system is the “B” in the sequence. This step involves our brains processing, interpreting and giving meaning to those
activating events. Our brains are vast storehouses of thoughts, memories, attitudes, values, and beliefs we have learned from our life experience.
When our senses perceive the activating event, our brain calls forth its stored information, which organizes, evaluates, and gives meaning to the activating event. The Christian life skill of managing worry is to manage our thoughts.
Consequences give us our “C” in the sequence. These follow the results of our belief system’s work. There are two results: feelings, and actions. For example, if our brain tells us that the activating event is a serious danger, then our body triggers our stress hormones, and we label the physical feeling fear. With our sympathetic nervous system in full gear, our body is prepared and energized for action – and that action also is dictated by the instructions from our brain.
For Stan to be able to get some sleep, get rid of the knot in his stomach, and put a little spring in his step on the way to work then he must change his thinking.
That is what the apostle Paul meant when he established the Bible teaching about worry, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Along with prayer and faith, he said to approach the problem with a positive attitude (thanksgiving), and not worry.
Jesus taught the same Christian life skill, “Do not be anxious…for your heavenly Father knows that you need…do not be anxious for tomorrow…Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31, 32, 34). In other words, believe what God says about reality, and live one day at a time. Quit imagining all the possible horrible “what ifs” that maybe, might, or could happen in the future. Change the thinking and evaluating process in the brain.
How does one do that? In my ebook I explain this in great detail, and give several tools to change one’s thinking. Now, this brings us to the “D” of the process.
Disputation is the “D.” Unfortunately, because of the nature of this fallen world we live in, and our own fallen nature, our belief systems contain many mistakes. We could call these mistakes distortions of reality or irrational and illogical thoughts. We do not perceive the world as it actually is, nor do we see life from God’s point of view.
For example, you know of people who make mountains out of molehills. A small cut, scraggly spider, or minor dent in the car fender is blown out of proportion and becomes horrible, terrible, and awful!
Disputation has four parts. First, one must discriminate between the good thoughts and maladaptive thoughts in our mind. Second, we detect those distortions and illogical thoughts.
Third, we debate those distortions. That is, we line up the arguments for and against the truthfulness of the thoughts we are telling ourselves. We can turn to life experience and the Bible to evaluate thoughts. Fourth, we replace those thoughts with more accurate thoughts.
Bible teaching about worry emphasizes this part, as Paul states, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 8).
BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS:
1. What things do you get worried about? Why?
2. How did David conquer his worries from criticism and opposition (Psalm 3)?
3. What do you suppose are the worries spoken of in Matthew 13:22? What impact does worry have on our spiritual life?
4. Study Matthew 6:25-34. List the things that cause you to be anxious.
5. What was Jesus’ evaluation of worry (Matthew 6:25-34)?
6. What did He say was the ultimate cause of anxiety (Matthew 6:25-34)?
7. How did He say to offset worry (Matthew 6:25-34)?
8. Study Philippians 4:4-9. How many things should you be worried about?
9. In Philippians 4:4-9, what principles for managing anxiety does Paul teach?
10. What stands out to you the most in this study? Explain.
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