Every Thought Captive

Why Are You Anxious?

“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? 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? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 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? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Matthew 6:25-34

Telling someone not to be anxious is like telling someone not to breathe, feel, or blink. Anxiety is our natural response to real or perceived pain or the threat of pain. Because we live in a fallen world full of pain and threats, anxiety is unavoidable. The real issue is how we should respond to anxiety. When left to ourselves we respond internally with a myriad of negative feelings and thoughts, imagining and fixating on future scenarios that further intensify those negative feelings. Then, in our flesh, we respond to anxiety by either staying stuck in that dark place or by taking things into our own hands, which often makes things worse and creates even more anxiety.

But Jesus offers an alternative response for those who are followers of God. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has been teaching how those who follow God should respond to life differently than the rest of the world because of who God is to them. In verse 24, Jesus has just made the point that we can only live by one “master,” not multiple. Now in verse 25, He begins to explain that if God is your master, then you should “therefore” respond to anxiety differently than if He weren’t your master.

When Jesus says, “Do not be anxious,” He is saying that for those who follow God there is a choice to not be anxious. Much of what Jesus says here is nothing new, He is simply urging those who follow God to remember what they already know and believe but need to put into practice. Something I am sure we each struggle with daily.

Through the examples of how God cares for birds and lilies, Jesus reminds us that God is sovereign over all things, big and small. No matter what is causing our anxiety, God is sovereign over it, He is present in it, He is already at work, and He has purpose in it. God has a plan for each of our lives, and it involves the good and the not-so-good.

Jesus also connects anxiety to our faith in verse 30. To respond with faith means to trust in God’s goodness, care, provisions, and faithfulness to those who love Him. When we live by faith, we remember that we can trust God with all things, that He will always care for and provide for us, and that He has the power to do anything according to His will.

When we are anxious and remember that God is sovereign and that we can trust Him, we can then turn to Him in prayer and give Him all of our apprehensions. Paul affirms this in his letter to the Philippians when he encourages them to “not be anxious about anything” but instead to pray and lay it all before God (Philippians 4:6). We are to let it go, not to the wind, but into the hands of a loving and faithful God who knows our every need. This is the choice we have as those who follow God and look to Him as our master.

Jesus points out here that the things we seek that cause us to be anxious are things that non-believers seek after. “Is not life more than…?” (verse 25) As followers of God, we should seek something different, higher, and better. Jesus explains that we are to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” In the same way that Jesus had just told them to lay up treasures in heaven and not treasures on earth (verses 19-21), He now says to seek the things of God and not the things of the world that cause anxiety. When our eyes are fixed on what is eternal, what truly matters in the eyes of God, and on God’s commands and Word, our minds are renewed and transformed.

Paul explains to the Philippians that when we do this, something amazing happens that only God can do. “The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) Jesus even promises here in verse 33 that “all these things will be added to you,” meaning that our eyes will be opened to see God working and providing in ways we couldn’t see when we were blinded by our anxiety and fears.

If you are battling anxiety, then I encourage you to take this passage and replace the fears listed here with your fears. Say out loud “Do not be anxious about…” and list what is causing you to worry. In prayer, let these things go, place them in the hands of your God and Father, and trust Him with them. Then fill your heart and your mind with His truth and His eternal perspective, allowing His peace to guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. And remember, as Paul said to the Corinthians, that it is when we are weakest that God’s power is perfected in us, and we lean on His grace which is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

About the Author

Photograph of Ashley Boone

Ashley Boone

Ashley graduated from TCU with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and earned a Masters of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary. She has taught the Young Women’s Bible study and currently helps lead the Family Foundations Sunday Morning Community. Ashley’s greatest passion is studying and teaching God’s Word and encouraging women in their faith. Ashley is married to Michael and has two daughters.