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The Anatomy of Anxiety (Matthew DelValle)

Luke 12:22-34:

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, 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. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

In this passage Jesus gives 8 reasons why anxiety about God’s provision is unnecessary. Let’s look at each reason closer and consider how we can fight off anxiety by God’s power and grace.

1.  Anxiety Comes From Unbelief

“But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:28).

Anxiety arises from not trusting in the sufficiency of God’s provision through godly means; it seeks more than what God has promised for our contentment. This is the ultimate reason why we worry: we fail to trust in the promises and character of God. Anxiety comes from of a root failure to fully believe in the sovereign, omnipotent God of the universe. Therefore, anxiety is very serious and should be combated on all fronts. Work daily to cultivate your faith in God, and you will cut the root of unbelief that leads to anxiety.

2.  Anxiety Has Misplaced Priorities

“For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing” (Luke 12:23)

Anxiety elevates certain things—even necessary things—to unhealthy levels. It reshapes our priorities to align less with God’s and more with the desires of our flesh.

3.  Anxiety Undermines the Value God Places on Us

“Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! […] Consider the lilies, 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, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:24, 27-28).

Since God is so carefully involved with nature to make sure that the birds get fed and the lilies grow and the grass gets clothed, and you are more valuable than them, then it stands to reason that God values you immensely more than animals and land. It’s not that birds never work for food, but that they do not worry about the future because God provides for them. So you should do the same. Since “God so clothes
the grass of the field,” which only last for a moment, then He definitely cares for you, His child whom He loves with an everlasting love that cost Him the death of His Son to redeem (Rom. 8:29-32). That is a great reason to trust God no matter what the circumstances of life may bring. Trust in Him, and He will direct your paths (Prov. 3:5-6).

4.  Anxiety Doesn’t Accomplish Anything

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Luke 12:25).

The parallel passage in Matthew says that nobody can by being anxious “add a cubit to his stature.” It doesn’t help us grow; it doesn’t help us to live longer. So then, it is virtually useless to worry. It will not help at all. Anxiety can only make things worse.

5.  Anxiety Doesn’t Make Sense

“If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” (Luke 12:26).

There is no legitimate reason to worry about God’s provision if you are His child. “Why are you anxious?” Jesus asks. Well, what’s the reason? Is there a good one? Nope. Our God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). If God is so merciful to His enemies, how much more will He provide for the needs of His children?

6.  Anxiety Is Characteristic of Unbelievers

“And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things” (Luke 12:29-30a).

A sixth reason why anxiety is due to a lack of faith is that it is characteristic of unbelievers. You want to look like the world? Be a worrywart. Anxiety should not characterize the church of God.

7.  Anxiety Doubts the Wisdom of God

“And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them” (Luke 12:29-30).

Anxiety about the future should not mark God’s people who know that their heavenly Father knows exactly what they need and will take care of them. Therefore, cast all your anxieties on God, because He cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7).

8.  Anxiety Does Not Operate from an Eternal Perspective

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:32-34).

Friends, our greatest need is not food. Our greatest need is not clothing. Our greatest need is not a spouse. Our greatest need is to be delivered from the righteous wrath of Almighty God, and God has met that need at the cross. He did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all. He will give us the kingdom out of his good pleasure. How then will God not meet our much smaller needs? Trust His wisdom, trust His sovereignty, and trust His love.

The Cure for Anxiety

So how can we eliminate useless worrying from our lives? We must have faith in the goodness of God. In verse 32 Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock.” Why Jesus? Why should we not be afraid? “For it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” God will not abandon His flock. Our Father won’t leave His children as orphans; our Shepherd will guard his sheep. It is God’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. In light of this great truth, what do we have to worry about?

Therefore, make it your priority to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Strive to make God’s sovereign rule and your relationship with Him and obedience to His Word the focal point of your life. Anxiety goes against this priority, as it doubts God’s providential care for your life and sets your eyes away
from the finish line.

So I implore you: entrust your soul to your faithful Creator (1 Pet. 4:19) and believe the words of Paul: “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). Believe the words of Jeremiah: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23). Trust God. Trust His Word.