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(Precious Reprint–100 Years Ago) Be Not Anxious

by J. Edward Boyd

Anxiety is dangerous. “No man can serve two masters,” says Jesus. “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” The word “mammon,” we are told, denotes the Syrian god of riches; so Rotherham, in order to restore “to the Master’s warning something of the force he intended it to wield,” translates, “Ye cannot be in service unto God and unto Riches.” An attempt to serve both must inevitably result in failure; and he who makes such attempts has in reality become the servant of the latter, and has thus incurred the just displeasure of God. Now to all this, anxiety is closely related, as is evident from the Lord’s language. For immediately He adds: “Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious. . . .” He sees, then, anxiety and mammon-service in the relation of cause and effect; and because the effort to render a divided service must end in turning from God to Mammon, He gives this solemn warning against anxiety. To prevent the effect He would have us avoid the cause.

     It is well to note that Jesus is speaking here particularly of anxiety concerning the things of this life; concerning the ever present problems of food, drink, and clothing. “Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.” For it is indeed anxiety about these very things that tends to cause one to put his trust in the power of riches. For money can buy these things; so the anxious one begins to bend his energies toward laying up for himself treasures upon the earth (which Jesus expressly says not to do) rather than in heaven. If his efforts to this end fail, or ii’ he suffer financial loss, he is greatly distressed, not because of any consequent decrease in his service to God, but because his power of purchasing things has been diminished. The rainy day may come; and he has looked to his riches for shelter.

     At no time, perhaps, has this warning of Jesus been more needed than now. The masses are fervently serving Mammon. In him they put their trust. There is real danger that the Lord’s people, also, will turn to him. They should take heed that they be not drawn into the service of the gods of the people among whom they dwell. Now whatever would produce a certain result nineteen hundred years ago will produce that same result today. If then anxiety concerning bodily needs would lead one into the service of Mammon, so will it now. So now, as then, the warning should be clearly sounded by every gospel preacher, from every pulpit, in every religious journal, “Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”

     But the disposition of the human heart to be anxious about such things is so strong that the question, “How can we help it,” becomes of great and practical importance. When times are hard and business is dull; when funds are low and the supply of things is short and the cost of living is high; when adversity comes and of trouble there seems no end—then is the heart severely tested; then is the Christian sorely tempted to yield to anxiety. And since the danger is so great and so real, he may well consider earnestly just how it may be avoided.

     First of all, it should be understood that it is a matter of faith—faith in God and His promises. We may be sure that where anxiety is found, unbelief has crept in before. Such promises as Matt. 6:33, 1 Peter 5:7, Phil. 4:19, Rom. 8:28, 32, are forgotten; or if remembered, are not received in faith. It would be well to commit to memory these and other passages of like nature, and to meditate upon them frequently. For nothing so strengthens faith as earnest, prayerful study of God’s word. And if faith fills the heart, there is no room for anxiety.

     Then there is one thing which we may do, one special act of faith, that will dispel anxiety as the sun dispels the mist. Paul tells us about it. “In nothing be anxious,” he says. “But in everything”—note the intensity of the language—“by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving”—it will help greatly to consider what the Lord has already so graciously done for us and to render unto Him the thanksgiving that is due—“let your requests be made known unto God.” Instead of worrying, we should pray. Then instead of anxiety, there will be “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, guarding our hearts and our thoughts in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6, 7.

     This passage, especially, should be memorized and kept in our hearts as a priceless treasure). So whenever we feel anxiety creeping into our hearts, we should seek the place of prayer, and there “cast it all upon Him, because He careth for us.” (1 Peter 5:7).

J. Edward Boyd was a longtime Church of Christ Minister and was Bible Teacher at Southeastern Christian College.

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33