Getting victory over anxiety — Part 3

There are certain things in this life which we can control, and others which God alone is to handle. For instance, while we are to control how we respond to others, we cannot control how they respond to us (Rom. 12:18).  We are to control how we react to authority, but we can’t control how they react to us (Rom. 13:17).

Those who struggle with worry have a tendency to be anxious about the things they can’t control. In so doing, their attention is often diverted from the things they can (and should) control.

That is why, for the one who is anxious, this second principal is so important. Change your mind, not your circumstances.

God controls your circumstances (Dan. 4:34-35), but he expects you to control your mind (Phil. 4:8). So if you struggle with worry, you will have to change the way you think.

The worrier has a tendency to let his mind run wild. Like a scared child running in a dark forest, every shadow is a potential enemy.  The anxious person tends to believe that if he can think about something in advance he can avoid it. Yet, God controls our circumstances, we need to bring our thoughts captive, and trust him with our future.

I have found one verse to be the most helpful in the retraining of the worrier’s thought patterns.

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, dwell on these things (Phil. 4:8)

Years ago I realized that the 8 qualities within this verse were to set the parameters on my thinking. If something was true, honorable, or right I could dwell on it. If it was not, I should not. This is great help for the one who worries. Most of what we worry about doesn’t actually come to pass, hence it is not true.

Perhaps you are thinking, “But the things I am worrying about actually could come to pass.” Yes, but they haven’t, and the worrier usually thinks about events in the future with certainty not possibility. He tends to think about future things as if they are true, when in fact they have not and quite possibly will not, occur.

I like to imagine that these 8 qualities were intended to form the parameters on my thinking. They are 8 walls within in which I am given complete freedom to think. Within those 8 walls it is impossible to jeopardize my communion with God.  Unfortunately, you and I often desire riskier thinking.

The picture of a stop sign served as a great reminder to control my thinking. It is good when I’m thinking within the parameters. When I am not, it is good to say, “Stop! Think on these things.”

By the way, anxious thoughts cannot occur inside the parameters. So come on now, “Stop! Think on these things.”

For additional thoughts on the subject go to:

Thinking on the Morally Excellent

Even if you are a student of art you may not recognize his name. Bertoldo de Giovani. None of his work has endured. His significance is found in that he was the tutor of the greatest sculptor of all time: Michelangelo. He was only 14 years old when he came to Giovani, but it was already obvious that Michelangelo was uniquely gifted. One day Giovani came to the studio to find him toying with a piece of sculptor that was far beneath his abilities. Giovani grabbed a hammer, stomped across the room, and smashed the work into tiny pieces, shouting his way into history. He exclaimed, “Michelangelo! Talent is cheap, dedication is costly!”

The pursuit of excellence in all walks of life will take a great deal of dedication. Certainly that is true in our Christian life as well. That is why in Philippians 4:8, the apostle Paul challenges us to think on things that are excellent. The word excellence in the Greek language is derived from the same root as the word meaning “to please.”  Biblically speaking, when we are pursuing the things that are excellent we are seeking to please God not man (Galations 1:10). When Jesus Christ was on earth he modeled that lifestyle. He always did that which was pleasing to the Father (John 8:29). He did not live selfishly in order to please himself (Romans 15:3). In fact, his overriding desire was to know the will of His Heavenly Father and do it (John 5:30).  The Christian, then, is to be dedicated to the pursuit of the things that God calls excellent.

With that understanding in mind, what would Giovani do ifuix he examined your life with a hammer? Would he discover someone bent on seeking the will of God, and doing it?  Or would he find you tinkering with things that have no eternal significance?  One is the pursuit of excellence. The other? Nothing more than trivial pursuit.