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An important lesson of the Christian life is that the heart of the battle is a fight not between abstract commands (do this! don’t do that!) but rather arguments. Unbelief does not just offer dictates; it offers reasons why we don’t need to trust the Lord. And to counter that, gospel-flavored belief argues with our unbelief. In other words, it provides reasons for why trusting the Lord is always the good and wise things to do.

Here are some notes on how this might work with the temptation to fret and worry and be anxious and unsettled, rather than acting in joyful, confident, restful faith. I’ve included the argument of unbelief, a Scripture passage, and some observations on how the argument works.

1. Anxiety is worth it because God is too far away to hear my needs.

Philippians 4:5-6: ”The Lord is at hand; [therefore] do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

  • The truth: “The Lord is at hand”
  • What is prohibited as a result: “do not be anxious about anything”
  • The alternative that is prescribed as a result: “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God [i.e., the Lord who is near to hear and to help].”

2. Anxiety is worth it because God does not care for me and I need to get myself out of this humiliating stage of life.

1 Peter 5:6-7: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

  • The truth: God cares for me.
  • The command: I am to humble myself.
  • How? By casting all of my anxieties on him.
  • A corollary: Carrying rather than casting my anxieties is an expression of pride.

3. Anxiety is worth it because if my problems aren’t solved I could die.

Matthew 6:25: “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?”

  • You still have eternal life even if you have no food
  • You will still have a resurrection body even if you are physically deprived.
  • Even if your struggle ends in death you will not have lost the most important things; therefore, don’t spend your time being anxious about lesser things.

4. Anxiety is worth it because I have no practical evidence in the world that God values me or will take care of me. 

Matthew 6:26, 28-30: “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 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?”

  • God values the birds and the grass, which he richly provides for and adorns.
  • God values me much more than the birds and the grass.
  • Therefore, as an argument from the lesser to the greater, obviously he will be even more invested in providing for all of my needs.

5. Anxiety is worth it because of how much it helps my life.

Matthew 6:27: ”Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” [Answer: no one.]

  • The truth: Anxiety can’t add a single hour to my life.
  • Presupposition: I shouldn’t spend my time on pointless activities that have no benefits.
  • Result: I shouldn’t be anxious.

6. Anxiety is worth it because no one else is going to look out for my needs.

Matthew 6:31, 33: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For . . . 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.”

  • The truth: God knows I have needs for food, drink, clothing
  • The implication: When God knows a need and he loves the needy he is glad to be the supplier of the need.
  • The result: My focus can be on God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, knowing that my needs will be taken care of.

7. Anxiety is worth it; after all, everyone does it and it seems to work for them.

Matthew 6:31-32: “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. . . .”

  • The truth: Unbelievers are anxious about how their needs are going to be met.
  • Presupposition: Christians are not to act like unbelievers.
  • Result: We should not be anxious like the world is anxious.

8. Anxiety is worth it because so many troubles are coming to me in the future if I don’t worry about them now.

Matthew 6:34: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

  • Tomorrow is going to do just fine without your help, but thanks anyway.

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7 thoughts on “8 Arguments for Why You Should Be Anxious Today (and How the Bible Responds)”

  1. Alejandro Basurto says:

    Thanks for the post, it is really encouraging and will need to go back and back again to Philippians, 1 Peter and especially Matthew 6.

    Personally, I struggle a lot during plane trips and I must remember that if that plane crashes, death will be the sweetest thing for me to have; for I will be united to my Lord and my God for eternity.

  2. Sandra says:

    Thank you so much for this. I praise God for this! I’m crying because I suffered with anxiety and panic attacks after the death of my sister in law. I ended up on antidepressants. That didn’t work. Now I’m tapering off of them and I’m on the last dosage. It’s been hard and we just lost our only son a few months ago. I didn’t go into a panic attack or have a nervous breakdown. I have the support of my church family and our family. Most of all, God has truly given me peace in the pain and I can still rejoice in the suffering. During this ordeal, I’m still tapering off of it. I should have been in a mental hospital but God has carried me through this. I’m still grieving but through a His grace and mercy He’s all that I needed and I love Him so very much! I’m totally dependent on Him and Him alone. He’s Sovereign and in control and He loves me. If this is what it took to bring me to the Lord, it was worth it! I’m being conformed to the image of His Son,Jesus Christ. Amen, it is so!!! It is well with my soul.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Thank you, Sandra, for this God-honoring testimony of God’s kindness and faithfulness to you in unbelievable loss.

  3. I really appreciate this idea of ‘arguing’ against temptations. In fact, I think that so much more of our Christian life should be based on solid reasons and arguments. Even in the Gospel, I think there is benefit to some sanctified argument. While we should proclaim the Gospel simply, we also need to understand the devil’s arguments, so that we are ‘not ignorant of his devices’ and so that we can more effectively counter them with arguments from the Scripture.

  4. Eunice says:

    Thank you for this! I am a very anxious person, so this was very convicting and encouraging to my soul.

  5. Lauren says:

    While this post is no doubt biblical the term anxiety has become loaded. Anxiety for some is not a choice but a chemical imbalance. A person can be steeped in the word of God, trusting in prayer and reminding themselves of such passages but still experience anxiety and panic attacks. I’m sure this is not the kind of anxiety you were addressing but the lounge between the two is fuzzy and it’s easy to throw guilt on those that shouldn’t feel it. How do you encourage such a person from scripture?

  6. Gunther says:

    Thanks Lauren, I have become anxious rececntly but never had this issue previously. But how should I deal with this if it is caused by a decrease of dopamine in my brain – the result of parkinson’s. My anxiety is not born of sin.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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