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Respectable Sins: Anxiety, Worry, & Frustration

Recently I began a series on Respectable Sins, you can read the introductory post here and week two here. This week, we will deal with the second of many sins we as Christians ignore, that being anxiety, frustration, and worry.

Definitions

Anxiety, worry, and frustration are common terms that we use everyday, but what do they mean?

  • Anxiety | It is the feeling of nervousness or unease, which generally occurs when an event is imminent or something is uncertain.
  • Worry | While a synonym for anxiety, it tends to be associated “with more long-term difficult or painful circumstances for which there appears to be no resolution” [1]. 
  • Frustration | It is the feeling of being upset or annoyed especially because you do not have the ability to change or achieve something you would like to change or achieve.

Why are these Labeled as Sins?

Anxiety and Worry

When we are anxious or worried, we show that we are fearful of the future, whether that be immediate or long-term. We do not trust that God’s sovereign plan is right.

Frustration

Frustration is similar, but it does not involve fear. Rather, it involves us being upset or even angry at someone or something for getting in the way of our plans. When we do this we forget that God is sovereignly in control of everything that happens in our lives. Instead of trusting in God, we trust in our own intellect or know how [2].

Summary

All three, anxiety, worry, and frustration, are sins because they show a “distrust in God” and “a lack of acceptance of God’s providence in [o]ur lives” [3]. They also are closely akin to ungodliness because during these times we are living as if God is not in control of our lives [4].

How Does Anxiety and Frustration Manifest Itself?

Anxiety and worry manifests itself in many different ways. Here are just a few examples:

  • Being uneasy and constantly thinking about making your connecting flight.
  • Being uneasy and constantly thinking about if you will have a job in order to provide for your family.
  • Being uneasy and constantly thinking about if you will be able to have kids when you and your significant other start trying.
  • Being uneasy and constantly thinking about a public speaking engagement, interview, date, conversation, etc.

Frustration manifests itself in many different way, as well. Here are just a few examples:

  • Being angry and upset when your computer will not print so you can turn in your paper on time.
  • Being angry and upset when others do not see your point of view or agree with you.
  • Being angry and upset when you are sitting in five o’clock traffic and only moving one inch every few minutes.

Remedy

We can begin to rid these sins from our lives:

First, by realizing God will take care of us in times of need.

Matthew 6:25-34 is a perfect verse in which to turn, when we are anxious or worried. Six times we are told not to be worried or anxious. Instead, we are to trust in God, realizing He is the sovereign Lord, who will take care of us.

Second, by meditating on Scripture.

Take for instance, Psalm 139:16, it can help us remember God is in control when we get frustrated, anxious, or worried. The Psalm reads,

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

We learn from the Psalmist that God does have a plan for our lives. While His plan may not be our plan, we can trust Him in every situation, believing that His plan for our life is perfect and holy.

Psalm 139 is not the only Scripture we can look to when we are anxious, worried, or frustrated. Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:6, 1 Peter 5:7, Ephesians 4:31, and James 1:19-20 are a few others that would be helpful for us to meditate on during seasons of frustration, worry, or anxiety.

Third, by learning to rest in the fact that there is a reason for everything that happens.

Since no event is purposeless, we should take that opportunity to ask God what He would have us learn. It may be that God is using a situation to show us that we lack trust in Him, that we want to plan things on our own, or that we are living our life with no regard for His will.

“Sometimes God uses events that tempt us toward frustration [or anxiety] to get our attention, or even to push us further in an area we need to grow in. In any case, there are no events in our lives that do not ultimately come to us from the invisible hand of God, even though they come through some visible cause [5].”

Fourth, by praying.

We should pray that the Holy Spirit would work in our lives to remove our anxiety, worry, or frustration, allowing us to react to a situation in a godly manner. We should also pray that God would provide us with the practical wisdom we need in order to handle the situation. If our printer is broken, we need to know how to fix it or where we can go and print our document, so we can meet our deadline [6].

Scripture to Memorize

Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7; Psalms 139:16; Ephesians 4:31; James 1:19-20

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What causes you to worry, be anxious, or get frustrated? Is there anything you can learn from these situations?
  2. Do you write these sins off, thinking they are natural for everyone or are apart of my temperament, so they must be ok?
  3. Does knowing that God is sovereign help you when it comes to these sins?
  4. Do you believe frequent frustrations show you have a control issue?

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 67.
[2] Ibid., 69-70.
[3] Ibid., 64.
[4] Ibid., 69.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.

Structure of post taken from Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 63-70.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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