We live in an anxious society built off of creating anxiety. You need only watch recent political campaigning to observe it. If you didn’t know you needed to worry about Ebola or the border you do now. Or take in a few commercials. Until that hair growth commercial began showing you were unaware that your bald spot was. You’ve added that to a list of things that are growing: your anxieties.
We all have them. Some are acute. They’re actually the good kind. For instance, if your child is about to run into the street and a car is barreling down your road you will—and should—feel instant anxiety. A real threat is present and you need to act.
But some of our anxieties are chronic. They are the bad kind. These are present due to a threat that is perceived or imagined. For instance, a case of Ebola is mentioned in a location hundreds of miles away and you suddenly have sense of threat to your health.
There are plenty of things to create anxiety: the economy, the government, terrorist threats around the world, gasoline prices that affect grocery prices. We worry about our jobs. We’re told one day that chocolate is good for you and the next it can be harmful. So we just pretend we did not hear that revision.
There’s an interesting word in the Greek language for anxiety. The word is merimnao, a compound word meaning “to divide the mind.” When our mind is divided we worry. We feel anxious.
Maybe you’re feeling that way today. Wouldn’t you like to be single-minded rather than double-minded? There is a way.
Jesus speaks to this in his teaching. He says clearly: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Funny he should mention money. One study asked respondents to select their top three fears from a list of 10. “While two personal fears, losing a family member and being alone for the rest of one’s life, took the lead, financial fears made up 66 percent of the responses.”
First century anxiety was not much different than ours. So he gives us some steps to conquering anxiety.
- Decide what you will focus on. He narrows the choices to God or money. Make a list of what divides your mind. Then pick the most important for your life.
- Then seek after that one thing. I hope its God. Jesus says he already knows what you need before you ask him. And, if you seek after him, the promise is that the other things you need you will be given. Things like food and drink and clothes. You’ll have your needs. You’ll have enough.
Try it. And see if you become less anxious and more single-minded.
Question: What causes your mind to be divided?