The Most Challenging Command

Posted on March 12, 2021

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By David Ettinger

The Christian Challenge
One passage I see coming to fruition more than any other is 2 Timothy 3:1-9, which begins: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.”

I won’t record the remaining 8 verses, but some of the key phrases are: “slanderers,” “unholy,” “without self-control,” “brutal,” “haters of good,” “treacherous,” and “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Human history has been rife with such behavior, but in these days it is being played out at the highest levels of society, particularly among the leaders of nations. If you catch up on the news daily, you are acutely aware of this reality.

Things will only get worse, and Christians will continue to be challenged in one particular area. As society and the culture grow ever more anti-Christian, anti-Bible, and anti-God, believers will have to look at one specific command and determine how to obey it.

Making it Happen
The command concerns worrying – specifically, how Christians shouldn’t be doing it:

  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
  • “And which of you by worrying can add a single day to his life’s span?” (Matthew 6:27).
  • “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear for clothing?’” (Matthew 6:31).
  • “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

By human standards, this command is impossible to execute. Both the Lord Jesus (in Matthew) and the apostle Paul (in Philippians) are not telling us to ignore the problems, challenges, disappointments, fears, and heartaches of life, but that we should not anguish over them.

Yet, anguishing is the most natural thing in the world. Furthermore, in the Philippians verse, Paul tells us that not only are we not to worry and anguish, but to be thankful! How in the world do we do this? How in the world do we counteract that which comes so naturally with that which is against our very nature?

Two factors have helped me.

First, just knowing that worrying and anguishing is against the Lord’s will makes me stop, think, consider, and slow down. When my nerves are most on edge, I tell myself, Stop! You know that God has clearly commanded against the very thing you are doing right now. This, at least, puts a halt to the extremity of my anguish, allowing me to think rationally.

Second. I acknowledge God’s desire that I not worry, but that I cannot do it on my own. I say something like this: Lord, this situation is filled with strife and all kinds of evil, how am I NOT to worry? I have no idea how to obey this command. However, I know this is Your will, so please, not only remove this anguish from me, but replace it with thanksgiving. Again, Lord, I am incapable of achieving this on my own; only you can do this work within me. So please, Lord, rid me of my worry and anguish in Your power.

What About You?
I’m not offering this as advice; simply as my method of obeying this incredibly challenging command.

What about you? How do you deal with worry, stress, and anguish in light of the Lord’s command NOT to?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and insights!