by Mac Hammond
Down through the years, I have seen many Christians who feel they need to “help God” accomplish His plan and purpose in their lives. They think if they’re not doing all the right things then God’s plan for their lives might be delayed and possibly thwarted!
For example, a believer knows he is called into the five-fold ministry. But when it doesn’t come to pass as quickly as he thinks it should, he thinks it’s delayed because he hasn’t prayed enough… he hasn’t studied the Word enough…he hasn’t confessed enough scriptures. He begins to pray more, study more, confess more and, eventually, he enters into a sort of “works program” in which he unconsciously tries to “earn” his calling.
I have to confess, that used to be my tendency. I subconsciously thought I had to “earn” whatever I got from God. I had to earn it through more prayer, more study of the Word. Earn it through harder work, longer hours…earn it, earn it, earn it.
Early on in my ministry, I used to think if I made a mistake in cash-flow management in the church’s budget, I could jeopardize the plan of God. The result would mean there wouldn’t be enough money to do what God wanted us to do. This belief became a great burden of responsibility. I would, at times, be burdened down with the care of it.
A “Works” Mentality
Finally the Lord ministered to me the scripture in Eph. 2:8–9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
The Lord showed me I had a “works” mentality—a mentality that believed His plan wouldn’t come to pass in my life unless I “worked” for it. But thank God, He showed me there was not one thing I could do to cause His plan to come to pass in my life. His plan comes about through His grace. Without God, we’re not able to do anything. But with God’s grace, we can do all things. We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
God has a wonderful plan for each of our lives. But you have to understand, it’s His plan. It’s not your plan. You can’t make it happen. You’re not smart enough, wise enough, or able in any way to bring it to pass. We can only fulfill His plan for our lives through His strength and ability—His grace.
When you become worried about the different areas of your life—your marriage, your job, your kids, your ministry—that is an indication you’ve assumed the responsibility for them. When you worry about something, you take ownership of its outcome. What is that? That’s works! A works program cuts God’s grace out of your life. And that is a bad place to be.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7, to cast all our care upon the Lord. What is a care? It’s simply another way of saying “worry.” Worry is your primary indicator you do not qualify for the grace of God. Therefore, it is vital we learn how not to worry.
Webster’s Dictionary defines worry as this: to torment oneself with disturbing thoughts. You torment yourself with disturbing thoughts! The disturbing thoughts don’t come from your wife or your husband. Not even the Devil can torment you with disturbing thoughts. No one can “make” you think about anything. The Devil can speak lies to your mind, but he can’t make you dwell on them.
I want to read you one more definition of worry: to seize by the throat with the teeth and shake or mangle. When I read that, it suddenly occurred to me: That’s what the Devil is doing to us when he is able to promote his patterns of thought in our lives. When you yield your mind to thoughts of worry, the effect of it is as though the Devil has seized you by the throat with his teeth and is shaking and mangling you.
Step One: Forget the Past and Take No Thought for the Morrow
I’d like to give you three steps you can take to stop yourself from worrying. First let me say, worry is rooted in either the past or the future. When your worry is rooted in the past, you are regretting things you’ve said or done. Perhaps you’re worried about a business deal you just made and how it will affect your finances, your career, and your marriage. Or, perhaps, you’re worried about a mistake or sin you made in your past.
What does the Bible say about our past? Phil. 3:13 says, “…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.”
The reason we are to forget the past is because it keeps us from pressing toward the future. The first step in defeating worry is to not dwell on the mistakes or sins of the past. If you’ve repented and asked God to forgive you, then the Bible says about your sin, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:12). God completely removes your sins from your life. As far as He is concerned, they’re gone!
If He’s removed sin and past mistakes out of your life, what are you doing thinking about them? God wants you to forget the past. If He says to forget the past, then that means you have the ability to do it. You simply have to make a decision to do it.
Worry About the Future
Next, if worry is not rooted in something in the past, then it’s rooted in the future. For many people, not knowing how their future will unfold is a great source of worry and fear for them.
Perhaps you just got a notice from the IRS informing you that you’re going to be audited. You have two months to prepare for it. All sorts of questions come to your mind: “Did I miss something on my return? What are they looking for? What kind of IRS agent will be assigned to my case?” It would be tempting to worry not knowing the outcome of the audit.
What does God say about our tomorrows? Look at Matthew 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”
God tells us to do the same thing about our future as He does our past—forget about it. You’ve got enough challenges to deal with in the present. You just concern yourself with being in faith, praising God, and have a good attitude today! Don’t even think about tomorrow, because you can’t do anything about it.
Now God is not telling us to not make plans. God expects us to plan and lay a course for our future. What He means by “not taking thought for tomorrow,” is simply don’t worry about its outcome.
Step Two: Don’t Murmur!
The second step is not to murmur or complain. When you put voice to your worry through complaining, you set in motion a spiritual principle in the negative.
The Word teaches that putting voice to your faith is what makes your faith produce. You frame your tomorrows by what you speak today! We’ve always taught the positive side of that principle, but it works in the negative sense as well.
When you murmur and complain, you are putting voice to your fear. You’re framing the tomorrow you step into. That’s what Job did. He was in fear when it came to his children’s right standing with God. He reinforced that fear by speaking it out and responding to it with corresponding actions. As a result, Job said in Job 3:25, “The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” Job literally framed his tomorrow by the words he spoke.
Another example would be the children of Israel in the wilderness. They were on their way to the Promised Land. The way was difficult and they began to complain and murmur. Their complaining cost them God’s perfect will for their lives. It cut them off from the grace of God. The generation of complainers never entered the Promised Land.
Complaining opens the door to negative things, and it just may cost you your “promised land.” Complaining will block God’s grace from working in your life just as it did with the Israelites. You have to discipline yourself to never give voice to murmuring and complaining.
But it’s not enough to simply stop voicing your complaints. When your mind is filled with thoughts of worry, you need the power of God to break that stronghold. Praising and worshiping God releases His power. So, when you start to worry and you’re tempted to complain, replace that complaint with praise to God. Thank Him for His grace to go through this situation.
The harder it gets to stop worrying, the more you need to praise Him. Praising God will turn that situation around. It will break the force of worry trying to attach itself to your mind.
Step Three: Focus on Someone Else
The third step to breaking the force of worry in your life is, in my opinion, the most important. Look at Philippians 2:3–7, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: … But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”
Jesus took upon Himself the form of a servant. The Word says to “let this mind be in you.” We must follow Jesus’ example and become a servant to others. This principle is one of the greatest keys to success in the kingdom of God.
The most powerful thing you can do to give worry a death blow in your life is to begin concerning yourself with the needs of other people. The principle is this: If you’re concerned with somebody else, you’re not going to be focusing on yourself.
You need to serve the body of Christ in whatever capacity God has called you to serve in. Focus on the spiritual condition of your neighborhood and on your community. Ask God how He can use you to change the spiritual condition where you live.
As you remove the focus from off yourself and onto those around you, the force of worry will be broken in your life.
What have we learned so far?
Casting our cares upon the Lord involves three steps. Number one: Forget the mistakes of the past and don’t worry about the future. You can’t do anything to change the past or the future, so there’s no sense in worrying about it.
Number two: Don’t give voice to murmuring and complaining. Instead, begin to praise and worship God. Worship accesses the power of God in our lives, and it will break the force of worry in our minds.
Number three: Be a servant. Be concerned with the needs of others. Focusing on the needs of others will stop you from focusing on yourself.
Practicing these three steps will deal a death blow to the force of worry in your life. And let me tell you, living a life free of worry and fear is wonderful! You can be content in whatever state you are in. You can have the peace of God which passes understanding and joy unspeakable, full of glory when you learn how not to worry. This peace and joy is what the Bible calls true riches.
That is our goal. You can have it. It’s up to you.