Dear LOFT Family: Below is the link to Sunday’s sermon that I preached on anxiety. Depending on the context, fear and anxiety may be one of four types: (1) a God-given emotional response for our benefit, (2) a disordered physiological response that is not sinful, (3) a natural consequence of sin, or (4) sinful responses to God’s providential care. The anxiety that I was hoping to address in my sermon was #3 and #4. Let me explain:
1) A God-given emotional response for our benefit - If confronted with an immediate threat to our life—such as encountering a wild, dangerous animal—we should be respectfully fearful enough to flee for our own safety and survival. An immediate feeling of anxiety or fear may trigger a natural, God-given emotional response for survival. That sort of anxiety is rarely what we’d consider sinful.
2) A disordered physiological response that is not sinful (i.e. clinical anxiety). For some people, anxiety manifest as a physiological malfunction that has become both disordered and debilitating. Some symptoms include persistent anxious thoughts on most days of the week for six months, when the anxiety interferes with daily functioning, or when you have anxiety-related symptoms (such as trouble sleeping). These are often symptoms of a medical condition such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or social anxiety. In such cases a person should seek help from a counselor or physician. This sort of anxiety is also not the type we’d consider sinful.
3) A natural consequence of sin - A prime example is if someone takes recreational drugs and develops an anxiety disorder. Similarly, someone cheating on their spouse may become anxious about their marriage falling apart, and someone who gambles away all their money may become anxious about how they’re going to pay their bills. In these cases the anxiety is the result of sin.
4) Sinful responses to God’s providential care. This is anxiety that results because we lack trust in God. This is the type to whom Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself” (Matt. 6:34) and Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything” (Phil. 4:6)—and say it’s obvious that to be anxious is sinful.
I realize that I did not address this distinction but had meant to make the focus evident through the examples and illustrations used within the sermon. I apologize for any confusion I may have caused. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.