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Worry Is a Bad Habit

October 8th, 2010

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.” Philippians 4:6 NLT

“Worry creates anxiety and misdirects focus to ‘what if’ instead of ‘what is.’”

My thoughts today are that “worry is a bad habit.”

Ever have a habit that you wish you didn’t? Of course, you have! They are easier to get than to get rid of, once they continue to be allowed. A habit begins innocently enough as a simple indulgence, soon becoming uncontrollable with every repetition without restraint. I can understand the temptation to repeat what brings you pleasure, but why allow habits that cause pain to yourself and others? That just doesn’t make sense, and yet people do it all the time.

There are many habits, good and bad, but let’s consider a habit that is so common and never beneficial. Worry, when allowed, becomes that kind of habit. Worry adds nothing to your life but takes a lot from it. Worrying begins innocently enough, usually about some small thing. Having gained a foothold, worry can and will soon creep into any and every area of your life, becoming bigger, bolder, and stronger. Too quickly, worry becomes a habit hard to break. You can break the habit of worry; it is not easy to do. It can be done; it must be done.

Worry is a destructive, spiritual force. See 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV. Worry is not spiritually neutral; it is always harmful. Worry begins with a seed thought of concern, and then grows in your mind, going deeply into your soul. The sorrow of worry and its resulting anxiety is the loss of what it displaces. Worry displaces trust, and peace, and distorts your expectations into the worst possibilities. Worry does not allow room for healthy emotions or contrasting thoughts. Once allowed as a guest, worry will wrongly and quickly assume its place as head of the house!

You cannot remove worry; you have to replace it. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this . . His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NLT. Replace anxiety with prayer about your needs and thankfulness  for God’s faithfulness.

To be rid of worry, you have to change your focus. Most worry is about things that have not happened yet, your projection of a future you fear. Worry creates anxiety by misdirecting a focus that dwells on “what if,” instead of “what is!” The first is concerned with negatively perceived possibilities; the latter deals with present reality, resting on a firm trust in God’s care for your future. See Jeremiah 29:11 NLT.

To conquer worry, you must choose and control your thoughts. Do not allow them to govern themselves. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on such things . . and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 NIV.

To choose your thoughts successfully, you will have to ask God’s help. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 NIV. Anxious thoughts – not fleeting, but enduring – are an “offensive way” that you cannot indulge and still obey God. Read Matthew 6:19-34 NIV.

My prayer for you today is to live worry-free, secure in the providential care of God.

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