Are you a worrier? If so, you’re certainly not alone. A 2015 study in Britain found that 86% of adults considered themselves to be worriers. According to that survey the average adult spent one hour and 50 minutes a day worrying, which adds up to nearly 28 days a year. I couldn’t find any similar studies that were done here in the United States, but I can’t imagine that the results would be a whole lot different. That seems to be evidenced by the fact that 40 million adults here in this country are affected by anxiety disorders and over $42 billion is spent each year treating those people.
But for those of us who are disciples of Jesus, being a worrier is a problem. Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta summarizes why in this recent Tweet:
Worry and worship cannot exist in the same space. One always displaces the other. Choose worship.
Although he didn’t word it the same way, I think that is the message Peter has for his readers, and for us, as he wraps up the letter we’ve been studying for the last 11 weeks. In many ways, the Christians of Peter’s day faced a culture that was a lot like ours in the way that it treated those who lived boldly for Jesus. So there was a lot to legitimately worry about. But Peter wrote his letter to those believers to let them know that they could triumph in their trials if they would replace their worry with worship.
Let’s read what Peter has to say about that. Although I obviously won’t have time to comment on the entire chapter in detail, I’m going to read all of 1 Peter chapter 5:
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
(1 Peter 5:1-14 ESV)
Before the resurrection, Peter was a big worrier. He worried about drowning when he got out of the boat and tried to walk on the water even though Jesus was right there with him. He worried about Jesus being crucified and tried to tell Jesus not to go to the cross. He was so worried about what was going to happen to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that he pulled out his sword and tried to take on a battalion of Roman soldiers.
But here he is about 30 years later and he has obviously learned to deal with his anxiety in a God-honoring way and he shares what he has learned about that as he closes his letter. Peter leaves us with this final thought:
We can triumph in our trials if we
replace our worry with worship
In the dictionary I have on my desk, there are only three words between “worry” and “worship”. But in real life, those two concepts are certainly much further apart than that. So how do I make that leap from worry to worship? Let’s see how Peter helps us answer that question.
There are a number of commands in this passage, but the two that I want us to focus on this morning are right in the middle of the passage and are at the heart of what Peter wants to communicate here. The first is found in verse 5:
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another…
This command deals with exercising humility toward one another. I’m going to come back to that idea a little later.
The second command is found in verse 6:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…
This command deals with humility towards God and it is going to be our main focus this morning. But before we look at it in more detail, we first need to note the words that Peter writes between these two commands:
…for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Here Peter cites Proverbs 3:34 in much the same way that James also uses it in his letter to remind his readers that God values humility. With that in mind, let’s take a more detailed look at verses 6 and 7, since they are at the heart of Peter’s teaching here:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Many of you are probably familiar with these verses, especially verse 7. Perhaps there are some of you here, like me, who have even memorized verse 7. The problem with that, at least in my case, is that I memorized that verse in the NIV translation which puts a period at the end of verse 6 and begins verse 7 with a new command:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
The problem with that translation is that in the underlying Greek, verse 7 is not a new sentence, but rather the continuation of the sentence that begins in verse 6. The other issue is that the verb “cast” is not a command, but rather a participle – “casting” - that is connected to the command in verse 6 – “humble yourselves…” So the idea here is that the way that we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand is by casting all our anxieties on Him. That means that it’s not appropriate to take verse 7 and use it alone without connecting it to verse 6.
At this point many of you may be thinking that you can see the idea of worry here when Peter writes about casting our anxieties on God, but you really don’t see anything at all about worship. But I would suggest to you that even though Peter doesn’t use the word “worship” here, the concept is found throughout this passage.
There are a lot of good definitions of worship, but my favorite has always been the one developed by Louie Giglio:
Worship is our response, both personal and corporate, to God for who He is, and what He has done; expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live.
Given that definition, we can begin to see how the concept of worship is found here in this passage. As we’ll see in a moment, Peter spends a lot of time writing about who God is and what He has done here in this passage and then he gives us a number of commands to guide our response to that revelation of God. So this really is about a passage about worship and about how that kind of worshipful living can replace our worry.
So let’s our remaining time to see what we can learn about…
How to replace my worry with worship:
1. Let God carry my load
This is the idea that Peter communicates with the word “casting”. Before doing some further study I assumed that word had something to do with fishing, especially given Peter’s background. But in reality the word has a completely different meaning. That word is used only one other place in the Bible, where it is translated “throwing”:
And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.
(Luke 19:35 ESV)
This verb expresses the idea of taking a load off of something or someone and transferring it to something or someone else. So as Peter uses it here in his letter, the idea of casting our anxieties on God means that we take the burdens that arise due the hardships and struggles in our lives and we transfer them to God and let Him carry them so that we no longer have to. In essence those anxieties become God’s responsibility rather than ours. And guess what, if I do that effectively and consistently then I no longer need to worry about those things, right?
The fact is that God did not design us to carry the burden of worry, fret and anxiety. Those things are simply too much for us to bear physically and emotionally. We are learning more and more about how this kind of pressure and stress impacts our physical and emotional health. When our body and mind undergo the negative influence of worry for too long they eventually break down.
The verb tense of “casting” indicates that this is to be a one-time action and not something we do over and over again. I think this is where the fishing analogy can actually be helpful. I like to fish for trout, especially in the streams up in the White Mountains. And there are several different methods that can be used to do that. Some people fish with bait like worms. Those who do that cast their bait into the right spot and leave it there for the fish to find. I prefer to fish with a lure. That requires me to cast out that lure and then to immediately reel it back in so that hopefully it will look like something that the fish likes to eat.
That’s a pretty good picture of the two different ways we can cast our anxieties on God. We can do that like I like to fish – constantly casting our cares on God only to keep reeling them back in and then casting them back out and reeling them back in. But if we keep taking back our anxieties like that, we’re going to worry rather than worship.
On the other hand, if I just cast my cares on God and leave them there, and even better, cut my line, then I leave those burdens with God and I don’t have to worry about them. When I do that with my anxieties, then I am humbling myself under God’s mighty hand.
Peter has already written about the concept of humbling oneself under the mighty hand of God by letting Him carry the load several times in his letter. Let’s look briefly at just a couple of them.
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
(1 Peter 2:23 ESV)
In essence, Jesus humbled Himself under God’s mighty hand by entrusting His anxiety to His Father.
Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
(1 Peter 4:19 ESV)
Peter encouraged those who suffering to entrust their entire lives to God, which is really just another way of saying that we are to let God carry our load.
We can triumph in our trials if we
replace our worry with worship
And that begins when we take our burdens and anxieties off of ourselves and place them onto God and let Him carry them.
My guess is that most of us would like to live our lives like that, but we don’t do that as consistently as we’d like. If we’re honest, we’d have to admit that we have a tendency to keep reeling in our anxieties and worrying about them rather than leaving them with God. That was also true of Peter’s audience so he shares three things that we need to remember in order to replace our worry with worship by letting God carry the load.
• how much God loves me
In verse 7, Peter gives us the reason that we are to let God carry our load – because he cares for us.
The idea of God caring for us is seen throughout this passage. In verse 2 we see that we are part of God’s flock, under the care of the chief Shepherd, Jesus. The picture of a shepherd and his sheep is used frequently in the Bible to show the way that a good shepherd loves and cares for his sheep.
In verse 10, we see, as we’ve seen frequently in Peter’s letter, that God is a God of all grace who has called us to his eternal glory in Christ. Once again we see here that God has called us to be His children regardless of the fact that we have done absolutely nothing to deserve that. God loves us even though we are unlovable. And not only has He called us, He has also promised that He will make sure we receive the inheritance that He has prepared for us.
I think one of the reasons we worry about things is because when we get in the midst of trials there is a tendency for us to think that perhaps God just doesn’t love us anymore and that is why we are undergoing those trials. But that is just our adversary the devil, who is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking to get us to think wrongly about God’s love for us. It’s the same tactic he used in the Garden with Eve when he tried to get her to think that God was withholding something from her because He didn’t really love her.
By the way, I think Peter’s imagery of the devil being like a roaring lion was no doubt influenced by the Christians who were being fed to the lions in the public arena by Nero in order to try and scare Christians away from their faith.
For the genuine disciple of Jesus, trials are never an indication that God no longer loves us. In fact, those trials are often just the opposite. They are actually evidence of just how much God loves us.
There are two reasons that God allows trials into the lives of His children. The first one, as we have seen throughout Peter’s letter, is that He uses those trials to prove the genuineness of our faith. When our faith is proven to be genuine by the way we handle trials, those trials serve both to encourage us and to bear witness to others who are not yet part of God’s kingdom.
The other possible reason for trials in the life of a disciple of Jesus is described in Hebrews 12. There we find that God sometimes uses trials to discipline us as a loving Father.
• God is sovereign
We can worry because we don’t remember how much God loves us but we can also worry because deep down inside we really don’t believe that God is capable of bringing us through our trials and bringing good out of those trials. In other words, we don’t really believe God is sovereign.
But once again this passage is filled with descriptions of the sovereignty of God. We see that in verse 6 where we are commanded to humble ourselves under the “mighty hand of God”. That idea is expanded upon by Peter when he points out that at the proper time God will exalt those who worship rather than worry. It is not that God is not powerful enough to keep us from or remove us from our trials. It is just that in His sovereign wisdom, He is waiting for exactly the right time to exalt and vindicate those who remain faithful to Him.
The sovereignty of God is probably best seen in verse 10. There we learn that there will be a day when the God of all grace will step in and “restore, confirm, strengthen and establish” His children. In other words, there is going to be a day when God will make everything right, when good will be rewarded and evil will be punished. As Peter points out in that verse, even if our suffering encompasses much of our life here on earth, it is really only “a little while” compared to eternity.
When I worry, it means that I’m trusting in myself more than I’m trusting in God. If I remember how much God loves me and that He is sovereign, then the only logical response is to let Him carry my load. And that’s worship.
• I am not alone
This is where verses 1-5 come in. At first, Peter’s instructions to the church leaders and members seems to be a bit out of place in a letter that is dealing with how to triumph in the midst of the trials that were occurring because of the faith of his readers.
But I think what Peter is trying to do here is to remind these Christians that they are not alone as they go through these difficult times. Not only is God with them, as we have seen repeatedly in this letter, but they also have their brothers and sisters in Christ alongside them during those difficult times.
As our culture increasingly turns hostile to Christianity, there is often a tendency for those pressures from the outside to get Christians to turn against each other. That is why Peter commands everyone in the church to clothe themselves with humility towards one another. The verb “clothe” is a unique word that referred to putting on an apron which a servant would put on before doing his tasks. I’m pretty sure Peter had in mind what Jesus had done in the upper room the night before His crucifixion when He girded Himself and took up the towel to wash the disciples’ feet.
A properly functioning church in which the leaders lead with the heart of a shepherd and the people follow godly leadership serves to protect and encourage Christians when persecution arises. When the leaders of the church remain faithful to the truth of God’s Word they serve to protect the flock from being deceived by the world around them as long as those members submit to that godly leadership. And as the members of the body mutually humble themselves they encourage each other to remember the love and sovereignty of God and therefore encourage people to worship rather than worry.
It’s also important to note that the command to humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God in verse 6 uses plural verbs and pronouns. So while that is certainly something each of us need to do as individuals, there is also a sense in which this is to be done within the community of believers that comprise the body of Christ.
Unfortunately, because of our pride, we’re often ashamed to share our problems with our brothers and sisters in Christ. But when we hang on to those things like that, it only increases our tendency to worship rather than worry.
We can triumph in our trials if we
replace our worry with worship
As we’ve seen this morning that requires us to let God carry our loads as we remember how much he loves us, that he is sovereign and that he has not left us alone. Let’s commit to living our lives like that, knowing that we are going to constantly face trials that are going to tempt us to worry rather than worship.
As we close let me help you make this really practical.
1. I’ve given you some space on your outline to make a list of the things that you worry about. So take some time this week to honestly list those things you worry about.
2. Once you have that list, spend some time in prayer, releasing those things to God. Commit to letting Him bear that burden. Paul writes about the importance of praying about the things that we tend to worry about:
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
(Philippians 4:6 ESV)
3. Thank God that He loves you and that He is sovereign.
4. Share your list with another believer and ask him or her to pray for you.
Once you do that, you’ll be free to worship rather than worry no matter what trials you might face.
• So go ahead and sit in that emergency room and worship rather that worry.
• Go to that job interview and worship rather than worry.
• Go take your test and worship rather than worry. (In that case, your worship will probably be enhanced by studying.)
• Stare at your bank statement and worship rather than worry.
• Think about your kids and worship rather than worry.
• Listen to the doctor’s diagnosis and worship rather than worry.
• Watch the news and worship rather than worry.
Go ahead and triumph in your trials by replacing your worry with worship.