3. THE PEACE FORMULAR
A Democrat from the South asked a man living in Republican Vermont, "Why are you a Republican?"
The Vermonter answered, "My father was a Republican, and my grandfather was a Republican, and,, therefore, I am a Republican."
The Southerner said, "Suppose your father had been a fool, and your grandfather had been a fool. Then what would you be?"
"Oh," the man replied, "in that case, I'd be a Democrat."
Try as you may, you cannot blame your worries on a congenital condition communicated through your genes, a condition inherited from your parents. I've heard people say, "It's just the way I am. My mother was a worrier, and my father was a worrier. So I am a worrier too. It's in the genes."
I'll be frank with you. You can't trace worry to your genes. You have not had it passed down to you from worrying parents or grandparents. You cannot excuse it as an uncontrollable state of mind. Worry is a SIN, plain and simple. It is an action you choose to do, or a condition that you permit. In either case, it can be defined as rebellion against the will of God.
Worry is a Sin
It is a sin for three reasons.
Worry is a sin because worriers distrust God
When you worry, you accuse God of falsehood:
•God's Word says, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). Yet worry says, "This is not true; God's Word cannot be trusted!"
•God's Word says, "He hath done all things well" (Mark 7:37). Yet worry says, "This is not true; God's Word cannot be trusted!"
•God's Word says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13). Yet worry says, "This is not true; God's Word cannot be trusted!"
•God's Word says, "God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). Yet worry says, "This is not true; God's Word cannot be trusted!"
•God's Word says, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). Yet worry says, "This is not true; God's Word cannot be trusted!"
•God's Word says, "He careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). Yet worry says, "This is not true; God's Word cannot be trusted!"
•God's Word says, "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. ... for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things" (Matthew 6:25a,32b). Yet worry says, "This is not true; God's Word cannot be trusted!"
Worry wears the cloak of hypocrisy, for it professes faith in God and at the same time assails the truth of His promises. You insult a man if you call him a liar (although David probably spoke the truth when he said, "All men are liars"). How infinitely more inexcusable it is to accuse the sovereign God of falsehood! Scripture asserts that God, by His very nature, cannot deceive. As Christians, we live "in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2). Consequently, "he that believeth not God hath made him a liar ..." (1 John 5:10).
Worry is a sin because it damages the temple of God
Imagine that a group of vandals crashed into your church some dark night and shattered the stained-glass windows, ripped up the carpeting, smashed the furniture, wrecked the musical instruments, disfigured the walls, and ravaged the Sunday school rooms. What would you do?
Almost certainly, you would react with justifiable anger. If the intruders were caught, you would prosecute them to the full extent of the law, which provides stringent penalties for the disturbance of public worship and destruction of church property. Vandalism is costly, wasteful, and destructive, and we are right to condemn it.
But compare this vandalizing of a church building with what anxiety does to your bodily health. In all probability, these vandals were not professing Christians. Yet many worriers are. Furthermore, there is no eternal value in a church building. True, it symbolizes worship. It symbolizes the work and the Word of God. But the people of God do not suffer injury if a church building is destroyed. God does not dwell in the sanctuary; He dwells in the hearts of those who worship there.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? —1 Corinthians 3:16
What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? —1 Corinthians 6:19
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. —1 Peter 2:5
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts ... —Galatians 4:6
If you are a Christian, remember that worry damages and even destroys the temple of God, which is your body. In Chapter 1, I mentioned the now well-established link between worry and disease. Consider again the vast range of ways in which worry impacts your physical and mental well-being. Anxiety produces heart trouble, high blood pressure, asthma, rheumatism, ulcers and other stomach disorders, colds, thyroid malfunction, arthritis, migraine headaches, blindness, palpitations, back and neck pain, indigestion, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, allergies, and more. In short, worry damages your body more severely than any vandals would damage a church.
Worry is a sin because it damages relationships
When you let worry loose, it's not only your body that suffers. In all kinds of ways, worry infects and degrades your ability to relate to others. For example:
Worry damages your relationship with God. Worry is a sin because it is symptomatic of prayerlessness. "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you ..." (1 Samuel 12:23). No one can pray and worry at the same time, as God tells Isaiah: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" (Isaiah 26:3). When you pray, your mind is set on Christ, and you have His assurance of perfect peace. Worry is therefore banished.
Worry damages your relationship with family. Paul writes to the Ephesians: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. ... Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.... Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband" (Ephesians 5:22,25,33). These injunctions in the book of Ephesians are violated and disobeyed when worry sits in the saddle.
Worry damages your relationship with unbelievers. Worry is a sin because it undermines our Christian witness. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Who would want to join a church full of worriers?
Someone may say, "Oh, yes, Dr. Haggai, it's all very well for you to talk like that in an overly confident and pedantic manner. After all, you are an ordained minister. What do you know about worry?"
Well, let me remind you of where I started. I too hold the distinction of having suffered a so-called nervous breakdown. I say "so-called" because we are mistaken if we see such crises as originating in the nervous system. Most breakdowns are not organic in nature; rather, they spring directly from the pressure of circumstances. They arise when we allow our lives to tumble out of control.
How the Bible deals with worry
The Bible is the only book that deals adequately with the problem of sin. Quite logically, then, we should go to the Word of God to find the solution to the sin of worry. I direct your attention to some of the many relevant verses of Scripture, and will let them speak for themselves.
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ fesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, zvhatso-ever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. —Philippians 4:4-8
J.B. Phillips translates the same passage as follows:
Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord. Don't worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus. My brothers I need only add this. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on whatever is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and admirable. —Philippians 4:4-8 Phillips
Now give thought to the words of our Lord in Matthew 6:25-34:
Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent J than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?
And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life? [Psalm 39:5-7]. And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence (excellence, dignity and grace) was not arrayed like one of these [1 Kings 10:4-7]. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear? For the Gentiles (heathen) zvishfor and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all. But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom, and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble. —Matthew 6:25-34 (Amplified Bible)
The peace formula
The passage in Philippians 4:4-8 constitutes the biblical basis for this book. If we look at it closely, we can discover within it the simple formula for winning over worry. I call it the Peace Formula, and it runs as follows:
PRAISE + POISE + PRAYER = PEACE
Subsequent chapters will amplify and develop this formula. For now let me only suggest that observance of the formula would sweeten the atmosphere of many homes, convert many a faltering business into a thriving success, significantly improve the scholastic level of many a student, give meaning and purpose to many an aimless life, and deliver many a person from a premature grave by curing psychosomatic illness that, if left unchecked, could become irreversible and permanent.
If you are serious about winning over your worries, write this formula down in large letters. For your convenience I have included a page with the formula on five perforated steps. You'll find this on the last page in the book. Place a copy on the mirror of your medicine cabinet where you shave, or on the mirror of your dressing table. If you work outside the home, place one in a conspicuous place in your office. If you spend your time at home, place one over the sink or on the coffee table. If you are a driver, attach one to the sun visor in your automobile. The more places you put the formula, the more you will be reminded of it, and the more deeply it will embed itself into your consciousness.
Let me further suggest that you memorize Philippians 4:4-8 and repeat the words to yourself as an affirmation every morning when you wake up. That way you will make these essential words of God a part of your very being. It won't take you long. And it will set you firmly on the road to victory.