‘Seeing friends constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they are missing out while others enjoy life,’ according to the #StatusOfMind survey. It goes on to state, ‘these feelings can promote a “compare and despair” attitude.’ Instagram, where personal photos take centre stage, received the worst scores in the survey for body image and anxiety. Individuals may view heavily photo-shopped, edited or staged photographs and videos and compare them to their seemingly mundane lives.
Being anxious about life is not a new problem. When Jesus spoke to His disciples, He talked about many things which have been recurring problems to people of every generation, anxiety being one of those subjects. Our social media age offers instant access to other people’s lives and that seems to have made us more anxious. The more we see, the more anxious we get. If we are seeking an answer to anxiety to focus on technology is to look in the wrong place.
In Matthew 6:25-34 the Lord Jesus gave His disciples seven points to consider if they were anxious about their lives. He gave a true perspective on the pressures of life which ought to make a difference to our peace of mind.
There is more to life than food and clothing
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?(Matthew 6:25)
Learn from the birds
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26)
Anxiety is useless
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Matthew 6:27)
God clothes us
So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30)
Our heavenly Father cares for us
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things (Matthew 6:31-32).
One day at a time
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34).
These six points give good reasons for not worrying. All are true, regardless of whether we choose to factor them into our thinking. The Lord Jesus was saying to His disciples, don’t worry about life, food, clothing or tomorrow. We should stop worrying because it is pointless and changes nothing.
The Lord Jesus also gave His disciples something to do. If they were going to be able to put the things of life in perspective and not worry, they must put God, His kingdom and His righteousness first in their lives.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
The Lord Jesus was saying that the antidote to anxiety is to make daily decisions to submit to His authority and adhere to His righteousness. To actively pursue the things of the Lord in our daily lives will keep our minds free from the debilitating worries about smaller temporal matters.
From the beginning of the Bible it is evident that people who do this are able to cope with the issues of life, which otherwise might cause worry. Asaph was in a poor state at the beginning of Psalm 73 as he looked around at the prosperity of the wicked. He lost his perspective and began to think like the ungodly. ‘When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me — Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end’ (Psalm 73:16-17). He still saw the prosperity of the wicked, but it was now from a heavenly viewpoint. That recalibrated his thinking and changed how he felt about what he saw.
Johnson Oatman's great hymn speaks of this ‘Higher ground’.
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
‘Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.’
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s table land,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
Seeking peer approval, likes, followers and other social media indicators of popularity and success is a recipe for insecurity and anxiety.
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Experience the contentment of a balanced life and mind which comes through having the Lord in His rightful first place.