Finally, brethren, whatever things are true . . . meditate on these things.
One of the ways we can overcome stress is to meditate on truth. I often forget that a great spiritual battle is raging all around me. I forget that I have an enemy and his whole band of followers who whisper lies to me all the time. Sometimes, my anxiety and stress are made worse because I believe the lies. When I change my mindset and fix my thoughts on truth, my anxiety and stress begin to fall away.
What is truth? First, it is based on scripture. Second, truth is real and not imaginary. (Hey, I never claimed this was rocket science! But it is amazing to me how often I forget this really basic, simple stuff.)
The lady teaching our Sunday School class the other week reminded us that some things are not real or true. The past and thoughts of “if only” are not truth. Those are accusations from the enemy who accuses us day and night (Revelation 12:10). When my mind wanders to the past and I begin to beat myself up with “if only’s,” I have to take those thoughts captive to the truth. The truth is that I am not condemned by God (Romans 8:1) and that I have been separated from my sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). The truth is that God wants me to forget the past and press forward. (Philippians 3:13)
The future and worries of “what if” are not real. Jesus Himself advised us not to worry about future troubles in Matthew chapter 6. According to Jesus, each day has enough trouble of its own, so we don’t need to borrow trouble from the future. Worrying about the future and stressing over the “what if’s” won’t change a thing. The truth is that God is sovereign and He knows our needs and will take care of us. (Matthew 6, Philippians 4:19) The truth is that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:3) Every spiritual blessing has already been given to us! What more could we possibly want? We have no need to worry about the future. We are children of God (John 1:12), and our Father has everything taken care of.
Second-guesses about the motives of others is something else that is not real. I cannot read other people’s minds. I do not know what other people are thinking, and when I catch myself assuming what others’ think or second-guessing their motives or the thoughts behind their words or actions, I am believing lies rather than thinking about truth. This is a big one for me. I want everyone to like me. I want everyone to think well of me. Yes, I know it’s pure pride. And that pride often causes me to make assumptions about what people must be thinking about me. The truth is I don’t know someone else’s heart. Only God looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) The truth is I do not have a responsibility to read someone else’s mind. If I have offended someone or sinned against someone, she has a responsibility to come to me (Matthew 18:15). (By the way, if I don’t have a responsibility to read someone else’s mind, then nobody -including my husband- has a responsibility to read my mind.)
Unmet expectations are also unreal and untrue. When I find myself thinking, “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be,” I am -in effect- questioning the sovereignty of God. Instead, even when people misuse me or take advantage of me or sin against me, I can -like Joseph- declare, “You meant it for evil; but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20) The truth is we will have trouble in this world, but Jesus has overcome the world. (John 16:33)
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us that one of the weapons in our spiritual battle is taking every thought captive to obedience. One way we do that is by identifying the untrue, unreal thoughts and replacing those with thoughts that are true and real and noble and pure and lovely and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy. This will take practice and prayer. It is our Father’s will that we think about these things rather than lies, and we know that whatever we ask in His will, He will do it. (John 16:23, Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24) So if we ask the Holy Spirit to show us the lies we are believing and help us to replace those with His truth, He will answer that prayer.
Let’s choose today to fix our minds on truth, reality based on scripture. To get you started, I’m going to remind you of a few things that are true. If we meditate on these things, we won’t be overcome by anxiety or stress.
* I am a friend of Jesus. (John 15:15)
* I have been set free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
* In Christ Jesus, I have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
* God leads me in triumph and knowledge of Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
* My old self was crucified with Christ and I am no longer a slave to sin. (Romans 6:6)
* I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God. (Ephesians 1:4)
* I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ. (Ephesians 1:7)
* I have boldness and confident access to God through faith in Christ. (Ephesians 3:12)
* I have been made complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
* I am God’s workmanship created to produce good works. (Ephesians 3:6, 5:30)
Now those are some reasons to rejoice in the Lord always!