Don’t Worry, Be Casting
First Peter 5:6–7 is bursting with hope and comfort. When I am tempted to worry, I often meditate on it. And when I come alongside people who are full of anxieties, I invariably share it with them.
But understanding why that passage is filled with hope and comfort requires a mini-grammar lesson: What is the relationship between humility and anxiety?
Cast or Casting?
Peter commands, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV, emphasis added).
In English those are two sentences with two parallel commands:
- Humble yourselves . . . .
- Cast all your anxiety on him . . . .
But in the original Greek, it is one sentence with only one command and a participle: “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” (ESV, emphasis added).
The NIV says, “Cast.” The ESV says, “casting.” Why the difference?
The NIV goes with “Cast” probably because 1 Peter commonly uses what grammarians call “imperatival participles” in “attendant circumstance,” which have the force of a command but are softer than a straight-up command. It’s an appeal.
The ESV opts for “casting” probably because it formally translates the Greek participle with an English participle.
While both “Cast” and “casting” are legitimate translations, I think that “casting” is better because it transparently shows that this word is subordinate to the main command: “Humble yourselves.” And that should prompt readers to ask this question: What is the relationship between humbling ourselves under his mighty hand and casting our anxieties on him? “Humble yourselves . . . casting.”
Here are seven options:
- Manner: “Humble yourselves . . . in a casting manner”
- Time: “Humble yourselves . . . when you cast”
- Concession: “Humble yourselves . . . although you cast”
- Condition: “Humble yourselves . . . if you cast”
- Result: “Humble yourselves . . . with the result that you cast”
- Purpose: “Humble yourselves . . . for the purpose of casting”
- Means: “Humble yourselves . . . by means of casting”
I’m convinced that means makes the best sense in this context. Peter’s sentence gushes with applicational significance if you simply add the little word “by” before “casting”: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, by casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Let’s trace the argument:
Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand.
For what purpose should you humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand? So that at the proper time God may exalt you.
How should you humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand? By casting all your anxieties on God.
Why should you cast all your anxieties on God? Because God cares for you.
What to Do with Your Anxieties
You might think that God is way too important to care about you and your little anxieties, but God is telling you that he cares for you.
It is arrogant of you to keep your anxieties to yourself and not give all your worries and cares to God. Proud people try to take matters into their own hands. Humble people trust God.
The very way that you humble yourself is by casting all your anxieties on God. Not just some of them. Not just the major ones. All of them.
That’s the relationship between humility and anxiety. Humble people cast all their anxieties on God. Proud people don’t. Proud people worry.
So do you have any anxieties? Anxieties are normal in a fallen world. Some of us have more or greater anxieties than others, but we all have them.
The question is this: What are you going to do with those anxieties? You should do exactly what your loving Father wants you to do: God lovingly commands you to humble yourself under his mighty hand by casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.
More on anxiety:
Battling the Unbelief of Anxiety (sermon from John Piper)
Anxiety: Sin, Disorder, or Both? (Ask Pastor John)
Let Jesus Argue With Your Soul About Being Anxious (post by John Piper)