Read the Bible to Your Anxiety
I created three labs teaching through Matthew 6:24–34 on anxiety. My objectives were both to understand how Jesus helps us overcome anxiety, but also to draw out six lessons for how to read the Bible for ourselves. With this short series, I have methodology, theology, and application in mind. Here are the six lessons I highlighted for Bible reading. Click on the links below to find the study guides and videos for all three labs.
1. The Bible argues.
It gives reasons or arguments for what it teaches. That was transformative in my life when I was 22 years old, to discover that the Bible is not a string of pearls, but a chain of linked thoughts. That makes a big difference for how we read.
2. A Bible’s unit of thought (or passage) has a main point.
Each unit of thought (or passage) in the Bible has a main point. That means everything else in the unit supports that point. It’s true of the Bible, and it’s true of this article. Look for the main point in everything you read.
3. To truly understand a passage we must figure out how the arguments support the main point.
Figuring out how arguments support the main point is what it means to understand a passage or a text. After we have identified a passage’s main point and located the author’s arguments for that main point, we have to do the harder work of understanding the connections. How does each supporting point prove the main point?
4. Jesus assumes that truth affects our emotions.
Jesus assumes that truth — reasons, arguments, facts — affects or influences the emotions. Anxiety is an emotion. It is not a decision. We don’t decide to get anxious. It happens to us. Jesus attacks anxiety in Matthew 6 with truth, facts, promises, and reasons.
Therefore, he must believe that his word given to our souls will have an emotional, even physical, effect. There are dozens and dozens of commands to the emotions in the Bible, and along with them there are truths to bring about what is commanded.
5. Truth affects our emotions when it is believed.
Some will say, “Well, that doesn’t work for me. When I hear truth, it doesn’t have an emotional effect on me. It doesn’t take away my anxiety.” It works where the truths are believed and trusted — where there is faith.
If the Bible’s arguments are not having an effect on you, it’s because you have little faith in what it says. Faith is massively important here. We must trust. We must believe what Jesus says.
6. Pray for faith and meditate on his truth.
Therefore, pray for faith in the truth — in the passage’s main point with all of its supporting points — and meditate on that truth, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
Father, grant us wisdom with regard to method. We want to handle your word rightly, think about how to read it rightly, and we want to be free from anxiety to honor our heavenly Father, who knows us and all of our needs, and who will meet them according to your promise. I ask this in Jesus’s name, Amen.
Look at the Book is an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher. Listen to John Piper’s voice and watch his pen underline, circle, make connections, and scribble notes — all to help you learn to read God’s word for yourself. His goal is to help you not only see what he sees, but where he sees it and how he found it.
In this three-part series through Matthew 6:24–34, John studies these eleven verses with two purposes: 1) learn how to fight anxiety with God’s word and 2) uncover important principles for personal Bible reading.
Part 1: Nine Arguments Against Anxiety
This three-part series of labs takes on anxiety by studying Matthew 6:24–27. If the Bible is going to effectively speak to our anxious hearts, we need to learn how to read it well. In this lab, John Piper lays out the arguments and gives three short lessons for our daily Bible reading.
When you think about the future, what makes you most anxious? Jesus gives us plenty of reasons not to fear. In Part 1 of this series, John Piper identified nine arguments against our anxieties. In this lab, he slows down over the first five to highlight how they each help us.
God wants to comfort and stabilize the anxious with truth. What truths calm our fears? In Part 1, John Piper identified nine arguments against our anxieties. In Part 2, he covered the first five. In this lab, he covers the last four, and highlights six lessons for Bible reading.
More from Desiring God
Living in the Light: Money, Sex, and Power | When Christ is our supreme treasure, we are able to keep money, sex, and power in their proper place, enjoying them and glorifying God with them, instead of rejecting them or worshiping them. Download John Piper’s new book in three digital formats, or purchase the hardcover.
Four Steps to Kill Nagging Sins | Many Christians struggle with entrenched and persistent sins that continually entangle us in our efforts to follow Christ. John Owen gives us four strategies for killing nagging sin.
“Please Help! I’m Wandering away from God” | This 13-minute episode of Ask Pastor John encourages a woman who isn't sure if she is saved.