The phenomenon of cause and effect is well documented. One thing happens and it causes a subsequent reaction. It’s the stuff of science experiments, kids games, and world affairs. One individual decision propagates other developments. Sometimes these developments are anticipated, but other times they come out of nowhere – catching us unaware and with little recourse.
The Bible makes it clear that cause and effect are not just limited to the physical world. For instance, the status of our heart determines the words that we speak (Mt. 12:34) Because they hated our Master, the world will hate us too (John 15:18-19). And anxious hearts lead to sinful behavior (Psalm 139:23-24).
The last one may seem like a stretch. However, the psalmist seems to imply that the two are related. First, the author asks God to test his anxious thoughts. Next, he asks that any sinful way be obliterated. It an “bottom line” culture like ours it may seem meaningless that the author starts with his internal dialogue. But what the psalmist knows, and what we know experientially, is that if our thoughts aren’t glorifying to God, it’s less likely that our actions will be. Cause and effect – our internal sin often leads to external ones.
While we quickly recognize that thoughts influence our behavior when it comes to how we treat our spiritual family, or even in how we respond to unpleasant circumstances, we are less willing to acknowledge that merely worrying about something could lead us to sinful behavior. Yet, we see this in practice. Stressing over a situation leads to anxiety. Anxiety leads to an uneasiness and mistrust. Mistrust leads to futile anger and frustration. And frustration explodes into a quest for control and a lack of contendendess.
It seems so dramatic – and yet we all can attest that worry is quick to manifest itself into sinful actions. In fact, as one pastor stated, instead of saying “we are worrying about such and such” we really should be saying, “I’m in sin over such and such.” Worry it itself is a sin – and it leads to “grievous” behavior. If our hearts aren’t firmly resting in the sovereignty of our great God and King, our actions will soon reflect this. Actions that don’t acknowledge the sovereignty of God are actions that seek to place something else in His place; they are sin.
It can be hard to always anticipate the outcomes of certain events. Yet when we allow worry to fester and take root, we can almost always anticipate that this will be an area in which we will be tempted to further sin. If we want to prevent the latter, we should work on eliminating the former, and instead center our thoughts and place our cares, on our great God and Creator.
How can you practically let your thoughts rest on God rather than letting them be consume with worry?