DEALING WITH FEAR AND ANXIETY (PART 5)

FEAR

5

KNOWING OTHERS ARE LOOKING OUT FOR YOU

Fellow Believers at Your Service

One of the best ways we can be helped in our struggle with anxiety is when we serve one another with the same diligence as the angels serve us. Does that sound impossible? It’s not. The same God who equips the angels to serve us also equips us to serve one another. Paul said, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God who worketh all in all” (1 Cor. 12:4–6 SCO). God has given a variety of gifts to His church.

Using Our Gifts

Some of the gifts were of a temporary nature; others were and are permanent. The permanent ones are these:

  • Prophecy (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 14:3), the ability to preach or proclaim God’s truth to others for their growth, correction, and comfort.
  • Teaching (Rom. 12:7), the ability to teach the truths of God’s Word.
  • Faith (1 Cor. 12:9), the ability to trust God without doubt or disturbance, regardless of one’s circumstances. People who are especially prone to anxiety would do well to get to know individuals gifted in this way and follow their example.
  • Wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8), the ability to apply spiritual truth to life. Believers gifted this way are also good models for the anxious.
  • Knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8), the ability to understand facts. It is the academic side of comprehending biblical truth.
  • Discernment (1 Cor. 12:10), the ability to distinguish truth from error —to discern what is of God and what is satanic deception.
  • Mercy (Rom. 12:8), the ability to demonstrate Christ’s love in acts of
  • Exhortation (Rom. 12:8), the ability to encourage, counsel, and comfort others with biblical truth and Christian love. Those prone to anxiety need to be humble enough to listen and value what these gifted individuals have to say.
  • Giving (Rom. 12:8), the ability to provide for the Lord’s work and for others who have difficulty meeting their own material needs. It flows from a decision to commit all earthly possessions to the Lord.
  • Administration (Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 12:28), the ability to organize and lead in spiritual endeavors. It is also known as the gift of ruling or government.
  • Helps (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28), the ability to serve faithfully behind the scenes, assisting the work of the ministry in practical ways.

All spiritual gifts are designed for the good of the church (1 Cor. 14:26 NIV). My gifts are not for my benefit, and your gifts are not for your benefit. We must build up and assist one another “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

Fellowship is an interchange of mutual care and concern through the agency of our spiritual gifts. Some of the ways that interchange manifests itself are when we:

  • Confess our faults to one another (James 5:16).
  • Edify one another (1 Thess. 5:11; Rom. 14:19).
  • Bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).
  • Pray for one another (James 5:16).
  • Are kind to one another (Eph. 4:32).
  • Submit to one another (Eph. 5:21).
  • Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9).
  • Serve one another (Gal. 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10).
  • Comfort one another (1 Thess. 4:18).
  • Restore one another (Gal. 6:1).
  • Forgive one another (2 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13).
  • Admonish one another (Rom. 15:14; Col. 3:16).
  • Teach one another (Col. 3:16).
  • Exhort one another (Heb. 3:13; 10:25).
  • Love one another (Rom. 13:8; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11).

Love is the key to effective ministry. Where love exists there is true humility, which is an essential ingredient in mutual ministries and freedom from anxiety. Pride and anxiety focus on self, whereas humility focuses on others.

If pride is hindering your ministry, concentrate on knowing Christ more intimately through prayer and Bible study. The more you understand His power and glory, the more humble you will be. Then you will give yourself more readily to others as Christ gave Himself to you.

Sharing Our Love

As a human body has connected tissues, muscles, bones, ligaments, and organs, the body of Christ is composed of members who are responsible to one another. No member exists detached from the rest of the body any more than lungs can lie on the floor in the next room and keep a person breathing. The health of the body, its witness, and its testimony are dependent on all members faithfully ministering to one another.

The church was never intended to be only a building—a place where lonely people walk in, listen, and walk out still alone—but a place of fellowship. In his book Dare to Live Now! Bruce Larson said,

“The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give His Church. It’s an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality. But it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable, it is democratic. You can tell people secrets and they usually don’t tell others, or want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love, and be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers. “

This need for fellowship is not met simply by attending the Sunday services, whether they be small groups where everyone is known or large congregations where that is not the case. A desperate need for personal, intimate fellowship exists in the church today. And this fellowship, like the gifts, is intrinsic to exhibiting practical unity. Finding a good church fellowship is no small matter in our onslaught against anxiety.

In true fellowship Christians don’t judge one another; they don’t bite and devour each other; they don’t provoke, envy, lie to one another, speak evil, or grumble about one another. Since true fellowship builds up, the godly will receive one another and be kind and tenderhearted toward one another. They will bear with and forgive one another, serve one another, practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another, correct, instruct, submit to one another, and comfort one another. That is the true fellowship of Christ’s body—life touching life to bring blessing and spiritual growth.

Too often Christians place themselves inside little glass bubbles and try to look like super saints, as if they hadn’t a problem or worry in the world. They aren’t willing to share openly and expose their sins to a fellow believer. They don’t know what it is to have another believer say, “That’s the same thing I’m going through. Let’s pray for each other.”

Confessing our sins to one another results in a purer fellowship of people who know and love one another—who understand one another’s needs, anxieties, and temptations. What strength resides in such a community!

Here is a key principle that all Christian communities should operate by: “If a Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help him back onto the right path, remembering that next time it might be one of you who is in the wrong” (Gal. 6:1 TLB). Pick him or her up and say, “Let me show you from the Word of God what is going on. Let’s pray together. Let’s walk on the right track together.” That is restorative care. We as Christians haven’t done our duty if we only rebuke. We need to come alongside and restore —in love.

That verse is perhaps the clearest example from Scripture of how we as believers are to look out for one another. In attacking anxiety, be encouraged to know that angels are looking out for you, but also make a point of knowing and being known by mature believers in a context of ministering to each other. The responsibility of finding such a fellowship is yours. Never underestimate the power of godly fellowship in bearing the burden of your anxieties.