“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.”
Anxiety can be defined as an abnormal and overwhelming concern over the reality of a threat, and our inability to cope with it. Similar words would be care, concern, fear, nervousness or worry. Anxiety is usually accompanied by an inability to focus on other tasks, difficulty sleeping, and either no appetite or one that seems to rage out of control. Solomon observed that unchecked anxiety can lead to a much worse condition, that of all out depression. No doubt, life is filled with challenges greater than we can handle, which bring us to the brink of anxiety. Many of us may feel as though we have already slipped off that cliff. Fortunately, the Bible addresses the subject of anxiety and gives us some clear cures for our common worries.
Jesus told us not to worry, but to observe how our Heavenly Father cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields (Matthew 6:26). He went on to explain that we are of much greater value to God than any other part of His creation, and He promises to meet our needs. The first step in curing common worries is to place your trust in the loving arms of God. Those who handle life’s challenges best, are those who have come to trust in the loving care of God. When all else fails, they remain calm because they know their lives are wrapped up in the arms of God.
Paul declared, instead of worrying about the challenges we are facing, we should pray. Worry does not have the ability to fix anything. In fact, it has been proven, worry can actually create physical problems. Jesus asked, “which of you by worrying can add a cubit to your stature?” (Luke 12:26) Worry does not help matters, but makes them worse. The clear alternatives to worry is to take my concerns to the Lord and allow Him to direct my steps.
Solomon adds an interesting step in curing worry. He reminds us of the value of a word carefully spoken. There are certain people who seem to have a gift for stirring up unwarranted concern, while others seem to be a calming voice of reason. We have all experienced times when a person opens their mouths and makes matters worse. The words that carry the ability to put gladness in the heart of the worrier, are the promises of God. In those times, when we are overwhelmed, we need to learn to cling to the promises of God.
Perhaps now would be a good time to set your worries aside and replace them with trust, by casting your cares upon the Lord, and filling your mind with His great and precious promises.
Questions for Proverbs 12
As the previous chapter, this chapter is a collection of sometimes unrelated pearls of wisdom concerning the righteous/wise and the wicked/foolish. In particular, truth, speech, and diligence are important themes in this chapter.
1. Verse 1 repeats an idea in Proverbs: the wise man is teachable and humble and loves to learn more of the things of God. Read 2Peter 3:18 and Proverbs 1:5. Is this your heart attitude when you study your bible, or do you have a “know-it-all” attitude?
2. Read verse 4. How is your relationship with your spouse? Are you a blessing to them? Read Ephesians 5:21-33, and 1Peter 3:1-9 for instruction on being a wife and being a husband.
3. Verses 2-3 and 5-8 speak of the stability and strength of the righteous and the instability of the wicked. How long can prosperity last for the wicked?
4. Look at verse 9. Self-promotion is not looked on favorably by the Lord. Read James 4:10 and 1 Corinthians 4:7. Do you give the Lord honor and credit for all of the blessing and advantage in your life or do you brag/honor yourself?
5. Read Proverbs 12:15. As people we tend to look at things from our own perspective and think that we are right. The book of Judges tells of a time in Israel’s history when men did what they thought was right without considering the things of God. Read Judges 21:5. Is Jesus the King who rules your life? Do you accept what He says as truth to be believed and obeyed?
6. Verses 13, 18, 19, 22 all address our speech. Make a list of the consequences of using our mouths righteously and wickedly.
7. Read verse 25. What is the result of worry/anxiety? What is an antidote for worry? Read Matthew 6:25-34 for good counsel for those who are anxious.