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“Cast all your anxiety on him” — even Covid-19 (1 Peter 5:7) - Mondays with Mounce
Peter tells us to take our anxious worries off of ourselves and place them on God. Easier said than done!
This verse has always bothered me, partially because my spiritual gift is worry. I can find more creative ways to worry than anyone I know, and it has been a central task in my spiritual life to learn how not to worry. After all, it exhibits a serious lack of trust in God and a misunderstanding of his caring love. One person told me that worry is “virtual atheism.”
But the verse always struck me a a type of legalism. “Just do it” is the voice in my head. Just give your worry to God; and if you don’t, you’re a bad person. Can anyone out there just “cast all (not some of) your anxiety on him?”
Greek to the rescue. I know that we often have to make long Greek sentences into shorter English sentences, but so often important connections are lost. This is one of the most egregious passages, and the connection is lost in the NIV, NRSV, and KJV when v 7 starts a new English sentence.
The NASB, ESV, and CSB keep vv 6–7 as one sentence, connecting the important ideas of humility and anxiety. “Humble yourselves (ταπεινώθητε), therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting (ἐπιρίψαντες) all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (ESV). The participle “casting” is only possible after we have obeyed the imperative “humble yourselves.” It is when we humble ourselves before God that we are able to cast our anxiety on him.
“Casting” is not an isolated command; it’s not even a command. It is a characteristic of a humble person. The NET is working hard to make this connection: “And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.”
Humility is coming to the right recognition of who God is, and who we are in relation to him. Humility is the opposite of rivalry, conceit, looking only to your own interests (see Phil 2). It is the opposite of self-interest and self-aggrandizement at the expense of others. Humility is not thinking that everyone else is more important, more valuable, or intrinsically superior to you; humility is caring for others, putting their needs ahead of your own.
Humility is coming to a right understanding of who you are in Christ. As we stand before our Creator, utterly dependent and trusting on him, when we begin to think rightly about God, then we will begin to think rightly about ourselves. Once we come to that place, then it will be easy (or at least easier) and natural to take our worries and cares off of our own shoulders and place them on God’s.
The God of the universe, he who made and sustains all things, is as loving as he is powerful. He loves us with a ferocity that we probably can’t fathom. He cares for us. As we come to a deeper and deeper understanding of what that means, it will be easier and easier to trust him with the cares of our world. How blissful it must be to go through life with a detachment from the worries of life.
In these days of Covid-19, we have the opportunity to show God we love him, we trust him, and we rest secure in his arms. Let’s not insult him by worry, acting as if he doesn’t exist or care for us. But it all starts with a right understanding of who he is, and who I am.
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