Self-preservation is the first law of nature.
Everything has some method of protection.
Even the plants have "defense mechanisms."
Animals have shells, teeth, sharp claws, or are swift of foot or wing.
Some of them produce noxious odors.
Some of them are unpleasant to the taste.
The octopus secretes an inky fluid with which to color the water.
Some animals have great skill in hiding themselves.
Some have electric defenses.
Some are covered with prickles.
Man has a natural instinct of self-preservation.
He will run or fight or hide himself...or use other methods of defense.
This law of defense is manifest in man's physical contact with nature.
This is known too well to need explanation.
He has also various mental defense mechanisms.
Likewise in spiritual things he seeks to protect himself.
These various defense mechanisms have a powerful effect upon our conduct.
When we are brought into a trial, threatened by something that will hurt or annoy us, or when we are afraid...our defense mechanisms begin at once to function.
The first impulse is to run away, to escape from the trouble.
We shrink from what hurts.
We try to avoid trials and all hard or unpleasant things.
It is often the part of wisdom to avoid unpleasantness as far as we can, without sacrificing something vital.
But if we give away too much to this disposition to shrink and run away — then we shall become cowards.
We lose strength of character, courage, and the qualities that win in life.
A coward can never feel self-respect; and if we are spiritual cowards, we shall be lacking in manhood and womanhood.
We cannot respect cowardice, even when it is in ourselves.
This disposition to escape unpleasantness, often leads to an unfair excusing of ourselves in things in which we have been at fault.
It often leads to our putting a wrong spin on happenings, to exaggeration, to minimizing the facts, or even to plain lying.
These are the natural fruits of fear and worry, and they undermine spiritual character.
They take the joy out of life.
We need to watch our defense mechanisms, and be sure that we use right methods of defense — methods that build up the character, rather than tear it down; methods that increase courage, faith, and determination.
We should conquer the instinctive cowardice of our natures.
Safety first may be a good slogan...but safety through the faulty measures mentioned, is not real safety.
It is only exchanging one kind of danger for another.
Another defense mechanism is the tendency to resistance.
When we adopt proper measures of resistance, the results will probably be good.
We are likely to be strengthened, encouraged, and helped.
It is likely to bring out the best in us.
But sometimes this instinct of resistance manifests itself in murmuring, complaining against circumstances or against people, blaming others for our plights or our troubles, or shifting responsibility.
These may become chronic fault-finding and result in such a critical attitude that we are hard to please, contentious, and ill-tempered.
We may become disposed to impatience, and find it hard to practice self-control.
We may harbor resentment against others, and become unkind and uncharitable in our attitude.
Not only do non-Christians have such trouble...but many Christians are tempted in this way.
They worry and fear.
They become discouraged, and then the bad characteristics mentioned above begin to manifest themselves in them.
They have to fight to overcome them.
They wonder why they are impatient, why it is hard to be kind, and why they feel resentful.
They need not be surprised, however.
The impatience and resentment merely indicate an effort to escape from some unpleasant situation.
So you need not be surprised if you have a conflict within, when you worry and give way to discouragement.
To get rid of the conflicts...get rid of your worry, your fear, and your discouragement.
Then these tendencies will naturally disappear.
But if you are given to worry...then do not expect to escape wholly from tenseness and conflict.
Indeed you are likely to have much trouble with them.
These are not necessarily the result of sin.
They are the result of worry and fear.
They come from a wrong attitude of mind, a wrong outlook on life, and a wrong way of trying to overcome difficulties.
In such a situation, the outlook is negative.
We need to change to a positive attitude.
We need to put faith, in the place of doubts.
Trust, instead of worry.
We need to look on the bright side, instead of the dark side.
A negative attitude destroys our faith and robs us of courage, so we can bear little.
It covers the bright picture of hope, with sackcloth.
It banishes peace.
Instead of soul rest, we have turmoil and trouble.
It robs us of balance and poise.
Confidence fades away.
It gives place to distrust.
We lose our power of initiative.
In fact, worry and fear rob us of all the choice blessings we might possess.
They prevent us from using our powers...and make us pygmies instead of giants.
The triumphant life results from courageous action...and courageous action is always based on faith.
It has a hopeful outlook.
It faces the future with confidence.
This is the normal attitude of the Christian.
But worry causes heaviness, discouragement, dissatisfaction, despondency, and perhaps despair.
Long giving way to worry, will change the character.
The blithe gaiety of childhood, the courageous strength of manhood, the joyful song of victory...will give way to moroseness and gloom.
Clouds will cover the sky and we will forget that the sun shines anywhere.
We will ruin our influence with others.
They feel more like shunning us, rather than being in our society.
Worry shackles our hands.
It robs life of what is most worthwhile.
If we cultivate a worry tree or a number of them...then we must expect that they will bear this sort of fruit.
Worry also has another extremely bad result.
It dishonors God. We say God is our Father, that he is taking care of us.
We say we have faith in him.
We say we believe God is faithful.
Then we act in a way altogether contrary to this!
If God is our God, and if he is taking care of us, if we are safe in his care, if no evil can come to us without his permission...then what are we worrying about?
If God really is what he says he is, and what we believe he is...then we have no reason to worry.
Things are bound to come out all right.
God will find some way to bring us through to victory.
He will work for our good, in whatever life may bring.
If we really believe that God is true and that he is true to us...then there is not a reason under Heaven for us to spend one moment worrying.
Again, worry dishonors God's Word.
He has made definite promises.
These promises are either true or they are not true.
If they are not true then we may have cause for worry.
But if they are true then let us act like it.
Do we actually believe God's Word?
If so, when we are tempted to worry, let us sit down, take that Word, and read its promises.
Then let us believe them and act as though we believe them.
When we do this, there can be no room for worry.
Worry ignores the help God has given us in the past, and the victories he has given us through his grace.
When we are tempted to worry, we should sit down and look over the past and see how many circumstances came out better than we expected they would.
We should observe how God has helped us in the past and say with one of old, "Hitherto has the Lord helped us!"
It will do us great good, when we are tempted to worry to recount our past victories; to look back and see that our past worries were all for nothing.
When did worrying help anything for you?
When did worrying keep anything from coming upon you that otherwise would have come?
When did worry shield you from any trouble?
Get rid of your worry tree!
Get out from under its shadow.
Get into God's sunshine.
If you will do this...then it will not be long until the song of victory flows forth from your lips, and peace and courage and hope spring up anew in your heart!