Do We Choose Our Defects?
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
I was going to skip over this passage as I just addressed anxiety, but I realized I was not done with the subject. After my blog on anxiety two days ago, someone suggested that I occasionally make it sound like anxiety is a choice. So, I am circling back to anxiety just as the passage does.
I do not believe that I chose to have a predisposition for addiction but the fact remains that I put those pills in my mouth, so at some point, I engaged in voluntary behavior leading to active addiction. So, when I compare anxiety to addiction as a life defect, those who suffer from anxiety may chafe at the comparison.
I do not think that we are not responsible for which defects we got. Whether we were born with defects or they are the result of some life trauma, does not matter much for this discussion. We are all broken in some way and we all have different struggles. We are not responsible for our specific defects.
I am however responsible for my behavior in response to my defect. This is where things become problematic. Modern medicine views addiction as a disease, which many object to as, at some point there is some volitional behavior involved. So, to compare an addict to a cancer patient is painful to those who have been hurt by the addict. Cancer patients do not generally lie, cheat, steal and refuse to get help.
I however, view all the defects of our flesh nature as diseases. No one in their right mind chooses to be anxious, angry, depressed, addicted or prideful. These are just the defects of our diseased flesh nature that are by definition, pathologic. In our disease, we may engage in behaviors that exacerbate our defect and we may in our disease, behave badly. This still does not mean that we chose the original defect.
The angry man may fail to get enough sleep, work a long day, come home to work on a project and hit his thumb with a hammer. When he blows up in abusive language at his family, he can know that he did not choose anger as his defect, but that makes the behavior no less destructive. The fact that he has a diseased flesh nature does not relieve him of the responsibility of that behavior. I was born this way, does not justify the destruction.
So, circling back to anxiety, Jesus never commands that I am not to suffer from a predisposition to be anxious. Rather, He seems to acknowledge the reality of the defect. Then, He tells me what I am to do about it. I am to daily, do whatever it takes to turn from my focus on self and seek him above all. He may or may not relieve me of the defect. That is up to him. I am not responsible for my defect. I am responsible for what I do with it. If I use it to daily turn me to him, my defect loses its destructive power.