It seems that, as humans, we are constantly worrying about something. If you think about the past several days or week, what has troubled your mind and caused you to worry or have anxiety? Maybe it was something to do with COVID-19 or the status of school this fall. Maybe it was the health of a loved one or something to do with a relationship. The list is endless. Each person has their own list of concerns that morphs into worry and anxiety.
The Apostle Paul certainly had the right to worry. He was dealing with conflict within the Philippian church, false teachers attacking him, the safety of his own life, not to mention the fact that he was writing this letter from prison. Even though Paul had a long list of reasons to worry, he chose a different path. In our passage today, Paul explains the secret to overcoming worry as well as the absolute, rock-solid guarantee that God provides.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:4-7
Upon reading the passage, one might think that joy is the secret to overcoming anxiety. It is certainly a component, but there is a greater issue at play. The secret is actually having confidence in your faith. This confidence will produce joy and rejoicing, even in the midst of one’s trials. Joy is a component and by-product of the confidence of one’s faith.
A second component of this secret is one’s gentleness. The expectation is that the act and temperament of gentleness be clearly displayed for all to see. Defined, gentleness means the willingness to yield one’s personal rights to show consideration to others. The idea is that we should demonstrate this attitude to everyone from our friends and family to the stranger and one who opposes us. It simply expresses the idea that a gentle spirit not only disarms one’s adversary but also demonstrates an attitude like that of Jesus.
The third component is peace. Paul instructs us to tell God about our needs and thank Him for his provision in our lives. We are to overcome anxiety through our prayers and petitions to God. It requires a change of focus. We stop focusing on our problems and hardships and redirect our thoughts to our Savior and the One who can provide a peace that we cannot explain.
This peace not only surpasses expectation and understanding, but it also brings protection by guarding both our hearts and minds. If the heart is a reflection of who we really are, then the mind is where we harbor emotions, thoughts and fears. What an incredible blessing from God to provide us with peace that protects our being and guards our every fear, thought and emotion!
No wonder there is a call for rejoicing. How much more can we celebrate than when we know that we have no need for worry or anxiety because the object of our faith, Jesus Christ, provides us with the secret to overcoming these struggles? He might do it in a way we cannot explain, but it is certainly something that we can thank Him for, celebrate and enjoy.
Take some time today thanking God for his provision of peace and surrendering your heart and mind to Him so that you can have victory over your fears, anxiety, emotions and thoughts.
Pastor Brian Freerksen
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