4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
In my last post I began a series about what to do with anxiety. “(Anxiety is) rampant in our culture today and the lack of peace has this world turning on its ear, many times completely out of control. It is because of this chaos that reels about us that I feel confident in saying this: the peace of God ruling and reigning in your life as a believer on the Lord Jesus Christ may be the single most important ally you have in a quest to reach lost people about you.” I often have conversations with people–both saint and sinner–who are driven by anxiety on a frequent, if not daily, basis. This thing called life can be wrought with stress, pressure, and friction. What we don’t draw from others we bring onto ourselves.
This isn’t new, despite the heightened pace at which much of the western culture lives. The Apostle Paul wrote to a fearful, anxious group of believers in Philippi. They were concerned about the cultural turmoil, uprising in their government and religious leadership, and persecution of the saints. Sound familiar? In the wake of that whirlwind, Paul challenged the believers to let their gentleness be known to all men. Why? “The Lord is at hand.”
It’s as though he could hear them respond back with raised eyebrows because he went further to answer with instructions. “Be anxious for nothing, which means you’ll have to pray with intense fervency and with much gratitude.” Leaving anxiety behind wasn’t something Paul expected the believers to will themselves to do or just dismiss with ease. He knew such thinking was insufficient as he combated this struggle himself. Just a few lines later he confesses in verse 11, “…I have learned to be content…” The key was fervent prayer in partnership with sincere gratefulness and thanksgiving.
There is a moment in every crazy cycle of anxiety where we have a choice to get off the cycle. As with any habit, it’s easier to create a new habit than to break the old one. But this week challenge yourself to recognize the moment and pause, giving yourself an opportunity to get off the cycle, focus your heart on the Lord, fervently pray, give God praise, and move forward. This may require you stepping away from a heated moment of “discussion” with a friend, family member, or co-worker. It may look like pulling over to the shoulder on the highway during heavy traffic and taking a praise break. You may need to find your prayer closet for the first 15 minutes after you arrive home from work before proceeding with family obligations. Join Paul this week in learning about how to be content in all situations, giving it to the Father, and lifting your heart up in thanksgiving.
The result? I love that only a few punctuation marks separate the problem, the action, and the results in verses 6 & 7! “…And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Could anybody use a little peace that blows your mind? Paul lets us know here that not only will the peace of God rush in at that moment, but it will also put a guard about us for the future anxiety that attempts to erupt within! Wow! The most critical phrase closes the verse with “through Christ Jesus”. The formula requires the intervention and involvement of Christ Jesus. Keeping ourselves aligned with the plan of God brings about the peace protection plan of God.
We as believers on the Lord Jesus Christ must rely upon His Word to bring Truth to whatever situation we face each day. May the Holy Spirit bring the peace of Jesus Himself to your life today. Remember: don’t be anxious! But pray, tell Him about it, give Him praise, and take in His peace.
Walking in peace,