Are you feeling anxious and troubled? Are you days filled with fear and worry? In prison, Paul wrote to the young church at Philippi, exhorting them to follow his remedy for anxiety.
Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The first step in Paul’s remedy for anxiety is to rejoice always (v. 4). He repeats himself to emphasize the importance of rejoicing in all circumstances in order to live a life free of anxiety. The ability to rejoice is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you to overflowing with these fruits.
It is possible to flourish in the midst of trying circumstances and the crushing weight of marital strife and divorce. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (Jas 1:2-3). Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount said that to be persecuted and insulted is a blessing, “‘blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven’” (Mt 5:11-12). Paul’s letter to the Philippians exudes joy. The spirit of gladness dominates the tone of his letter even though he was writing to them from prison. That is spirit-filled living!
The next step in Paul’s remedy for anxiety is to let your gentleness (kindness) be evident to all (v. 5). When you are filled with the joy of Lord, your attitude towards others is transformed. If you are filled with the love of Christ, it is possible to show kindness to everyone and in every circumstance, even those who have offended you. Prayer and scripture reading helps you to put on the mind of Christ, loving others as He loved them. Christian living not only transforms you but also transforms relationships. Give your heart to God and let His love flow through you as kindness to others, especially to those in most need of His mercy.
The third step in Paul’s remedy for anxiety is to ask God in prayer for everything you need with thanksgiving (v. 6). The result of your earnest prayers and petitions is that you will have the peace of God, keeping your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (v. 7). The peace of God is the tranquility of heart and soul that comes from Christ: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (Jn 14:27). Keeping your heart and mind in Christ, God will guard you from doubts and disturbances that weaken your confidence in His fatherly care: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pt 5:7). Jesus gives similar instructions to not worry, again from His Sermon on the Mount discourse:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34
Rejoice always, let your gentleness be evident to all, do not be anxious but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Then the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Praise be to God!
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