The Cause of Worry
The Cost of Worry
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9, ESV).
When Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, he was under house arrest in Rome, waiting for his court date with Caesar. His friends had heard about his imprisonment and were concerned, so they sent one of the church leaders, Epaphroditus, to check on Paul and minister to him. Then news came that Epaphroditus was sick. Needless to say, the congregation in Philippi was worried. Paul responded with a letter and, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, instructed them how to deal with their concerns.
First, Paul reminded them to rejoice, not a one-time act, but an ongoing state of constant rejoicing. Not just when everything seems to be falling in place, but even when everything seems to be falling apart. It is a choice to rejoice, because it is not based on what we see, but on who we know. It is not based on how we feel, but on what we know to be true. The source of our joy and the place of our rejoicing is the Lord Himself. Consider who He is and what He has done for you. Rejoicing should be our reaction. Think about how He has revealed Himself—a Strong Tower, a Mighty Fortress, our Shield, our Defender, our Portion, our Song. Rejoicing should be our response. A joyful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22a). A cheerful heart has a continual feast (Proverbs 15:15b).
Second, Paul reminded the Philippian believers of the privilege of prayer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Just because we have already accepted God’s providential will does not mean we should not pray. He is the one who has invited us into prayer. In this instruction to pray, Scriptures offers a contrast—worry about nothing, but pray about everything. If you are worried about something today, then you are not worried about nothing. Yet, we are told to pray about everything. Even the little things? Of course, because everything is a little thing to God. Nothing (like Covid-19) is too big for His power. Nothing (like the papercut on my thumb) is too small for His care. Vesta Sproul asked a provoking question, “Shouldn’t we go to our knees before we worry rather than having worry as the catalyst to drive us to more earnest prayer?”
Paul’s third encouragement was to rest in the peace of God. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Romans 5:1 offers the hope of peace that we all are looking for. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the peace that comes from sins forgiven and is the starting point to the kind of peace that Paul is referring to. When we have put our trust in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, we can put our trust in him for anything. We can trust Him with our health, with our finances, with our family, with our future. God is absolutely faithful, because He never fails, because He cannot fail. “As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” (Psalm 40:11).
Fourth, Paul exhorts us to think about the right things. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” One antidote to worry is to feed one’s mind on the right thoughts. This verse has been called the briefest biography of Christ because it describes Him. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life, the One without deceit, the Just One. He is the pure, spotless Lamb of God. He was ‘…holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners…’ (Hebrews 7:26). We need to leave the worries of this world behind and replace them with thoughts of the living Word of God—Jesus Christ, God the Son. Think on Him. Worship and praise Him.
Finally, just do it. “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” If we are remembering and thinking about the right things, it will be obvious in the way that we live. We are to do the things we have learned, received, heard and seen. This should be a continual pattern of life, not something that we do when it suits us, or when we feel like it, or when everything is going our way. The language used in this passage constitutes a command, not a suggestion. Living according to God’s way brings the peace of God. It is not just a peaceful feeling that we experience, but the God of peace Himself will be with us. God’s peace is given to those who trust in Him and put into practice the Word of God.
Dale Carnegie once said, “Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” The Word of the Lord declares, “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him, for you are His personal concern” (1 Peter 5:7, Phillips).
Things To Do:
- Read Psalm 150. Read it out loud. I would even encourage you to memorize it, especially verses 1, 2 and 6.
- Look for the song “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” Listen to the words. Celebrate the glory of God. Make the words of the song your words of worship.
- Let your time with the Lord today be a time of thanksgiving. Don’t ask Him for anything, but rather thank Him for who He is (His excellent greatness) and for what He has already done (His mighty deeds).
- Revisit your “Thankful List” and add a few more things.