Summary: Paul provides four keys to experiencing the inward and abiding peace that only God can give.
In our last study, as we considered the first five verses of this last Chapter of the Philippian letter, we saw how that Paul urged the importance of there being “harmony in the Lord.” That is, the Apostle stressed the necessity of their being peace between members of the Body of Christ. There is to be a team spirit that leads to team work.
But, a Christian’s life should not only be characterized by outward peace with others but also personal, inward peace. The Lord not only wants serenity between His followers but serenity within His followers. God not only wants tranquility within each congregation but tranquility within each Christian’s heart and mind.
It is a sad commentary that peace within congregations seems so rare. It is equally a sad commentary that true peace within Christians seems also to be a rarity. The reason for both deficiencies is a lack of faith and a lack of spiritual discipline.
This morning, Paul is going to teach us how we might experience the inward peace that God wants us to have. He is going to give us four keys to peace of mind. I would have you note that these keys are not presented as suggestions but as commandments.
A Christian with a troubled and fearful mind dishonors His Lord. We need to understand that to be troubled, to be worrisome, to be fearful or fretful means we do not trust God’s sovereignty, God’s wisdom, God’s faithfulness and God’s goodness. It is an indication that we have not yet completely turned our lives over to the Lord.
In verse 6, Paul begins by commanding - “Be anxious for nothing.”
That is quite a commandment. We are not to have anxiety. We are not to have worry. We are not to have nervousness. We are not to have fretfulness and fear. No matter what our situation or circumstances, there is no need to be anxious. Thus, we are not to be anxious.
What benefits come from worrying? from being fretful? from being afraid? Absolutely nothing. Our worrying, our being fretful, our being fearful does not improve our circumstances in any manner. We can worry and fret but it will not bring about any positive changes in our situation.
Jesus made this point in Luke 12:25-26, "And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why are you anxious about other matters?”
What is the Lord saying? He is saying that we cannot prolong our life-span a single hour by worrying. A person cannot increase the length of his life at all. The utmost anxiety will not prolong it one hour beyond the time appointed for death. If we cannot, through being worrisome and fretful, effect our own lives by ensuring that we live a single extra hour….how can our worrying and being fretful change the circumstances around us? Worry and fear cannot bring-about any positive change.
On the contrary, worry and fear can do much harm. Not only has it been proven that it is destructive to our physical health (being a large contributor to heart disease, weakening of the immune system, gastro-intestinal diseases, migraines, ulcers, high blood pressure, etc.), it is very destructive spiritually.
Why? Because a mind that is occupied with worry and fear and distress is a mind that is not focused on the Lord.
When we worry and fret - we lose sight of the Lord and His providential working; we lose focus on the Lord and His revealed Will and we are tempted to handle our circumstances and situations with fleshly wisdom and fleshly strength; we lose focus and try to correct the external circumstances when, perhaps, our circumstances were meant by the Lord to correct our inner-self; we get distracted from carrying-out the Lord’s purpose and plan for our lives; we lose sight of the Lord’s goodness and our blessings and we are tempted to become negative and ungrateful; we take our eyes off the One Who is the only source of true and lasting peace.
Paul tells us, in Verse 7, that “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The peace that comes from the Lord can banish all worry and distress from our hearts and minds. Not only can it banish anxiety and anguish and fear from our hearts and minds, it can keep it away.
The peace of God can act like a soldier on guard to protect our heart and mind. It will not allow anxiety and despondency and fear to sneak back in. The peace of God is stronger than the worry and fear of the flesh. Just as God is greater than our situations and circumstances so is God’s peace greater than our inward worries and fears.