Summary: You see anxiety is like a sickness. It is a spiritual illness that needs a cure. And we have in these verses Philippians 4:4-7 the prescription that God gives for an anxious heart.
Do people really struggle with anxiety? Is that something that is real or are we just talking when we say people in our day have anxious hearts? You have heard of Ann Landers, she got about 10,000 letters a month about people’s problems. She was asked, what is the number one problem that people have? It all boils down to anxiety. She said people are afraid of losing their health. People are afraid of losing their wealth. People are afraid of losing their loved ones. She said people are afraid of live itself. This could be described as anxiety of the heart.
That is what we find to be the number one problem today, anxiety of the heart. It was the problem two thousand years ago too, because Jesus said on the sermon of the Mount that we should not worry about our physical concerns, about our clothing, about putting food on the table, we should even be worried about tomorrow because each day had enough troubles of its own. Do not have this kind of anxiety. Here we are in the age of computers and space rockets and advanced internet technology and the problem we have is the same as two thousand years ago, or in any time, anxiety in the heart.
It does not matter if you are a young person dealing with anxiety regarding your parents, your popularity or your grades in school. If you are young parents with anxiety about your children. If you are grandparents or great grandparents whoever it is you are not exempt from this problem we call anxiety.
If anxiety is the number one problem that plagues the human race then we should ask an important question. Is anxiety just for those who do not know Christ? Or does anxiety exist in the walls of this church in the lives of Christians?
I remember the time when I was about to finish seminary and I was looking for my first pastorate position. I remember going to two older men and explaining to them the frustrations I was having not finding a church to pastor. I said to them I put out one hundred resumes in 25 states and I haven’t even heard a response. Even a rejection letter would have been an encouragement to me. To at least know someone has read one of my resumes.
I was expecting these two men to say something like, don’t worry you will get a position that is just right for you. But instead the first one said, you know that I just read an article that among Southern Baptist ministers there are 30,000 trained ministers who do not have any ministry position. When I heard these words I just sank down in my chair.
The next man said, if you think that’s bad then hear this, I am from the state of Arkansas and for every one minister in the pulpit we have there unemployed ministers that cannot find a position. After hearing all this I had to struggle with the problem of an anxious heart. None of us are exempt from the problem of anxiety if we are a Christian or not. Anxiety can come upon anyone.
Paul has been dealing in this chapter with the church in Philippi. He has been writing about conflict in the church. One Christian in conflict with the other. Paul did all he could to bring peace among these Christians. But real peace is more than just the absence of conflict.
We might be in good fellowship and harmony with one another, but there still might not be real peace inside of us because real peace is internal. Real peace comes within the heart. The tranquility of the soul and the assurance that comes with trust in God. That is what real peace is. That is what God wants us to have.
The Christian was never meant to live a life filled with anxiety, but rather the Christian was meant to live in peace. Anxiety displeases God. If we are really quite frank about it we can call anxiety what it is, sin. You see anxiety is like a sickness. It is a spiritual illness that needs a cure. And we have in these verses the prescription that God gives for an anxious heart.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again rejoice.
The first thing that Paul points out to these Christians struggling with anxiety is found in verse 4. He tells them to rejoice. Paul has been speaking about unity. He has been speaking about peace and about conflict resolution. He is now about to emphasize some of the positive attributes that we need as believers if we are going to be free from anxiety.
Paul speaks about joy again and again in this book. He wants the church to be people of joy. Christianity was never meant to be something apart from joy. Authentic Christianity is a lifestyle of joy. If people want joy they will find it in a relationship with Jesus Christ.