Summary: Over against awful anxiety we have perfect peace that can be found in our relationship with Jesus as emphasized in Philippians chapter four
SERIES: ENJOYING THE JOY OF JESUS
LESSON: WORRY, THE GREATEST THIEF OF JOY
READING: PHILLIPPIANS 4:4-7
INTRO: I read in a recent article:
Chronic worry can lead to a host of physical ailments: heart attacks, high blood pressure, ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, muscular aches and pains, skin rashes, eczema, respiratory problems and asthma. Close to one in four people, at some point in their lives, meet criteria for diagnosable anxiety disorders related to worry which require professional treatment. Indeed, worry appears to be rampant in our society - the result of living in a fast-paced, high-pressure, rapidly changing world. People worry mainly about their children, job security, relationships and health but there are other, smaller worries that gnaw on us all. Distant events such as wars and famines in other countries, air disasters, crime and random acts of violence, even volatility in the stock market.
All this and more in spite of the words of Jesus, "Do not worry... about your life, what you will eat or drink... about your body, what you will wear,... about tomorrow" - Matthew 6:25-34
It would be common for us to read, "Rejoice and again I will say rejoice," and attribute to the writer either a sense of good conditions or insanity. Neither was the case. Sitting in jail. Paul writes to free people saying, "Be anxious in nothing."
In recent lessons we observed that Paul was so immersed in Christ and His will that he was in a state of Jesus-Joy 24/7. There was nothing in, on, above or under the earth that could change that. But here he is giving advice to others. Since we can’t seem to find a formula that really changes worry to peace, let’s see if Paul has any useful information for us.
PAUL’S WORKABLE PLAN TO WORRY- FREE CHRISTIAN LIVING
MAKE CERTAIN YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. This letter is written to "saints," those people who are different from the world. Each chapter of Philippians begins with "in Christ" or an equivalent. These people have their "citizenship in heaven," and that is why their names are already there. I was refused access to a wedding reception because my name was not written beforehand on the guest list, in spite of the fact that I had officiated at the wedding. The problem was, I was in the wrong room of the hotel.
BE SURE YOU HAVE LEFT THE WORLD BEHIND AND ARE WALKING WITH JESUS. This is a step past conversion. Ask yourself, "Do I have the Single Mind" which says, "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain?"-1:21. And, "Do I have the Submissive Mind," which is "Consider others as better than yourselves?"- 2:3. And again, "Do I possess the Spiritual Mind"- "Our citizenship is in heaven?"- 3:20. And finally, "Do I have the Secure Mind of Philippians 4:7? It reminds us, "The peace of God ...will guard you hearts and minds..."
LIVE IN SUCH A WAY THAT GOD WILL RECEIVE THE GLORY- 4:5. Our Lord, while on earth, spoke simply but wisely when He said, "Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."- Matt. 5:16. The admonition in the "do not be anxious" portion of Philippians is "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." 4:5.
What Paul from prison is encouraging the Christians in Philippi to do is to live like Jesus lived. He uses the word "gentleness" which is a pleasant, soothing term that is a true witness to Christlike behavior. In I Timothy 3:3 it is found in contrast to violence. James gives us a more complete picture of what it would look like when we practice gentleness.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
The saint who practices God’s wisdom would make a large impact on a world at war. The word "considerate" in the James passage is the same one translated "gentleness" in our text for today. It would mean we would be attempting to be equitable, fair, moderate, forbearing, not insisting on the letter of the law. We would be tolerant with others, and---God would receive the praise.
PRAY. THAT’S WHAT GOD’S CHILDREN DO-4:6. God’s kids really have a father in heaven. He is ever listening. Jesus is waiting to intercede as is the Holy Spirit. God is very interested and active in His family. Prayer here is the opposite of bing anxious. Instead of worrying about the things you can’t change, talk to someone who cares and can make changes if that is the right thing to do. If you want to worry less, pray more.
Four different terms are used here for communication with God. Prayer, petition, thanksgiving, requests. We nearly always begin by thanking our Father for his goodness to us. We may pray in general or we may, as one of the words suggests, be very specific as Jesus taught in the Lord’s Prayer. There we notice such requests as , "Give us our daily bread, or Lead us not into temptation..." You can pray to God anywhere and at any time in any position. God has given his children priestly access to the throne room. Let’s use it.