Our world is an anxious and worried world, yet Christians are called to “Be anxious for nothing.” But why? Why should we be filled with joy and peace in all circumstances? And how? How do believers discover personal peace when the dark clouds of uncertainty and adversity have blown into their lives? Now, more than ever, people have found themselves in a state of anxiety and fear, asking themselves …
Will I be fired for that mistake at work?
Will this business deal ever go through?
Will my son or daughter end up with the right person?
What will become of the economy?
The list goes on. But our desperate dilemma is solved in God’s decisive answer. So what is that answer? What is God’s answer to our anxiety? Paul knew it and thankfully he shared it with us in Philippians 4:4-7.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:4-7 NASB).
From this text we learn that in all circumstances, Christians are called to …
1. Make Our Joy in Jesus Known at all Times (v. 4).
What brings the two words, "Rejoice" and "Always" together? “In the Lord.”
The attitude of joy, and the frequency of joy can only be brought together in the Lord … and Paul is being very purposeful here. He is using the saving and sovereign name of “Lord.” And it’s the name for Jesus. Just 2 chapters earlier in the same letter what does Paul tell us? That one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is “Lord” (Phil. 2:10-11).
Paul is teaching us that the way to have joy in every type of circumstance we face is to keep our eyes fixed upon the saving and sovereign work of Jesus Christ …
The further our minds wander from the Lord of the cross and the Lord of our circumstances, the further our hearts will wander from joy.
The presence of joy in our lives (especially in the worst of times) points others to Jesus in our lives.
2. Make Our Gentle Spirit Known to all Men (v. 5).
After giving them the positive command to “Rejoice in the Lord always …”, he explains in verse 5 how this can be seen in the life of the believer.
The Greek word for gentle spirit is very unique and can be translated also as yieldedness, forbearing, or reasonableness. What Paul is teaching us is that there is an attitude that is characteristic of the believer in days of difficulty … and that is joy, but the expression of that joy is not always jumping up and down. Sometimes it is. But often it’s simply that gentle spirit that is willing to yield to the providence of God in our lives.
What bears witness to our joy in the Lord, is our gentle spirit that is yielded to the sovereign will of the Lord. For we know … “the Lord is near.” Knowing Christ’s personal presence and leading in our lives reminds us that everything is going to be okay.
3. Make Our Requests Known to God (v. 6).
Notice the contrast. “Be anxious for nothing;” well, how do we do that? We pray about everything. Notice what Paul is not saying. He’s not saying don’t be anxious because you’re circumstances are good. No he’s saying “don’t be anxious because God is good and he is ready to hear your requests …. So pray!”
Be anxious for nothing; pray about everything!
Paul is using 4 Greek words for prayer that overlap and compliment one another. He uses “Prayer, Supplication, Thanksgiving, and Requests.” By prayer he is speaking generally about humbly approaching God, but the use of supplication and requests is important. These are the specific details of the believer’s life. What we see here is that we are to come to the throne of grace with specific prayers about specific needs ….
“The quickest way to get on your feet is to get on your knees.”
But the key to the whole prayer process is to come “with thanksgiving.” A spirit of thanksgiving is the ingredient in our prayer life that changes everything. When we are brought to a point where we can thank God for this trial and this testing, when we can do that, something inside will break and the flood of God’s peace will fill our soul. That’s the promise … God’s peace in Christ.
4. God Will Make His Peace Known to Us (v. 7).
When we pray specifically with a humble and thankful spirit, and make our requests known to God, He promises to make His peace known to us.
And the peace of Christ will come to us in such a way that it is beyond comprehension. It’s not a peace that comes because our situation has changed. That's why we won’t be able to explain it. Something has changed on the inside … but not necessarily on the outside. It is the peace of Christ which comes to guard our hearts and minds.
The Greek word for guard here is “Phroureo,” and it means “to hold the fort against all enemy assaults.”
When God makes His peace known to us, it will protect our emotions and thoughts from being torn apart from the assualt of anxiety.
When we are focussed on Christ (v. 4-5) and have faith in Christ (v. 6), we will experience the peace of Christ (v. 7). It all comes back to our need for Christ and our need to pray.
Anxiousness is our problem; Prayer is our prescription; Peace is our promise!!
Whatever you might be going through, rejoice in Jesus Christ! For it is the saving and sovereign work of Jesus that gives us the reason to be joyful at all times and gentle hearted to all men. It is Christ who gives us the access to God in prayer, and the peace that we can’t explain in the day of adversity.
I recently called up my parents, and I was speaking with my dad, who’s an elder at their church in New Hampshire. I called him up to talk about the challenges that lay before Lindsay and I in church planting and I guess he could tell right away that I seemed anxious over the phone …. and I was. I was searching for some answers and I began right in by telling him all my questions I had for him … he just paused and responded with a question of his own … He simply asked, “How’s your prayer life, son? How’s your prayer life?”
I thought the answer to my anxiety was in talking with him; he knew the answer was in talking with God. In other words, "go to the throne, instead of the phone."