… 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. (Philippians 4:6-7)

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What precedes the above excerpt from Philippians 4 is to “be anxious for nothing.”

When looking into origins of the Greek word the apostle Paul used for “anxious” in this passage (thank you, biblehub.com), it speaks to being a part—as opposed to the whole; being drawn in opposite directions or “divided into parts”. Quoting from Bible Hub’s HELPS Word-studies (linked above), it figuratively means “‘to go to pieces’ because one is pulled apart (in different directions), like the force exerted by sinful anxiety (worry).”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced exactly what this Greek word for anxiety describes. The mind which rests secure in the goodness and recorded promises of God is visited by one or more concerns. When not met and processed under the canopy of those truths and the solution Paul shares in this passage, worry forms. What then? Anxiety drags portions of the mind away from trust in the eternal God, stealing the peace and thanksgiving He intends for us to walk with Him in.

Worse yet, I sometimes imagine my anxieties are actually “holy worries”. Like I’m tied up in knots about the right things, such as the spiritual condition of someone I’m concerned about or whether the truth of a matter will surface.

* * *

If there was such a thing as “holy worry”, however, Jesus would have taught us about it. But He didn’t. And neither did Paul.

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Paul seems a likely, sinner-turned-saint candidate for having legitimate, mind-meddling anxieties. His letter to the Philippians from which we take our text was written from prison and, no… conditions weren’t cushy. The book of Acts as well as his letters to the churches reveal his health, reputation, and life were often at risk and under attack. His preaching and writings incited strong opposition and he knew what it meant to have friends desert him. He also recognized his death for the cause of Christ was imminent. As if those weren’t enough, Paul admitted having struggles because of his own sin nature, finding himself at times doing the very things he didn’t want to do.

Scripture also reveals Paul agonized in prayer and worked diligently to grow and preserve the spiritual health of the churches God planted through his missionary efforts. Clearly, his greatest areas of concern weren’t for his physical well-being, but for the steadfast growth and welfare of new believers who found themselves in a world hostile to the Christian faith and infested with false teachers. There were spiritual matters Paul wept over.

So how is it that Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, instructs us to not be anxious about anything, but rather bring everything to God in prayer and supplication, with thankfulness?

I believe Paul’s choice of the Greek word for “anxious” reveals his understanding of the vast difference between worries and anxieties which pull our minds apart from the riches of Who God is, compared to legitimate concerns which compel us to treasure God’s Word in our hearts, remain steadfast in communicating His glorious truths into the lives of others, and taking reasonable steps to deal with those things God brings to mind which we can and should do something about.

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Today’s passage and others which address our anxieties aren’t talking about insights regarding issues which common sense and good stewardship call us to address.

For example, if we notice an otherwise healthy pet to be off its feed, we should check into it.

Paul learned of matters within the churches indicative of need. Rather than allow that knowledge to transcend into worries which separated his mind and heart from intimacy with God, he prayed over the churches and took measures God afforded him to exercise in addressing them. Since he was unable to personally spend time with those he was praying for, the imprisoned apostle sent letters through trustworthy men; writings which encouraged, exhorted, and provided the believers with tools for their minds and spiritual war chests to acknowledge and deal with the challenges they faced in a God-honoring way. We can surmise that, after doing what he could reasonably do, Paul continued to bring the churches before God in prayer, worshipping Him while entrusting the believers into the Lord’s capable hands.

The wise counsel given us in Philippians 4:6-7 was, of course, Holy Spirit driven. Yet it’s also possible Paul himself came to learn this blueprint for eradicating anxiety through experience. He was human. He may have had natural tendencies to worry.  But notice how Paul doesn’t tell us that if we have anxieties we’re to crawl into a hole and wear the “Loser” label. No, he instructs us to:

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. (Philippians 4:4-7, Amplified).

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It’s a bit of a mystery as to why I or anyone else would want to hold onto worry or—worse yet—attempt to ever spiritualize it. Having a divided mind results in a conflicted heart and forfeiture of peace. James 1:5-8 reveals how having a divided mind makes us unstable in all our ways!

Which would be seriously problematic…

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Consider making it your habit to bring before God every concern which has the power to divide your mind, specifically using Philippians 4:6-9 and other Scriptures as your personal “Dealing With Worry” manifesto.

Look at what happens if and when we’ll do this:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Notice how the peace of God is one which blows past our ability to comprehend.

God’s peace, as seen in this passage, becomes garrison-like; an impenetrable guard over two things: our minds and our hearts.

Our minds are preserved and protected from being torn apart in Christ Jesus. We won’t “go to pieces” or have worries or anxieties which pull our thoughts away from the anchor and riches of who God is.

In Christ Jesus, our hearts will not have truth and peace bled out of them. God Himself will deflect any offensive strike against the core of our spiritual being.

I find that amazing and necessary!

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Father God, how gracious You are to again “bust” me on the notion there’s such a thing as a holy worry. Thank you for loving us so much that You want nothing to interfere with our unity with You, the Spirit, and Jesus—the Prince of Peace.  I’ve known worry which pulls my mind apart and I’ve experienced Your peace which surpasses all understanding. Help me and this reader to habitually go to You, the guardian of our hearts and minds, with every anxious thought.

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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