Philippians 4:4-94 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Pastor Chris lifted our spirits this week with the antidote to anxiety. Anchored in the positive passage of Philippians chapter four we find the elements that inoculate us against fear, worry, and dismay. These truths are captured in words like “peace,” “reasonable,” “thanksgiving,” “guard,” “just,” “pure,” “lovely,” and “excellence.” We can live free from anxious thoughts. We do have a way to live in joy. Chris led us to the words of Jesus himself in the middle of his Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 6:25–3425 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life….saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32…your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow…” (excerpts; follow the link for full passage)
All around us are reports that induce fear – worst-case scenarios, discouragement, hardship, and even death. If we find ourselves meditating on fear, our bodies and minds actually can make us sick. Psychiatrists have concluded that fear of the virus can put us into fight or flight reaction and even make us sick!
Under this anxiety, the stress hormone cortisol is released that at sustained, elevated levels weakens our immune system. Our bodies begin expending a ton of energy – gaining weight, isolating, self-protection, distress. You know you are living in a condition of anxiety when you experience mood swings, irritability, checking out, paranoia, even fantasizing about dying. We’re saying God, I don’t trust you enough. We allow ourselves to complain. We lose hope when we complain.
We are called to have a habitual, self-disciplined mindset. We are created to meditate on the Word of God. What you meditate on begins to control you. We can’t simply treat anxiety as a behavior, it is sin. It is not something to be managed. It becomes our identity, our idol. Pursuing the kingdom of God, meditating on the Word is the vaccine to anxiety. Paul wraps up the passage urging us to “practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
3 Practices that Fulfilled Christians Do Daily to have Joy instead of Anxiety
- Anchor your joy in Jesus, not your circumstance (v. 4) – respond reasonably, know Jesus is always with you. Live according to your theology, not your anxiety!
- Pray. Worship. Thank. (vv. 6-7) – Psalm 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” Plug-in to church – services and life groups!
- Biblical Meditation (v. 8) – Psalm 1:2-3 “…on His law he meditates day and night….like a tree firmly planted by streams of water…yields its fruit…leaf does not wither…he prospers”Accept the Peace of God.
- What news about our current circumstance makes you feel anxious?
- What thoughts do you have, or actions do you take when you experience anxiety?
- Who do you reach out to when you need help?
- What’s your reaction to the statement “anxiety is a sin, not just a behavior?”
- How might worship bring healing to our minds? Meditating on scripture? Thinking pure, lovely, praiseworthy, and just thoughts?
- Take a few moments and worship the Lord in song – start here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77aKHuNL4_c.
- Consider what you are meditating about during this crisis. Does it fit the pattern of Phil. 4:8, “whatever is true, …honorable,…just,…pure,…lovely,…commendable,…excellence,…worthy of praise, think about these things.”
- Commit in prayer, and possibly to a friend, to meditate on God’s Word morning and night this week.
- Consider journaling how it changes your perspective, how you feel and behave. Rejoice in the power of God to free you from anxiety!