Be Anxious for Nothing

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Philippians 4:6-7

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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Today, even those who don’t normally have a care in the world are affected by the possibility that the Coronavirus will strike them down. Many of us have a natural disposition towards anxiety. We fret about finances, relationships, family; anything, and everything that happens during our day can cause a sense of anxiety. We also know that anxiety is a serious mental health issue and that too much anxiety over a sustained period of time, can take a dreadful toll on both your physical and mental health and wellbeing. Today we will begin a study of the two most significant verses in the Bible that deal with your mental health.

“Be anxious for nothing,” if that was all the scripture said, then that would be cruel. A command, and let us be clear on the matter, this is Paul giving a command to his congregations. A command without the necessary wisdom and means to obey it is unjust, and God is never unjust, is He? Many of us live in the first part of verse 6, we are anxious about everything. But today’s exercise is to get us through to the second part of verse 6 and into verse 7. The good news is that in these two verses, God has provided a way for us to deal with the anxieties of our busy lives by means of prayer. It is when we try to control our world, and the people in it, so that we feel safe and in control; that we soon realise that this is always going to be a losing battle. Sooner or later we are talking to the doctor about our high blood pressure and getting prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications. If we do nothing, then our anxiety, caused by the realisation that we cannot in fact rule the world, finds us plunging down the slippery slope into full-blown depression, and this is a really bad place to be.

Let us then have a look at this word that our Bible translators translated as ‘anxious’. It is a Greek word that is found in the New Testament nineteen times. That alone makes it a major theme in the New Testament. The word is translated as anxious, worry, care. Jesus speaks right into this situation in: –

Matthew 6:25–27 (NKJV)

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

The word translated worry is the same word translated as anxious in our text.

Paul uses the word in another way in 1 Corinthians 7:32 (NKJV)

32 But I want you to be without care.

Clearly then God understands that as humans in an uncertain world, then and now, we are subject to anxiety and cares about our circumstances. The good news is that He, in his love, has provided a way through our anxiety, worry and care. As we just read, our Father wants us to live without care. He knows that on our own we cannot bear it. On our own it will wear us down, and eventually kill us.

The solution then is this, we are to pray. Paul writes, “but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;”. God knows that just talking to Him about every detail and trouble that we are coping with, is therapeutic. So many of us bottle our worries up inside where they poison us. Does this mean that our issues are news to Him, no, of course not? He knows every hair on our head. He knows what we are going through. He also knows that we need to talk to Him about it. To pray, to talk to Father God, to make supplication, to ask Him to help us through our day.

The next bit is a bit tricky though. Paul writes that we are to do this with thanksgiving. Are we thanking God for our problems? No, of course not, although many teach this. We are not giving thanks for our circumstances, we are giving thanks in our circumstances, and that is a whole other thing. To be able to say to God, Lord I’ve had a rough day, but you know what? I’m going to give you thanks anyway. I’m going to maintain a heart of gratitude and thanks for salvation, for what Jesus has done for me and my family. I’m going to thank you in advance because I know that you have a path for me to follow that will take me safely through my circumstances and I’m determined to follow your path.

The Scriptures provide us with the assurance of God’s love, and comfort, the grace to make it through each day.

Psalm 94:19 (NKJV)

    19      In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

Let us not be like Martha, rather, like Mary, choosing that good part.

Luke 10:41–42 (NKJV)

41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Rather follow the advice of a Galilean fisherman

1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV)

casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

“What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear

What a privilege to carry

Everything to Him in prayer”[1]

[1] What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Lyrics by Joseph Scriven

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