Stephen Caswell © 2004
Worry: Transit Troubles
Several years ago, the London Transit Authority had a problem. Buses were going right past passengers who were waiting at designated places to be picked up. They were at the bus stops, and the buses were sailing right past them. The London Transit Authority released a statement to explain their actions. The statement said it was impossible for them to maintain schedules if they always had to stop and pick up passengers. It seems to me that they were worrying about the wrong things. People are more important than time tables. These days everyone has to deal with worry or anxiety. But Christians don't need to be strangled by them. George Muller said this.
Anxious for Nothing
The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.
-- George Muller
This morning I would like to look at the cure for worry. Worry happens when we are torn in one direction by our hopes and in another by our fears. If anyone had cause to worry it was the apostle Paul. He was concerned for all the Churches. He was imprisoned in Rome and standing trial for the Christian faith. He could soon lose his life. And his dear friends the Philippians had a problem with disunity and he couldn't be there to help them. However Paul didn't worry, instead he rejoiced in the Lord. What is the cure for this thief that steals our joy? Paul shares the secret of overcoming worry in this passage. Paul says 2 things: Right Thinking and Right Living.
1. Right Thinking
a. Rejoice In The Lord Always
Philippians 4:4: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
The first thing Paul says about right thinking is that we should rejoice. Paul commands believers to rejoice in the Lord always. But how do you rejoice when things aren't working out for you? By rejoicing in the Lord. God is the one we rejoice in. He will always be our Savior and helper. So He is always worthy of our praise and adoration. The Lord is the source of our joy. David experienced this. Psalm 103:1-5 Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. And the Psalmist continue to bless the Lord for His goodness.
Similarly, it didn't matter what happened in Paul's life he rejoiced in the Lord. Paul rejoiced that Christ was preached in chapter 1, even though some were doing this from selfish motives. He rejoiced in his service and sacrifice in chapter 2. Paul rejoiced in Christ's righteousness in chapter 3. And in chapter 4 Paul rejoiced in the Philippians and their concern for him.
So when he commands believers to rejoice in the Lord always he is asking them to do something that he practices himself regardless of circumstances. Like a victorious locker room, church is a place to exult, to give thanks, to celebrate the great news that all is forgiven, that God is love, that victory is certain. Our joy is found in God! Because God has saved us we can always rejoice.
b. Be Reasonable To All Men
Philippians 4:5: Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
The word gentleness means graciousness, someone who doesn't retaliate when provoked. Our joy in the Lord may not always be seen by others, but our gentle spirit will be. Christians must not strive and argue with others. Rather they should be known for their humility and meekness. The Lord is always near to strengthen those who obey this command. Gracious conduct will touch people far more than harsh words. Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon and the deeper it sinks into the mind. -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
c. Rely On The Lord
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.
Paul gives two commands in verse 6, firstly a negative one then a positive one. Don't be anxious. Anxiety strangles believers as they are torn apart by hopes and fears. But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 How then do we overcome anxiety? By taking our needs and concerns to God in prayer. Paul learnt from personal experience how believers need assistance in trials. On our own we aren't sufficient for the Christian life. So he commanded them take their requests to God.
Paul wisely used three words here to describe prayer; prayer, thanksgiving and requests. The word prayer carries the idea of devotion, adoration and worship. We praise God for His greatness and power, for who He is. This is important because it places our problems in the right perspective. Thanksgiving is showing appreciation for answered prayers. We must remember to do this or we become ungrateful. This reminds us of how God has helped us in the past. The word request refers to the earnest sharing of needs. When we bring our needs to God this way we see that He is more than able to meet them since He has in the past.
Lincoln's Prayer for Wisdom
I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.
1 Peter 5:7: Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. The way this is written means that our problems are a concern to God. He wants us to bring our burdens to Him.
d. Rest Your Mind On Good Things
Phil 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things.
Solomon said as a man thinks in his heart so he is. What we feed our mind on determines how we think and feel. Paul commands believers to dwell on the things that are good and wholesome. If we will evaluate our thought life against this list then our minds will be controlled by Godly thinking instead of worldly thinking. The result is peace. Isaiah 26:3: You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Truth is the first quality. Dr. Walter Calvert reported on a survey that only 8% of the things people worry about are legitimate matters of concern. The other 92 % were either imaginary, never happened, or involved matters over which they had no control anyway. Truth sets people free, whilst error binds people. Satan seeks to control people through lies and deception.
The next qualities are honest and just. Things that are worthy of respect. Christians should be aware of the awful things of society, but we mustn't dwell on them. Pure, refers to moral purity. This is very relevant in a permissive society. Lovely speaks of attractiveness or beauty. Good report means something worth talking about, something appealing. Virtue is the characteristic that motivates us to live better lives. Praise speaks of something worth commending to others. God's word has these qualities. Psalm 19:7-9 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
2. Right Living
Philippians 4:9: The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
The way we think is very important. But how we live is just as important. Paul commands us to do or practice the things that he taught them and exampled before them. We must listen to the teaching of God's word. We must take into our hearts and receive it. Then we must live by its rules. We can follow the examples of godly people. They demonstrate to us how we ought to live. Right thinking and right living bring the God of peace very near to us. Then He gives us the peace of God which guards our hearts and minds. Rejoice in the Lord, Be Reasonable to all men, Rely on the Lord, and Rest your mind on good things. These are the things that make for right thinking. Then we apply this to right living.
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.