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God’s presence overcomes worry

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

From the text, Paul continues this series of exhortations that coincides with some of the themes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), and especially on this point of not worrying; “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink …” (Matthew 6:25ff). There could be a temptation to plug in to these passages any number of contemporary self-help, positive-thinking philosophies. However, to do so ignores the context of the passage. It was not grappling in the dark that Paul was admonishing believers to not worry. He is not disregarding it as possible reason for lack of progress, health, and adjustment in one’s psyche. There are real, concrete, and specific reasons for not worrying. The presence of God in a believers life is enough to provide assurance that the “the Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5). Another way a believer overcomes worry is “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Once again, Paul mentions one of the themes from the Sermon on the Mount: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). God is good and is capable of responding to the petitions of His people. Not to ask is a demonstration of a lack of faith that God is really in control. The word for “anxious” literally means divided mind. For those who are “in the Lord,” those who have the mind of Christ, therefore, are the ones who do not have such a “divided mind.” Rather, their “mind” is focused upon the God who is in control. The result of this praying is the gaining of “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). When God’s people are able to see all reality from His perspective, they can “stand firm” and “not be anxious about anything.” That is what God’s peace does for His people.


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