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Stand firm, part 5–Philippians 4:6a
Kids worry about their friends, their possessions, being safe and sometimes the love of a parent. Jr. Highers worry about their friends, being accepted, being picked on, turning out okay—what else? High schoolers worry about friends, fights, popularity, fitting in, making the team, getting the scholarship, making the grades, pleasing their parents, wearing the right clothes—what else?
Collegians worry about where their future mate is, how come they have not shown up yet, passing the classes, getting the job, missing out, their looks, their future, their friends—what else? Young marrieds worry about their spouse, their future, their career, their kids, their house, their car. Young families worry about their kids, their home, their finances, their parenting, their schedule. What do older families worry about? Retirement, security, their children’s faith, and more.
Singles worry, seniors worry, non-Christians worry, and Christians worry. Worry is an epidemic. Worry is like a virus coughed out by the media. Worry is even caught in normal conversation. Worry infects our minds and steals our joy. Worry makes us continually rehearse the worst case scenario. Worry is sin and many of you need to deal with this destroyer of hearts. You cannot stand firm in your faith when you’re running away with worry.
Don’t misunderstand–worry is different than concern. Worry is lack of trust, concern is trusting over a burden. Worry is self-centered, concern is God-centered. Worry is buried by a burden, concern is bearing a burden. Worry rips, tears apart, and distracts your attention from God, concern unites, builds and draws your attention to God. Worry is sin, concern is an expression of sober faith.
The Bible speaks of genuine concern in 1 Corinthians 12:25, “so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” Care is the word for concern used positively here. But worry is a temptation which leads to sin and for some of you, worry is a favorite pastime.
Worry can be so dominant in a life, the habit of worry can prove that a professing Christian is actually not saved in Matthew 13:22. But for a genuine Christian, worry can still be a great pressure. Proverbs 12:25 reminds us, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.” Anxiety makes life heavy.
Worry is never insignificant. Someone might say, “Why make a big deal about worry? It’s trivial.” No, it’s not. Much mental and physical illness are directly linked to worry. Drunkenness and drug addiction are linked to worry. And worry leads to foolish decisions resulting in painful consequences. Worry can be devastating.
For you Christians, worry is contrary to your faith in Christ. And worst of all, worry is a choice, making worry and anxiety a response you can avoid. Think about it theologically–Christians who worry are those who believe God can redeem them, forgive all their sins, transfer them from Hell to Heaven, transform them from the inside out giving them a new heart, indwell them with the Holy Spirit and grant them eternal life, but they just don’t think God can get them through the next couple of days.
That is pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? How can we believe God for the greater gift of salvation, then not believe Him for the lesser gift of everyday life. That reveals an embarrassing lack of faith and a faulty view of God. It gets worse–by way of introduction . . .
First A Worrier INSULTS God
Worry says God is unable, untrustworthy and unconcerned. When you worry, you’re saying, “God, I just don’t think I can trust You.” Worry slanders God’s character.
Second A Worrier DISBELIEVES Scripture
Do you see the problem with believing the authority, sufficiency and inerrancy of the Word of God, but at the same time living in perpetual worry? You’re saying one thing but living another. It is incongruous to declare how much you believe the Bible, then to worry about whether God will fulfill what He says in the Bible.
Third A Worrier lives by CIRCUMSTANCES
The English term worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle or choke. That’s exactly what worry does–it’s emotional strangulation. When you worry, you’re choosing to be mastered by your circumstances instead of being mastered by the truth of God. Would you agree, the trials of this life pale in comparison to the greatness of God’s salvation and your future in Heaven?
Jesus wants you to realize it doesn’t make sense to believe God can save you from eternal Hell, but not help you in the practical matters of Monday through Saturday? When you catch yourself worrying, go back to Scripture and depend upon Him for everyday issues.
Fourth A Worrier DISTRUSTS God
When you worry, you’re not trusting your Heavenly Father because you don’t know Him well enough. If you begin to study the Word of God to find out who He is and how He took care of the needs of His people in the past, it will build confident trust for the future. Let God’s track record through the Scripture assure you that worry is needless because of God’s bounty, senseless because of God’s promise, useless because of its impotence to do anything and faithless because it’s a characteristic of unbelievers.
And personally, you should build a faith file. A faith file is a memory record of how God cared for you in the past–remembering answered prayer, how He delivered you from a trial as you stood upon the Word of God. Can you recall dark waters? Horrific events? Then recall how God got you through? Those seasons build trust.
Let God’s track record in your own life assure you that worry is needless. Then stay fresh in the Word every day so God Himself is on your mind. Otherwise, the enemy is apt to move into the vacuum of your thoughts and tempt you to worry.
Fifth A Worrier FEARS the future
Worry is unproductive. It accomplishes nothing, it’s a thief of time, controls your mind so your thoughts are blurred. Worry wastes your energy, damages your body, and fuels laziness. Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, “Do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
He’s saying, “Don’t worry about the future. Even though tomorrow will have its share of problems, those future issues have a way of working themselves out in time. Deal with future problems as they come, for there’s no way to solve them in advance.” Corrie Ten Boom said often, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrows; it empties today of strength.”
Providing for tomorrow is healthy, but worrying about tomorrow is sin, because God is the God of tomorrow, just like He is the God of today. Lamentations 3:23 tells you His mercies “are new every morning.” God feeds you just like He fed the children of Israel, with just enough manna for each day. God gives you strength “one day at a time.”
He gives you what you need when you need it. God doesn’t encumber you with excess baggage. God gives you His grace in the hour you need it. If you worry about the future now, you double your pain without having the grace to deal with it. Christians are to stand firm upon the Rock. The Rock never moves–the Rock never falters. Yet many believers do a lot of trembling, worrying, and being anxious on the rock.
You’ll not find answers for your worries in formulas, psychology, drinking or valium–you’ll find it standing firm on God’s Word, the Rock. Turn to Philippians 4:1 where it tells you to stand firm on the Rock of Christ. Then after verse 1, in verses 2 to 9 Paul tells us how to stand firm. The study so far taught you standing firm comes from . . .
Verses 2 to 3, Addressing RELATIONAL Tension
Verse 4, Manifesting genuine JOY
Verse 5, Embracing honest HUMILITY, and now . . .
Verse 6, Resting in dependent FAITH, allowing you to enjoy WORRY-FREE LIVING
Start reading in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Verse 8 will add filtered thinking and verse 9 ends the paragraph with obedience to the Word of God. These truths can help you stop worrying. Look carefully at how verse 6 begins, “Be anxious for nothing.” Two words in Greek–literally one word NOTHING, the second word BE ANXIOUS. A continual, 24/7, every moment, present tense, you all obey command directed at the entire church and pointed at each Christian in it. All of you and each of you–do not worry about nothing.
Do not fear anything. Do not be anxious about nothing today nor tomorrow. Feel the force of this command in its historical context. The apostle Paul who is in Rome under house arrest, says, “Be anxious for nothing.” One commentator reminds us Paul wasn’t lounging under a palm tree on the Isle of Capri sipping a cool drink, dictating, “Don’t worry, be happy!” There’s no empty detachment here.
Paul’s whole existence is difficult and dangerous. Five years in chains, plots to kill him, shipwrecked, now awaiting trial which might lead to his death–just a little stressful. So this command comes with feeling. Paul literally declares, “Stop worrying about anything!”–which assumes the Philippians were anxiously wringing their hands.
And you know the Christians in Philippi had more things to worry about than we do–poverty, hunger, ostracism, interlopers, heretics, and a persecution-prone Roman “city hall”. This gives Paul’s prohibition of worry even greater force. Paul is commanding exactly what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6 and what Peter taught in 1 Peter 5.
Look what God says in Matthew 6 and 1 Peter 5 in order to understand Philippians 4:6 and start living the keys to worry-free living. The answer to stop worrying starts with God Himself. Living without worry is not found in you or in your circumstances, but is found being intimate with the One who transformed you. When you’re walking intimately with your God through Christ, He will give you a new heart of firm trust. Submitting to Christ means being transformed inside out, enabling you to enjoy five great keys to overcome worry.
First Trust God to PROVIDE
Jesus acknowledges worry as a common sin in Matthew 6:25 to 26, then gives the same command as Paul, to stop worrying. “For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
Our Creator is the supreme provider and if you’re rightly related to Him, He promises to provide everything we need. Genuine Christians believe if it weren’t for God, you wouldn’t have anything. And if it weren’t for Him, you could lose all you have overnight. You say, “Wait a minute, it was my ideas that got me where I am today.” Yet who gave you your mind? God could have made you a vegetable.
“Now wait a minute. Everything I have in life I got because I worked hard.” If it weren’t for God, you wouldn’t be able to take your next breath. If God took His hand of blessing off your life, you wouldn’t have the health needed to work. You wouldn’t have the mind needed to think. And God is the one who gives you the ability to work. God provides you with all things.
To stop worrying, you must daily recall your God is the ultimate source. If it wasn’t for Him, you wouldn’t have your job, spouse, kids, church, friends and health. You wouldn’t have a life. He made you. He’s your Creator, provider and sustainer. Worry-free living is found when you remember to trust God to provide for all your needs, food, clothes, shelter.
Jesus says later, “He will not give you a stone when you ask for bread, nor will He give you a snake when you ask for a fish.” He’s worthy of your trust. To prevent worry, remember God is the provider of all.
Second Trust God to be in CONTROL
Matthew 6:27 to 30, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin. 29 yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. 30 But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?”
Jesus affirms He is in complete control. God does as He pleases, only as He pleases and always as He pleases and all He does is for His glory and our good. Romans 8:28, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” God knows all the possibilities and controls them all so they work out for His glory and your good if you’re His child. Living anxious-free comes when you remember your Creator is in intimate control.
God can take a crippling diving accident and turn it around to bring glory to Himself in the person of Joni Eareckson Tada. God can take marriage problems and turn them into a new level of love between a couple. God can turn financial crisis into financial stability. When Mom says, “Sorry kids, that wasn’t leftover stew, that was Alpo”–good can come from that too, somehow. Remember first, God provides all and second, is in control.
Third Trust God to meet your NEEDS
You know possessions are a problem when you start using words like “my” and “mine”—“my possessions, my time”. Yet who gave all that to you? God did. You already know you can’t take it with you. You never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul behind it. Why? Because all your possessions are merely loaned to you. God owns everything.
As the Bible says in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” Are you enslaved to your possessions? With any possession–if you can’t give it away you don’t own it, it owns you. You’re to be open-handed with all God gives. Remembering your Creator as the owner of all can free you from possessive passions.
Jesus says in verses 31 to 32 of Matthew 6, “Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves? 32 For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
Jesus says don’t worry–when God is your Father, He will give you what you need. Only when you trust God as the giver of needs can you live a worry-free future. If you own something in your heart and fear you’ll lose it, then you’ll worry. But if God owns it and you merely manage it for Him, then you can be worry-free, because the One who can provide all you need and is in control of everything will also give you His possessions and take away His possessions when it is good for you and bring glory to Him.
There is anxiety freedom in owning nothing, but in managing them for our God. So next time you wreck your car you say, “It’s your car, Lord!” Why? Because you love Christ first, trust Christ most and know Him best.
Jesus ends with verses 33 and 34, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” You can be worry-free by depending upon the eternal God who is already there.
God exists outside of time. Therefore, not only does He exist today and still exist yesterday–He already exists tomorrow. And if He is on your side, and as His child He is. Then you can be worry-free because tomorrow is already in your Father’s hands under His control and all you need will be provided for by the owner of all.
Therefore Jesus says seek His Kingdom and His righteousness first, and everything else will be right. So in Matthew 6, to continue worrying about anything is to violate the Lord’s command. If you worry, you are manifesting what kind of faith? “Little faith”. And to fret over “what shall I eat, what shall I drink, or how should I clothe myself”—in God’s eyes is to act exactly like an unbeliever.
Now turn to 1 Peter 5 and see it in context. How can you live worry-free? First Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
Fourth Trust Christ to CARRY your concerns
Verse 7, “casting all your anxiety on Him”. I used to love it when my boys were very young and they were suddenly frightened or faced with genuine danger – their response was immediate – they amazingly climbed up my legs and torso in order to get into my arms and wrap their arms around my neck. That’s a type of picture Peter is painting–but more vivid is the verb casting. It means to throw away or to hand over.
When you share a burden with someone, it is lessened in your own life. You have placed, handed over that worry on another. I used to choose to dump my worries on an empty field close to my house–I would dump all my worries there before I came home to my family. That is the Greek word casting–you actively, continually give those fears, anxieties and pressures away to Christ.
The word anxiety, meaning “divides, rips, tears apart, and distracts” results in discontentment, discouragement, despair, and questioning without resolution–worry. Cast it all on Jesus–all of it. Why? Worry is bad for your health, makes God look bad, and undermines faith. But the main reason God gives here is because worry is pride. Pride is what God hates, meaning this–God hates your worry.
Did you notice the grammatical connection between verses 6 and 7, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” It’s not merely a new sentence. Verse 7 is a subordinate clause. “Humble yourselves”, main verb–participle subordinate clause, “casting your anxieties on him.”
This means casting your anxieties on God is an expression of humility. It’s like saying, “Drive carefully–keeping your eyes open.” “Humble yourselves–casting your anxieties on God.” One way to be humble is to cast your anxieties on God, which means one hindrance to casting your anxieties on God is pride, which means undue worry/fear about anything is pride.
Whatever worry or anxiety you are carrying around right now, repent of it now–because it is pride. God hates it, it makes Him opposed to you! The churches Peter was writing were under the threat of being tortured and killed just for claiming to follow Christ. Those believers were tempted to be anxious 24/7. But Peter says be humble and cast your anxiety on Christ. How and why?
Fifth Never forget God’s CARE for you
“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Throwing your cares upon Jesus is not a misplaced confidence. In Greek it is very clear–literally Peter writes, because to Him it is a care about you. And in doing so, God is informing you everything that creates anxiety for you in this life is a matter of great concern for Christ.
To care here is to be concerned–to be of great interest to someone, to be thinking about them continually. I care. If your spouse is going in for a serious medical problem, you don’t even have to try to pray for them–you do so continually. This is the kind of care God has for you in the midst of your struggles–and the concern God has for His Church, since the phrase, “He cares for you” is plural, all of you.
Christian, how can you doubt God’s care for you? If Christ would go to the cross, die for your sins, suffer the wrath of God that should have been poured out on you, then rose from the dead and did this while you were ungodly and uninterested. Then how can you doubt His care, now that you’re His child, justified with the perfect righteousness of Christ, completely forgiven for all your sins (co-heirs with Christ) and can stand in His presence because of what He did for you? How can you doubt His care?
Do you know what the great barrier is in your life that keeps you from putting others first and thinking of others as more important than yourself? Simply, it is this–your fear is, if I do that, who then will care for me? If I put others first and treat others as more important, who will care for me? And God’s answer is, “I will.” God will. Christ Himself will care for our needs.
He has a mighty hand and is able to do far better than we can. And He wants to do so because He genuinely cares for you. Casting all your anxieties upon Him is the path of humility, freeing you from constant concern for yourself, enabling you to be concerned over the needs of others.
Now you can clearly feel the full force of 1 Peter 5:6 to 7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” How? In what way shall you humble yourselves? Verse 7, by “casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.”
Turn back to Philippians 4:1 to 9 and remember, the answer to worry is God Himself. Look at verses 1 to 9 through the lens of worry. You will minimize worry in your life when you, verse 1, STAND FIRM on God’s Word–you won’t worry because God’s Word is a stable trustworthy Rock. You will minimize worry in your life as you, verses 2 to 3, deal with relational tension instead of avoid it and continue to worry–you deal with it and live at peace.
You will minimize worry in your life as you, verse 4, rejoice in the new heart of JOY you’ve been given in salvation. You cannot worry and be rejoicing at the same time. You will minimize worry in your life as you, verse 5, trust your God is near you. No matter what we’re going through, you know the One who died for you is near, so you can practice untamed humility when attacked or under trial–God is always close.
You will minimize worry in your life as you, next week, verses 6 to 7, PRAY about everything. And then in two weeks, verse 8, THINK biblically. And in a few weeks, verse 9, OBEY God’s Word. The answer to stop worrying starts with God Himself, which forces all of you to ask two key questions.
#1 Do you know God through CHRIST alone?
#2 Are you INTIMATE with God now by the Word, in His Church and through His Spirit?
Let’s STAND FIRM. Let’s pray.