24 May 2020
Eld Lee Kong Sing
The subject of this sharing is taken from Philippians 4:6-7 and it is about how to handle worries the right way. Worrying is one of the most common plights of modern believers today. Certainly, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused some to worry about the future. Although worrying can be understandable during such circumstances, it is however important for us to be reminded that worrying is a sin, and like all sins we should refrain from worrying and deal with it according to God’s Word.
Philippians 4:6-7 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The epistle to the Philippians is one of the seven prison epistles of Paul. It was written around 62AD when Paul was under house arrest in Rome. The house arrest was not literally in a house and in fact still in prison but in relatively better conditions accorded to the status of Roman citizens. He was permitted to receive visitors. Paul was imprisoned for the duration of two years. If there is anyone who can relate to our present situation of being confined to our homes, it would be Paul, except that our present conditions are far more comfortable and has lasted only two months thus far. Paul founded the Philippian church during his 2nd Missionary journey (Acts 16:9-40). Being a Gentile church, they would not have suffered the persecution of the Jews at that time, although in a few short years the persecution of all Christians by Nero would begin. In the meantime, however, the church was not without its trials. The Philippian church suffered persecution from external sources; there was also the infiltration of false teachers; Judaizers, who were creating confusion and discouragement through their erroneous teachings; and the church also suffered from internal strife and disunity. These difficulties would have caused many to worry much so that Paul had to address it in his epistle.
“Be careful for nothing”
“Be careful” is one word in the original which means “worry” or “be anxious”. This is a prohibition to stop an action in progress which means that the Philippians were already guilty of the sin of worry and the command was for them to cease from doing so. They must not allow even one thing to cause them to worry or become anxious. The phrase literally means “stop being anxious over the minutest thing.” Why should and how can believers stop worrying? The reason is that they were not orphans fending for themselves. They had a Father in heaven to provide and protect them always. All they needed to do was ask. Therefore, God says . . .
“but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving”
Instead of allowing a single worry to enter into their hearts and cause them to sin, they were to ensure that every problem or trouble that arose be committed to the Lord in prayer. They were on God’s business. They needed God’s help. Believers can pray to God for help in all things in general, big and small so that they can know what to do. There is no exclusion. “Supplication” is more specific in nature. It refers to a particular request with the idea of begging. It is more intense. When the two words are combined it means that believers must bring all things before God and they must do so passionately.
In addition, prayer and supplication must be offered “with thanksgiving”. Thanksgiving must be offered even before God answers. Believers must realize that their heavenly Father is all powerful and nothing will happen to them that will not be good for them, spiritually. Thus they must be thankful to God for whatever God will give. To do so, the believer must pray in faith and with submission to God knowing that the answer the Lord gives will always be the best answer for him. It is to pray “not my will, but Thy will be done”. It is to trust that God’s will is always the best even if it is contrary to our own.
It may be that a believer is struggling through an illness at this time. He may have prayed for deliverance, perhaps for years, yet deliverance does not seem to come and the believer continues to bear the weight of suffering and anguish. To pray with thanksgiving means that if God’s answer is for the believer to persevere on in the trial at this time, then the believer must accept it, and trust that God knows best and that the trial will serve to strengthen his faith and refine him further as a Christian just as God’s Word teaches. Also, he ought to believe that he has already received the spiritual blessing because he has been praying all this while, which is precisely what the illness is meant to accomplish. Thus he is able to pray with thanksgiving trusting in the sovereign will of God.
“let your requests be made known unto God”
While Paul commanded the Philippians to stop worrying, he also exhorted them to make their requests known to God.
God knows our needs even before we ask Him. So what is the purpose of making our requests known to God? It is for our good. When these requests that we make known to God are answered according to His holy will, the result is that the believer will experience the presence and nearness of his heavenly Father in his life. Requests made known to God are for the believer’s blessings and spiritual benefit, not the Lord’s. Those who do not make their requests known to God may still be helped by God because of His providential care for them; but they will miss the blessing of being consciously aware of His presence in their lives. The danger is that they might not be thankful and might even rob God of His glory thinking that they got things done by their own might.
When God’s children present their requests by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving to God, then the following will be the outcome . . .
“And the peace of God”
The peace of God is given to believers only because they have received peace with God through Christ. Sinners who are enemies of God will not be able to receive and understand this peace.
However, when we sin against Him like worrying, i.e. not trusting Him to provide and protect, then the peace of God will depart, and fear and worries will replace it. . Only when we repent and return to Him can we experience the peace of God once again. The peace of God in the believer’s heart will drive out fears and all worries. A quietness and calmness that the world cannot give resides within his soul. The believer is not asked by God to make his own peace. He cannot buy this peace. It is a gift from his heavenly Father. He needs to embrace it and hold on to it by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.
“which passeth all understanding”
The peace of God is supernatural in nature. God gives it to believers who only can experience it. The word “passeth” means “superior.” The peace of God is superior to all the logic that anyone finds on earth. For example, the world does not believe in an all powerful God who is the believer’s heavenly Father and who promises His children that He will always be with them to care for them. The world cannot understand this truth but all of God's children can. That is why they alone can experience this peace. They understand the biblical basis for this peace. The world does not!
“shall keep your hearts and minds”
The word “keep” means to guard, to protect, to keep watch. The peace of God is like a sentinel standing guard to protect the believer’s heart from all attacks that will bring sin like worrying. The heart is the seat of emotion while the mind that of reason. When we allow the sin of worry to consume us, both the heart and mind can dive uncontrollably into fear, anxiety and hopelessness; the heart runs rampant with emotion and the mind thinks irrational thoughts. The peace of God can powerfully guard and protect our hearts and minds against such harm and prevent that from happening. In place of anxiety is God’s peace and this peace is able to calm the heart and mind and prevent them from becoming overcome by fear and anxiety.
“through Christ Jesus”
As believers, we must not forget that the spiritual privileges that God has so graciously given to us are only for believers. The peace of God is no exception. It is the privilege of believers only. We must therefore treasure it and not regard it lightly and be grateful to the Lord who has freely given it to us. This peace was obtained through Christ which means it is based upon all that Christ did for us when He lived, and died on the cross for our sins, and rose from the dead to defeat death in our lives. If Christ’s work can be destroyed or negated in any way then the peace of God would be destroyed. But as long as Christ’s work stands true, and it will not because there is no one greater than God and Christ, the peace of God will remain in every believer’s life forever.
Worrying is a sin. We worry because we do not trust in God’s faithfulness or ability to deliver us from difficult circumstances or to provide for our needs. If the sin of worry is not dealt with, it will consume us like any other sin. We will be on the path that leads us away from God and we will spiral into anxiety and misery. The peace of God will not be our experience to have until we repent and stop worrying, and instead cast our cares with thanksgiving before our God who cares for us, and trust that He will give us what is best.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many changes and even much upheaval to some of our lives. As a result, some may have become worried about the future. We should not fall into the sin of worry. Instead we should take every worry that arises and commit it to the Lord trusting that He who knows our needs even before we ask will take care of us according to His sovereign will and purpose. We must no longer worry but entrust our cares into His loving hands.
May the Lord help us to continue to trust in Him in all things.