This week we get to the most famous part of Philippians which we often find on coffee cups and keychains. But for all its fame it is probably one of the most difficult principles to apply: “do not be anxious about anything.” How can we stop worrying and why is it so bad for us? Matt Chandler teaches us what the kryptonite is for worry and how we should “practice these things” continuously.
Reading for the Week
Chapter 10 – No Worries
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:4-9
Last week we unpacked Paul’s instruction to always rejoice. This week we read a bit further to learn an even harder lesson: never be anxious. These two instructions go hand in hand and are based on a very important truth: The Lord is at hand. The only way to suffer well is to suffer with Jesus. When he becomes our supreme treasure, joy and hope we can rejoice always and never worry.
“Do not be anxious about anything“Philippians 4:5
In broad strokes, the book of Philippians asks us “What would you have to be anxious about.” God is all-powerful and sovereign over all creation. God does not simply know what the future holds, he is already there in the future and reigns over the whole creation for all time. Why do we worry? Even if we’ve felt distant from God at times, and even if he does not give us our heart’s desires, he has never ever failed you or me.
Matt Chandler admits that pain and fear are part of the human condition, “but worry is a choice made in distrust.” When anxiety overwhelms us we show that we do not trust the King and Author of the universe. Jesus asked “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27). Anxiety serves no purpose but to remove us from God. But when we surrender all to him (because he already holds our lives in his hand) we testify that God is indeed worthy of our trust. Our confidence that he is in control and holds our future in his hands, invites others to do the same.
Worry at God
“But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”Philippians 4:6
We combat anxiety through the discipline of prayer. Matt Chandler shows us that prayer and worry both involve the rehearsing of circumstances, but worry involves no connection or relationship. “Worrying is like trying to travel in a rocking chair.” But when we pray we take our anxieties and place them before our Father – handing them over completely.
Pray and let God worry.Martin Luther
Jesus is our perfect example in this kind of prayer when he kneels before the Father in the Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). I love this prayer because it shows both Christ’s humanity and his unrelenting trust in his Father. He knows what real suffering is, but even at that moment he obeys the Father and trusts Him with the outcome.
Paul shows us that our earnest prayers need to be accompanied by thanksgiving, regardless of the outcome. Even in loss and devastating circumstances, we bring thangs because we believe God is good and only does good. When anxious thoughts knock on our heart’s door we must fill this space with prayers of supplication and thanksgiving for God’s goodness and good gifts, most especially, the gospel.
Thanksgiving and worry don’t occupy the same space. Thanksgiving is worry’s kryptonite. You can’t worry if you’re giving thanks.Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
Once we feel the thanksgiving in our hearts, our minds can be filled with “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Worry on these things
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8
Anxiety wastes mental energy demonstrating a lack of trust in God. Matt Chandler reminds us to take “every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). The character of Christ is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy. The more we dwell on the truth of Christ, the less mental space we will have to worry about anything else. As his children and fellow heirs, we don’t just think of Christ in abstract terms. He wants a relationship with each and every one of us. Thus we set our minds on the things that come from Christ and point to a relationship with Christ.
The maturing man or woman… is going to have a heart that can rejoice in any circumstances because he or she understands that the Lord is near and understands who the Lord is, and this information makes it reasonable even in the most catastrophic of circumstances to have hope, experience joy, and choose thanksgiving… When tempted to fall prey to anxiety, [they] go to the Lord, humble themselves, and hand their anxieties over, trusting Him to answer however He sovereignly sees fit.Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
Practice makes perfect
“…practice these things“Philippians 4:9
Our natural tendency is definitely not to rejoice in all things or lay our anxieties down. We need to practice these things because they only happen by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s natural to dwell on the lies of this world, so we have to practice setting our minds on the truth. Like a ship that has to course-correct, we must continuously be reminded to set our minds on the gospel of Christ and not be conformed to this world.
These reflection questions might help you dig deeper into the reading this week.
In this video session, Matt Chandler shows us how to stop worrying.