Living in this world will often bring hardships and difficulties. The pressures of life can sometimes seem insurmountable and cause one to be in a troubled state of mind. Problems in the workplace, problems in the home, problems in the church, and problems at school can weigh heavily on the mind. Questions of “How will I be able to do this or that?” or “What will happen if I do or don’t do this or that?” can distress and vex the soul. Choices to make, people to deal with, bills to pay, health to sustain, children and grandchildren to raise, relationships to maintain, and things to settle, repair, or do can cause distress and anxiety.
Generally speaking, these emotions can be summarized by one word – worry. The word “worry” is derived from an old English term, which has reference to being choked or strangled. For many this accurately describes the emotionality which accompanies stress. When problems are severe, some experience a literal feeling of strangulation and will have difficulty breathing. It is the feeling of being trapped and cornered without a visible means of escape. Worry plagues the world and can rob you of valuable energy and time. It can prevent you from forging ahead or being effective. It can cloud your thinking and harm your physical and mental health. In the church, there are far too many who are strangling themselves with the cares of the world. Worry has dominated their lives and kept them from maintaining a proper emotional balance. But it does not have to be this way, because God has provided a relief mechanism and strategy for dealing with worry. A part of the strategy is found in Philippians 4:6-10, where Paul commands the brethren to be anxious in nothing. Following this dictate, he gives at least three practical approaches to overcoming worry.
First, Paul emphasizes that we pray right (v. 6). There is peace in praying, for it causes us to reflect upon the spiritual and rely upon God. In prayer, we can cast our cares upon God, knowing that He cares for us (I Pet. 5:7). By making our requests known unto God, we can obtain a peace that passeth all understanding (Phil. 4:7); we can have confidence, knowing that He rules the world and will provide what we need. The prayer of the righteous “availeth much” (Jas. 5:16) and the Lord heareth their cries (Psa. 34:15).
Second, in eliminating worry, we must think right. Thinking on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy will rid us of the negatives that are a detriment to our soul. There is power in positive thinking, for as a man thinketh in his heart, so he will become (Prov. 23:7). Far too many of our worries are the result of faulty thinking. Some worry about the past, which cannot be changed. Some worry about things over which we have no control; some about things that will never happen. But mostly, we worry because we have failed to keep things in perspective. We forget about what is really important and find ourselves dwelling on the small things that are here today but gone tomorrow. Generally, we are about as happy as we make up our minds to be. Did Paul worry about being in prison when he wrote the Philippian letter? NO! He used his imprisonment for the good of the kingdom by converting others to Christ (1:12-13). He made up his mind to be content in whatever state he found himself (4:11). He would rejoice (4:10) because he controlled his thoughts instead of allowing circumstances to control him.
Third, worry can be conquered when we live right. Paul said, the “things which ye have both learned and received and heard…do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Phil. 4:9) Peace comes when one lives according to God’s will. Not only will God be on our side, but we will eliminate the ramifications and consequences of sinful behavior. The sluggard worries about his next meal. The thief worries about prison. The fornicator worries about sexually transmitted diseases, etc. All sinners worry about death and hell. When the child of God lives right, all things will work together for good (Rom. 8:28). God’s Word will direct our steps, and we will learn to focus our hearts and minds on what is really important.
Praying, thinking, and living right will enable us to eliminate worry and possess peace. God’s methods for dealing with the mental battles of life are effective and fool-proof. His Word will produce mental stability and spiritual soundness. It will keep us from strangling ourselves with the cares of this world.
From Southwest School of Bible Studies