Worry Not A Thief Of Our Joy
SERIES: ENJOYING THE JOY OF JESUS
LESSON: WORRY, THE GREATEST THIEF OF JOY
READING: PHILLIPPIANS 4:4-7
INTRO: I read in a recent article:
Chronic worry can lead to a host of physical ailments: heart attacks, high blood pressure, ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, muscular aches and pains, skin rashes, eczema, respiratory problems and asthma. Close to one in four people, at some point in their lives, meet criteria for diagnosable anxiety disorders related to worry which require professional treatment. Indeed, worry appears to be rampant in our society - the result of living in a fast-paced, high-pressure, rapidly changing world. People worry mainly about their children, job security, relationships and health but there are other, smaller worries that gnaw on us all. Distant events such as wars and famines in other countries, air disasters, crime and random acts of violence, even volatility in the stock market.
All this and more in spite of the words of Jesus, "Do not worry... about your life, what you will eat or drink... about your body, what you will wear,... about tomorrow" - Matthew 6:25-34
It would be common for us to read, "Rejoice and again I will say rejoice," and attribute to the writer either a sense of good conditions or insanity. Neither was the case. Sitting in jail. Paul writes to free people saying, "Be anxious in nothing."
In recent lessons we observed that Paul was so immersed in Christ and His will that he was in a state of Jesus-Joy 24/7. There was nothing in, on, above or under the earth that could change that. But here he is giving advice to others. Since we can't seem to find a formula that really changes worry to peace, let's see if Paul has any useful information for us.
PAUL'S WORKABLE PLAN TO WORRY- FREE CHRISTIAN LIVING
MAKE CERTAIN YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. This letter is written to "saints," those people who are different from the world. Each chapter of Philippians begins with "in Christ" or an equivalent. These people have their "citizenship in heaven," and that is why their names are already there. I was refused access to a wedding reception because my name was not written beforehand on the guest list, in spite of the fact that I had officiated at the wedding. The problem was, I was in the wrong room of the hotel.
BE SURE YOU HAVE LEFT THE WORLD BEHIND AND ARE WALKING WITH JESUS. This is a step past conversion. Ask yourself, "Do I have the Single Mind" which says, "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain?"-1:21. And, "Do I have the Submissive Mind," which is "Consider others as better than yourselves?"- 2:3. And again, "Do I possess the Spiritual Mind"- "Our citizenship is in heaven?"- 3:20. And finally, "Do I have the Secure Mind of Philippians 4:7? It reminds us, "The peace of God ...will guard you hearts and minds..."
LIVE IN SUCH A WAY THAT GOD WILL RECEIVE THE GLORY- 4:5. Our Lord, while on earth, spoke simply but wisely when He said, "Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."- Matt. 5:16. The admonition in the "do not be anxious" portion of Philippians is "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." 4:5.
What Paul from prison is encouraging the Christians in Philippi to do is to live like Jesus lived. He uses the word "gentleness" which is a pleasant, soothing term that is a true witness to Christlike behavior. In I Timothy 3:3 it is found in contrast to violence. James gives us a more complete picture of what it would look like when we practice gentleness.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
The saint who practices God's wisdom would make a large impact on a world at war. The word "considerate" in the James passage is the same one translated "gentleness" in our text for today. It would mean we would be attempting to be equitable, fair, moderate, forbearing, not insisting on the letter of the law. We would be tolerant with others, and---God would receive the praise.
PRAY. THAT'S WHAT GOD'S CHILDREN DO-4:6. God's kids really have a father in heaven. He is ever listening. Jesus is waiting to intercede as is the Holy Spirit. God is very interested and active in His family. Prayer here is the opposite of bing anxious. Instead of worrying about the things you can't change, talk to someone who cares and can make changes if that is the right thing to do. If you want to worry less, pray more.
Four different terms are used here for communication with God. Prayer, petition, thanksgiving, requests. We nearly always begin by thanking our Father for his goodness to us. We may pray in general or we may, as one of the words suggests, be very specific as Jesus taught in the Lord's Prayer. There we notice such requests as , "Give us our daily bread, or Lead us not into temptation..." You can pray to God anywhere and at any time in any position. God has given his children priestly access to the throne room. Let's use it.
THINK GOOD THOUGHTS- 4:8 Paul's approach is somewhat philosophical, but the results are psychological to the practitioner. If we spent our time thinking good, pure and noble thoughts, we wouldn't have sufficient time to worry nor would we have any material to worry about. One is never wrong to thing the best of another. We are always on the safe side finding even one positive attribute of another person in the midst of all the obvious deficiencies. We justs plain feel better about ourselves in the long run when have not spent protracted time being negative or berating or gossiping, hence, Paul's conclusion on the matter, "if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things."
But, Paul is not only speaking of good thought towards others. There are all kinds and levels of thinking and things to think about. Thoughts are generated, in part, by what we hear, see, smell , touch and taste. That calls upon each one of us to be careful about which T.V. programs we deem as God honoring and which songs we listen to. It has been verified time and time again that crimes against humanity such as murder and rape are traceable to impure thoughts that were spawned and fed by media programs that contained "viewer discretion" warnings specified as sexual content or violence. Our good thinking requires a lot of thought.
PRACTICE WHAT IS RIGHT- 4:9 Whatever branch of education we are involved in, whether it is a degree program or learning a trade trying to improve our social skills, we need to include some "fieldwork." This gives us an opportunity to practice what we have learned and to hone our skills. Paul's admonition to Christians is to think good thought and then put them into practice. There is no room for worry in this setup. Here is what the apostle recommends, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard form me, or seen in me- put into practice." Paul is worthy of imitation because he follows Jesus- I Corinthians 11:1.
REMEMBER THE GENEROUS AND LOVING DEEDS OF OTHERS-4:14-16. It is true that this could turn out to be nothing more than a "sentimental journey," but even that is okay. It more likely, though, that the psychological strength and spiritual maturity that would result from recalling others in a pleasant light would have a calming effect and would become a boost to the one who is remembering. In the case of this missionary his fond remembrance is of a fine and dedicated body of Christians who believed in missions and in Paul himself. For these things he was thankful and good memories resided within him.
THINK WHAT MIGHT BENEFIT OTHERS MOST-4:17. Paul's statement, "I am looking for what may be credited to your account," sends a message that he thinks about the past and desires only good things for others. This is, by definition, love at work. This language is consistent for Paul and Philippians. Is it for you?
All the information we are reading is from Paul who is God's man. His platform is that we need to have a Secure Mind in order to live above the world's clutches. This story will help cement this thought in our Secure Minds:
Years ago, in the pioneer days of aviation, a pilot was making a flight around the world. After he had been gone for some two hours from his last landing field, he heard a noise in his plane which he recognized as the gnawing of a rat. He realized that while his plane had been on the ground a rat had gotten in. For all he knew the rat could be gnawing through a vital cable or control of the plane. It was a very serious situation. He was both concerned and anxious. At first he did not know what to do. It was two hours back to the landing field from which he had taken off and more than two hours to the next field ahead. Then he remembered that the rat is a rodent. It is not made for the heights; it is made to live on the ground and under the ground. Therefore the pilot began to climb. He went up a thousand feet, then another thousand and another until he was over 20,000 feet up. The gnawing ceased. The rat was dead. He could not survive in the atmosphere of those heights. More than two hours later the pilot brought the plane safely to
the next landing field and found the dead rat. Brothers and sisters in Christ, worry is a rodent. It cannot live in the secret place of the Most High. It cannot breathe in the atmosphere made vital by prayer and familiarity with the Scripture. Worry dies when we ascend to the the Lord through prayer and His word.
-Questions Jesus Asked by Clovis Chappell
THE PROMISE OF GOD IS PEACE IN THE PLACE OF ANXIETY.
Anxiety is worry and worry is up to no good. It can lead to all manners of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health issues. But here is what Paul, from God, writes for our assurance: "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus"-4:7, and "The God of peace will be with you" 4:9. The peace of God will guard us and the God of peace will guide us!
This peace is not simply the opposite of war, but the answer to anxiety. It is a new way to live and is for those who trust in Jesus and have the Secure Mind. The interesting thing about this peace is that is beyond our understanding. It is not for humans beings to fathom. More than that, it is the peace that Jesus promised while in the body. Listen, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid "-John 14:27.
When Birds Worry
When the birds begin to worry
And the lilies toil and spin,
And God’s creatures all are anxious,
Then I also may begin.
For my Father sets their table,
Decks them out in garments fine,
And if He supplies their living,
Will He not provide for mine?
Just as noisy, common sparrows
Can be found most anywhere—
Unto some just worthless creatures,
If they perish who would care?
Yet our Heavenly Father numbers
Every creature great and small,
Caring even for the sparrows.
Marking when to earth they fall.
If His children’s hairs are numbered,
Why should we be filled with fear?
He has promised all that’s needful,
And in trouble to be near.