I’ve been noticing a pattern in Scriptures that refers to worry and anxiety. There are steps that can’t be bypassed in my search for freedom from anxiety. In my hurried cries to God, “Please give me peace in my heart! Please calm my anxious spirit!” I sometimes want to just have a magic feeling dropped over me instead of following God’s prescription found in His Word.Let’s look at Philippians 4:4-9 as an example. The steps to peace are listed both before and after the famous command “Do not be anxious about anything.” That command seems so impossible! Yet, if it’s a command, it’s doable through Christ Jesus who strengthens me and has freed me from the slavery of sinful fear. (Romans 8:15, Philippians 4:11-14)Before being told “Do not being anxious,” we are told twice emphatically to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Choosing to think rightly about Who God is and what He has done for me is the first step towards the peace of God controlling my heart. In what truths about the Lord can I rejoice right now? The list is so exhaustive! This meditation alone started to immediately ease the anxiety in my spirit this morning! Here are just a few truths about God that I can rejoice in today.
- He has redeemed me from the pit and given me eternal life through Jesus Christ.
- He has adopted me into His forever family as a beloved child and joint heir with Christ.
- He is completely sovereign over every single part of my life and the lives of those I love.
- His love is never ending and completely unconditional. I could never deserve it. I could never earn it. I can never lose it!
- He is working every single circumstance in my life for His glory and my good to make me like Jesus Christ.
- He has given me everything I need to live godly in Christ Jesus.
- His mercy and grace are new each morning and His faithfulness unending.
- He loves and cares for my family and friends more than I ever could.
The next phrase before “do not be anxious about anything” is “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” What? I’m starting to feel anxious again about yet one more thing I need to do! This sweet spirit of gentleness, moderation, or forbearance is not so much an action as an attitude. It’s the same idea found in James 3 where God explains the difference between earthly and heavenly wisdom. Simply put, it’s a spirit of humility.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. – James 3:17
Humility is not something I have to do. It’s simply me falling before the Lord in my weakness and telling Him, “I can’t! Please help me. I need You!” It’s seeing myself the way He does and resting in His wisdom, power, and love to change both me and those around me. It’s not seeking my own glory or affirmation. It’s not filled with jealousy or bitterness. What freedom comes when I take the pressure off myself to be perfect. But, I will never have this sweet peace or wisdom from above as long as I am trying to work up the wisdom, power, ability in my own strength. I have to recognize the fact that I can do NOTHING without Him. Do you see the progression here? I first rejoice in Who God is and what He has done. When my mind is fixed on His glory and goodness, I start to see just how much I need Him. Then, in a spirit of thanksgiving, I can come boldly before His throne and make my requests known to Him. That’s when His Spirit floods me with His peace that surpasses all human understanding and guards my mind in Christ Jesus.The sweet, freeing beauty in all of this is that I don’t actually “do” anything. I simply recognize the truth of what my heavenly Father has already done for me and humble myself before Him. He is the Gardener. I’m simply the branch that needs to abide in the vine, Christ Jesus and He will bear the fruit of Spirit in my life. See if you can find similar progressions in the following passages:
- 1 Peter 5:5-7
- Ephesians 2:4-10
- Ephesians 3:14-21
- Isaiah 26:3
- Colossians 3:12-15