When you buy a new phone, television, computer, or any piece of technical equipment, it comes with default settings. The thing you are using will run a certain way until you make a decision to change it. Prior to salvation, our default settings lean toward doubt, fear, and a tendency for depression. Because of what God accomplishes in our salvation, we experience a fundamental change to our lives; including our default settings about peace in the midst of a chaotic world. Philippians 4:4-9 gives us a great look into how this occurs.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
1. Embrace a new way of life (v. 4-6).
When Paul wrote this letter, he was in a Roman prison. Yet he wrote a letter with joy as the theme and gave instructions that the believers must live by their life in Christ rather than the circumstances of their world. He commanded them to rejoice in all things. It requires a change of perspective. You can have joy when you view life through the lens of your eternal salvation rather than the circumstances of your daily life. Rejoicing in the Lord is a not a luxury, it is a necessity. Paul also commanded them to show grace. Embracing our salvation life means leaving the “mission of me” and focusing on how you can benefit others. When life is hard, think about outwardly. He also said that we need to have a thanks-filled prayer life. It is difficult to be mad at everyone around you when you are thanking God for His goodness. Thankfulness for God’s provisions make stress look not so tough. Thanks-filled praying will help you walk away from worry-filled living.
We can live in this way because we take on the same perspective as Paul in verse five when he stated, “The Lord is near.” It is a statement of both proximity and the end of all things. We can have joy because we know that we are not left as orphans in this world. God’s presence is always with us. But when we see the state of affairs of the world and its injustice toward us, we can be assured that the Lord is returning. When He does, everything will be made new and everything will be set right.
2. Be embraced by God’s work of peace (v. 7).
The only way we can live out the commands in the previous verses is by the grace-empowered life that comes by God’s work in us. He starts it and we follow after Him. It is because the peace of God is greater than any pain, frustration, or brokenness in this world. The amount of peace that you think you can get from God is not a big enough thought to God. Plus, His peace is not just a philosophical idea. It is active in its guarding of our lives. Paul portrays it as a Roman garrison of soldiers guarding against hostile marauders. The work of God’s peace is to guard our hearts where emotions can swirl. It also guards our minds to set our thinking straight. It is all-encompassing.
3. God’s peace guides us toward a renewed mind and mission (v. 8-9).
It is never God’s intention for us to sit in neutral. He does not save us out of darkness and spiritual death so we can simply stand on the threshold. Rather, His peace sets us in a place where our lives can consistently press into maturity. Paul dwell on a list of items. You can renew your mind around these righteous attributes of how to live because they are righteous attributes of the One who gives us life. We learn of them from seeing God in His Word. In dwelling, we are setting our bottom-line thinking. These are the attributes of God that are our foundation for any plans, reactions, and decisions we make.
He also tells us to do something specific. We are commanded to be busy in following how Paul stayed on mission. He was a disciple and a disciple maker. As a man of truth and action, Paul calls us to be the same. When chained in prison, worry and anxiety had no hold on his soul because God’s mission was his life. Paul knew that God works in you so that He can work through you. Constant, grace-induced actions push out worry so that we can focus upon the mission of God rather than the troubles of this world.
I find that living obediently to God allows we to live joyfully in the world. Participating in Jesus’ mission washes way my anxiety.