Bible Basics Explained | Anxiety Part 2

Day 2 of 5 • This day’s reading

Devotional

Day 2 | Philippians 4:5-7 | The Peace that Transcends Understanding

This devotional works best as an audio experience. Hit the play button now, and read along if you like. All verses quoted from the NIV.

Hello, my friends. We are back in the book of Philippians today, as we examine what the Bible says about anxiety. And we left off at a beautiful little verse. Paul just told us twice to rejoice in the Lord. And now in chapter 4 verse 5:

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

Gentleness is a rare commodity. When your life is caught up in trials and your heart is tied up with worry, you need a friend who’s strong enough to protect you - yet compassionate enough to comfort you. That is gentleness.

An example: My dog Luigi is strong. God made him that way. The previous owner said he’s part Beagle, part Jack Russell. But there’s gotta be some Pit Bull in there because he walks like one of those muscle men who can’t quite set their arms at their side. When we took him to get fixed, it took the vet and two assistants ten minutes to get the IV in. He didn’t bite - he just wouldn’t let them pin him down. At home, Luigi loves to play tug-of-war with his rope. He’s vicious - he nearly pulls my arm out! One day, my little nephew Linus wanted to play tug-of-war with Luigi.  Linus is all of four years old. Not safe! But before I could stop them... the war was on! And Luigi actually let Linus win! Luigi was nice and just tugged back and forth! Now that, is what you call gentle. Strong but safe.

Paul says:

“Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5).

Hey, people need it more than you realize. And gentleness is a natural result of rejoicing. Joyful people are rarely harsh. And notice the very next sentence:

“The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

There is something about the nearness of God that changes your attitude, softens your tone, and makes you gentle. He is so strong and so compassionate.

Be gentle. He is near.

Then, in verse 6:

“Do not be anxious about anything…" (Philippians 4:6).

Hold there a second; now, that’s a tough one. Of all of God’s many commands in the Bible, this, for me, is one of the hardest. Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Yeah, no kidding! I’m very familiar with that.

God’s Word says, “Do not be anxious about anything.” I think sometimes we worry because we feel like we just have to do something. I can’t fix it but at least I can worry. So God gives us something else to do: pray. Back in verse 6:

“...in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Let’s break that down:

In every situation.  'In every situation' means no matter what the situation:  good, bad, crazy, impossible, in every situation.

By prayer. That means talk to God.

And petition. That means to ask God. Tell him what you need.

With thanksgiving. That means to thank God. Genuine gratitude. Remember all He has done. Remember He is good. Ecclesiastes says:

“When times are good be happy. But when times are bad, consider, God has given the one as well as the other”(Ecclesiastes 7:14).

The giving of gratitude is a powerful experience. But have you ever wondered - if thanks is something you give, what does it cost you? The answer is your pride. When something goes right, you can either take credit or give thanks. And when something goes wrong, you can either take it upon yourself or give your cares to God. Either way, the giving process sets your heart free from the burden. So give thanks.

And finally, present your requests to God. Notice there are no demands here - just requests. When you give it to God, trust Him, and let Him handle it His way.

Ask God. Thank God. Trust God.

Then verse 7:

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Now there’s a beautiful promise. Picture it: God’s peace standing guard at the doorway of your heart; and your mind is keeping the worry out and contentment in. It happens when you choose prayer over worry and trust over anxiety.

But notice - it’s not a peace that comes from understanding. Your anxious mind is like a little kid who never stops asking why. You know that kid. And when your mind demands an explanation and convinces you that if you just had all the answers - and God explained all the reasons - then you would be at peace - your mind is lying to you. Understanding is not the key to peace. Don’t get me wrong. Understanding is great, and in time, God does explain many things for us. But when your mind refuses to be at peace until God explains the details - then what you’re really saying is, I don’t trust you, Lord. And God is big on trust. Why? Because relationships are built on it. The people you’re closest to are the ones you trust. And God wants you close. He wants you to trust Him with all your heart.

And look back in verse 7:

“The peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”(Philippians 4:7).

The peace of God is a shield. It guards your heart. And remember Proverbs 4 - one of the great imperatives of wisdom:

"Guard your heart (because) it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23 NHEB).

Keep your heart pure.  Jesus told us that the pure of heart will see God (Matthew 5:8). His peace does that - protects your heart from fear and anger. It guards your mind as well - protects it from doubt and worry.

When the peace of Christ rules over your heart and over your mind, you can have that peace without all the answers. A peace that transcends all understanding.

Now as for me, I’m still a worrier by nature. My mind just goes there. I can't tell you exactly how it works, but I can tell you that it does: as God renews my nature and I remember that He is near...I pray, I trust, and I know His Peace.

Read verses 5 to 7 again in Philippians 4, and let His peace guard your heart in Christ.

Next: Read Philippians 4:5-7

For Thought & Discussion:

  1. Verse 5 calls us to replace anxiety with prayer. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. How does this work in your life?
  2. In verse 7, what do you think Paul means by the peace that transcends all understanding?
  3. Also in verse 7, how does God’s peace guard your heart? How does it guard your mind? What’s your experience?