“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 NIV
This New Testament verse has long been a favorite, mainly because of the command to not be anxious about anything. Early in my Christian walk this one got my attention as I, very early on, decided God’s words are either true or they are not. How is this command possible, especially in every situation, and why would God choose Paul to deliver this particular promise? Paul wasn’t even one of Jesus disciples and only saw Jesus from his Damascus Road vision experience! This began to make even more sense as God, time and again. makes much from the least and here we have a man whose past was persecuting and even murdering Christians delivering one of the single most important promises ever recorded! The difference in this verse and others about “not worrying” are the set of detailed instructions on how to do so followed by the detailed roster of benefits once you do! This is some very exciting stuff, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE PRONE TO ANXIETY OR WORRY.
Paul leads this collection of words with instructions to rejoice (not once, but twice) and then to let our gentleness be known to all. There is a lot going on here prior to the anxiety promise and would be considered a cause and effect in any non-fiction writing. Before we can truly rejoice in the Lord we MUST ACTUALLY BELIEVE HE IS THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY AND CREATOR OF ALL THINGS. Why would we rejoice in a part time God or one who only delivers on some of His words? Putting this in proper perspective, this is where some Christians take a detour away from 2 Timothy 3:16 and secularize it for human convenience. It’s a shame as this derails the entire process as laid out by Paul in order to ACTUALLY BE ENABLED TO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING!
Let me further explain. Paul says to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. Always means just that, we believe God is large and in charge ALL OF THE TIME. This is a requirement if we are to succeed in letting our gentleness be evident to all. Why would Paul lay down this particular 2nd step, so to speak, in order to “not be anxious about anything”. Does Paul really mean ANYTHING? ……. to be continued
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