How easy it is to let anxiety have a hold over our thought life! Just about any negative news can send us into major anxiety mode. The closer it hits to home the stronger the anxiety. “Anxious” is defined as the feeling of nervousness, worried, or afraid, especially about something that is going to happen or might happen. Undoubtedly, when we venture into this arena of anxiety we get into the subject of healing, always a risky subject because most people have first-hand experience with sickness and disease, and most often our experiences do not line up with God’s Word because we usually look to God for strength and comfort and doctors for healing. However, let us not even begin the debate about doctors, medicine, and our opinions about their place in God’s overall plan. We thank God for doctors, medical advancements, and research. We understand they are able to help in many situations and we pray and bless them. However, we must all agree, sickness and disease causes anxiety. Therefore what does God have to say about this?
Anxiety can be caused from a variety of sources. We live in a fast-paced, anxiety-filled, disease-ridden world. There is pressure to perform at work in order to maintain jobs. Coaches must win games to keep their positions. Athletes must continue to excel and “stand out” in order to earn and keep scholarships. School grades must be top notch to get grants and scholarships. Churches must grow or the Pastor will be fired. Technology is so advanced it can sometimes be overwhelming to stay up-to-date. We doctor for high blood pressure, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, depression, and the list goes on. We do many things to try and stay healthy: work out, diet, try methods to reduce stress, take medication to “control” physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, heart disease, blood sugar, thyroid, and the list goes on. Even Christians have turned to yoga, acupuncture, and meditation in an attempt to reduce pain and stress in their lives and bodies. The problem with all of this is we are only controlling and managing anxiety. At some point it would be great to overcome these issues instead of controlling and managing them. Yes?
We might also add the anxiety produced in unhealthy relationships be they with marriage, family, children, co-workers, or friends. Maintaining healthy, trusting, and loyal friendships can be one of the most time consuming and anxiety inducing activities in our world today. In a disposable society, relationships, including marriage are at the top of the garbage heap.
In spite of all these anxiety producing scenarios, God never instructs us in His Word to be anxious, control anxiety, or learn to live with it. Yet, He deals with the subject of anxiety consistently commanding His people “Do not be anxious”. The beauty in this command is that God gives us the alternative to anxiety and tells us how we can live in peace. We do not nor should not co-exist with anxiety. Unfortunately, we have become so accustomed to its presence we have knowingly or unknowingly learned how to keep it under control, hoping it does not rise above the threshold of our ability to cope. Beloved, there is a better way!
Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
What an incredible revelation! In order to gain insight and get excited about how we can live “anxiety free” we must study some principles of Greek. When looking at verbs in the Greek language there are five components to consider, three of which are tense, voice, and mood. Tense refers to the time of action, voice speaks to the relationship of the subject to an action, and mood describes the relationship of the action to reality from the speaker’s vantage point. Through the use of a linguistic key to the Greek New Testament we examine this Scripture in light of these components and discover “Be anxious for nothing” is written in the “present active imperative” sense.
Present “tense” means we are not to be anxious “right now”. If it were in past tense it would read something like “We were not anxious for anything”. If future tense it might say “We will not be anxious for anything”. But it written with the meaning “We are not anxious for anything.” This is how we are to live – Anxious Free!
It is written in active “voice” meaning we (the subjects) are doing the action (not being anxious). If it were passive we would simply be the recipient of no anxiety. However, this is telling us we are actively involved in living an anxious-free life.
The “mood” is in the imperative which means “a command”, “absolutely necessary”, “forceful”, or demanding”. In other words, it is not a suggestion. Paul is speaking by divine inspiration, therefore God is saying we have the potential to live anxiety free here on earth. This reality of life is contingent on our response to the command “Be anxious for nothing.” It is imperative we live according to his Word.
Present tense, Active voice, and Imperative mood! Powerful words and usage! Be anxious for nothing right now, today! We are the ones who need to be diligent in living anxious free lives. We are special agents of God’s love and empowerment to stop being anxious in anything. We must see this as a personal command, knowing our experience of His peace is contingent on us doing our part. This is great news but it gets better!
Now that we understand “how” to read “Be anxious for nothing” we move on to the “but” in this verse. When we determine to be anxious for nothing we learn we ARE to do something else in place of being anxious. “But, in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. I love how much He cares to give us very detailed instructions. We are to pray and supplicate with thanksgiving. Prayer is simply addressing and conversing with God. Supplication is asking, entreating, and seeking something from God. When we supplicate we are making a request to God. All of our prayers and supplications are to be made WITH thanksgiving! We are to talk with God and make our requests as we give thanks for the blessings He pours out. When we know He hears us we thank Him AS we pray and supplicate. Saints, this knowledge should seriously change our prayer language.
We need not beg God to converse with us or hear our requests. The Bible actually says He knows what we need even before we ask. (Matthew 6:8). This does not mean we need not pray because He already knows. But rather because He knows what we need, we do not go to Him begging and using many words. We go to Him as children asking their Father. When children have a need and they ask Daddy or Mommy for help they do not need to go into a long explanation of what their need is and why they need it. They know Dad or Mom already know. When we go to God with a childlike faith, anxiety will be erased because we already know He hears and answers.
Finally we have the big “And” in this verse. Once we have responded to the command, “Be anxious for nothing, BUT in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our requests be made known to God”, then we have “And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Have you experienced this peace? It is amazing! It makes no sense! When anxiety hits us, as it will, we can experience His peace when we follow God’s plan and it need not take root. It can hit and ricochet right off of us. We are guaranteed this peace! We cannot understand and it surpasses all understanding. It is not just “beyond” our understanding but it exceeds all our expectations. It goes way beyond what we expect or even hope for. In other words, God grants a peace so much greater it is literally beyond our ability to comprehend. That my friends, is the peace of God! And let us not forget that little word “all”. We should not even attempt to understand this peace because it surpasses ALL understanding on the planet. We can endeavor to paint the most illustrious word portrait of this peace and still fall short. Ah, this peace is supernatural!
Lastly, we discover the wonderful peace of God is not simply an emotion but it is the guard of our hearts and minds. We may think we need to stand guard over our hearts to keep anxiety from entering in and destroying our faith in Him. However there is a better way! The way of peace! This “guard” is a military term picturing soldiers standing on guard duty. We see the peace of God guarding our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ as He lives within us to ward off anything attempting to invade. What a powerful vision of His protection!
To finish off our Greek linguistic study, “guard” is future imperative. The thought is “make your request known, then the peace of God will guard your heart.” It is a conditional command. The heart is at the center of the person from which flow all thoughts and affections. Having the peace of God guard our hearts from the inside should bring great comfort. Our very thoughts and affections will be guarded WHEN we are not anxious and bring our prayers and supplications to God with thanksgiving.
There will be no vote taken as to whether the peace of God will guard our hearts IF we obey the commands, “Be anxious for nothing and in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our requests be made known to God. May you begin to walk in an “anxiety free” life! It is possible! Only believe!