Worry, worry, worry! How many Christians lose their joy and peace because of worry! In this chapter, Paul tells us that the secure mind—the mind that is guarded by the peace of God—frees us from worry. Of course, the believer who does not have the single mind (chap. 1), the submissive mind (chap. 2), and the spiritual mind (chap. 3) can never have the secure mind. We must first live what Paul describes in the previous three chapters before we can claim the promises and provisions of this final chapter.

What is worry? Worry means “to strangle” — worry certainly does strangle people physically, emotionally, and spiritually (see Matthew 13:7,22). Worry is like weeds and thorns in a garden that choke out the good plants and kill the fruit.

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Worry comes when the thoughts in our mind and feelings in our heart pull in different directions and “tear us apart.” The mind thinks about problems, and these feelings weigh down the heart, creating a vicious circle that wrecks our emotional state. Our minds tell us we should not fret, but we often cannot control the anxiety in our hearts! We have to break this circle of worry before we can enjoy peace.

Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens

What causes worry? Wrong thinking and attitudes toward people, circumstances, or things. Notice here in chapter 4 that Paul has no worry about people (vv. 1–5), circumstances (vv. 10–13), or the material things of life (vv. 14–19). Of course, Paul had the single mind of chapter 1 and gained victory over circumstances; he had the submissive mind of chapter 2 and overcame troublesome people; and he had the spiritual mind of chapter 3 and triumphed over physical circumstances. So it was natural for him to have the secure mind of chapter 4. His mind and heart were at peace and could not be disturbed by people, circumstances, or things. In this chapter, Paul gives us God’s four-fold remedy for worry.

God’s Presence (4:1–5)

“The Lord is at hand” does not mean “His coming is soon,” but that He is near to help us right now. Euodia and Syntyche (v. 2) were two women in the Philippian church at odds with each other, and Paul encouraged them to make things right. Remember this: worry often comes when we do not make things right with people. We must face differences honestly and do what God wants us to do (see Matt. 18:15–17).

“Moderation” in v. 5 means “sweet reasonableness.” It is wonderful when Christians can have convictions and yet be easy to get along with! If we keep in mind that the Lord is with us in every circumstance, then it is easy to obey Him and get along with other people. If we would but rejoice in Him and get our eyes on Him instead of on people, we would have His joy and peace. Note the admonitions Paul gives: stand fast in the Lord; be of one mind in the Lord; rejoice in the Lord; the Lord is near at hand! This is “practicing the presence of Christ,” seeing Him in every situation of life, and letting Him work out His perfect will.

God’s Peace (4:6–9)

“Peace with God” is the result of faith in Christ (Rom. 5:1); “the peace of God” and the presence of “the God of peace” will come when the believer practices right thinking, right praying, and right living. Worry is tension between the mind and heart. The peace of God will guard (garrison) our hearts and minds if we but meet the conditions He gives.

A. Right praying (vv. 6–7).

Not just praying, but right praying. The Bible nowhere says that any kind of praying will bring peace to our hearts. What is right praying? It begins with adoration, for this is what the word “prayer” means in v. 6. This is love, enjoying the presence of God, honoring Him in worship. Rushing into His presence and begging for peace of mind will never get results. We must bow before Him in worship and let Him search our hearts and minds. Next comes supplication, which means the earnest, sincere desire of the heart. True prayer comes from the heart, not the lips. What a joy it is to present our requests to Him! Finally, there is appreciation or thanksgiving (see Eph. 5:20). It takes faith to thank Him for uncomfortable circumstances or for requests not yet granted. How God loves to hear His children thank Him! Read Dan. 6:10 and you will see that this is the way Daniel prayed. No wonder he had such peace in that lions’ den!

B. Right thinking (v. 8).

Peace involves the mind (see Isa. 26:3 and Rom. 8:6). Thoughts are powerful; “as he thinketh, so he is” (Prov. 23:7). Wrong thoughts will lead to unrest and discouragement, but spiritual thinking will lead to peace. Paul tells us in this verse what to think about; if you compare these virtues to Ps. 19:7–9, you will see that the Word of God meets all of these requirements. Meditation on the Word of God will always bring peace (Ps. 119:165).

C. Right living (v. 9).

If there is something in my life I dare not pray about, then I will never have peace. Right living always brings peace; see Isa. 32:17 and 48:18, 22. It is not enough to use the Bible as a basis for praying and claiming its promises; we must also use it as a basis for our living, obeying its precepts. Read carefully James 4:1–11 and note that wrong praying (4:3), wrong living (4:4), and wrong thinking (4:8) produce war instead of peace!

Study Questions:

Do you ever worry and/or fear? What sparks you anxiety?  What feeds your fears?  Philippians 4 gives us the pattern for joy through a secure mind (see v1).

What seems to be the problem Paul addresses in verses 2-3?
– What is the solution he proposes?

Philippians 4:4 is often misunderstood.  What would it do for your spirit if you knew that ‘rejoice’ means ‘Hail to the King!’ ?  Would that cause you to rejoice?
– What is the source of joy according to Phil. 1:25-26, 3:1, 4:4, 4:10?

According to verse five, what is the main motive for proper Christian living?

What is the antidote for anxiety? (v6)
P__________: letting our requests be made known to God with thanksgiving
S______________: being moldable to God’s requests in us

What will the peace of God do in response to such thankful prayer?
– __________ our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (a secure mind)
Have you ever experienced the peace of verse 7?

Right thinking -> Right behavior.  Stinking thinking -> Bad behavior.
Upon what should we meditate (give an example of each):
– ________________ –
– ________________ –
– ________________ –
– ________________ –
– ________________ –
– ________________ –
– ________________ –

What is the main take-away for you out of this lesson?

More in this Series:

Chapter 1 – Overcoming Unhappiness  …  Joy-stealer: Circumstances
The Gospel is the Key to the Single Mind  Part 1 / Part 2

Chapter 2 – Learning the Easy Way  …  Joy-stealer: Relationships
Four Examples of the Submissive Mind  Part 1 / Part 2

Chapter 3 – Don’t Let Stuff Steal Your Joy  …  Joy-stealer: Possessions
The Past, Present, & Future of the Spiritual Mind  Part 1 / Part 2

Chapter 4 – Why Worry?  …  Joy-stealer: Anxiety & Fear
Experiencing the Peace of the Secure Mind  Part 1 / Part 2