As I said yesterday, it’s a little hard to tell the flow of Paul’s thought in these verses, whether he was changing topics, or whether it was all one topic to him.
One particular place where it’s a little tricky is verses 5-6. When he says, “The Lord is near,” is he connecting it more with “Let your gentleness be evident to all” or “Be anxious for nothing.”
Or maybe he’s connecting it equally to both. Because the truth that the Lord is near certainly does impact our own peace of mind as well as the peace we have with each other.
At any rate, Paul says,
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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. (5b-7)
So often, anxiety gets the best of us. One of the anxieties we face is our relationships with others, particularly when they aren’t going well as was the case with Euodia and Syntyche. But we also have anxieties about work, about our children, and about our future. And it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all. What’s the solution?
Remember the Lord is near. Remember he is with you in the midst of your problems and in the midst of your anxieties. And remember that he cares for you.
Remember that he is near in that he will come back again to this earth. And on that day, every tear will be wiped away. All our sorrows and troubles will be a thing of the past and unable to touch us anymore. In short, all the troubles we face now are temporary.
With that in mind, then, be anxious for nothing. But as you face your problems and anxieties, take them up in prayer to the God who cares for you. And as you do, his peace will guard your hearts and minds.
Paul uses a military word here for “guard.” And it’s a reminder that our mind is a battleground. But our God is far greater than any enemy.
I think of Elisha when he was surrounded by enemy troops and his servant was panicking. But Elisha prayed, “God open my servant’s eyes so that he might see.” And when the servant looked again, he saw the armies of the Lord all around Elisha. (II Kings 6)
Because Elisha could see all that, he was filled with peace.
But we can’t be filled with peace when we are twisted up with our anxieties. Nor can we be filled with peace when we are twisted up in bitterness and resentment. So Paul tells us,
Finally, brothers, 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. (8)
Not only will doing this bring us peace in our hearts, it helps bring peace with each other. Too often in our troubles with others, our focus hones in on everything that is negative about them and the circumstances surrounding your relationship with them. But Paul says, don’t focus on those things. Rather, focus on the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
More importantly, focus on Jesus who is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
Follow His example and the example of people like Paul as they went through suffering. And Paul says as we do,
The God of peace will be with you. (9)
How about you? Do you have the peace of God in your heart? Or are you twisted up in your anxieties? Are you twisted up in your resentment and bitterness toward others?
Lord, as you opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant, open my eyes. Help me to see you are near. Get my eyes off of my anxieties. Get my eyes off of all that is negative around me. And help me to focus on you. For it is you that is the source of all good things. Fill me with your peace this day. In Jesus name, amen.