Philippians 4:4-9 - Godly Guarding
Which would you rather have: the anxiety of this world or the peace of God?
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Read Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
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Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 51
Q. How does this glory
of Christ our head benefit us?
A. First, through his Holy Spirit
he pours out his gifts from heaven
upon us his members.
Second, by his power
he defends us and keeps us safe
from all enemies.
This is a wonderful and familiar passage, and one that we're likely to come back to before the year is out. But for today, let's concentrate on v7:
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The first thing that jumps out is that peace is not just a fringe benefit of Christianity, rather it's the active agent by which Jesus preserves you in your faith.
What a comforting thought, knowing that our risen Savior has control over all things, and that He's continually "defending us and keeping us safe from all enemies," as our catechism stated.
This guarding that Christ does on your behalf has two aspects. First, it's defensive; just as the guards at Buckingham palace keep the riffraff out, so to Jesus keeps the wolves in this world from harming you. As you increase your knowledge, understanding and trust in Jesus, he tunes your mind to recognize truth and reject falsehood.
Secondly, Christ guards you in such a way that keeps you from escaping. This sounds dark and ominous, but it's really quite the opposite. Our old sinful nature wants nothing more than to get as far away from God as possible (an impossible quest, since God is everywhere as we were recently reminded), but Christ helps you overcome that nagging temptation by "guarding your heart." He does this in conjunction with the Holy Spirit by causing your regenerated heart to long to be closer to Him.
As Jesus said in John 10:28, no one - not even Sarx, your nagging sinful nature, can snatch you out of His hand!
This means, as we see so often in God's Word, that you must make every effort to follow the instructions that come in v6 - instead of stewing in anxiety, in every situation you face present your needs to God in prayer with thanksgiving.
What a thought that even though the glorified Christ guards you omnipotently from heaven He does so in such a way that utilizes your action. Certainly Christ will guard you despite your own passivity, but if you truly want to trade your anxiety for the peace of God, the only way to do it is to continually live in God's presence, bringing your needs to Him while you simultaneously thank God for all that He's given you.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, the great and holy God, is near.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Do not be anxious about anything;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Matthew 25