Don’t worry. Or, as the song goes: “Don’t worry, be happy.” Easier said than done, right?
Almost two thousand years before Bobby McFerrin recorded his catchy tune, Paul shared a similar sentiment when writing to the Church of Philippi. He exhorts: “Be anxious for nothing…” The NLT translates it very simply: “Don’t worry about anything….”
If the verse ended there, Paul’s admonition would be similar to Bobby McFerrin’s tune. It would be a nice catch phrase, bumper sticker, or internet quote. That’s all.
We can hear “don’t worry”, we can tell ourselves “don’t worry”, and we can even tell others “don’t worry.” Unless we are told how not to worry or explain to others how they can not worry, it’s just a catch phrase.
Paul goes on to explain how we can ‘be anxious for nothing.” We do this by prayer and supplication. We tell God all about our worries. Again, the NLT states Philippians 4:6 this way: “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”
I like Paul’s advice better than Bobby McFerrin’s. When we follow Paul’s advice something happens. We exchange our worry for God’s peace. Verse 7 gives us the results of verse 6: “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Worry causes inner anxiety in our hearts and minds. God wants to guard our hearts and minds with the peace of God that comes through our relationship with Christ. Jesus even said on more than one occasion not to worry about temporal things and to trust God, our heavenly Father, to meet our needs.
Worry is about the unknown. Having the assurance of a relationship with Christ is the greatest thing we can know. No matter what we face in this life, we know God’s peace will help us face whatever circumstances and situations come our way.
Paul’s formula for worry also includes the attitude we should have when we approach the things that cause our anxiety. He says to pray about these things “with thanksgiving”. I’m worried, so I should pray. When I pray, I need to do it with thanksgiving. Think about that. The very thing that is causing me to be worried is the thing I should pray about and thank God for.
So, as we come to this Thanksgiving of 2016, let’s make a list of our worries. Next, let’s take these things to God in prayer. Let’s then thank God for these things we are worried about and give them to Him. Finally, let’s allow the peace of God to guard our hearts and minds about these very things.
Don’t worry. Pray. Be happy.
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor.