Handling Anxiety (Part 1) – Philippians 4:1-9

Posted on Mar 22

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We point out four principles in the first five verses that will prepare us to tackle anxiety in our lives.

First principle:

The balance between standing firm (the Greek translation can be thought of as “planting our feet”) and love that Paul describes in verse 1 is the first principle we need to practice in order to tackle anxiety. We do this through wrestling in our hearts between comfort and standing firm. And that practice likely requires many of us to pull back from our natural search for earthly comforts in the midst of difficulties and focusing harder on disciplining ourselves to look to the Savior who already has registered our citizenship in heaven.

Second principle:

Verses 2 and 3 reveal this principle: Resolving relational conflicts. “I entreat Euodia, and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” We all know how unresolved conflict can interfere with our lives. Paul does, too. Here he entreats (or implores, even begs) individuals in conflict to “agree in the Lord.” To literally place their differences below their shared love for Jesus. We must seek to do the same before we tackle anxiety in our lives.

Third principle:

Practice joy! The next verse reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” So how do we do this if we’re facing problems? Our focus must not be on the problem … it must be on the solution in the Lord. That will help get rid of worry and see the grace that God is already providing us.

Fourth principle:

The final principle is lowering the intensity. The idea is found in verse 4, which reads, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand…” and “reasonableness” can be thought of as “gentleness.” Some of us can get pretty steamed when problems pop up, and no one likes dealing with those who head off the deep end emotionally when things go wrong. But the key here is the end of the verse: “The Lord is at hand.” Who is able to lead us down the path of gentleness in the face of problems when our typical reaction is intense anger or overreaction? Jesus, of course. He is near us when the chips are down. Lean on him … and then we can practice lowering the intensity of our emotions.

One important common feature of these four principles: All of them involve acknowledging and depending on the Lord. This isn’t a do-it-yourself project! Like all things in the Christian life, our first steps always must be toward Jesus. And after that first step, we must continue to keep our eyes on him, walking by faith, trusting in his ability to lead us as we dispense with our earthly, ultimately frail abilities and efforts.

Let us let go of control, because he’s the one in control. He knows our path and our destination, and he will take us there.

By Dave Urbanski

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