Anxiety is a common problem. Few there are who seem free from its debilitating presence. Against that background Paul tells the believers in Philippi “not to be anxious about anything” (4:6). Not only did the Christians of that day have the normal reasons for anxiety but their unwillingness to follows the religious customs of the day brought additional pressure. To break with the god associated with one’s occupation and follow the teaching of an itinerant Galilean preacher supplied a number of reasons for anxiety. Nevertheless Paul encourages them saying, “Don’t worry about anything” (TEV).
For a moment let’s take a good look at anxiety in the life of a believer. It would be hard to argue that anxiety is not a form of disbelief. You might call it “Christian atheism” because it excludes God from the situation. To worry about such things as food and shelter is to deny Jesus’ teaching about God’s provision for the birds who neither sow nor reap (Matt. 6:26). Anxiety is so disabling because it removes from life the pleasure of relaxing in the goodness of a God who genuinely cares for each of us on an individual basis. It is interesting, is it not, that it is those things over which we have no control that we are anxious about. We become anxious about the plane landing on time, about the possibility of rain on Saturday when we have a golf match, about whether we made a good impression last evening at the social. We can’t make the plane go faster, make the weather change or redo something that has already happened. We don’t become anxious about whether we left the house unlocked when we went on vacation because in that case we can do something about it. Things we can fix may cause a little worry but never anxiety.
I ask you, “Is a loving God in charge of your life today? Does he know whatever the day may bring? Is he able to do whatever is necessary? Does He love you his child?” The answer is Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. To walk through the day aware of his loving presence is to rule out anxiety. The problem most face is that it is all too good to be true. Right! But with God nothing is too good to be true. You may know that the bible was first punctuated in the 13th century. The four words before Paul’s counsel on anxiety are, “The Lord is near.” In most bibles they are included in v. 5. I believe they should be read with the following verse (v. 6) and we should understand it this way: “The Lord is near so there is no reason for you to be anxious.” It is the presence of God that rules out all necessity for anxiety. Could you ever dream of a better reason?