“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Philippians 4:8 ESV
This verse keeps coming to mind these days. God speaks through His Word and when a verse seems like it’s on repeat throughout the day, I know it’s from the Holy Spirit. I’m in a challenging season physically and mentally. Months now of aches, pains, trouble sleeping, sick to my stomach, anxiety, and the blues… I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but I am guessing the primary cause is anxiety. I’m on a journey to find relief and healing physically, but as I’m learning and growing in that area, God is also teaching me that this is just as much – or more – a spiritual battle as it is a physical one and it’s the spiritual side I’ll be focusing on in this post.
A recent experience
On the early mornings I can’t sleep, I often get up to pray. One recent morning, I felt compelled to write down all the things I was worried about. The list was long and 99% of what I wrote was entirely out of my control. As I wrote, I prayed, “Jesus, I lay these worries at Your feet. I know these are burdens I’m not meant to carry.”
Later that morning while I was driving, this thought came to mind: How do I lay my worries at Jesus’ feet for good? I could still feel myself hanging onto what I prayed to let go of. That’s when the words, “whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable… think about these things,” came to mind. It was the Spirit responding directly to my thoughts, directly from His Word. Through that verse alone, He reminded me of an important step in letting go of anxious, worrisome, fearful, and even sinful thoughts: fill your mind with godly thoughts.
So often we see, hear, and read the “do not be anxious” part of Philippians 4:6 independently from the context of the passage. With just those words, it feels impossible. We wonder how do we just stop being anxious when it feels out of our control? But thankfully, God gives us clear direction in how to do this through the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4-9.
Let’s start by reading the passage in full – slowly and thoughtfully:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” -Philippians 4:4-9 ESV
How to overcome anxiety (According to Philippians 4:4-9):
Delight in the Lord and remain joyful in Him always. Again, rejoice!
Be reasonable and gentle
Let your gentle spirit and sound judgment be known to others. God is with you!
Pray about everything
Pray to God about everything – He wants you to do this!
Give thanks to God
Practice gratitude. Acknowledge every good thing is from Him.
Allow God’s peace to guard you
Allow the peace of God which surpasses all understanding to guard your heart and mind in Christ.
Think godly thoughts
Think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
God promises peace when we do these things and He is faithful to keep all His promises! Trust Him. Be expectant!
Put these things into practice, learn, and grow continually.
Living out this passage
Remember: We cannot follow these commands in our own strength. We must be empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to obediently follow what His Word says and experience the fruit of doing so.
In order to be empowered by the Spirit, we must first put our faith in Christ. Jesus said in Mark 1:15 that we must repent and believe in the Gospel in order to receive His gift of salvation. The Bible teaches that we are all born sinners, that not one of us is righteous, and that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Hebrews 9:22 states that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. So, Jesus Christ, both fully God and fully man, died on the cross and rose from the dead to save sinners. By His grace, all who believe in Him and confess and turn from their sins are forgiven and promised eternal life! And when we receive God’s gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells our hearts and He empowers us to live and grow in godliness.
Have you put your faith in Christ? Repent and believe. Confess and turn from your sins to follow Jesus. Trust that in Him alone there is forgiveness and freedom – and that you will be strengthened by the power of His Spirit!
Renew your faith
The next step is renewing our faith in Him daily. To clarify, when we are born again, we cannot lose our salvation. We are secure in Christ’s righteousness, not our own. (Ephesians 2:8-9) However, we still must continually reflect on the Gospel, God’s character and promises, and His faithfulness throughout Scripture and our own lives. We must choose to trust in the truth found in His Word even when we don’t feel it in the moment. When we humbly trust and obey His Word, it may take time, but our feelings will eventually catch up.
Free resources and final words
If you are like me and are in need of a clear visual reminder to put this passage on overcoming anxiety into practice, I’ve created a free PDF for you to download and print at home.
And finally, if you are struggling with mental illness of any kind, cling to Jesus. In Him alone there is lasting healing and peace. Belief in the Gospel and applying this passage in Philippians will bring peace that surpasses all understanding because God promises it and He is faithful to His promises. Always. I also know that God often uses friends, family, doctors, and licensed therapists to bring about healing as well – to help us apply these truths to our lives and bring about healing where anxiety is effecting our physical health too. There is no shame in reaching out for help if you need it. I’m learning there are so many people in this battle against anxiety right now. You are not alone and our God is a God who sees you, cares for you, and loves you. 🖤
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All scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.