“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.
Remember: Grace abounds! Focus on continual growth, not an impossible standard of perfection. God is faithful to His promises even in our shortcomings. But, we also have to face the truth: There are no shortcuts. The first step is putting our faith in Christ, trusting in Him as our Lord and Savior. The next is renewing our faith in His promises continually and humbly obeying His Word – trusting our loving Father truly knows what’s best for us.
If you are like me and are in need of a clear visual reminder to put this passage into practice, I’ve created a free PDF for you to download and print at home. (Existing mailing list subscribers, check your inbox today!)
And finally, if you are struggling with mental illness of any kind, cling to Jesus. In Him alone there is lasting healing and peace. I believe 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 unconditionally. 🖤