“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6, 7
‘‘Be careful for nothing.” This statement from the apostle’s pen is equivalent in meaning to the one just previously made, “Rejoice in the Lord alway,” the only difference being that the one is negative and the other positive.
“Be careful in nothing,” or, as we of this day say, “Do not worry.” We understand the apostle, to be sure. What he means is not that we be sinfully careless, irresponsible, indifferent with respect to “all things.” or matters that concern us and in which we should be vitally interested, but that on account of these things we be not filled with a kind of concern that springs from unbelief, a lack of trust in the Lord, a failure to spiritually apprehend that God’s people are the objects of His endearment and that in His love He causes all things to work together for their good. In a word, what the apostle in the name of the Lord forbids is worry.
How inclined even God’s people are to worry. And worry they do when they stand not in their faith, consider not that the mercy and goodness of God follows them all the days of their lives until they dwell in the house of the Lord forever and that therefore all things are for them in that God—the God and Father of Christ—is for them.
Worry always concerns God’s works. The farmer has plowed and sowed. But if he will also harvest, God must send rain and sunshine and give the increase. Mindful of this, the man worries, as his anxious looking at the cloudless skies in periods of drought betoken. The minister of the gospel brings His message from Sabbath to Sabbath, but he cannot work faith, make men to believe, cause the word to take root in the hearts of His hearers and to bear fruit in their lives. This, too, is God’s work. Knowing this, the human preacher, when his labors in the flock seemingly bear no fruit, worries. Will that son or daughter, now indifferent, eventually turn to the Lord? The parents know not and they worry. The family man, with a number of dependents, has a good job. Will he be able to hold it? He is not certain and he worries. Also God’s people, when they stand not in their faith, worry about many things. They have need of the admonition, “Rejoice in the Lord. Be careful for nothing.” Do not worry.
But, some may say, this is easier said than done. How will a man, a Christian man, free himself of his worry, in what way? The apostle has the answer, “Let your requests be bade known unto God, in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.”
The believers have requests, desires in respect to all things—all those things or matters, that especially concern them, such as the matter of their daily bread, of their children, of the school and church, of the Kingdom causes in general. And in respect to all these things they have definite desires, requests. And when there is no conscious faith, these requests have a way of multiplying until their number is almost legion. Let all these desires be made known unto the Lord, admonishes the apostle. Pour out your heart to Him. Tell them in His ears. For He careth for you, is attentive to your voice and knows how to give good gifts to His children.
Make known these requests of yours by prayer, that is, by seeking God with a true heart and acknowledging Him as the overflowing fountain of all good, and thus as the creative fountain of your heavenly existence in Christ Jesus;—by supplication, that is, by turning to Him, the living God—the God and Father of your Christ—as deeply conscious of your real need, which is grace;—with thanksgiving, that is, with hearts and mouths declaring His adorable praises.
And what will be the result of this hallowed action on the part of God’s believing people? First, that many of these requests will stand out in their minds as springing from lack of trust and will therefore not be voiced. Second, that a great peace—the peace of God—will flood their souls. Such is the assurance of the apostle.
Mark you, he does not say that the Lord will respond by granting all the requests. Also with respect to the voiced desires of His people, God does all His good pleasure. God’s believing people understand this also and therefore their final petition is that His will will be done, except when the thing requested has been divinely promised. And there are such promised things. God has promised to give His people grace—in a word, the heavenly. And of this good they now possess the first fruits. And they without ceasing pray for the full harvest, which the Lord will give them in His good time at the appearing of Christ.
Letting their requests be made known unto God, the believers have peace—the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
The peace of God. God is a God of peace. There is perfect harmony between the three persons in His blessed being. For He is good, and being good, He is peace and is at peace with Himself and all things.
And as the God of peace He prepared peace for His people, who by nature hate Him, who is good, and are at odds with Him, with His thinking and willing and all His blessed doing. But He loved them, though they loved Him not, loved them, did He, before the foundation of the world in Christ Jesus, in whom He also chose them to everlasting life. And in His love He prepared for them peace through Christ. He gave His only begotten as a propitiation for all their sins thus reconciled them to Himself in the cross. And the peace He prepared for them, He also places in their actual possession, through His quickening them by Christ’s Spirit and through His assuring them in their hearts that He justifies them through His clothing them with the righteousness of His Son and cleanses them from all their sins in His blood, that they thus are His beloved children, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. And this assurance is in them the fountain of a great calm, tranquility, peace,—the peace of God that passes all understanding.
And this peace keeps their minds and hearts in Christ. They are in Christ always, everlastingly, both legally and mystically, as He is the head of the body, His church. But believers are not always consciously in Him, in Him as to their mind and heart, thinking and willing and desiring. When they stand not in their faith, they are as to their mind and heart outside of Christ, in the world, having their affections set on the things on earth, and trusting not in the Lord but in the arm of flesh. Then they again worry, are careful for all things. But coming to themselves, they by His mercy, let their requests in all things be made known unto Him. Peace then floods their soul— the peace that keeps their minds and hearts in Christ. Then they consciously desire Christ and the fullness that dwelleth bodily in Him, have their affection set upon things above, minds and desires the things that are of the Spirit of God, seeking the heavenly and love Christ’s appearing.