You Don’t Have to Worry (Philippians 4:6-7)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6–7
These words are found in the concluding instruction Paul gives to the church at Philippi. There are two commands and one amazing promise that the apostle intends for all of God’s people from every generation to grasp. He begins: do not be anxious about anything.
This is a popular line from the Bible. Very popular. YouVersion’s Bible app features this verse as the most commonly bookmarked verse of Scripture by their nearly 100 million users. And we can see why. Nobody wants to be anxious, though typically everyone struggles with it in different ways. It is a comfort to know that God tells us we shouldn’t worry. But there is more to this verse.
There’s a lot beneath this command. Paul has written a letter to the Philippians full of deep encouragement. “God will sustain you until the day of Christ,” he assures them in Philippians 1:6. “The gospel is advancing all over the world,” he reminds them in Philippians 1:18, and their suffering, as well as his own, is unto that end: that Jesus Christ be honored (Philippians 1:29, 20). And so they should live together in unity—in Christ-like humility—not grumbling or complaining, but shining as lights in the midst of a dark world (Philippians 2:15). They must remember the gospel and the righteousness that comes by faith alone (Philippians 3:9). They must imitate Paul’s example as they wait eagerly for Jesus to return (Philippians 3:17, 20). Indeed, “the Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5).
So “don’t be anxious” he says, but rather, “make your requests known to God.” Here’s the two commands. And then the promise in verse 7: “the peace of God… will guard your hearts” (Philippians 4:7). This knowledge-surpassing peace will come as the result of our praying. It doesn’t mean that we get everything we ask. It simply means—amazingly means—that our praying will result in God’s peace guarding our hearts.
Now this point is important. This passage is not a worry-proof formula. It’s not a how-to on reducing anxiety levels. Better, it is a sketch of what it means to live in fellowship with God as our Father. This is what Jesus’s salvation looks like. Because of Jesus’s death and resurrection for us, by faith, we are made children of God. And as children, filled with God’s Spirit, we live every moment in his nearness.
Don’t worry because your Father is with you. Pray with thanksgiving and tell God all your heart because he is listening and he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Know that his peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ because you’re his child and he’s not letting you go, ever.