In the last part of this series, we will dive into the final instruction given by Paul in our key text, Philippians 4:6-9. What is this final instruction? “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). Here, the emphasis is not on thinking – as in the previous verse – but rather, on doing. This leads us to step four in our peace-unwrapping process.
STEP 4: DO WHAT GOD INSTRUCTS
The reader is encouraged not only to think God-pleasing thoughts but to do God-pleasing deeds. Paul had clearly taught on these deeds, instructing his readers to do those things which they had learned and received from him. Some examples of this would be: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3) and, “Do all things without complaining and disputing” (Philippians 2:14).
Also, Paul instructed his readers to speak as they had heard him speak and behave as they had seen him behave, his own conduct having set an example for them. In fact, earlier in his letter to the believers in Philippi, he had repeated this instruction: “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (Philippians 3:17). We read a similar command given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”
The word translated as “do” in Philippians 4:9 is the Greek verb prassó. It is a verb that refers to repeated or habitual action, rather than a single, once-off deed. Paul is instructing His readers to do what is pleasing to the Lord and to keep on doing those things, until it becomes more natural to walk in the Spirit than in the flesh. He is instructing them to put off the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts and put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
According to Paul, this aids us in our war against worry. “The God of peace will be with you,” he promised. His thinking here makes perfect sense. How can we expect the peace of God to prevail in our hearts and minds if we are not behaving in a way that is pleasing to Him? This would be exceedingly arrogant. Personally, I believe that acting in a way that pleases the Lord fights anxiety in three main ways.
FIRST, when Jesus spoke about worry in Matthew 6 – a passage we have already touched on in this series – he said: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). In other words, when we do what pleases the Lord, building His kingdom and behaving uprightly, the Lord takes care of our needs. He has promised this and standing on this promise gives us tremendous confidence. We can boldly say, “I am anxious for nothing because I am doing my best to seek His kingdom and righteousness. He has promised to meet my every need!”
SECOND, as born-again children of God, acting in a manner that is contrary to the new man, grates our spirits terribly. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and guides us in all things. Resisting Him, behaving wrongly and refusing to ignore His gentle corrections, results in unsettled feelings. Can we expect to fully experience the peace of God if we are warring against His Spirit? No. We most certainly cannot.
THIRD, behaving in a godly manner results in us not doing sinful things that will result in worrisome consequences. And, when persecution arises, we can rest on Isaiah 54: “‘Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me. Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake. No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 54:15 and 17). The Lord is our creator and knows what will build us up and what will break us down. The latter deeds come with wagonloads of worry in their wake.
Dear friend, acting in a manner pleasing to the Lord is indispensable if we are to win in our war against worry. Search your heart, search your deeds and make the necessary adjustments. Each day, every day, throughout the day, put on the new man!
This is the last post in our BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING SERIES. I trust you have been mightily blessed and edified by it!