I was asking the Lord recently if there were some instructions in the Bible that would help believers who are distressed and discouraged; as well as fearful from the news, politics, articles and blogs on the internet, and of course all the Facebook dynamics. I heard Him direct me to Philippians. Of course my first thought was He would take me to chapter 4, verse 8, where we are instructed to let your mind dwell on these things including: whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good report, excellence or worthy of praise. However I sensed in my heart the answers were actually found in the previous verses.
Paul was in prison in Rome when he wrote Philippians. He warned the brethren to beware of dogs, evil workers, false circumcision, enemies of the cross, and those who set their minds on earthly things. Obviously by these intense descriptions Paul was telling the believers to pay attention to his words if they wanted to experience peace. So as I studied the previous verses I found the words and definitions were not what they appear to be in our English translations. The following are verses translated in the Greek and Hebrew that bring greater clarity to Paul's directions. Let's look at verses 4-7.
Chapter 4:4 - Paul encouraged us to rejoice. In the Greek, chairo is related to charis, which means grace. So joy seems to be a result of God's grace. In other words we cannot sustain joy without God's grace. A great visual for rejoice is the Hebrew meaning of a young sheep or lamb skipping or frisking for joy.
Chapter 4:5 - Let your forbearing be known to all men which means appropriate, mild, gentle, moderate, patient. So regardless of the negativity around us through technology driven things we read or listen to, we can rejoice and forbear.
Chapter 4:6-7 - Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
When we hear "Be anxious for nothing," we may feel a little guilt, when we try to literally follow God's word. Many years ago, if a believer was a worrier, it seemed they exhibited a higher level of compassion or spirituality, especially when they prayed for everything and everyone that they were worrying about. The Greek word for anxious is to have care for, take thought for, or be troubled with cares. The root word presents the idea of distraction which means it is not healthy. However, to be anxious for nothing actually involves not being troubled with the cares of this world where it distracts you from life. Being concerned for someone enough to be able to pray and help is obviously not being anxious. We naturally have to be aware and ask ourselves in certain situations - "Is this producing real anxiety, stress, strife, anger or peace?"
Chapter 4:8 of Philippians lists items to dwell on and consider or examine our thoughts. We know there are three potential "people" talking to us in our mind: 1) Our own thoughts, 2) The enemy, and 3) Holy Spirit. Being able to discern where the thought is coming from will also help us to remain in peace.
Since we will probably continue to process information from many sources, I challenge you to discern and identify where information may come from, and its purpose. Rejoicing, forbearing and praying with thanksgiving may be another idea to help you remain peaceful.