Finding Emotional Security
Barry Applewhite, author
If there is one thing I can say about the peace of God, it would be that few people seem to take advantage of it! Paul says not to be anxious about anything, but I am anxious about too many things! How about you? However, Paul’s commands in this section demonstrate that a better grip on spiritual realities could turn anxiety into rejoicing.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
In what situations are we to pray?
Paul’s initial (and repeated) command to rejoice (verse 4) suggests to me that the believers in Roman Philippi may have allowed themselves to slip into a defeatist mentality. That is easy to do when the surrounding culture is unsympathetic or even hostile to the cause of Christ. Paul wants them to refocus as they realize that in Christ they have the final victory in hand. The battle has been won by the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus, but the enemy troops have not yet put down their weapons in acceptance of defeat.
In verse 5, Paul calls upon these believers to manifest gentleness toward all people, and a closer study indicates that this trait resembles the gentle and kind disposition of God in showing mercy. The same Greek adjective is used in Psalm 86:5 (LXX) to translate a Hebrew word expressing God’s readiness to forgive. It is interesting that Paul includes this statement in verse 5: “The Lord is near.” Perhaps this statement means that the one who was gentle and forbearing with us is near to help us treat others in the same manner. No doubt the nearness of the Lord also relates to verse 6.
Cultural hostility in Roman Philippi could certainly provoke anxiety, but Paul encourages prayer to the Lord who is near. He uses three different words for prayer (verse 6), possibly suggesting the appropriateness of prayer to every kind of situation that brings anxiety. The result of responding to threats through prayer is that the peace of God (verse 7) — something the unbelieving mind can neither predict nor understand — will guard your hearts and your thoughts. Once again, Paul uses military language for the verb translated “guard.”
Bockmuehl joins others in suggesting Paul is indirectly bringing to mind the Roman garrison stationed in Philippi to keep the pax Romana (Latin: “Roman peace”). Just as that garrison guards the region for Rome, so God guards the hearts and thoughts of those in Christ Jesus. Again and again, everything comes back to our relationship to Jesus.
When you read the Bible, are you looking for rules to follow or thinking about how you could walk through life more like your Lord? Explain.
 Bockmuehl, Philippians, 242.