Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
I. THE WISE COUNSEL OF THE APOSTLE.
1. This does not mean that we are not to be anxious about duty. We ought to have a deep concern for every interest of God's kingdom. A certain measure of anxious thought is necessary to the efficient performance of every duty of life.
2. It means that we are not to be anxious about the results of our work or consequences generally.
(1) Because God holds these in his own hands;
(2) because our anxiety will not ward off the anticipated evil;
(3) because the evil may turn out for good.
3. Over-anxiety is sinful.
(1) It is the disregard of a Divine command.
(2) it distrusts God's power and wisdom;
(3) it doubts the reality of the promises
(4) it deters from duty;
(5) it spoils the temper and comfort of
II. THE REMEDY FOR OVER-ANXIETY. "In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
1. The range of prayer. "In everything." This counsel is often neglected, for men carry their great misfortunes or their great anxieties to God, but keep their trivial vexations to themselves. A good man has paraphrased this passage thus: "Be careful for nothing; be prayerful for everything; be thankful for anything."
2. The variety of prayer. The word "prayer" here points to the frame of mind, the word "supplication" to the actual asking of blessing, the requests point to the various parts of the supplication, while the thanksgiving marks the subjective condition of acceptance.
3. The effects of prayer.
(1) It tends to place everything in God's hand, with a feeling that he will do all things well. The burden is cast upon the Lord.
(2) It leads the praying man to look for answers to prayer in the events of Divine providence.
(3) It increases devout inquisitiveness to know the Divine will as recorded in the Word.
III. THE RESULT. "And the peace of God which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." This beautiful text is often the subject of independent treatment, but we have no right to separate what God has joined together; and accordingly it is only when we are careful for nothing and prayerful in everything that we may exact to enter into Divine peace.
1. The nature of the peace of God. It is deep inward repose of spiritual life, and is called "the peace of God" because he communicates and sustains it, as the result of our reconciliation with him.
(1) It springs out of our justification. (Romans 5:1.)
(2) It arises in the soul as part of our spiritual-mindedness. "For to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Romans 8:6)
(3) It is the abiding experience of the saints so long as they are practically consistent in their walk. "Great peace have they that love thy Law" (Psalm 119:165). "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee" (Isaiah 26:3).
(4) It is almost inexplicable. "It passeth all understanding."
(a) It passeth the understanding of wicked or worldly men; for their experience lies in a very different sphere.
(b) It surpasses the understanding of godly men; for light often breaks in upon their darkness, in a way quite mysterious. Who can understand the peace of the dying? Does it not pass all understanding?
2. The effects of this peace. "It shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." This does not signify that the peace shall keep possession, but rather, as the word signifies, garrison or stand sentry before the heart or mind, so as to prevent the intrusion of disturbing or disquieting thoughts. It is Christ himself who plants the garrison there.
(1) In case of intellectual doubts, the peace will either prevent their arising at all or repel them when they arise.
(2) In the case of the bitter remembrance of my past sins, this peace carries me back to the reconciliation effected by Christ on the cross.
(3) In, case of anxieties, fears, and earthly solicitudes, the peace of God carries a believer back to the point of his deliverances; and he says, "Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice."
(4) It is a strong guard against sin. The religiously peaceful are the morally strong. Duty is pleasant, obedience is sweet, because the spiritual mind is in harmony with God's mind. Sin is rejected because it threatens to undermine the peace.
3. The abiding source of this peace. "In Christ Jesus."
(1) He is our Peace. (Ephesians 2:14.) Not in the mere sense of being our Peace-maker, as if he had retired after he had made it, but he is the continuous Source of our peace.
(2) He gives peace as his legacy to the Church. (John 14:27.) He imparts that central calm that is at the heart of the endless agitations that shake our merely earthly life. - T.C.
Be careful for nothingI. AN EVIL. Anxiety is to be avoided.
1. For our own sakes. The exhortation does not discourage economy and industry, although some fanatics make it do so. The same religion which tells us to be careful for nothing tells us also to be diligent in business, and if anyone under the cloak of the text becomes careless of the duties of life he denies "the faith and is worse than an infidel." Still there are some virtues which become vices.(1) Here is a man who by unstinted economy heaps up riches, and knows not who will reap them. The world promised him happiness in riches, and outside people say, "What a happy man." But look at the wrinkles on his face; he is fearful of losing his riches and is apprehensive of beggary and dies, sometimes by his own hand.(2) Here is another, careful of his good name — a good thing in itself — but the least thing said about him he feels acutely, and his peace is destroyed. The Christian's duty is clear. He must not fritter away his life in anxiety about circumstances or good name. Anxiety cumbers people as it did Martha, and is both unwise and injurious. There are trials enough without making them. The anxious man is a wholesale trouble maker.
2. Because we are not our own. This is a question which affects both conscience and honesty. God made us. What we possess is not our own. God has purchased us by the precious blood of Christ.
3. Because anxiety is distrust of God. The promises cannot be broken; however adverse the circumstances. Anxiety is thinking meanly of God. While religion allows of grief, she forbids excessive grief. It is difficult to bear with affliction, but it is cowardly to succumb.
II. A PREVENTATIVE. Prayer is an appeal to Deity, which shows that we are not independent of Him; but it is an appeal to a Father. To be successful it must fulfil certain conditions.
1. It must be thankful — even in time of sorrow. Who of us has not something to be thankful for — food, raiment, etc.
2. It must be particular. There are some things which people think too insignificant; but who has sufficient knowledge to determine that. Has God ever rebuked you for going to Him? God cares for the sparrows, much more then for you.
3. Continual. No solitary supplication was ever forgotten. The answers will surely come, although in an unexpected way.
III. A CONSOLATION.
1. The peace of God. We do not know how it is infused into the heart, "It passeth all understanding;" but we may all feel it if we like.
2. It is the Saviour's legacy; and nobody should be defrauded of it — "My peace."
3. Some people try to keep the peace of God instead of letting the peace of God keep them.
4. Its medium is "Christ Jesus."
(W. M. Punshon, LL. D.)I. THE MISTAKE FROM WHICH WE ARE DISSUADED. "Be careful for nothing."
1. This does not mean that we are to be stoically indifferent, and just to take life as it comes. Such a notion would be the death of all holy manly ambition, and would mean "good for nothing." Man is not intended to be the sport of circumstances. His duties imply an earnest exercise of his powers, which is impossible without a measure of solicitude. Note the commendation which "carefulness" receives in 2 Corinthians 7:11. Were a Christian to fall into indifference Christianity would be gone.
2. The mistake against which we are dissuaded is that of laying the mind open to the worries which are ready to invade it — the disposition condemned in Martha. St. Paul would have us rise into the calm region of faith above all fret and paralysing fear.
3. Such an exhortation is not uncalled for. Over anxiety is one of the commonest of sins. Strange that it should be so. we profess to believe that the Lord knows our sorrows, that His peace is sufficient, that He supplies all our need, and causes all things to work together for good. Surely such a belief should make us trustful, fearless, and calm. We may well cry, "Help our unbelief."
II. THE INSTRUMENTALITY FOR THE REPRESSION OF OVER ANXIETY (Psalm 62:8).
1. "Let your requests," etc. True, God knows our needs before we pray; but we may, nevertheless, find relief in telling them out to Him with the confiding love of a child. Enlightened prayer does not ask for miracle or any change in the Divine will. It only implies that asking is one of the appointed conditions of receiving, that the giving of the best things that the soul craves is the sole prerogative of God.
2. "In everything." Prayer properly belongs to the whole of our condition. Whatever touches our life is important enough to be taken to the "throne of grace."
3. "By prayer and supplication." The language implies entreaty. Not "vain repetitions," not noise as if God were afar off or indifferent, but the fresh warm cry of the hungry for bread.
4. "With thanksgiving." Prayer should be animated with gratitude. While we are with God let us think of His goodness in welcoming us, His former gracious answers, His countless undeserved and even unsought blessings. Gratitude is one of the sweetest and most useful ingredients. Whilst it honours God it disposes to that faith without which we cannot pray aright. So we come to that trust which is the antithesis of inordinate anxiety. In prayer, distrust is distraction, and distraction weakness. The prayer of faith is the natural and appointed instrumentality for the repression of over anxiety.
III. THE METHOD IN WHICH THIS INSTRUMENTALITY WORKS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF THE DESIRED RESULT. Peace comes by power and power by prayer.
1. In prayer itself there is often a priceless enjoyment.
2. We obtain specific answers to prayers; not always, indeed, according to our fancies, but invariably according to God's all-wise and perfect goodness, which is immeasurably preferable.
3. It is in the nature of prayer to soothe away unnecessary anxiety, and to sweeten such solicitudes as are wholesome; for prayer takes us into the presence of God, where all is calm.
(J. P. Barnett.)
1. It is impossible to eradicate them, for in the very resistance we find a new cause of suffering. As the fabled Hydra of old, with one head severed from his body, sprang forward with a hundred in its place, so shall our resisted troubles be.
2. It is folly to resist them; as idiotic a task as Don Quixote's against the windmills.
3. Shall we suffer, then? We could if we were as strong as Atlas, who bore the world on his shoulders; but we are not Atlases.
4. Take them quickly, then, to the Divine Burden bearer. This is the panacea for all the ills that flesh is heir to.
I. BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING.
1. Because there are higher considerations. Here we spend no end of time and thought on things which are not worth it, and neglect matters which deserve our most earnest attention. "The life is more than meat," and the soul than life. The doctor's bell and knocker never seem at rest; nor are the poor patients to be blamed for their importunity; but how is it that the body casket is so cared for and the soul jewel so neglected. Men are careful even to madness about their money, but utterly careless about eternal riches.
2. Because those necessary trifles about which we are obliged to think in some degree are all seen to and arranged by God. Cast, then, "all your care upon Him; He careth for you."
3. Because the smallest affairs of life are entirely beyond our control. Man can do a great deal — he can flash a message round the world, and through the microphone hear the footstep of a fly, but he cannot add one cubit to his stature.
4. Because nothing is too small for God to arrange for. We are ready to believe that nothing is too great for God to care for, but it is difficult for us to confide in Him in little things. But the God who made the ocean makes the dew drop, and cares for both.
II. BE PRAYERFUL FOR EVERYTHING. Some mercies will come unasked for; but those are sweetest which come in answer to prayer.
1. Because of the privilege of prayer. We have not only the care but the heart of God. The blood of God's dear Son has opened the way to the mercy seat.
2. Because of the power of prayer. It has a soothing effect, as we know from earthly confidences.
3. Because there is no limit to prayer. There is nothing we may not ask Him about. It is His will. "I will be enquired of."
III. BE THANKFUL FOR ANYTHING.
1. Because we do not deserve anything but wrath.
2. Because ingratitude is one of the worst of sins. We are thankful for the hospitality of earthly friends, and yet though we have so much from God how thankless we are. Thankless hearts are like scentless flowers.
(Thomas Spurgeon.)I. ITS NATURE. The root of the original word is a verb which signifies "to divide." Such care as diverts and distracts the mind from its true and tranquil bent towards God. It is not common forethought and prudence that is forbidden. There is no warrant for carelessness, supineness, inactivity. Neither the indifference of the fatalist or of the sensualist are sanctioned here. But here is warrant for the man who believes that "all things work together for good;" that in things both great and small "the Lord will provide."
1. In disappointment — adversity where prosperity was expected — the loss of those on whom our strongest trust was reposed.
2. In the pressing claims of business or the family.
3. Relax not any reasonable and temperate exertion, but listen "God will provide" sing the birds of the air, and whisper the lilies of the field.
II. ITS CAUSES.
1. An undue value of this present world. We reverse the apostle's rule and walk by sight.
2. Practical distrust of God. The most orthodox are often guilty of this heresy. Faith in God is useless in the creed if it be absent from the heart.
3. Neglect of Christian privilege. "All things are yours." The promises are ours, but we neglect to plead and to trust them.
III. ITS EVILS.
1. Its essence is worldly mindedness. Unseen and eternal things are thrown into the background. And the snare is doubly dangerous and successful from the fact that it is not viewed as a sin, but cloaked under the specious names of prudence and care for family.
2. It cramps our benevolence. It knows nothing of lending unto the Lord and giving cheerfully. It anticipates the day when what can now be spent will be wanted. It will not trust God.
3. It engenders a close illiberal spirit in all the transactions of life. It stands by its rights, drives hard bargains, exacts the uttermost farthing. "I cannot afford it." "I must not wrong my family."
IV. THE REMEDY. Prayer, including blessings sought and evils deprecated ("supplication"), joined with an acknowledgment of mercies past.
1. Be it what it may it is the Christians privilege to spread it before the Lord, like Hezekiah. You have kind friends, sound advisers; but go first to God; and when before Him pour out your whole heart, and you shall find a calm and stillness in heart prayer, which shall soothe every grief and care to rest. If you do not find it all at once pray on.
2. Be thankful, i.e., draw upon your experience as well as your faith; and remember that "the Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save," etc.
(Canon Miller.)I. ITS FOLLY. What good can anxiety do?
1. It is an idle thing; the mind hovers and flutters round the subject; goes over the same ground again and again, wearies itself in vain repetitions of the same cares and fears; but what has it done? has it advanced the matter one real step? Has it arrived at one good counsel, or set itself to one wise act?
2. It is an enfeebling thing; it eats the very life out of the energies; it leaves the man not only where he was, but ten times less capable and vigorous than at the beginning.
3. It is an irritating thing; it ruffles the temper, upsets the balance of the spirit; is the sure source of moodiness, sharpness, petulance, and anger; it sets a man at war with himself, his neighbour, God's providence, and God's appointments.
4. It is a sign of mistrust, of feeble faith, of flagging energy, and languid obedience.
II. ITS CURE.
1. St. Paul knew better than to attempt the correction of anxiety by human arguments. It may be useless, wrong, mischievous, but it is in us all; and let a man be sharply tried, he is anxious still. The conflict with any one of our evil tendencies is too strong for us single handed.
2. Bring in another person; introduce a new consideration; suggest a new motive. Tell us of One who amongst our other griefs has borne this, amongst our other sorrows has carried this (Isaiah 53:4); of One who in all our afflictions is Himself afflicted; in all our cares is Himself troubled (Isaiah 63:9); above all, of One who is not in some different and distant world, where the sound of human groans scarcely penetrates, where the burden of human distress is regarded as unreal, but who is here, in our world, at hand, present; who both foresees and remembers with us, feels with as well as for us, is "touched with a sense of our infirmities," yea, was Himself "tempted in all points" (Hebrews 4:15). Then, in His presence, in His human soul, in His compassionate heart, we will lay aside our anxieties, rest from our burdens, take refuge from our fears and from our sins.
I. THE PRINCIPLE OF DELIVERANCE FROM CARE is placed by our Lord, in the Sermon on the Mount, in a two-fold light.
1. The things about which we are tempted to be careful are "things that perish." Their worth is but for a little time, and stretches but a little way. What matters a little more or less of earthly treasure. The soul's satisfaction is independent of it. The true and enduring riches are within reach. To men who believed in and pined for the heavenly treasure, the appeal was conclusive. What matters the earthly substance which moth and rust are wasting daily, when we have a glorious treasure which defies decay and violence. They believed this and were careful for nothing. We believe less and are consumed with care.
2. This superiority to earthly things demands a keen discernment, a pure unworldly heart, which are rare. Who is sufficient for these things. The Saviour, pitying our infirmity, has another assurance to meet the needs of our trembling apprehensive natures. "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." We are not alone in this great universe, whose awful order, indifferent to our needs, strikes a shivering dread into our hearts. Behind the veil a Father is watching and caring, and by His vigilant providence is adding, in the measure in which He sees we need them, all these things unto us. Be careful for nothing; rest calmly in the care of God.
3. But we can not only rest but pray. He is no unknown Friend to whom we can commend our cause and then leave it. He is here in the silent sanctuary of our hearts. Perhaps our requests are shortsighted and foolish. Be it so. The best thing that we can do is to take them to God, and lay them before Him. His light will reveal, His fire consume the sensual, selfish element in our petitions; His burning presence will purify our hearts, and make our prayers powerful with Him. Prayer is the channel of communication between the careworn soul and its helper; and it fills its desolation with the sense of a living, loving presence, which charges the very atmosphere with benediction; it quickens a pulse of joy and hope in the numbness of its despair. He who has never known what prayer can do to calm a troubled and uplift a despairing spirit is dead to the deepest, richest experience of life.
II. But it must be THE PRAYER OF FAITH.
1. Christians complain bitterly that their prayers are not answered. But they do not understand the conditions. God nowhere binds Himself to answer our shortsighted requests. Did we see more clearly we should tremble lest He should. That would prove His heaviest chastisement. But He binds Himself to answer our prayers, in His own way. No praying soul is sent empty away.
2. The prayer of faith is the prayer which recognizes God as the supreme and perfect God. No man is in the way of blessing until he understands that in God alone can he be supremely blessed. Until he has made God his portion there is the deepest want of his being unsatisfied. This being recognized his wants fall into their true proportion. They are not extinguished, but they are no more imperative. It is no longer, Give me this or I die; it is, Give me Thyself and I live; and this, Give or withhold at Thy will. I have all, and abound in Thee.
3. The prayer of faith seeks conformity with the mind of God, without which it is idle to hope or pray for peace. Nine-tenths of our cares grow out of our mad desires for some unreal and delusive good. All cares that eat into the soul arise really from a striving against God. The first request of prayer is, "Show me Thy will, and rule my will by Thine. Root out self-will, tame passion, calm desire, bring me into harmony with Thy pure and perfect mind, and then bestow what Thou seest is for my good." When a soul has said that, its brooding cares and wearing sorrows have gone as the mists of the morning vanish in the sunlight.
4. The prayer of faith never leaves out of its account the Hand that is always working for our deliverance, and never so mightily as when the storm gathers, and the great waters seem to overwhelm. And the prayer of faith never fails.
(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)
I. LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN UNTO GOD.
1. Requests.(1) All creatures are dependent. The earth by dumb signs asks the rain from heaven to refresh its dust and make it fruitful. The air asks moisture from the ocean; the ocean from the rivers. All are needy and seek their supply from Him in whom all fulness dwells.(2) Man with the greatest capacity is distinguished by the greatest need. The child is much more dependent on its parents' care than the young of other creatures, So the child of God's family needs much more from the Father's hand. How many times has a man of sixty breathed? How vast the supply of air, and how close to his lips? The act of breathing seems an emblem at once of the creature's continual need, and of the Creator's abundant supply. His goodness has compassed us about like the atmosphere; and when we open our mouth it is filled with good.
2. Make them known to God.(1) The lower part of our nature is supplied as God supplies that of the beasts. But God desires company among His creatures. He did not find among them any fit for this until He made man in His own image. Fathers love to supply their children's wants; inconceivably greater is God's delight. Human fathers have a defective love in their hearts and a defective supply in their hands: they sometimes will not, and sometimes cannot, give what their children require. But our Father in heaven is not limited on either side.(2) When man fell the relation was broken off. it a great price the channel was opened again. God has, through Christ, made known His fulness: we should, through Christ, make known to Him our need.
3. Your requests — your own — not what other people have asked, or what you have learned to repeat. Jesus set a little child in the midst of His disciples, and said, "Give me a child's simplicity." The wants it cries for are its own, and whether intelligible or not are real, not feigned. What element in the request of his little child goes home to the father's heart, filling it with delight and opening sluices for a flood of gifts? It is this — they are his own child's own requests. This quality, "yours," will cover a multitude of sins against grammar and other earthly laws.
II. BY PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION WITH THANKSGIVING.
1. Prayer. This is the soul's believing and reverential approach unto God. It is the prelude to the request and thanksgiving. The pattern prayer commences with "Our Father." The prayer and supplication follow.
2. Supplication — the specific request. The word means asking, but its radical signification is "want:" hence it came to mean a craving for supply.
3. With thanksgiving — for past favours.
4. The relation of these two elements of a soul's communion with God.(1) Supplication with thanksgiving seems to intimate that we are apt to omit this latter ingredient, and to warn us that the omission will vitiate all. To ply the asking without the song of praise seems like taking some ingredients of the physician's prescription and leaving out one.(2) The currents of grace run in circles as well as in nature — the believer draws from God a stream of benefits and returns the incense of praise.
III. IS EVERYTHING.
1. Pray. At all times, in all places, about everything. Not on the Sabbath, or in church only. Our Father takes it ill if we send in our request for the pardon of sin, but ask not His counsel about the choice of a companion or an investment in trade. He is not a man of little faith who puts little things into his prayers.
2. Give thanks. There is nothing here contrary to nature. God's commandments are not grievous. You need not give thanks for suffering, but even in sorrow there is room for praise. E.g.(1) In the things you do not suffer — when in bodily pain that the mind is clear; or when suffering from calumny that you have a good conscience towards God; or when you have lost your money that your children survive.(2) For the good sorrow brings in fruit unto holiness.(3) But in all cases there is room for thanks in the "unspeakable Gift."
(W. Arnot, D. D.)1. By prayer is meant the general, and by supplication the particular act of devotion. Do not forget the second element. There is a good deal of generalizing in prayer. What we want is more definite pleading with God. When Abraham prayed he did not merely adore God but offered specific petitions, and Elijah prayed for rain there and then.
2. But whether general or specific we are to offer thanksgiving. Hence it follows —(1) That we ought always to be in a thankful condition of heart. "Thus will I bless Thee while I live."(2) That the blending of thanks with devotion is always to be maintained. Though the prayer should struggle upward out of the depths, yet must its wings be silvered o'er with thanksgiving. These two holy streams flow from a common source and should mingle as they flow; like kindred colours they shade off into each other.(3) This commingling of precious things is admirable. Prayer is myrrh, and praise is frankincense. The holy incense of the sanctuary yielded the smoke of prayer which filled the holy place, but with it was the sweet perfume of praise. Prayer and praise are like the two cherubim, they must never be separated. Note how our Lord mingles both in the model prayer, and David in the Psalms (Psalm 18:3). And so St. Paul (Romans 1:8-9; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philippians 1:3-4), and when he and Silas, when in the Philippian jail, they prayed and sang praises.
I. THE REASONS FOR MINGLING THANKSGIVING WITH PRAYER. In the nature of things it should be so. We do not come to God as if He had left us penniless. Thanksgiving is our right attitude towards One who daily loadeth us with benefits. You have cause for thanksgiving.
1. That such a thing as prayer is possible — that God should have commanded and encouraged it, and supplied all things necessary for its exercise — the blood-besprinkled mercy seat, the perpetual Intercessor, the spirit of grace and supplication who helpeth our infirmities.
2. That we are spared and permitted to pray. It is of the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed. Like David we may not be able to go up to the house of prayer, but we can still pray. The prodigal has lost his substance, but not his power to supplicate.
3. That we have already received great mercy at God's hands. If we never received another favour we have had enough for ceaseless praise. Whatever we may ask for cannot be one-half so great as what has been received. We have life in Christ; and that is more than food or raiment. If Christ is thine, He who gave thee Him will deny thee nothing.
4. That prayer has been answered so many times before.
5. That we have the mercy which we seek. We antedate our gratitude with men. Your promise to pay a man's rent when it has become due is the object of thanks before a farthing has left your pocket. Shall we not be willing to trust God a few months or years beforehand.
6. If the Lord does not answer the prayer we are offering, yet, still, He is so good. that we will bless Him whether or no. How devoutly might some of us thank Him that He did not grant the evil things we sought in the ignorance of our childish minds. We asked for flesh and He might have sent us quails in His anger. The Lord's roughest usage is only love in disguise.
II. THE EVIL OF THE ABSENCE OF THANKSGIVING.
1. We should be chargeable with ingratitude. Aristotle said, "A return is required to preserve friendship between two persons;" and if we have nothing else but gratitude let us abound therein.
2. It would argue great selfishness. Can it be right to pray for benefits and never honour our Benefactor.
3. Thanksgiving prevents prayer from becoming an exhibition of want of faith. If when I am in trouble I still bless God for all I suffer, therein my faith is seen. Is our faith such that it only sings in the sunshine? Have we no nightingale music for our God? Is our trust like the swallow, which must leave us in winter? Is our faith a flower that needs a conservatory to keep it active? Can it not blossom like gentian at the foot of the frozen glacier.
4. Not to thank God would argue wilfulness and want of submission to His will. Must everything be ordered according to our own mind? Much of the prayer of rebellious hearts is the mere growling of an angry obstinacy, the whine of an ungratified self-conceit.
III. THE RESULT OF THANKSGIVING IN CONNECTION WITH PRAYER.
1. Peace (vers. 5, 7). Some men pray, and therein they do well; but for lack of mixing thanksgiving with it they come away from the closet even more anxious than when they entered it.
2. Thanksgiving will warm the soul and enable it to pray. Do not pump up unwilling formal prayer. Take the hymn book and sing.
3. When a man begins to pray with thanksgiving he is on the eve of receiving the blessing. God's time to bless you has come when you begin to bless Him (2 Chronicles 20:20, etc.). Our thanksgiving will show that the reason for our waiting is now exhausted; that the waiting has answered its purposes, and may now come to a joyful end. When you put up a thanksgiving on the ground that God has answered your prayer, you have really prevailed with God.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)1. This is a command given by one of the ablest professors in the school of Christ. Different schools turn out different sorts of scholars. A military school is understood to turn out good fighting soldiers; a law school good lawyers; a medical school good doctors; a classical school good scholars; the school of Christ a certain style of manhood after the pattern of Christ.
2. Here is a man trained in this school, and now a teacher. He is a prisoner, advanced in life, most sensitive, one who had been subjected to every pain and indignity, who lived a life enough to make anyone turn pale; and yet after all he had undergone he says, "Let your disposition be such that you will see how many things you have to be thankful for; and when you ask for anything do it through the radiant atmosphere of gratitude." When the pendulum swung up and Paul was in the midst of abundance he knew how to be a simple humble man; and when it swung to the other extreme and he bore chains, he said, "I have learned to be content. My manhood is more than my condition. I am master of circumstances, they are not master of me." Such was the style of manhood to be turned out in the school of Christ.
3. I am far from saying that this is easy or rapid of attainment; but I do say that such is the ideal portraiture of Christianity in the school of Christ. His school is like every other in that there is a difference of apprehensiveness in the scholars; but from the lowest to the highest there is this ideal set before them which they are to strive after — to give power to the inward man, to overcome appetites and passions, to endure troubles of every kind, and not stoically but rejoicingly, to have a hope that quenches fear, faith that annihilates doubt, endurance that can bear as much as God lays on. Not every man that comes from the university is a perfect scholar, but there is a bright ideal held up, and if the scholar does not approximate to it in a measure it is not the fault of the university but his own.
4. Can this ideal of Christianity ever be set aside? We live in a sceptical age, but a thing that has happened is a fact; and nothing can make it not to have happened; and since religion discloses what it is to live in Christ Jesus, and lifts up the conception of our higher being in its developed state, we are not going to lose it out of the world. There is nothing so powerful as a soul brought under such inspiration as St. Paul's, and no scepticisms will ever sweep it away. If you can live as Paul lived, and as thousands of Christians have lived, by other than Christian instrumentalities, then you are bound to show what they are, and where they are to be found.
5. If Paul's conception of the Christian life be true then every other is false — the ascetic view, e.g., pain, self-denial, of course, come, but with them come a spirit that welcomes the pain and turns the cross into a benediction.
(H. W. Beecher.)
(Harry Jones, M. A.)
(J. L. Nye.)
(W. Arnot, D. D.)e.g., you should have a spell of sickness, and be unable to work; or suppose your present employers should move away, and no one else should give you anything to do; or suppose" "Stop!" cried Nancy, "I never supposes. De Lord is my Shepherd, and I know I shall not want. And, honey," she added, to her gloomy friend, "its all dem supposes as is making you so miserable. You'd better give them all up, and just trust the Lord."
(H. W. Beecher.)
(Harry Jones, M. A.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(W. Arnot, D. D.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(J. L. Nye.)
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