Seneca, a Roman political figure living during the time of Christ, once said, "It is indeed foolish to be unhappy now because you may be unhappy at some future time." The sin of worry is one that is indulged in by most Christians today, it being brushed aside as, maybe a flaw, but certainly "nothing to be worried about." Worry is indeed a sin, just as lying, stealing, or adultery. Since it is a sin, we need to understand how the Bible tells us to deal with it. Paul, writing to the church at Philippi, gives us three steps to help us deal with situations that, if dealt with improperly, would cause us to worry and fret.
The first, and most obvious, step is to Pray. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God." To be "careful" is to be anxious about a situation, i.e., full of worry. We are to be careful for nothing, not even one thing! We are to be in prayer about "everything"! When we pray, we are acknowledging that God is in control, and we are committing our ways unto Him. Our prayers ought to be exact, expressly stating what it is that concerns us. The Psalmist tells us to cast our burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain us (Psalm 55:22). What particular petition do you have to bring before the Lord? With that petition, we are to include our gratitude--"with thanksgiving." We should thank the Lord for trials and temptations that come our way, for it is through these that we are refined; it is through these that we learn to trust even more on the Lord. This first step is so important, but many times neglected, or accomplished improperly as we throw out a generalized prayer about our needs. When we faithfully bring our burdens before the Lord, the result is that the "peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep [protect] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).
Next, Paul tells is to Ponder. Philippians 4:8 instructs us to think upon things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. It is not enough just to pray, but we need to control our thought-life! This will take some discrimination on our part. We need to recognize what is going on. What is it that you are worrying about? Do you know for a fact that it will happen, or has happened (is it true?)? Are the things you are thinking about worthy of respect? are they right? are they clean? are they lovely? are they well-spoken of? We are to cast down imaginations, and anything that would exalt itself against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). Take control of your thoughts, and bring them into captivity to the obedience of Christ! You need to be decisive about this. Paul says, "Think on these things." You must make that choice.
Lastly, we are to Practice. Paul continues in verse 9 and says, "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do..." The word "do" refers to performing something repeatedly and habitually. The reason behind this is that we cannot change tomorrow. We have today to obey God, and we may not know what we are to do in the future when, and if, we ever encounter the situation about which we are worrying. But we do have knowledge about how to live today. We are not responsible for tomorrow; we are responsible for today! Jesus said, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matthew 6:34). God's mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22), and so we must use those mercies for the troubles of today, NOT tomorrow!
When we use the resources God gives to us today, in order to obey Him today, "the God of peace shall be with" us! When we pray, we enjoy the peace of God, which is wonderful. But when we pray, ponder, and practice, the very God of peace is with us! What greater peace could we have in the midst of situations that would otherwise fill us with anxiousness? Which would you rather have? Would you be full of anxiety and care over things that you have no control, or would you be full of the peace of God and enjoy His presence in whose hands is your very life? It really is no choice at all.