Tell Yourself the Truth
Read Philippians 4:4-8 (ESV)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Have your feelings ever led you astray? What can you do when your emotions aren’t telling the truth about reality?
Think about the role that emotions play in your life. Are your emotions indicators of reality like a thermometer that takes the temperature of an environment? Or do you allow your emotions to dictate your reality and become the temperature of the environment? Many secular psychologists and counselors agree with Christians on this point—feelings aren’t facts and people who treat their feelings like facts are overwhelmed, more susceptible to mental health issues, addictions, relationship problems, etc. But changing what we think about can change the way that we feel and it can keep our emotions from ruling over us.
The apostle Paul wrote today’s passage from prison. During this time, the Roman empire was ruled by Nero. History records that he was a brutal persecutor of Christians. Many Christians were beheaded during this time and it is believed that is what eventually happened to Paul. And yet, his letter to the Philippian church is considered by many to be the most joyful book of the entire Bible. Many different sources have confirmed that the words “joy” and “rejoicing” are used at least 16 times in the original Greek of this short letter.
But how could Paul be so joyful while he was imprisoned and guarded around the clock? How could he be joyful when he didn’t know the outcome of his case? How could he encourage other believers to rejoice when they were also experiencing extreme persecution? Paul gives us the answer in verse 4: “Rejoice in the Lord.” In other words, don’t find your joy in worldly pleasures, comfort, health, or wealth. Don’t let your joy be determined by your earthly circumstances. Instead, let the Lord be the source of your joy.
In verses 6 and 7, he also urged us to pray whenever we are anxious about anything. He said to “let your requests be made known to God.” Just turning to God in prayer can have a huge impact on our feelings because when we turn to God in prayer, we are turning our worries over to Him. “...casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7) leads to His peace.
However, we shouldn’t skip over a key word here. Paul said that we are to pray with “thanksgiving.” Praying from a grateful heart is key in not letting our emotions rule over us because it shifts our perspective from our problems to the Lord and everything He has already done for us. We should fill our hearts and minds with so much thanksgiving to God that there isn’t any room left for our anxieties.
Finally, in verse 8, Paul urged the believers not to dwell on their circumstances or their feelings. Instead, he urged them to change what they think about. First and foremost, he told them to think about what is true. Remember, feelings aren’t facts. You may feel like God has abandoned you, but if you are in Christ, we know that simply isn’t true. He went on to tell us to think about what is honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Chances are that your cares and concerns are none of those things! So put them in a new perspective by first identifying and being grateful to God for all of the good you currently have and are looking forward to!
If you are having a hard time finding good things to be thankful for, think about the Gospel. Think about what Jesus did for you on the cross. Think about what that means for you today and for all eternity! Author Jerry Bridges put it best: “Preach the gospel to yourself every day.” Friends, our feelings don’t always tell us the truth. Today and every day, I urge you to tell yourself the Truth.
Jesus, some days feel heavy and fearful. It is easy for me to get caught up in my emotions and anxieties. But I know that my feelings aren’t facts. Please bring the truth of the Gospel to my mind every day. Remind me that You died in my place to reconcile me to God. Now, I am a new creation in You. Sin no longer has power over me and I can rest in perfect peace knowing that my eternity with You is secure. Amen!
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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