To be justifiably scared or afraid of a potentially harmful situation is a basic survival, physiological reflex action, without which we would all be dead. However, when fear and its friends become a psychological activity, we are in trouble. Philippians 4:4-9 is one of the Psychological gold mines in the Bible. Daily practice these principled instructions, and a positively, practically peaceful life-style will follow. However, by way of a disclaimer, do not try these strategies if you are not yet a Believer in Jesus Christ. For though the strategies work, for you to work the strategies, you must be born again.
With the emphasis of Jesus’ “verily, verily I say unto you…” Paul repeats, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” The act of rejoicing requires the foundation of gratitude, appreciation and thanksgiving. Neuroscientists agree that dopamine, aka “the rewards neurotransmitter”, is stimulated by gratitude, thanksgiving and by both giving and receiving appreciation. Because our body is wired with a “feel-good” preference, our brain will automatically prompt us to do the things that make us feel good. That’s what the brain will do for us. What we have to do for the brain is repeatedly tell it what makes us feel good, until the brain is able to form a habit, and delegate the decision to do that feel-good activity into our sub-conscious.
Rejoicing in the Lord is the result of a conscious, rational decision, and there is no shortage of reasons to rejoice in the Lord. Do it consistently, long enough and a solid habit of rejoicing in the Lord is formed. That takes care of the second part of the instruction – Always. Before the habit is formed, we are to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. After the habit is formed, we will always rejoice in the Lord.
Giving thanks for what we already have, is one of the antidotes for anxiety about what is to come. Paul gives us good Psychological advice when he says, “do not be anxious for anything” in verse 6. Anxiety is a crippling, destructive emotion that paralyzes positive action. It is a bummer, can’t help the situation, and makes us worse. The ADAA tells us that over 40 million American adults suffer from a range of Anxiety disorders, at a cost of more than $42 Billion annually. Paul provides the cost-effective alternative. “In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus himself rhetorically states that nobody can add even a single hour to our life by worrying.” (Mathew 6:27). In Matthew 6:33, Jesus then states the prescription for a worry-free life. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Finally, Paul provides the positive reinforcing behavior that will displace the unwanted negative habits of anxiety. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
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