Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
Is your life marked by a state of peace or one of constant uneasiness, worry, and anxiety over nearly all things? No matter where you find yourself, as a “child of God,” know that Christ is right there with you. He knows your situation, your circumstances, and your heart, and He promises never to forget or forsake you. Remember, your hope and peace are in Christ, not in man or the things of this world!
Now the anxiety I’m talking about here is not the same as real physical fear, nor behavior caused or induced by a chemical imbalance or medical issues. I’m talking about the terrible anxiety that nearly everyone seems to have in today’s world. It’s more than just constant worrying; it’s actually a debilitating state that one can enter into. Anxiety today is of epidemic proportions, even among Christians. This is a very important subject, for I constantly see Christians as anxious and worried as those who do not even know God, and some even more so! But that just should not be – anxiety has no part in the life of a Christian. Simply put, anxiety for a Christian is due to a lack of faith and trust in the Lord. Said another way, a Christian banishes anxiety through faith and unconditional trust in the Lord. We are called to be warriors for Christ, not worriers for Christ!
Trusting in the Lord means: do you believe He will do all the things He has said He will do? If you are anxious, you are consciously (or subconsciously) thinking (and implying) that God doesn’t know what you need, or that He doesn’t know your circumstances and situation, or that maybe He can’t handle whatever is happening. We are to trust in the Lord for “all things” – not just some things, not only on Wednesdays, not only when things are going well, not only when it’s convenient, etc. Furthermore, not trusting in God is making the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Lord God Almighty small, and we must not do that. Remember, He is the God who simply “spoke” the entire universe (and all life) into existence! He is not a small God! Remember in Whom you have placed your faith: the most holy Lord God who created all things, heaven and earth, and who rules and reigns supreme over all matters.
Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” – John 14:27
Those verses tell you both how to get the peace of God and also what the source of that peace is – it is of God Himself. Included below is a study note on Philippians 4:6-7 from The Peace of God booklet that we publish:
Do you trust completely in the Lord Jesus Christ? I mean for all things, great and small? For health, wealth, happiness, and also in persecution, trials, and tribulations? When you fully trust in the Lord, you will find that anxiety disappears, and this “peace of God,” which does, in fact, surpass all understanding, will come over you, and you can definitely feel it. It is a distinct feeling that you get – a sense of complete calmness. You are not the source of this peace – it is of God Himself, which He is giving to you. But this only happens when you fully and completely trust in the Lord for all things. Peace and trust are closely linked. Nothing happens to a Christian by luck or chance – God is in full control of all things in the life of a Christian. In fact, anxiety for a Christian stems largely from a lack of faith. So when you are facing something tough, offer up your prayers and petitions (requests) to God, and then let Him be in control – trust in the Lord completely. And He will give you His peace, which is amazing!
There are some great examples of peace and trust in the Bible, especially when faced with the most difficult situations and the harshest of trials. A few of my favorites are:
- Daniel, as he was about to be thrown into the lion’s den (Daniel 6),
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as they were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3),
- Peter in prison (Acts 12:5-7)
Regarding Peter in prison, at first, this might seem like a strange verse to include in a chapter about peace but think about what was happening. Peter was arrested and in jail, facing serious charges, possibly even the death penalty. And yet, on the very night before he was to appear before the judge for his hearing and sentencing, he was sleeping soundly and peacefully! He was resting in the supernatural “peace of God.” He was confident in his faith, and he was trusting completely in the Lord, no matter what happens. Peter had done all he could do for the Lord, and now things rested in God’s hands – “Your will be done”!
You see, I also suffered from terrible anxiety all my life. It wasn’t until I finally realized what was causing it (a lack of faith/trust in the Lord) that it went away. Now don’t get me wrong, it may rise up occasionally from time to time, but I now recognize it for what it is, and it soon passes. And here is the important part – it doesn’t take control over me any longer. If anything, I use such occasions now to remind me to trust in the Lord even more! Understand that everything that happens to a Christian is known to God.
Anxiety commonly manifests itself primarily as a result of either a) worrying about losing something you have (health, money, spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, job, etc.), or b) worrying about not getting something you want (new job, car, more money, fame, fortune, power, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.). You will note that these are all material things of this world! Yet a Christian is called to “seek the things above,” not the things of this world. Notice also that we tend to worry endlessly about things we want, which are not always the things we need.
The “peace of God” can only be found while a Christian is “living in [by] the Spirit” according to the will of God and “seeking the things above.” The chapter on Living in the Spirit has explained that in more detail. Scripture also tells us that a Christian is not even supposed to worry or obsess about where their food, clothing, or shelter will come from, nor even about tomorrow itself. (Please note that I said worry and obsess, not take proper and prudent steps in planning or preparing for tomorrow, which all Christians are supposed to do; see the book of Proverbs, ants, bees, etc.). The apostle Luke writes:
And He [Jesus] said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” – Luke 12:22-32
Matthew Henry discusses this further in his commentary on Matthew 6:25-34. It’s a bit lengthy, but I think it’s worth including here in total, for one can draw many lessons from this as it also helps you better understand what “living in [by] the Spirit” should look like, and more specifically, relying on and trusting in God completely at all times for all things: 
There is scarcely any one sin against which our Lord Jesus more largely and earnestly warns his disciples, or against which he arms them with more variety of arguments, than the sin of disquieting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of life, which are a bad sign that both the treasure and the heart are on the earth; and therefore he thus largely insists upon it. Here is,
I. The prohibition laid down. It is the counsel and command of the Lord Jesus, that we take no thought about the things of this world; I say unto you. He says it as our Lawgiver, and the Sovereign of our hearts; he says it as our Comforter, and the Helper of our joy. What is it that he says? It is this, and he that hath ears to hear, let him hear it. Take no thought for your life, nor yet for your body (Mat 6:25). Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? (Mat 6:31) and again (Mat 6:34), Take no thought, mē merimnate – Be not in care. As against hypocrisy, so against worldly cares, the caution is thrice repeated, and yet no vain repetition: precept must be upon precept, and line upon line, to the same purport, and all little enough; it is a sin which doth so easily beset us. It intimates how pleasing it is to Christ, and of how much concern it is to ourselves, that we should live without carefulness. It is the repeated command of the Lord Jesus to his disciples, that they should not divide and pull in pieces their own minds with care about the world. There is a thought concerning the things of this life, which is not only lawful, but duty, such as is commended in the virtuous woman. See Pro 27:23. The word is used concerning Paul’s care of the churches, and Timothy’s care for the state of souls, 2 Co 11:28; Php 2:20.
But the thought here forbidden is,
1. A disquieting, tormenting thought, which hurries the mind hither and thither, and hangs it in suspense; which disturbs our joy in God, and is a damp upon our hope in him; which breaks the sleep, and hinders our enjoyment of ourselves, of our friends, and of what God has given us.
2. A distrustful, unbelieving thought. God has promised to provide for those that are his all things needful for life as well as godliness, the life that now is, food and a covering: not dainties, but necessaries. He never said, “They shall be feasted,” but, “Verily, they shall be fed.” Now an inordinate care for time to come, and fear of wanting those supplies, spring from a disbelief of these promises, and of the wisdom and goodness of Divine Providence; and that is the evil of it. As to present sustenance, we may and must use lawful means to get it, else we tempt God; we must be diligent in our callings, and prudent in proportioning our expenses to what we have, and we must pray for daily bread; and if all other means fail, we may and must ask relief of those that are able to give it. He was none of the best of men that said, To beg I am ashamed (Luk 16:3); as he was, who (Luk 16:21) desired to be fed with the crumbs; but for the future, we must cast our care upon God, and take no thought, because it looks like a jealousy of God, who knows how to give what we want when we know not now to get it. Let our souls dwell at ease in him! This gracious carelessness is the same with that sleep which God gives to his beloved, in opposition to the worldling’s toil, Psa 127:2. Observe the cautions here,
(1.) Take no thought for your life. Life is our greatest concern for this world; All that a man has will he give for his life; yet take no thought about it. [1.] Not about the continuance of it; refer it to God to lengthen or shorten it as he pleases; my times are in thy hand, and they are in a good hand. [2.] Not about the comforts of this life; refer it to God to embitter or sweeten it as he pleases. We must not be solicitous, no not about the necessary support of this life, food and raiment; these God has promised, and therefore we may more confidently expect; say not, What shall we eat? It is the language of one at a loss, and almost despairing; whereas, though many good people have the prospect of little, yet there are few but have present support.
(2.) Take no thought for the morrow, for the time to come. Be not solicitous for the future, how you shall live next year, or when you are old, or what you shall leave behind you. As we must not boast of tomorrow, so we must not care for tomorrow, or the events of it.
II. The reasons and arguments to enforce this prohibition. One would think the command of Christ was enough to restrain us from this foolish sin of disquieting, distrustful care, independently of the comfort of our own souls, which is so nearly concerned; but to show how much the heart of Christ is upon it, and what pleasures he takes in those that hope in his mercy, the command is backed with the most powerful arguments. If reason may but rule us, surely we shall ease ourselves of these thorns. To free us from anxious thoughts, and to expel them, Christ here suggests to us comforting thoughts, that we may be filled with them. It will be worth while to take pains with our own hearts, to argue them out of their disquieting cares, and to make ourselves ashamed of them. They may be weakened by right reason, but it is by an active faith only that they can be overcome. Consider then,
1. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Mat 6:25. Yes, no doubt it is; so he says who had reason to understand the true value of present things, for he made them, he supports them, and supports us by them; and the thing speaks for itself. Note,
(1.) Our life is a greater blessing than our livelihood. It is true, life cannot subsist without a livelihood; but the meat and raiment which are here represented as inferior to the life and body are such as are for ornament and delight; for about such as are for ornament ad delight; for about such we are apt to be solicitous. Meat and raiment are in order to life, and the end is more noble and excellent than the means. The daintiest food and finest raiment are from the earth, but life from the breath of God. Life is the light of men; meat is but the oil that feeds that light: so that the difference between rich and poor is very inconsiderable, since, in the greatest things, they stand on the same level, and differ only in the less.
(2.) This is an encouragement to us to trust God for food and raiment, and so to ease ourselves of all perplexing cares about them. God has given us life, and given us the body; it was an act of power, it was an act of favour, it was done without our care: what cannot he do for us, who did that? – what will he not? If we take care about our souls and eternity, which are more than the body, and its life, we may leave it to God to provide for us food and raiment, which are less. God has maintained our lives hitherto; if sometimes with pulse and water, that has answered the end; he has protected us and kept us alive. He that guards us against the evils we are exposed to, will supply us with the good things we are in need of. If he had been pleased to kill us, to starve us, he would not so often have given his angels a charge concerning us to keep us.
2. Behold the fowls of the air, and consider the lilies of the field. Here is an argument taken from God’s common providence toward the inferior creatures, and their dependence, according to their capacities, upon that providence. A fine pass fallen man has come to, that he must be sent to school to the fowls of the air, and that they must teach him! Job 12:7, Job 12:8.
(1.) Look upon the fowls, and learn to trust God for food (Mat 6:26), and disquiet not yourselves with thoughts what you shall eat.
[1.] Observe the providence of God concerning them. Look upon them, and receive instruction. There are various sorts of fowls; they are numerous, some of them ravenous, but they are all fed, and fed with food convenient for them; it is rare that any of them perish for want of food, even in winter, and there goes no little to feed them all the year round. The fowls, as they are least serviceable to man, so they are least within his care; men often feed upon them, but seldom feed them; yet they are fed, we know not how, and some of them fed best in the hardest weather; and it is your heavenly Father that feeds them; he knows all the wild fowls of the mountains, better than you know the tame ones at your own barn-door, Psa 50:11. Not a sparrow lights to the ground, to pick up a grain of corn, but by the providence of God, which extends itself to the meanest creatures. But that which is especially observed here is, that they are fed without any care or project of their own; they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. The ant indeed does, and the bee, and they are set before us as examples of prudence and industry; but the fowls of the air do not; they make no provision for the future themselves, and yet every day, as duly as the day comes, provision is made for them, and their eyes wait on God, that great and good Housekeeper, who provides food for all flesh.
[2.] Improve this for your encouragement to trust in God. Are ye not much better than they? Yes, certainly you are. Note, The heirs of heaven are much better than the fowls of heaven; nobler and more excellent beings, and, by faith, they soar higher; they are of a better nature and nurture, wiser than the fowls of heaven (Job 35:11): though the children of this world, that know not the judgment of the Lord, are not so wise as the stork, and the crane, and the swallow (Jer 8:7), you are dearer to God, and nearer, though they fly in the open firmament of heaven. He is their Master and Lord, their Owner and Master; but besides all this, he is your Father, and in his account ye are of more value than many sparrows; you are his children, his first-born; now he that feeds his birds surely will not starve his babes. They trust your Father’s providence, and will not you trust it? In dependence upon that, they are careless for the morrow; and being so, they live the merriest lives of all creatures; they sing among the branches (Psa 104:12), and, to the best of their power, they praise their Creator. If we were, by faith, as unconcerned about the morrow as they are, we should sing as cheerfully as they do; for it is worldly care that mars our mirth and damps our joy, and silences our praise, as much as any thing.
(2.) Look upon the lilies, and learn to trust God for raiment. That is another part of our care, what we shall put on; for decency, to cover us; for defense, to keep us warm; yea, and, with many, for dignity and ornament, to make them look great and fine; and so much concerned are they for gaiety and variety in their clothing, that this care returns almost as often as that for their daily bread. Now to ease us of this care, let us consider the lilies of the field; not only look upon them (every eyes does that with pleasure), but consider them. Note, There is a great deal of good to be learned from what we see every day, if we would but consider it, Pro 6:6; Pro 24:32.
[1.] Consider how frail the lilies are; they are the grass of the field. Lilies, though distinguished by their colours, are still but grass. Thus all flesh is grass: though some in the endowments of body and mind are as lilies, much admired, still they are grass; the grass of the field in nature and constitution; they stand upon the same level with others. Man’s days, at best, are as grass, as the flower of the grass 1 Pe 1:24. This grass today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; in a little while the place that knows us will know us no more. The grave is the oven into which we shall be cast, and in which we shall be consumed as grass in the fire, Psa 49:14. This intimates a reason why we should not take thought for the morrow, what we shall put on, because perhaps, by tomorrow, we may have occasion for our grave-clothes.
[2.] Consider how free from care the lilies are: they toil not as men do, to earn clothing; as servants, to earn their liveries; neither do they spin, as women do, to make clothing. It does not follow that we must therefore neglect, or do carelessly, the proper business of this life; it is the praise of the virtuous woman, that she lays her hand to the spindle, makes fine linen and sells it, Pro 31:19, Pro 31:24. Idleness tempts God, instead of trusting him; but he that provides for inferior creatures, without their labour, will much more provide for us, by blessing our labour, which he has made our duty. And if we should, through sickness, be unable to toil and spin, God can furnish us with what is necessary for us.
[3.] Consider how fair, how fine the lilies are; how they grow; what they grow from. The root of the lily or tulip, as other bulbous roots, is, in winter, lost and buried under ground, yet, when spring returns, it appears, and starts up in a little time; hence it is promised to God’s Israel, that they should grow as the lily, Hos 14:5. Consider what they grow to. Out of that obscurity in a few weeks they come to be so very gay, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. The array of Solomon was very splendid and magnificent: he that had the peculiar treasure of kings and provinces, and studiously affected pomp and gallantry, doubtless had the richest clothing, and the best made up, that could be got; especially when he appeared in his glory on high days. And yet, let him dress himself as fine as he could, he comes far short of the beauty of the lilies, and a bed of tulips outshines him. Let us, therefore, be ambitious of the wisdom of Solomon, in which he was outdone by none (wisdom to do our duty in our places), rather than the glory of Solomon, in which he was outdone by the lilies. Knowledge and grace are the perfection of man, not beauty, much less fine clothes. Now God is here said thus to clothe the grass of the field. Note, All the excellences of the creature flow from God, the Fountain and spring of them. It was he that gave the horse his strength, and the lily its beauty; every creature is in itself, as well as to us, what he makes it to be.
[4.] Consider how instructive all this is to us, Mat 6:30.
First, As to fine clothing, this teaches us not to care for it at all, not to covet it, nor to be proud of it, not to make the putting on of apparel our adorning, for after all our care in this the lilies will far outdo us; we cannot dress so fine as they do, why then should we attempt to vie with them? Their adorning will soon perish, and so will ours; they fade – are today, and tomorrow are cast, as other rubbish, into the oven; and the clothes we are proud of are wearing out, the gloss is soon gone, the color fades, the shape goes out of fashion, or in awhile the garment itself is worn out; such is man in all his pomp (Isa 40:6, Isa 40:7), especially rich men (Jas 1:10); they fade away in their ways.
Secondly, As to necessary clothing; this teaches us to cast the care of it upon God – Jehovah-jireh; trust him that clothes the lilies, to provide for you what you shall put on. If he give such fine clothes to the grass, much more will he give fitting clothes to his own children; clothes that shall be warm upon them, not only when he quieteth the earth with the south wind, but when he disquiets it with the north wind, Job 37:17. He shall much more clothe you: for you are nobler creatures, of a more excellent being; if so he clothe the short-lived grass, much more will he clothe you that are made for immortality. Even the children of Nineveh are preferred before the gourd (Jon 4:10, Jon 4:11), much more the sons of Zion, that are in covenant with God. Observe the title he gives them (Mat 6:30), O ye of little faith. This may be taken,
1. As an encouragement to truth faith, though it be but weak; it entitles us to the divine care, and a promise of suitable supply. Great faith shall be commended, and shall procure great things, but little faith shall not be rejected, even that shall procure food and raiment. Sound believers shall be provided for, though they be not strong believers. The babes in the family are fed and clothed, as well as those that are grown up, and with a special care and tenderness; say not, I am but a child, but a dry tree (Isa 56:3, Isa 56:5), for though poor and needy yet the Lord thinketh on thee. Or,
2. It is rather a rebuke to weak faith, though it be true, Mat 14:31. It intimates what is at the bottom of all our inordinate care and thoughtfulness; it is owing to the weakness of our faith, and the remains of unbelief in us. If we had but more faith, we should have less care.
3. Which of you, the wisest, the strongest of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature? (Mat 6:27) to his age, so some; but the measure of a cubit denotes it to be meant of the stature, and the age at longest is but a span, Psa 39:5. Let us consider,
(1.) We did not arrive at the stature we are of by our own care and thought, but by the providence of God. An infant of a span long has grown up to be a man of six feet, and how was one cubit after another added to his stature? not by his own forecast or contrivance; he grew he knew not how, by the power and goodness of God. Now he that made our bodies, and made them of such size, surely will take care to provide for them. Note, God is to be acknowledged in the increase of our bodily strength and stature, and to be trusted for all needful supplies, because he has made it to appear, that he is mindful for the body. The growing age is the thoughtless, careless age, yet we grow; and shall not he who reared us to this, provide for us now we are reared?
(2.) We cannot alter the stature we are of, if we would: what a foolish and ridiculous thing would it be for a man of low stature to perplex himself, to break his sleep, and beat his brains, about it, and to be continually taking thought how he might be a cubit higher; when, after all, he knows he cannot effect it, and therefore he had better be content and take it as it is! We are not all of a size, yet the difference in stature between one and another is not material, nor of any great account; a little man is ready to wish he were as tall as such a one, but he knows it is to no purpose, and therefore does as well as he can with it. Now as we do in reference to our bodily stature, so we should do in reference to our worldly estate.
[1.] We should not covet an abundance of the wealth of this world, any more than we would covet the addition of a cubit to one’s stature, which is a great deal in a man’s height; it is enough to grow by inches; such an addition would but make one unwieldy, and a burden to one’s self.
[2.] We must reconcile ourselves to our state, as we do to our stature; we must set the conveniences against the inconveniences, and so make a virtue of necessity: what cannot be remedied must be made the best of. We cannot alter the disposals of Providence, and therefore must acquiesce in them, accommodate ourselves to them, and relieve ourselves, as well as we can, against inconveniences, as Zaccheus against the inconvenience of his stature, by climbing into the tree.
4. After all these things do the Gentiles seek, Mat 6:32. Thoughtfulness about the world is a heathenish sin, and unbecoming Christians. The Gentiles seek these things, because they know not better things; they are eager for this world, because they are strangers to a better; they seek these things with care and anxiety, because they are without God in the world, and understand not his providence. They fear and worship their idols, but know not how to trust them for deliverance and supply, and, therefore, are themselves full of care; but it is a shame for Christians, who build upon nobler principles, and profess a religion which teaches them not only that there is a Providence, but that there are promises made to the good of the life that now is, which teaches them a confidence in God and a contempt of the world, and gives such reasons for both; it is a shame for them to walk as Gentiles walk, and to fill their heads and hearts with these things.
5. Your heavenly Father knows ye have need of all these things; these necessary things, food and raiment; he knows our wants better than we do ourselves; though he be in heaven, and his children on earth, he observes what the least and poorest of them has occasion for (Rev 2:9), I know thy poverty. You think, if such a good friend did not but know your wants and straits, you would soon have relief: your God knows them; and he is your Father that loves you and pities you, and is ready to help you; your heavenly Father, who has wherewithal to supply all your needs: away, therefore, with all disquieting thoughts and cares; go to thy Father; tell him, he knows that thou has need of such and such things; he asks you, Children, have you any meat? Joh 21:5. Tell him whether you have or have not. Though he knows our wants, he will know them from us; and when we have opened them to him, let us cheerfully refer ourselves to his wisdom, power, and goodness, for our supply. Therefore, we should ease ourselves of the burthen of care, by casting it upon God, because it is he that careth for us (1 Pe 5:7), and what needs all this ado? If he care, why should be care?
6. Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Mat 6:33. Here is a double argument against the sin of thoughtfulness; take no thought for your life, the life of the body; for,
(1.) You have greater and better things to take thought about, the life of your soul, your eternal happiness; that is the one thing needful (Luk 10:42), about which you should employ your thoughts, and which is commonly neglected in those hearts wherein worldly cares have the ascendant. If we were but more careful to please God, and to work out our own salvation, we should be less solicitous to please ourselves, and work out an estate in the world. Thoughtfulness for our souls in the most effectual cure of thoughtfulness for the world.
(2.) You have a surer and easier, a safer and more compendious way to obtain the necessaries of this life, than by carking, and caring, and fretting about them; and that is, by seeking first the kingdom of God, and making religion your business: say not that this is the way to starve, no, it is the way to be well provided for, even in this world. Observe here,
[1.] The great duty required: it is the sum and substance of our whole duty: “Seek first the kingdom of God, mind religion as your great and principle concern.” Our duty is to seek; to desire, pursue, and aim at these things; it is a word that has in it much of the constitution of the new covenant in favour of us; though we have not attained, but in many things fail and come short, sincere seeking (a careful concern and an earnest endeavor) is accepted.
Now here observe, First, The object of this seeking; The kingdom of God, and his righteousness; we must mind heaven as our end, and holiness as our way. “Seek the comforts of the kingdom of grace and glory as your felicity. Aim at the kingdom of heaven; press towards it; give diligence to make it sure; resolve not to take up short of it; seek for this glory, honour, and immortality; prefer heaven and heavenly blessings far before earth and earthly delights.” We make nothing of our religion, if we do not make heaven of it. And with the happiness of this kingdom, seek the righteousness of it; God’s righteousness, the righteousness which he requires to be wrought in us, and wrought by us, such as exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees; we must follow peace and holiness, Heb 12:14.
Secondly, The order of it. Seek first the kingdom of God. Let your care for your souls and another world take the place of all other cares: and let all the concerns of this life be made subordinate to those of the life to come: we must seek the things of Christ more than our own things; and if every they come in competition, we must remember to which we are to give the preference. “Seek these things first; first in thy days: let the morning of thy youth be dedicated to God. Wisdom must be sought early; it is good beginning betimes to be religious. Seek the first every day; let waking thoughts be of God.” Let this be our principle, to do that first which is most needful, and let him that is the First, have the first.
[2.] The gracious promise annexed; all these things, the necessary supports of life, shall be added unto you; shall be given over and above; so it is in the margin. You shall have what you seek, the kingdom of God and his righteousness, for never any sought in vain, that sought in earnest; and besides that, you shall have food and raiment, by way of overplus; as he that buys goods has paper and packthread given him in the bargain. Godliness has the promise of the life that now is, 1 Ti 4:8. Solomon asked wisdom, and had that and other things added to him, 2 Ch 1:11, 2 Ch 1:12. O what a blessed change would it make in our hearts and lives, did we but firmly believe this truth, that the best way to be comfortably provided for in this world, is to be most intent upon another world! We then begin at the right end of our work, when we begin with God. If we give diligence to make sure to ourselves the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof, as to all the things of this life, Jehovah-jireh – the Lord will provide as much of them as he sees good for us, and more we would not wish for.
Have we trusted in him for the portion of our inheritance at our end, and shall we not trust him for the portion of our cup, in the way to it? God’s Israel were not only brought to Canaan at last, but had their charges borne through the wilderness. O that we were more thoughtful about the things that are not seen, that are eternal, and then the less thoughtful we should be, and the less thoughtful we should need to be, about the things that are seen, that are temporal! Also regard not your stuff, Gen 45:20, Gen 45:23.
7. The morrow shall take thought for the things of itself: sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, Mat 6:34. We must not perplex ourselves inordinately about future events, because every day brings along with it its own burthen of cares and grievances, as, if we look about us, and suffer not our fears to betray the succours which grace and reason offer, it brings along with it its own strength and supply too. So that we are here told,
(1.) That thoughtfulness for the morrow is needless; Let the morrow take thought for the things of itself. If wants and troubles be renewed with the day, there are aids and provisions renewed likewise; compassions, that are new every morning, Lam 3:22, Lam 3:23. The saints have a Friend that is their arm every morning, and gives out fresh supplies daily (Isa 33:2), according as the business of every day requires (Ezr 3:4), and so he keeps his people in constant dependence upon him. Let us refer it therefore to the morrow’s strength, to do the morrow’s work, and bear the morrow’s burthen. Tomorrow, and the things of it, will be provided for without us; why need we anxiously care for that which is so wisely cared for already? This does not forbid a prudent foresight, and preparation accordingly, but a perplexing solicitude, and a prepossession of difficulties and calamities, which may perhaps never come, or if they do, may be easily borne, and the evil of them guarded against. The meaning is, let us mind present duty, and then leave events to God; do the work of the day in its day, and then let tomorrow bring its work along with it.
(2.) That thoughtfulness for the morrow is one of those foolish and hurtful lusts, which those that will be rich fall into, and one of the many sorrows, wherewith they pierce themselves through. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. This present day has trouble enough attending it, we need not accumulate burthens by anticipating our trouble, nor borrow perplexities from tomorrow’s evils to add to those of this day. It is uncertain what tomorrow’s evils may be, but whatever they be, it is time enough to take thought about them when they come. What a folly it is to take that trouble upon ourselves this day by care and fear, which belongs to another day, and will be never the lighter when it comes? Let us not pull that upon ourselves all together at once, which Providence has wisely ordered to be borne by parcels.
The conclusion of this whole matter then is, that it is the will and command of the Lord Jesus, that his disciples should not be their own tormentors, nor make their passage through this world more dark and unpleasant, by their apprehension of troubles, than God has made it by the troubles themselves. By our daily prayers we may procure strength to bear us up under our daily troubles, and to arm us against the temptations that attend them, and then let none of these things move us.
In summary, we won’t have “the peace of God” when:
- We don’t trust God,
- We don’t think He can handle things (this is making God small),
- We don’t think He knows what we’re facing or going through (this is also making God small),
- We are quarrelsome with others,
- We take vengeance into our own hands,
- We try to solve all things through our own willpower and might, instead of by the Spirit and the strength of the Lord,
- We are focused on things of this material world, which we either want or need, or fear we may lose,
- We continue to focus on things of this material world such as fame, fortune, power, etc.,
- We are not abiding in Christ each day,
- We are not reading God’s Word regularly (hint: every day),
- We are not in constant and continued prayer with God,
- We are not thankful for all things at all times
In contrast, we can have “the peace of God” when:
- We let God be the judge of others,
- We let God handle all vengeance (“not repaying evil with evil”),
- We live at peace with all men (to the greatest extent possible),
- We trust God completely in all things great or small at all times (even in matters of life and death itself),
- We rely on God’s strength instead of our own strength,
- We’ve laid our cares, concerns, worries, doubts, etc. before Him through prayer, with thanksgiving, and know that He has heard us (we are to “cast all our anxiety on Him”),
- We remember that He knows all things, everywhere, at all times, and that nothing whatsoever catches Him off guard, surprises Him, or is something He cannot handle, for He is a BIG God,
- We “seek the things above,” not the material things of this world with their attendant endless worries and anxiety,
- We’ve been diligent in preparing the best we possibly can under the guidance of Godly wisdom, and then let the outcome (victory) be up to the Lord,
- We read Scripture daily and are refreshed by the examples of the saints who have gone before us and are reminded of how they handled difficult situations, even when faced with imminent death,
- We are in prayer with God daily,
- We remember that He is with us each and every moment of every day, “to the very end of the age,”
- We remember that He will never lead us into temptation or give us more than we can handle,
- We remember that “God is not a man, that He should lie, Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?,” and that “He is not a man that He should change His mind,” and that every single one of His promises in Scripture will come true (“So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”),
- We remember that God has already won complete and total victory for us over sin, Satan, and death (“it is finished”),
- We remember He promises to “make all things new,”
- We are thankful to God for all things,
- We take time to stop and reflect on the unimaginable and awesome holiness, power, might, and majesty of the Lord God Almighty
I wrote in the list above that peace comes when we have been diligent in preparing properly. You might be wondering what this has to do with the peace of God. Let me explain. This is related to the proverb:
The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But victory belongs to the Lord. – Proverbs 21:31
A Christian is not called to laziness, idleness, or sloppy workmanship. Remember that we are doing all things as if we were doing them to please God, not to please man. This includes minor tasks as well as great works that we may be called to do. This applies to every area of our life, including our jobs. If you need more training, new tools, or new skills to do your job better, then go get them. A good example is my photography. It is my responsibility to make sure I have the right equipment (which the Lord has also graciously provided me, for all things come from the Lord) and also learn, know, practice, and utilize the very best technique that I can. I plan and prepare for the shoot as best I can, and when all that is done, I let the results be up to the will of the Lord.
Note that preparing also includes diligently and carefully studying the Word of God, thoughtful prayer, seeking Godly wisdom, and worshiping the Lord with a thankful heart — regardless of the outcome. God deserves and demands our very best. And when you have done everything you possibly can to prepare for the task, job, or situation at hand (this may also include making sure others are trained and properly prepared), you trust in the Lord – for the final outcome (victory) now rests with Him according to His will. When you’ve done this, you will find that “the peace of God” will come over you, knowing you’ve done your very best to prepare as a wise “child of God.”
Always remember that Christ is right now this very minute ruling large and in charge in His kingdom, “seated at the right hand of the Father” in heaven. He sees you and He sees everything that happens to you. In fact, He sees everything that happens, past, present, and future. He knows all. Nothing surprises Him. Nothing sneaks past Him. He promises that all things work together for your good and the collective good of all those who love Him and call on His name.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. – Romans 8:28-30
He will never forget you or forsake you. Nothing happens to a Christian that He doesn’t fully know about. Ever. For a Christian, there is no such thing as luck (good or bad), coincidences, or “good (or bad) fortune.” Now I’m the first to admit that it’s not always easy to understand the “why” of many things that happen in this fallen world, but always remember that you are in His loving care! His nature is perfect holiness, love, mercy, and grace. Trust in His nature with confidence, joy, and hope.
I want to mention another aspect of this that maybe you haven’t considered yet. Have you ever prayed to the Lord, asking Him not to give you something? There are some things, that if we actually got them, might cause us to stumble and fall and “come short of” eternal life? It’s human nature that we always focus on what we don’t have and what we want, but God knows what is best for us. This is why we must trust God, who knows all things. This is also why some prayers are not answered – for God knows it is not best for us. Remember He says: “My ways are not your ways, and My thoughts are not your thoughts”; He sees the big picture, even when we cannot!
And finally, the ultimate peace for a Christian is firmly believing that Jesus will once again come and get all who call on His name to be with Him in heaven forevermore, where there is no more sin, suffering, or death – that He will raise all of His own up to eternal life on the last Day. He is with us to “the very end of this [gospel/church] age”! Do you trust fully in what the Bible (and Jesus) has said? He went ahead to make a place for you, as He says “so that where I am, there you also will be”! When He returns, He will “raise them [you, all who are in Christ] up at the last day.”
Leave all judgment, vengeance, “payback,” and retribution to the Lord. He will bring all things to light and all men and deeds into righteous and true judgment on the Great Day of Judgment; trust Him to do that. Grant to others the same forgiveness God has granted to you. For He alone “will render to each person according to his deeds.” Jesus Christ is the one “living and true God,” the Lord God Almighty Himself. He has conquered all; He is already victorious. Rest in Him and His great name. I pray that you let “the peace of God” rule in your heart.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! – Philippians 4:4
And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” – Matthew 17:20
So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.
On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. – Acts 12:5-7
When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. – Matthew 8:23-26
For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. – Romans 14:7-8
I said to myself, “God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,” for a time for every matter and for every deed is there. – Ecclesiastes 3:17
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone. – Psalm 91:2,11-12
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:18-21
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” – Revelation 22:12-13
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me. – Psalm 23:1-4
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. …
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. – Colossians 3:1-3,15
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6-7
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. – James 3:17-18
The Lord sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the Lord sits as King forever.
The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace. – Psalm 29:10-11
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
“Lo, I [Jesus] am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
 Henry, Matthew. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, London. 1706-1710/1721.