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Standards Of Life And Service by T. H. Howard

XIX Worry versus Peace

'Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.' (Philippians iv.6, 7.)

Before the full bearing and value of these verses can be realized, I think they require to be read several times over. Even if the sentences are read through slowly, just as they stand, a deep sense of blessing and rest steals into the soul; but the more deeply they are considered, the richer will the words be found. It would be almost correct for me to call this a New Testament commentary on Isaiah's beautiful verse, 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee', for the ideas and their relation are very similar.

If we look at the various phases of this message, we shall see that they are very important. They imply, first, a perfect surrender or committal of oneself to God, based on a perfect trust; second, open access to God; freedom of intercourse; telling Him all about things which try and burden and distress us. We have also perfect peace; that is, quietness of spirit, rest of soul, deliverance from inward conflict, consequent upon God's keeping power through Jesus Christ. Read carefully this Apostolic message, and observe not only the different sections, but how they are connected, and how, in their completeness, they express a most desirable spiritual experience.

Included or connected with Full Salvation are certain blessings to which we generally refer, such as perfect love and purity, also that peace to which the Apostle here alludes, as well as a deep, settled faith in the saving purposes and power of God. But we do not always see that we may equally include deliverance from that undue anxiety which we call worry; and yet these verses certainly prescribe a cure for worry as well as other evils, and it may be helpful for us to look at that aspect of truth.

Many are tempted to regard this as an ideal condition, something to long for, and perhaps to aim at; whereas if the teaching of Paul here -- in fact, of the Bible generally -- is not a delusion, this is intended to be a realized experience; and I remind any who say that Salvation from worry is too high for us, that they have said just the same when we have talked about a clean heart, and Salvation from sin and sinning.

A thoughtful author has recently written a book bearing the title of 'Worry, the Disease of the Age'. He takes trouble to show that, owing to commercial competition, the increased desire for luxurious living, keeping up appearances, and other developments of modern days, heads of families and persons in responsible positions do a great deal of worrying. This writer then goes on to say: 'It is, however, more than a certainty that true religion is a cure for worry, a preventative of worry, and is utterly incomparable in its performance of these functions'. 'The religion which Jesus Christ taught in Galilee', says the same writer, 'is a casting of one's care upon the Lord, an acceptance of the ills and lashes of life with a settled faith that God is too good and wise to err or to be unkind, and that He will make all things work together for good to them that love Him'.

I know that a state of worry may arise from physical causes. Inflamed nerves, mental depressions, or hysterical fears, are, in many instances, quite beyond the control of the sufferer. With others there is an intense desire to do something or get something done; but I also know that, as with bad tempers, a good deal is put down to physical and nervous disorders which ought to be put down to lack of spiritual life and power.

Now, when I speak of Salvation from worry, I do not mean deliverance from nervous agitation or shrinking from physical suffering, although I do not know how to fix a point where God's gracious power is exhausted, even as regards these things; but 'worry' is that carking care, that undue anxiety about one's personal affairs which destroys peace of mind, burdens the heart, and often leads to distrust of God's love and power. From such things God's grace is sufficient to deliver.

Let me be plain, however, on one point. I think carelessness, recklessness, and indifference to possible happenings, is wrong. You hear persons say, 'Oh, never mind; what does it matter? Don't fash or bother yourself.' But such expressions often spring from pure selfishness, and sometimes exhibit a sinful disregard for the happiness of other people. Nothing makes it right to ease yourself at the expense of others, or to shirk burdens by shifting them to other shoulders. Some are clever at that, but such action may be positively sinful. On the other hand, God can deliver us from that anxious care and foreboding and unrest with which so many good people are afflicted.

Oh, my friends, can you not learn to come to God as the Apostle directs, making known your requests in 'prayer and supplication with thanksgiving'? for then 'the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ'.

We need far more trust in the providence of our Heavenly Father. What needless pain we suffer! what agonies of mind we endure! what clouds hang above and around us! because we do not trust Him in respect of the circumstances of life.

There are those even who are trusting God to forgive their sins and save their souls, who yet will not trust Him to carry them through a difficulty in ordinary life and association, or help them with their bread and butter. The fact is, they doubt God's personal interposition in the affairs of men; consequently, their affairs get muddled, and their hearts and minds are disturbed, often to distraction. No truth is more plainly taught than that God does interpose. 'In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.' 'The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.' 'Who is he that shall harm you if ye be followers of that which is good?' 'No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.'

I know that distrust and doubt can erect all sorts of difficulties, and perhaps none is more common and specious than what is called by the sceptical men 'the logic of proportion'. This argument says, 'In a universe so vast, what is man? As a speck of dust is to a planet, and as a star is to the vast universe, so is man to the world in which he lives'. Well, it certainly is not strange that the mind should stagger at the thought of the Creator of the universe putting His hand to the management of the details of a human life. And yet God's truth in the Bible completely wipes out this so-called 'logic of proportion'.

Let us look at a familiar illustration used by our Master of God's minute care for those who fully trust and follow Him. One able man has called what I am referring to 'the doctrine of the odd sparrow'. Matthew records how, on one occasion, Jesus said, 'Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father'. But, turning to Luke, we find a slight variation in what Jesus said, 'Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God'. Now, do you see the point of Luke's putting of it? It is as if the dealer had said to the buyer, 'Look here, you want a farthing's worth of sparrows. Well, you can have two; but, if you will buy two farthingsworth, I will throw the odd one in for nothing'. Two for a farthing; five for a halfpenny.

But see; of that odd sparrow thrown in as hardly worth counting, Jesus said, 'Not one of them is forgotten before God. Not one shall fall to the ground without your Father. Are ye not of more value than many sparrows?' Now, in the light of that illustration, turn once more to the Apostolic message, 'Be careful for nothing', and I think you will find good reason for believing the promise, 'The peace of God shall keep your hearts through Jesus Christ'.

Before leaving this matter of worry, I suggest that we look well to find the cause of the trouble; for, alas! it is not unfrequently the case that care or undue anxiety arises from positive sin in the heart. Some of you worry in respect of your position in life as compared with other people's; but are you sure that some of this fratch and distress does not arise from feelings of envy, or jealousy, or discontent? Others may worry because of comparative poverty, but is it not often pride or ambition concerning yourselves or your children, and a desire to be level with your neighbours, which causes the trouble? You worry, perhaps, because people cross your purposes and upset your plans and irritate you needlessly; but is not the secret really that you resent interference, and want to have your own way? Now, before blaming your circumstances, I suggest you have a thorough self-examination, for it may be that the inward trouble is due to unbelief, selfishness, ambition, pride, or some other form of heart sin, and that evil must be dealt with before perfect peace can prevail.

May I come very close to you, and ask, Is it not true of some that, far from being kept by the peace of God which passeth all understanding, you are in a condition, an attitude of mind, which distinctly hinders the enjoyment of such a blessing? Some, I fear, have not got even as far as saying, 'Being justified by faith, I have peace with God'. There is some sin, some indulgence, which God is against; and as rebellion and peace are opposed to each other, you cannot have guidance and peace and spiritual blessings until you cast yourselves at the mercy-seat, and take Christ as your Saviour.

Again, it may be some point of controversy. Something in regard to your circumstances, or your consecration, or even your inward condition; you refuse or hesitate to obey God's call, and follow the light. God has not left you to yourselves, but the Spirit is grieved by your unwillingness; and the result is, that you have conflict in your hearts, clouds in your sky, and failure in your lives.

Take it from me, that you cannot have this deliverance which the Apostle describes, this keeping power and peace, unless the will of God is supreme in your heart. Controversy must be given up, the full surrender made, and then you must trust yourselves and your lives in God's hands. If this is done, and the Apostolic direction followed, then you will be able to sing --

Careless through outward cares I go,
From all distraction free;
My hands are but engaged below,
My heart is still with Thee.

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