by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Philippians 4:4-9
I. It is a simple idea; so simple, you probably think it is obvious. Yet, the ramifications are far reaching.
A. How we think influences our emotions
1. It is profound because the world sees it the other way around.
2. In the world emotions dictates behavior and thought.
B. Anxiety causes depression. Encouragement causes happiness - Proverbs 12:25
C. Joy inside shines without. Heartache causes discouragement - Proverbs 15:13
D. The disciples fears arose from the doubts within them - Luke 24:36-38
E. When Peter remembered Jesus’ words, it caused him grief - Mark 14:72
F. The Bible teaches that what we think about, what we focus our minds upon, influences the emotions with which we react.
1. This is not to discount that some have medical problems which causes their minds to overreact to situations.
2. However, for the majority it is the way we think that influences our emotions.
II. It is an important point because God teaches us that we have control over our thoughts.
A. Ephesians 4:17-24 - The Gentiles walk about with useless thoughts and so pursue an ungodly course of living. We must put that way aside. We have a choice as to where our minds dwells.
B. We do not need to keep wicked thoughts - Jeremiah 4:14
C. We need to leave unrighteous thoughts behind and seek God - Isaiah 55:7
D. I Peter 1:13 - Prepare your minds
E. Love the Lord with all your mind - Matthew 22:37-38
III. This means that many of the emotional problems for which people seek help can be dealt with by changing their thought patterns
A. Take depression. Solomon told us it comes from anxiety (Proverbs 12:25)
B. Jesus encourages us not to be anxious - Matthew 6:25-34
1. Anxiety is a useless way of thinking.
a. God will take care of us.
b. Worry will not change outcomes
2. The solution is within the church – proper priorities.
IV. Paul tells us how to overcome anxiety - Philippians 4:4-8
A. Recall that Paul wrote these words while in prison. If one had a cause for concern, it would be Paul, but he encourages Christians to let go of anxiety.
B. By choosing to rejoice - Philippians 4:4
1. One study by Loma Linda University found that even anticipating laughing reduces stress hormones.
2. Notice how the apostles dealt with their beating - Acts 5:40-41
a. They were handed a lemon, but they choose to make lemonade.
b. They choose to think about the benefits.
3. It is how all Christians are encouraged to deal with suffering - I Peter 4:12-14
4. Matthew 5:10-12 - Realize you are in good company
C. Demonstrate gentleness - Philippians 4:5
1. The Greek word epiekes means restraint on passions, moderation, without excess
2. Extremes in moods leads to a loss of self-control. There is a tendency to over-correct
3. Godly wisdom is shown in gentleness - James 3:17
D. Pray - Philippians 4:6
1. Tell God about your needs.
2. God will support you - Psalm 55:22
3. I Peter 5:6-7 - Man cannot change matters by worrying, so take your concerns to the one who can alter the future.
4. This is not to say that our problems will go away.
a. As we have learned in other lessons, difficulties and trials are there to strengthen us.
b. But it does not mean we need to be overwhelmed by our trials.
E. Thanksgiving - Philippians 4:6
1. Be appreciative what you have - Philippians 4:11-12
2. God will take care of us - Hebrews 13:5
F. Change our thoughts
1. Truth - make your thoughts conform to reality
a. There are more things that might happen than what really happens.
b. I dealt with one man who had a number of problems in his life.
(1) As each came to a resolution, he was surprised that it was never as bad as he feared it might be.
(2) All that time wasted worrying about something that never came to past.
c. This is not to say that preparation should not be made, but rather keep yourself rooted in reality and not imagination
2. Honest - don’t pretend
a. Some people ignore problems. They can’t deal with them so they pretend they are not there.
b. But they don’t go away. Since they are never faced, they continually eat away. When they can no longer be ignored, they lose themselves in depression never realizing that a little honesty with themselves in advance would have allowed them to deal with matters and minimize problems.
c. It is actually the idea of being dignified. A person who does not fall apart at the seams when trouble appears, but takes reality in stride - Titus 2:2, 7
3. Just - weighing matters without prejudice
a. Some people decide the outcome in advance. “Oh, it will never work. I can’t do it. I’ll fail anyway.”
b. You fail at your first attempt at golf, so you decide you will never be a golfer
c. A person who applies for a job, but doesn’t land it and decides no one wants him and he’ll never work again is not being just.
d. Some people are unjust with others when they take an all-or-nothing view of people.
(1) That person drinks, they wouldn’t be interested in the gospel.
(2) That person didn’t say “Hi” when I went by, so he must be mad at me.
e. We are to operate impartially - I Timothy 5:21
4. Pure - don’t allow your thoughts to be corrupted by sin
a. I John 3:3 - we purify ourselves
b. Wisdom is first pure - James 3:17
c. Titus 1:15 - The purity of our thoughts affect our outlook.
5. Lovely - thoughts that are acceptable, agreeable, and pleasing
a. These are thoughts which promote brotherly love - II Peter 1:2-8
6. Good report - thoughts that are well spoken of, that have a good reputation
7. Excellence - virtuous, morally superior
8. Praiseworthy - commendable thoughts
a. Our praise should come from God - Romans 2:29
b. God will judge our thoughts - I Corinthians 4:5
G. Practice these things - Philippians 4:9
1. Must do to become a part of you - James 1:21-25
2. A study by the University of British Columbia, published in Motivation and Emotion, showed that people who did random acts of kindness, such as washing a roommate’s dishes, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, etc. reduced people’s anxiety because it caused people to look outwardly toward others needs. People with anxiety focus inwardly.
3. Careful to continue good works - Titus 3:8
V. Too often we get stuck in a self-defeating cycle of thoughts which we label “depression.”
A. The way out of depression is to change our views and thoughts
B. Psalms 94:19 - When anxieties multiply, God brings comfort
C. Isaiah 26:3-4 - A mind set steadfast on God gains peace