My mother-in-law Bessie Wilson wrote this as part of an article written in The Hammer years ago, and my father-in-law recently posted it.
Most of these articles on the heart have been written to stress the importance of keeping a right heart before God, because this is what our God is concerned about. We could continue this indefinitely because the Scriptures abound with such references. However, this month we shall consider His gracious provision for the “guarded” heart. He can make our heart a garrison.
This is found in a very familiar portion, Philippians 4:4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.
In this passage we are told to do several things: 1) rejoice, 2) be gentle, 3) reject all anxiety, and 4) present our prayers, petitions, and requests to God with thanksgiving.
Although it is our responsibility to do all these things, it does not mean it is our work. Rejoicing, gentleness, and thankfulness are all evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. It should be natural for us as Christians to produce such fruit. Anxiety, however, is the antithesis of thanksgiving. It can best be described as a fear, an uneasiness of mind, usually over an impending or anticipated ill. Anxiety can only be displaced by faith. The writer of Hebrews in 3:12 calls it a “sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” Faith is a fruit of the Spirit. It is our response to a faithful God. Romans 10:17 tells us, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.”
When we respond in obedience and, by the grace of God, choose to rejoice, choose to be gentle, choose to reject all anxiety, and present our prayers to God with thanksgiving, then the “guarded” heart is promised. It is His gracious provision to keep us from the attacks of the enemy.
In the final analysis, the indwelling Christ produces in us, by His Spirit, all the spiritual benefits which are also required of us for the “guarded” heart.
Isn’t that just like our God? He only requires of us what He enables us to be by His Spirit. Someone has said, “God’s commands are His enabling.”
In very simple terms He tells us not to be anxious about anything, as He will enable us not to be anxious. He tells us to pray with thanksgiving, and He promises His peace as our garrison. Having the peace of God guarding our hearts and minds in our turbulent world will be a great witness to attract others to the Savior we love.