6 Ways to Stress-Free Living
By Jeff Cranston
If we could get a handle on the worry that habitually and often unconsciously seizes hold of our mind, we would greatly increase the odds of living a longer, happier, and more successful life. In Philippians 4:2-9, the apostle Paul gives us some great advice on just how to do that.
1. Live in the context of right relationships.
In the church in Philippi, there were two women who were not in right relationship with one another, and their quarrel was destroying the peace of the entire church. In his letter, Paul urged the women to put aside their quarrel and tap into their power source in Jesus and agree in the Lord. If we want to experience peace, we need to remember that Jesus is the power behind our ability to be in right relationship to one another.
2. Think on things that bring you joy.
Paul says in verse 4, Rejoice in the Lord always! And again I will say, rejoice! The word, rejoice, is a command; therefore, it is inaccurate to say that we can’t approach life with a joyful attitude. Attitude is a choice. So, right thinking involves choosing the right attitude and, in this text, we are commanded to replace worry with joy.
3. Live by right praying.
In verses 6-7, Paul touches on the basic aspects of prayer:
Prayer and supplication: talking to the Lord, asking Him to help with our needs or those of others, and
Thanksgiving: praising God for His aid.
Right praying involves all of these things. I have found that if I have a worry, it helps if I share it with someone who cares about me. When I do this, it is as if that burden was lightened. That principle is especially seen when we share our worries and anxieties with God. I never leave His presence without feeling better about my situation because I know that what concerns me concerns Him.
4. Live by embracing right thinking.
Paul was wise enough to know that our thought lives are very important when it comes to worry, since what we think about, we end up doing. Ever heard of this old truism?
Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.
As Proverbs 4:23 (CEV) says, “Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.” We are to be careful what we think, because our thoughts run our life.
5. Think on things that are true.
In verse 8, Paul says to think on things that are “true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” As Jesus said in John 8:44, Satan is a liar and one of his most effective weapons is to corrupt our minds with his lies—making us worry about things that are not factual. So, think on things God says to think on.
6. Live right by living right.
Many of us spend too much time stewing and not enough doing. Paul knew that one key to peace is to DO—to put into practice the principles of God’s word (see verse 9). As James 1:2 says, we must “ … be doers of the Word and not hearers only.”
Remember to fill your mind and meditate on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what Paul has shown. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Jeff Cranston is lead pastor of LowCountry Community Church in Bluffton, S.C.