by Brent Amato
The 2017 CLS National Conference theme is Discovering Joy in the Law. Our devotionals will concentrate on the theme of "joy" through October.
What did you worry about during the last thirty days? Notice I asked “What?” not “If.” Everybody worries, but should we?
Imagine hearing the “Sermon on the Mount” in person, listening to Jesus. You would hear Him say “don’t worry” five times in a matter of two minutes. (Matthew 6:25-34) Would it get your attention?
Warren Wiersbe, in his commentary on the book of Philippians, Be Joyful, identifies four “joy-stealers”: circumstances, people, things (tangible and intangible), and worry. Take a moment and stop reading this devotional - especially you lawyers and law students – and pause for 60 whole seconds and reflect on this: during the last thirty days, what circumstances, people, and things did you worry about?
Can there be joy instead of anxiety? Based on Philippians 4, Wiersbe says “Yes!” He suggests that the key to such joy is the “secure mind” (vv. 6-7). Paul tells us that the peace of God can and will guard our hearts (the source of wrong feelings) and minds (the source of wrong thinking) from a wrong focus.
What’s your perspective on worry? Do you find yourself somewhere on the spectrum between “it’s totally natural and it’s good to be concerned” and “it’s sin” (Philippians 4:6)?
Wiersbe points to Paul’s suggestions that there are three attitudes that will protect us from worry: (1) the single mind (Chapter 1), (2) the submissive mind (Chapter 2), and (3) the spiritual mind (Chapter 3).
In Chapter 4, Paul presents three practices that help conquer worry and experience the right frame of mind: (1) right praying (4:6-7); (2) right thinking (4:8); and (3) right living (4:1-5, 9). Consider applying these three conditions to the worries you identified earlier.
Also in Chapter 4, Paul gives us six antidotes for conquering worry and experiencing the right frame of mind: (1) God’s Peace (4:6-7); (2) Providence (4:10); (3) Power (4:13); (4) Provision (4:14-18); (5) Promise (4:19); and (6) Your Contentment (4:11-12). Now apply these six antidotes to those worries you identified.
Finally, Paul’s last words to the Philippians are good words for us as well. They answer three very important questions about our topic of joy in these recent CLS Devotionals:
- Who should get the glory for this joy? Our God and Father (4:20)
- What’s the means by which you can receive this joy? Grace (4:23)
- Who’s involved with you in this noble pursuit of joy? Other Christians, including the Christian Legal Society family (4:21-22)
Guard your mind and heart so worry will not enter and steal your joy. Joy is the Lord’s desire for YOU! (Psalm 16:11, John 15:11, Galatians 5:22)
May it be so!
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Brent Amato is the CLS Chicagoland Coordinator and former CLS national president and board member. He meets with lawyers, law students, and other professionals in the law in and around Chicago. He also is looking for others like himself to train and do the same work in other big cities.