So, What Are You Thinking?


Peninsula Community Church 

August 4, 2019

Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

To fully understand this passage we must know that this is a continuation of Paul’s discussion from the prior verses. How do I know this? I know this because Paul ends the passage with this statement of promise “and the God of peace will be with you.” Wow! If I do these things then the God of peace will be present in my life. Think about this. Last week we found that prayer and focusing our attention on God produces in us a peace that passes all understanding. It is a peace that is beyond our capacity to understand or for that matter comprehend the depth of the peace that comes from prayer. No matter what comes we can have peace and can rest in Christ’s peace.

This week we will direct our attention on another aspect of walking in peace. You see what we focus our thinking towards can affect our peace. How many of us ever talk ourselves out of being at peace? You begin with a problem and rather than deal with the problem you begin to meditate and think about that problem or person. Suddenly, your imagination goes wild and you begin to develop a narrative that is not based on truth but one that is based on distorted thinking and half truths.

As we preview these passages we find there are two imperatives within this verse that must be considered. The first imperative is that we need to think about what Paul is saying. It is noteworthy that the word here for “think” is one that really means “to dwell.” In other words, we give these words great consideration and we do not glance over them lightly. The exact Greek used here is a present imperative which means we thought this way but we continue to think this way. It is a way of life resultant in a life of peace. 

William Barclay rightly observes that…The human mind will always set itself on something and Paul wished to be quite sure that the Philippians would set their minds on the right things. This is something of the utmost importance, because it is a law of life that, if a man thinks of something often enough, he will come to the stage when he cannot stop thinking about it.

The second imperative is that we are to put into practice these things. Yes, we need to be actively engaged in thinking about these things, but we must also put them into practice. Too often we think, but never act. It is time to act and set in motion these things so we can live in peace. 

I have said it a number of times. Our thoughts will determine our outlook on life and where we focus our attention our emotions will follow. Through this passage we come to realize that our thoughts and actions will also have an effect on the level of peace we will experience. To live in peace we must engage the truths presented through Paul’s writings in verses 8 & 9. It is here that he lists eight qualities that every passionate follower of Christ ought to consider when processing issues in their life, the thoughts they entertain, the words that are spoken to them, and the messages they receive. This thought process goes hand in hand with Paul’s admonishment in 2 Corinthians 10:5-6. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 

The first of these directives is to consider the truth. In life, we can be so susceptible to the lies of the enemy. He is so skilled at packaging lies in such a way that makes the lies acceptable and believable. Sometimes one of the lies that is propagated is that we are not good enough or that we are a failure. Another lie is that there is no hope. Another lie is fear even in our obedience to Christ. Another is confusion when events happen in us, to us, or around us that we do not understand. But rather than believe the lies, we are to think on that which is true. We do not just think about truth, we put truth into practice, so that our emotions are changed and we are fortified in God’s truth. 

As we look at this idea of truth, here is one definition of truth that might help you. To be true means to be in line with what actually is. In the case of a passionate follower of Christ, our truth most always be in line with Scripture and with God’s word. We do not allow truth to be aligned with lies or falsehoods. As we align our understanding of truth with the truth of God’s word and the character of God, we can only then begin to focus on that which is real truth.

Secondly, Paul commands us to think on what is honorable. This word relates to that which is worthy of respect or entitled to honor. It means to take life seriously. It is to think on that which is lofty and majestic as opposed to that which is vulgar, crude, frivolous, or trivial. We should think on those things that lift the mind rather than dragging the mind through the gutter. This includes our language, our response to people, what we watch, what we believe in social media, and for that matter the 24 hour news cycle.  

 

Thirdly, Paul command us to think on what is just or right. John MacArthur suggests that the word used here refers to the perfect harmony with God’s eternal, unchanging standards as revealed in Scripture. I agree with that statement. We live in a day where the idea of ultimate righteousness and Godly justice is ignored, and even mocked. We have a mixed up understanding of what true justice is about and too often we determine what justice is by one’s skin color, social standing, position, bank account, or personal opinion. But again as passionate followers of Christ, we must stay focused on God’s standard for justice which is always right.

 

Fourth, think on that which is pure e.g. free from defilement and that which is uncontaminated. Jesus is holy, and because He is living in us, we too must be holy as He is holy. We do not talk much about the holiness of God and God’s admonishment for us to be holy, but our minds must remain pure in our thoughts, in our deeds, and our words.

Fifth, we think on those things that are lovely. It is here that Paul focuses on that which calls forth or evokes love and admiration. These are the sorts of things that are endearing. We are three part beings: body, soul, and spirit. We need to feed our souls with things that are lovely just like we feed our bodies with good physical food. We should be feeding our spirits on the word of God of daily and in large doses.

 

Sixth, think on that which is commendable. We should think on that which is praiseworthy and avoids giving offense or adding to one’s offense. We fail too often to commend others of what is praiseworthy in one’s life. We all need encouragement and we all need to hear “Well done!” from time to time. In fact, I would suggest that most studies show that we all need to hear well done much more than what we are doing wrong. The fact is our deeds and our thoughts ought to move people to admiration and praise. So the question is “Are we concentrating on the good things we see in others, or do we dwell on their faults and shortcomings?” 

 

Seventh, is there any excellence in what I am thinking. Too many Christians settle for mediocrity. They are okey with just getting by. Others look for the negative faster than they see the good and many are quick to express that through complaining and grumbling and the judging of one’s character. But there is a huge difference between “excellence” and professionalism and performance. Excellence is doing everything to the best of one’s ability as enabled by God, and in such a way that no one is distracted by it or is tempted to give credit to anyone but the Lord. Professionalism and performance are man-centered and are concerned with drawing attention to a person or persons. The pursuit of excellence should direct attention to God. Think on that.

 

Finally, we should think on that which is worthy of praise. Certainly here we mean the praise of God and not man. By this I think he means the sort of conduct that wins the affection and admiration of others, even non-Christians. 

 

In the final analysis Paul says that we are to think on these things but we must also enact these things and put them in motion. The full of effect of peace only comes as we put these things into practice. May we do that as we continue to grow in the grace and love of God!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

 

 

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