We now move into the last section of our look at how we are to living as believers or as Paul expressed how we are to be standing firm in the Lord as he states in Philippians 4:1. Paul has dealt with areas that point to us standing firm by being in unity with others or in other words setting aside our own agendas to place spreading the Gospel as the priority of our life. Then Paul showed us that living a life of being firm in the Lord is seen in how we treat others and how we trust God. That was really the idea of the last several verses. Now we will look at how we are to focus on the things that are for building up our character and put into practice those very things. Once again we will see that not only are we to just know what we should and shouldn’t be doing but we are to put into practice those things by the way we live. We will see again that we need to look to mentors that exhibit this type of lifestyle and follow their example as well. Let’s look at our first point.
1.Think about these things.
Look with me at Philippians 4:8 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. The first step in the right direction in standing firm in Christ is to know what direction you need to be going in. So the call first is not to just give people a set of rules to follow but rather to get our thinking right. If we think about our consequences of our actions, whether good or bad, or if we engage our minds into what our priority should be then we will know what we should and shouldn’t be doing. In fact I think that our society fails to think about this, even most professed Christians fail in this very area which leads them down a path of continual sin filled living. But it is here that Paul calls to us to think about these things.
Now of course we need to know what things he is speaking of so we will look at those but before we do let’s define this word think because I believe that people can see that word and just kind of slide past it assuming that they may allow some of these things to enter their mind from time to time. But this is not the idea behind this word in fact the Greek word for the word think here is the word logizesthe which means to reason to logical conclusion. This word is an imperative verb which indicates that this is a command. So Paul doesn’t just give these things listed here as a suggestion but is a list given to us to meditate on and eventually take action with these in mind. This word is the key to standing firm in the Lord. We can not stand firm by just following a set of rules or doing things because we think that is the best way. We need to engage our minds into thinking about these things on a daily basis and all throughout everyday.
So Let’s look at what these things are. He says first to think on whatever is true. This is a direct call to follow what God has spoken instead of falling into false teachings. We must remember that Jesus said this of the devil when he was speaking this towards the Pharisee’s in John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
If we are not clinging to what is true, if we are not meditating on what is true then we are open to fall into the false forms of Christianity that are rampant in our society. We must meditate on what is true which is summed up in who God is. You can look up these verse that I’m going to mention but notice that God is truth(John 7:28), Jesus is truth(John 14:6), the Holy Spirit is truth (John 16:13) and the Word of God is truth(John 17:17). This means that real truth is found in the Trinitarian Godhead and His Holy Word.
Next Paul says here in Philippians 4:8 to meditate or think on whatever is honorable. This means something that is held in high regard or in awe. This means that it isn’t just some action of religious duty but rather things that are set above other things that are the focus of worship. These things again would be the things that God has said and commanded. We are to regard these things in a place of honor and not just pass them off as suggestions. In other words if God command us to do a certain thing or to act a certain way then we should act in that way.
Then Paul says to think on whatever is just. This word really means righteous which points back to the Holy character of God. God is always righteous or just in every act that He has ever done whether it be in His mercy for salvation or in His wrath against sin.
As we move along I think we are seeing the connection that all of these things are a call to focus on God and His character instead of our own selfish agendas and goals. The next thing that Paul says is whatever is pure. This word hagnos in the Greek means to be uncontaminated from sin or to be undefiled. This is something that we as Christians in our society needs more than ever. I see it almost daily, people that profess to be Christians and talk like the world, act like the world, dress like the world and want to be like the world in almost every area of life. Romans 12:2 tells us Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Also James 1:27 says Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
This is a call to break away from the world and cling to the purity that God has called us to. Paul then says in Philippians 4:8 whatever is lovely. We are going to move a little faster in these next few because I think we are seeing the point here. This word means attractive or pleasing. This is a term that really expresses a friendliness towards others. So whatever is for being friendly instead of causing division or disunity. Then the next one is whatever is commendable which means things that have a good report in contrast to things that may seem to be a place of controversy.
Then Paul moves on and says if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. In other words he is saying if there is anything that causes goodness or anything that would be looked upon as commendable then these things along with all the others is what we are to be thinking on. Colossians 3:1-3 says If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
This really sums up the whole idea here. If we want to stand firm we need to turn our focus on the things of God. Again this is not suggestions on how to live a great life but rather a command on the only way we can live a life firmly in the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ. This moves us to our next verse and our next point.
2.Practice these things.
Look with me at Philippians 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. I love the fact that we see here again that Paul calls these believers to imitate what they have seen in himself. This is not because he thinks he is the standard but because he is following in the very things that he just spoke about in the previous verse. Remember back in Philippians 3:17 he said Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
So none of this was a call to be a carbon copy of Paul but this further shows that Paul was not afraid to let people dissect his life and follow him. He wasn’t afraid of some character flaw they might find but rather that what they would see is a life that practices what he preaches. He was not perfect but he was living his life in such a way that others could follow his example. So the call here is to look at the way Paul has lived his life as a believer and the follow in those same things. Again he is saying this because he knows that he has lived a life that is honoring towards God.
Notice the shift from just thinking about these things to actually putting them into practice. The Greek word prassó indicates that this is a regular activity in the life of a believer. You can’t just go to church and go through the motions and say that you are living out the Christian life if you are not living in the mindset on the things of God and do them on a continual basis. We must be thinking on and putting into practice daily the things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. This is the pattern of the life of a true follower of Christ. We may fall at times and you may even be living in a lifestyle that is contrary to this right now but God is calling to you today to get away from the worlds influence and cling to God. Let’s heed the call that Paul proclaims in 2 Corinthians 2:16-18 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
As we do this Paul says back in Philippians 4:9 that the God of peace will be with you. These last 2 sections of Scripture that we have looked at has really shown to us that if we want God’s peace then we should be living in the life that He has designed for us as Christians. As we mentioned in our last study, people want peace in their life but the real question is, are you willing to give up your own agenda, your own way of living and live in the life of holiness and purity that God has commanded that you live in? I hope as we have moved through these verses and really all the way back to the beginning of this chapter that this has encouraged you to live a life that is different than the way you are living now no matter how good you think you are at this moment.