Philippians 4:8 Study

Philippians 4:8 Part 1

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,  whatsoever things are just,  whatsoever things are pure,  whatsoever things are lovely,  whatsoever things are of good report;  if there be any virtue,and if there be any praise,  think on these things.

We have now come to a verse that I would consider one of the key verses for any Christian in the Holy Bible. There is such richness and so much depth said in such a simplistic way in Philippians 4:8 that it boggles my mind. I’m sure that you have been in this verse as many times as I have. I am not going to go over this very quickly. We are going to spend some time here because I feel what Paul says here is so essential to the church, especially in these last days. We must, and I reiterate, we must put these things into practice every day, every minute, every second.

First he says “Finally my brethren”. I get a picture of Paul putting his pen to the paper and preparing to finish his letter to the Philippians with another verse or two. And then outflows Philippians 4:8 and Paul can’t help it go on for another 15 verses. The power of the Holy Spirit overcomes him and he just keeps on writing.  Reminds me of those preachers who say they are closing and then go on for 20 more minutes!

One thing we have to remember is the preceding four verses that tell us to rejoice, to be gentle, to give thanks, and to have peace. I think Paul led up to this verse brilliantly because the attributes mentioned I verse 8 would be very difficult if we did not have the previous four verses active in our lives. We learn to rejoice in any situation, we learn to be gentle, we learn to give thanks when we pray and we learn about the peace of God.  If we have those disciplines down pretty good, then it makes it so much easier to do what Paul asked us to do here. If you’re not in that place you can try to do these things, and I would highly recommend that you try, but it will be more difficult. Imagine trying to think on only good things if you have not learned to rejoice in the Lord!  Or imaging thinking on things that are lovely if you haven’t learned to give thanks in everything!  Could you think only of things that are good report if you did not have peace?  You being to see why the verses go in this order.

I want to skip down to the end of the verse before I go through the middle.  Paul says “think on these things”. It’s not a matter of saying the right thing – Paul wants us to think on the right thing. To have our mind so in tune with God that all we can think about are things that are true, and honest, and just and pure and lovely and of good report and virtuous and praiseworthy. Those are the things that hold my mind everyday. There is no lust, no greed, no bad thoughts. We are thinking like God when we think like this.

The bible says whatsoever is in the heart the mouth speaketh (Matt 15:16). I need to think on these things so it will get it down into my heart.   James says the tongue is an unruly evil )James 3:8) and that we need to learn to tame it (James 3:2). The writer of Proverbs, the wisest man in the world, mentioned several times that our tongue can be trouble for us (Proverbs 12:18, 15:4,18:21). But the mouth will only say what is in the heart. We don’t have to look any farther than the last presidential election to know what can be in some hearts.

So the next few days, as we go over these things, keep in your mind Philippians 4:4-7 and then keep in your mind the fact it we are supposed to think on these things. Don’t worry. I’ll be reminding you! Perhaps if each one of us would concentrate enough we could see this thought process very active and alive on an everyday basis. Wouldn’t that be awesome!

Philippians 4:8 Part 2

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,  whatsoever things are just,  whatsoever things are pure,  whatsoever things are lovely,  whatsoever things are of good report;  if there be any virtue,and if there be any praise,  think on these things.

We will look at these things to think on one at a time.  There is so much to consider.

In the recent election accusations were flying on a constant basis.  The two presidential candidates threw words back and forth all the time and you really didn’t know what was true. I was amazed at how often each of them called the other out for lies.  In the end, I think we were all glad when the campaigning was over.  I firmly believe there’s a blurring effect going on in our society that kind of neutralizes everything so that no one can really say what’s true and what’s not.

When I think of things that are true I must eliminate gossip out of my head.  It is so hard to find the truth now because everybody has a different story. And the internet is loaded with untruths. News agencies report different stories, and have different ideas about how things go in our society.  We can’t trust them for truth.  So, our problem is to find a source for the truth.

Let’s first look at Jesus. Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). One thing I can do to think about things that are true is think about Jesus since He is the truth. We can think about His love, mercy and grace toward us.  We can think about His sacrifice. We can meditate on His teachings,  We can take heart in the miracles He performed, knowing that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8).

What else can we find that’s true? Certainly, not the newscasts, not television, not movies and not the internet. It’s hard to find truth in any of those things. It seems even channels like The Weather Channel and National Geographic have fallen into the politically correct area. As we search for truth in this world there’s really only one place that we can find it. And that’s the Word of God.

The Bible gives us truth on just about every subject we can imagine. Whether it’s dealing with your neighbor or finances or marriage, the Bible provides for any situation that will come up. The truth contained there spreads over every religion and every culture. They are recognized worldwide as true. I think of things like the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule which are universal in nature. I sell insurance for a living and one of the things that you have to do every three years to go through an Ethics Course. One of the first things on the ethics course is that we need to practice the Golden Rule. Even in business the Bible is recognized as a source of Truth.

If you are not in your Bible on a regular basis it will be hard for you to think about those things that are true. You can think about Jesus and you can meditate on His word as far as you know the word. As you get to know the word more you can meditate on the truth easier.   There are so many wonderful truths and promises God has given us in His word.  Set aside time to get into the word so you know the extent of what God has for you.

 

Philippians 4:8 Part 3

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,  whatsoever things are just,  whatsoever things are pure,  whatsoever things are lovely,  whatsoever things are of good report;  if there be any virtue,and if there be any praise,  think on these things.

I looked up honest in the dictionary and the first thing it says it’s free of deceit. So let’s change the wording a little bit. What so ever things are free of deceit.

Have you ever talked to somebody about a certain situation only to find out later they did not tell you the whole truth only, a partial truth?   Children are really good at this.  When you confronted them about it, they said “Well, you didn’t ask me about that!”  But you did ask them about the situation, not just about that particular aspect. I would call that being deceitful on their part.

There are a lot of ways that we can be deceitful. Withholding things that would be relevant to a conversation is deceitful. Saying something that would throw somebody off track is deceitful. Giving somebody a false hope that you might do something when in actuality you have no intention of doing that thing is deceitful. I think we’ve all been caught up in that one. We’re asked if we want to go to a particular meeting.  We say maybe and we know deep within our hearts we really don’t want to be in a meeting with that particular leader. But we tell that person we will try to make it. That’s deceitful.

Now I’m not saying that we should tell the truth if it’s going to hurt someone. This is a very tricky area and we have to be careful not to hurt our fellow Christians.  Truth can be told in love if God wants us to tell it.  But in our thought life, we have to stay away from thoughts that are deceitful because they will come out of our mouth eventually.

So, when you are going about your daily routines, consider the thoughts that are in your mind that might be deceitful. What are you withholding from somebody else that they really should know about? Are there activities in your life that are contrary to the way you act when you’re around your church members?  For years, I deceived people all the time because I had secret sin in my life and nobody knew about it except me and God.  I actually figured God didn’t mind since He didn’t expose me. But eventually it was found out, and it caused real damage with my wife. I really don’t want to be in that position again.

Honest also can mean sincere, candid, frank and open. It differs from being true in the fact that this talks more about the way we present it instead of whether it’s true or not. To be honest we must be sincere.  Honesty has to be shared in a loving relationship. And if we don’t approach it in the spirit of meekness and a heart of love, we are probably going to do it wrong.

 Philippians 4:8 Part 3

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,  whatsoever things are just,  whatsoever things are pure,  whatsoever things are lovely,  whatsoever things are of good report;  if there be any virtue,and if there be any praise,  think on these things.

 

When I look at the word just the first thing I think of is justice. Justice to me means that people get what they truly deserve. And it should be just according to the laws that are in place. I think about our country lately where I think we have seen a lot of wrong justice and it reminds of Habakkuk 1:2-4 where the prophet is asking God why He allows the injustice that is going on.  Habakkuk ends up saying that wrong judgment proceeds.  It seems wrong judgment proceeds quite a bit in America today.

But then I looked up the word just and I was really surprised at what it said.  The definition said ”based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair”. To use this definition, we have to define what is moral. And in our society today morality is changing. Things that used to be immoral are becoming moral. So how do you decide what is morally right and fair? That’s a discussion for another blog most likely.

There are some other words used for the meaning of just, and the ones that really caught my mind were unbiased and unprejudiced. Now I have to admit that I have some biases in my life. There are some groups of people that I’m more afraid of than others and I really have no reason to be that way. I think it’s because I haven’t had enough interaction with that particular people group and so they scare me a little bit. That is something that I need to work on and I need God to help me. I think most of us have biases of some kind in our life that we need to put aside if we are going to be just.

Paul’s admonition here to think on things that are just is not as easy as it appears on the surface. This is one that I really struggle with. I pray that God will help me to be more open-minded.  I look at the attributes of love in 1st Corinthians 13, where Paul writes that charity envieth not, vaunteth not itself and is not puffed up. I cannot place myself above others in any sense of the word. If I truly love with Christian love, I need to look at all people as equals.  Actually, we studied earlier in Philippians 2 that I ought to esteem others more highly than myself.  And with no envy at all.

One more reason we should pay particular attention to this thinking justly.  I love Micah 6:8, because it t us what the Lord requires of us.  What are those things?  To do justly, love mercy and walk humbly before our God.  If being just is in this list, it must be important! To think about things that are just is a tall order, especially for me.  Maybe you have this mastered, and if you do, thank God He has helped you in this area.  I would appreciate your prayers.

Philippians 4:8 Part 4

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,  whatsoever things are just,  whatsoever things are pure,  whatsoever things are lovely,  whatsoever things are of good report;  if there be any virtue,and if there be any praise,  think on these things.

Pure means not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material and it can also mean uncontaminated.  We talk about the fact that God will refine us as pure gold (Is 48:10) as we go through the trials and tests of this life.  Here’s the question.  What would be the things that Paul does not want in our minds?

The answer to me is obvious. There are so many unpure things that we can dwell on. I can think of sexual objects, greed, gossip, achievement, power, the list goes on and on and on. To think of things that are pure we need to make sure that our mind is focused where it’s supposed to be

The only pure things that I can think of are the Word of God, the Praises of God, Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit themselves. These things need to be the focus of our lives on a minute by minute basis.  We all know that is we sit down and read the newspaper or watch TV, plenty of negative things will bombard us, and steal our focus away.  I am not trying to suggest that we bury our heads in the sand and ignore the world.  We need to be that light and salt that Jesus talked about (Matt 5:13-16).

I find that when I’m focused on the Lord the difficult things in life will take care of themselves as God guides and directs me. When I’m focused on Him, my mind isn’t cluttered by all kinds of bad thoughts, and believe me I have those. I need to do all I can to keep those thoughts out of my mind and the best way to do that is to fill my mind with something else – the Word of God.

The Bible gives us hints on how to accomplish this.  It tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17).  Now this doesn’t mean I go around praying all the time, ignoring everyone I meet.  It means having that attitude of prayer so that we can take situations to God in prayer as they ae brought tour attention.  And believe me, those satiations come up much more than you might think if we are looking for them.  It also says “In everything give thanks (1 Thess 5:18).  Have that attitude of gratitude all the time.  And lastly “In all they ways acknowledge Him” (Prov 3:6).  These three simple steps can help each of us keep our minds on things that are pure

Tomorrow, we will discuss how to keep our minds on things that are lovely

Philippians 4:8 Part 5

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,  whatsoever things are just,  whatsoever things are pure,  whatsoever things are lovely,  whatsoever things are of good report;  if there be any virtue,and if there be any praise,  think on these things.

When I see the word lovely I think of something that’s pretty or beautiful, like a pretty lady. I wondered to myself how this fits in with the rest of these things we have to think about because it seems so limited.

So I looked up the word lovely in Strong’s Concordance and what it means is pleasing or acceptable. Now looking at it that way I can see a lot of applications to the way that we think.

When I first got saved back in 1976 I had a terrible attitude. I was very good at cutting people apart with my tongue in an instant. I had a very sharp wit and it was mostly negative. I started going back to church once I get saved and also started talking to the pastor on a regular basis. He introduced me to a book that was very popular back in the seventies. It was written by Norman Vincent Peale and was called “The Power of Positive Thinking. That book changed my life.

Basically, It taught that we have to think about the best things in life, and shut out the worst things in life. As we reframe our thinking our mouth tends to follow. So, reading and studying through this book helped me to start thinking about things that are pleasant and acceptabile, or lovely. And that pattern was never more true than it is today. If you ask people around me they will tell you that I’m about the most positive person they’ve ever seen. Whille it’s true that my faith and love for God plays a big part in that, it was definitely spurred on by those two years studying that book,  I want to thank my former Pastor for the lesson well taught and learned.

To think on things that are lovely means that we will have positive words and positive attitude flowing through our mind on a regular basis. And when that happens the negative has no place to land.  The first step to a realization of this thought process is to find the type of faith that trusts God implicitly in any situation.  How do we find that?  Well faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Ro 10:17).  Get into the word and study scriptures on faith.  See all the times God came through I impossible situations.  And remember that God does not change (Heb 13:8).  If He did it before, He can do it again.  Secondly, know that God always works all things for your good (Rom 8:28).  You have to KNOW this, not just know the verse.  When you come to know this is true, negative thoughts will vanish when it comes to your life.  Third, practice Ephesians 4:29, which tells us not to say anything except what will edify someone else.  And fourth, meditate on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and practice what Christian love is all about.  This is a starting point.  I also suggest this book to you. I’m sure you can find it on Amazon or in your local library. If you’re stuck in depression or just have a lousy attitude towards life, this book can change everything for you. I pray you will find it today.

 

 

Philippians 4:8 Part 6

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,  whatsoever things are just,  whatsoever things are pure,  whatsoever things are lovely,  whatsoever things are of good report;  if there be any virtue,and if there be any praise,  think on these things.

How often do you watch or listen or read the national or local news. It seems bad reports run rampant, especially since the recent elections.  Riots, police killings, bus rollovers, earthquakes, tsunamis- the list goes on.  How do we think about a good report with all this going on?

And then there are everyday troubles on our own lives. Maybe gossip against us, maybe financial problems,  maybe trouble at home or wotk, maybe health issues -:again the list is long.  Maybe I’m bringing you down with all this.  An we think on a good report with all the garbage life throws at us?

The answer is a resounding YES.  If we know Christ as our Savior, we should always – always be able to overcome the adverse things life throw at us, because He has overcome the world.  And whatever might come up, He will use it for my good  (Rom8:28),  He is always with us.  He is interceding for us in heaven. How can we not think good things!

Think about the blessings you have, not the ones you want!  The good health that you have, not the bad health that hinders you. The possessions that you have, not what is out of your reach.  The friends that you have,  not the people who bring you down.  There are so many good things to consider, it should be easy to crowd out the bad.

It’s up to you!  You are being transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12
:2).  The bad thoughts you use to dwell on can vanish away if you put your kind on it.  You can do it

 

Philippians 4:8 Part 7

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,  whatsoever things are just,  whatsoever things are pure,  whatsoever things are lovely,  whatsoever things are of good report;  if there be any virtue,and if there be any praise,  think on these things.

Virtue is an interesting word, isn’t it?  Before doing this study, I thought of virtue as decent, respectful and with integrity and high moral standards.  And I was partially right.  I looked it up!  In the Greek this word means excellence and is translated hat way for this verse in the New American Standard Bible and the NIV.  This excellence is an excellence of moral character according to Strong’s.

As I look in Webster’s dictionary, virtue takes on many more meanings.  It says behavior that shows high moral character and then it lists synonyms for virtue which is quite a list of things: 
goodness
, virtuousness, righteousnessmoralityintegritydignity,rectitudehonordecencyrespectabilitynobility, worthiness and purity.  Now that’s quite a list!

As we look over this list, we can see how far our culture has moved away from virtue.  We see corruption I our highest government offices, and a lack of high moral character there as well.  Dignity and decency have gone out the window in our society (have you ever seen pictures from a gay pride parade?), and our internet is filled with all kinds of indecency and deception.  ESPN gave its highest honor to a man who became a woman!  What does that tell us?  Virtue is disappearing from our landscape.  The church must stay relevant and virtuous, or all hope is lost for our country.

Paul changes the wording here to say that if there is any virtue, we should think about that.  Maybe he foresaw the day when virtue would start to fade in our cultures.  Paul knows the value of virtue in a society having seen the atrocities of Rome first hand.  He knows that a society that starts to lose virtue will implode eventually.

The church must not let that happen.  We need to rise up a virtuous army of people and restore decency to our culture.  It’s not up to our politicians to do this, it’s the church’s responsibility.  This is what 2 Chronicles 7:14 is all about.  Each of us, individually, becoming virtuous and praying for or nation.  Let’s make virtue more common than virtual reality once again!

Philippians 4:8 Part 8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,  whatsoever things are just,  whatsoever things are pure,  whatsoever things are lovely,  whatsoever things are of good report;  if there be any virtue,and if there be any praise,  think on these things.

How thankful are you?  Are you someone who rarely says thank you to those around you?  Do you tend to find fault everywhere you turn?  I bet if you’re not that person you know someone who is.  There are plenty of people who fit that description.

I bet there were the same type of people back in Paul’s day.  Ungrateful, not responsible, not accountable.  They refuse to acknowledge the good deeds of others, preferring instead to find the one thing that wasn’t done right.  The scribes and Pharisees in Jesus day are a perfect example.  Look at all the good Jesus was doing, yet all they could see was the people following Him instead of them.

If there be any praise, think on these things.  Now we start out by giving praise to God, of course.  And there is NEVER a time that He is not worthy of our praise – NEVER.  No matter what is going wrong in your life, there are a million things going right that you can praise Him for unless you are dead, and then hopefully you will be praising Him in heaven.  There is always reason to give Him praise!  Are you breathing?  Praise Him for the sair He supplies.  Can you see? Praise Him for the sunlight, even on the cloudy days it’s still there!  Are you sick?  Praise Him that your blood is still flowing through your body.  Do you have cancer (Yes, I do)?  Praise Him that your breathing, that He gave the doctors amazing knowledge, that you still have sight, hearing, taste, touch, the list is endless of things I can praise Him for, not matter what my situation.  Give Him praise.

But this verse goes beyond that.  If there be any praise!  What about that janitor in your church who does such a good job – doesn’t he deserve some praise?  How about the grocery clerk who helped you out with your groceries?  Or the bank teller who helps you with a transaction?  Or the convenience store clerk who assisted you today?  Don; these people deserved praise – in the way of a thank you?  A simple thank you is praise in it’s simplest form. And we as a church need to be doing more of it.  An attitude of gratitude is what it is often called.

Our world today has lost a lot in this area, and we need to show the way.  We as a church should be the most grateful people alive.  We should never have reason to gripe and complain.  So many blessings have been lavished upon us by our Heavenly Father.  Let’s let the world know that gratitude is he way to go!

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