The Thinking that Leads to Spiritual Steadfastness Part 2
Dear BPCWA worshipper, We must remember that godly thoughts lead to godly living. I shall summarise the remaining areas of Philippians 4:8 and I pray it will help us reinforce our learning that will lead to us practicing what we have received and heard.
Whatsoever things are just. This refers to whatsoever is in line with the justice and righteousness of God and is therefore approved and acceptable to God. Whatever the Bible says is just, and the Bible must be the standard for judging all things. So, while the media and the world may try to evoke emotions to change public opinion or for greater readership, the Christian must constantly be on guard to question if their ideas are truly just. Since God is the infinitely just God, His people must think like Him, and hence behave like Him. This means that believers must constantly be thinking about how we can be righteous and fair even if the world constantly thinks of how to take advantage of others. Also, we must be just if we need to pass judgment on others, and not be biased or jump to our own conclusions, thereby falsely accusing others. We must not just tell our side of the story to gain an advantage for ourselves. When we play games, when we work, when we do business, or when we handle situations, we must be conscious of being upright, fair, and honest, not just seeking our own cause. Failing to focus on just thoughts makes us unstable in our testimony.
Whatsoever things are pure. This pertains to the purity of morals and doctrines as well. In morals, it describes chastity, modesty, sexual purity, and the absence of filthy carnality. The world seeks to sexualize everything. Premarital sex, cohabitation, and polyamorous relationships are the norm in the world. Purity in our thoughts, feelings, and in conversation with others must rule our minds. Modesty, and not how you look, must be your priority when you buy clothing and when you dress up. Concerning motives, purity relates to being genuine and sincere when we do anything for God or man. Pure motives do not cloak actions for self-gain, or praise of man, but aim for the good of others and the glory of God. Regarding doctrines, God calls us to separate from falsehood, to come out from them, and touch not their unclean things. Biblical separation is about purity. Let us fill our minds with holy thoughts by listening to hymns, Bible readings, and sermons instead of listening to or watching what will lead us to unclean thoughts. Failing to maintain pure thoughts makes us unstable when temptations arise.
Whatsoever things are lovely. This is about thoughts that make oneself lovely to others (e.g. amiableness), as well as loving thoughts (e.g. wishing the best towards others). An impatient, grouchy, and obnoxious person is unlovely. People who are difficult to get along with or refuse to be pleased are not lovely. We should focus for example on thoughts of being gentle, kind, patient, understanding, forbearing, gracious, helpful, and considerate. To have lovely thoughts towards others, push away thoughts of resentment, envy, and jealousy. Replace them instead with thoughts of desiring to see blessings upon others. Even when we are offended and mistreated, we should bear no evil thoughts towards our enemies, but instead, do good to them that hate us, despitefully use us, or even persecute us (Matt 5:44). Certainly, the loveliest thought we can have is to share the gospel of salvation to others so that they may have the eternal blessing in Christ. Focusing on lovely thoughts makes us stable in Christlikeness.
Whatsoever things are of good report. This describes thoughts that dwell on what is good in others as well as what contributes to good thoughts in situations. Our minds tend to love to dwell on the imperfections and inadequacies of others. We love to dwell on gossip, i.e. bad reports of others, be it from the grapevine or the media. Instead of cynical and critical thoughts, God calls us to look for and think about the good aspects of others. Dwell on and appreciate the good points of your parents, spouse, children, and friend. See the good in others instead of jumping on their flaws and failures. Notice the good things they do for you, how hard they try, not just their weaknesses and their mistakes. Concerning good reports of situations, Christians must focus on the goodness of God rather than the problems in life. Also, we must be careful not to gang up against authorities and leadership, be it in the home, the government, or the church. There is no perfect home, government, or church. But this does not mean that we ignore sin and be gullible, not help the person to stop sinning, turn a blind eye to doctrinal errors, not point out errors lovingly, and do what is right. Also, do not jump on the conspiracy theory bandwagon because they focus on and even fabricate evil reports. When someone seems to offend you, e.g. cut in front of you in traffic, consider thoughts about perhaps they have a family emergency, rather than that they are being nasty and trying to irritate you. Focusing on good reports helps us have stable relationships with others, respond in a godlier way in situations, and stop the sinful traits of murmuring and complaining which displease God.
Whatsoever there be any virtue. This implies outstanding goodness. It speaks of qualities that make someone or something stand out as excellent. Of course, this is not about being a high achiever in the secular realm. Rather, it points to qualities that make me fulfill God’s intended purpose for saving me. The communicable virtues of God such as holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are such examples. The injunction is to dwell on things that will make me meet the mark of the high calling of salvation, ie be as sanctified as possible by His grace. To do this, I push away thoughts that make me a lethargic and mediocre Christian. Choosing that which is of greatest spiritual excellence is how I think when I am making choices. I focus on what drives me to want to live a godly life instead of wanting to skip church, skip Bible studies, skip serving, skip fellowship with others and just do what my flesh wants. Are you the best that you can be spiritually for God as a parent, single, teen, or senior? We do not become great by aiming low. Stability comes by aiming high on spiritual things, ie pressing towards to mark in the Christian race as Paul puts it. This means desiring to be the best Christian I can be and not just following the minimum standard of what is deemed as “Christian”.
Whatsoever there be any praise. These are thoughts about things that God would recognize and approve as commendable. It is certainly not about seeking flattery or vain glory. The key purpose of all thoughts is to bring about actions that will draw “well done” from God and bring praise to His Name. But what is praiseworthy in the eyes of the world is not necessarily so in God’s eyes and ways. God’s word must be the qualifier because there are family values, lifestyles, and goals that the heathen feel are praiseworthy but are not so in God’s eyes. The Apostle Paul is an excellent example of a life controlled by thoughts of praise. He counts all things but dung, i.e. whatever high achievements that man would praise are incomparable to knowing Christ. He is more concerned about what God thinks of him and what would bring glory to God instead of to himself. So, whenever we serve God or do something for someone, our thoughts must be about what pleases God instead of man, and how to make ourselves unknown to the point where others only think about God instead of ourselves.
I pray that this summary of Philippians 4:8 over these 2 pastorals would jog your memory and stir your mind afresh to think as God instructs us to do so. We need to keep checking our thoughts and replacing them with these areas listed. It is a constant battle – a battle for the mind. When we do so, we will stop vacillating in our daily walk but will be able to stand fast in Christ to become more like Him and be more useful for Him on earth. Yours in our Lord’s service,