Thought Life

Philippians 4:8-9

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

Background:

  • Paul has just given instructions about gentleness, joy, settling disagreements, and being thankful.  Before Paul closes the letter, he wants to point out one final thing.  He tells the Philippian church to “fix” their thoughts in a certain way.  I think we know without intentional focus, our thoughts run wild.   We worry, judge, and think about things we would never admit out loud.  Since God knows this about our sinful natures, He uses Paul to let us know that we need to stop the mental hamster wheel and focus.
  • Let’s break down this list of what we are supposed to be fixated on:
  1. “True” – (alethe) “has the sense of valid, reliable, and honest – the opposite of false.  It characterizes God and should also characterize believers.”
  2. “Honorable” or “Noble” – (semna) this is used in Timothy and Titus as well in describing church leaders.  Its a quality that makes them worthy of respect.
  3. “Right” (dikaia) “refers to what is upright or just, conformable to God’s standards and thus worthy of his approval.”
  4. “Pure” (hagna) – “emphasizes moral purity and includes in some contexts the more restricted sense of ‘chaste'”
  5. “Lovely”  (prosphile) – occurs only here in the New Testament and “relates to what is pleasing, agreeable, or amiable.”
  6. “Admirable” (euphema) “it denotes what is praiseworthy, attractive, and what rings true to the highest standards.”
  • Then Paul changes the sentence structure to a conditional clause using “if” anything is “excellent” (arete) or “praiseworthy” (epainos).  “Paul knows that when we continually center our minds on such thoughts as these, we shall live like Christians.” 
  •  (All quotes from Expositors Bible Commentary) 

Application Questions:

  • How proactive are you in “fixing your thoughts” away from their human defaults – toward the qualities listed here?
  • When you look at the list of the things you should think about, who do you think you could safely think about all the time and still fall in these parameters?  God has every one of these attributes – so when fear, pride, or just plain old meanness start wanting us to mental chew them around, we need to start thinking about Jesus. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  
  • Paul knew something about being a captive.  Captives don’t get freedom to go where they want and do what they want.  So our runaway thoughts need to be taken captive.  We have the power through God’s Holy Spirit to stop judging, playing out fantasies of a different life, or thinking about things that are the untrue, impure, and unlovely.
  • What thought patterns are the most destructive in your life today?  What can you do to take them into captivity and fix your thoughts on Christ instead?
  • Are there any TV shows or movies that might be fueling bad thought patterns in your life that God is calling you to exercise discernment over?

Prayer:

Adoration: Praise God for each one of these attributes that He embodies – true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.

Confession:  Admit the stinkin thinkin habits that don’t fall into these categories.

Thanksgiving:  Thank God that His Word heals our minds.

Supplication:  Ask God to help you learn to take thoughts into captivity and focus on the good thinks He has in store.

 

 

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