“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.” (Philippians 4:8–9 ESV)
The post from yestereday, beating fear, anxiety & worry involves a transference of trust, was about how we must build belief in the fact that God is good, sovereign and faithful if we wish to overcome fear, anxiety & worry in our lives. Today, we will explore a profoundly practical way to begin doing that. The Apostle transitions from telling us not to worry (because God is in control) to telling us to fill our lives with things that inspire a worship of God instead of our idols. This is an incredibly practical thing that we can do. Far too often, we read this verse as a precaution to avoid thinking or exposing ourselves to immoral things – that is not the intent at all! This is an admonishment to find things that stir one’s affections for Christ. These are true, gospel saturated truths that evoke worship in the soul – this worship then overflows in to service. What kind of things?
- True things – seeing things as they actually are. Jesus is true (Matthew 22:16, Mark 12:14), God is true (John 3:33, 7:18, 8:26, Romans 3:4), Jesus’ flesh & blood is true food and true drink
- Honorable things – serious, reverent, holy, dignified, honest
- Just things – righteous, right, upright, virtuous, observant of divine & human laws
- Pure things – holy, morally upright, blameless, innocent, chaste, exciting reverence
- Lovely things – friendly, affectionate, sentiment & feeling, acceptable, pleasing
- Commendable things – worthy of praise
- Excellent things – virtuous, praise worthy, moral goodness
- Praise worthy things -things that evoke worship in your heart
THINK on these things. To think means to take a mental inventory, esteem, to take an account of and treat accordingly, reckon, run debits & credits, meditate, weigh, understand, count (accounting term), reason, regard, remind, understand or consider. This is no fleeting thought, what is in view is a disciplined effort to take a mental inventory of things that are right, things that stir up our affections, things that cause us to worship. This is only done with intentionality. There are so many different things vying for our attention nowadays (ie Facebook, Twitter, politics, athletics, activities, hobbies, relationships, family, friends, work, and the list goes on and on) – good things – it is the rare person that has disciplined himself or herself to drive out the distractions and dwell upon transcendent, ultimate, eternal things. It is easier to open up the computer, turn on the TV or run to the next activity than it is to still ones heart and mind and beg the Almighty to do what only He can do – irrigate our dry parched soul. Being intentional will never irrigate our souls, it merely places us in proximity to the waterfall of God’s grace, we still must dependently and desperately beg for His divine intervention. Being still is a hard fought discipline.
What do you dream about? What fuel are you feeding your fantasies? What sermon are you preaching to yourself when no one is there to hear it? What you dream about, fantasize about or preach to yourself shapes your life, emotions and actions. “If I only had that, if my life was more like hers, if I had a family like them, if my marriage looked like theirs, or if I was wired like him.” These things are idols, these things are false gods that we often place our trust in for deliverance, these hopes and dreams will never enable you to walk freely. We need to think upon greater things and beg God to root out these idols in our hearts. We must pray for God to enlighten our eyes, quicken our hearts and give us a desire for Him and Him alone. To be free, we must be willing to let go of our heart’s idols and desperately grasp a hold of God and God alone. We must come to a place, like Habakuk, where God alone is enough.
How do we begin to do this? We should use our time (especially our discretionary time) and be disciplined in our minds. The Apostle apparently believes that what we meditate upon, fantasize about and spend time turning over in our minds has a profound effect on the way that we feel, what we do, and how we behave. This is a more expanded version of 2 Corinthians 3:18: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV). This is a call to think more about the manifest glory of the Almighty – to see Him as who He really is. Spend time thinking about and mulling over the trueness of God, the holiness of God, the righteousness of God; find things (ie nature, Olympic competition, children, etc) the stir up your affections for a big, true, holy, loving, just, good, gracious God. It is not easy nor natural – there is no secret formula, but nothing in our faith is easy, natural or formulaic – our faith is supernatural. BEG GOD FOR HELP!