Friday, July 30, 2021

2021.07.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:8–9

Read Philippians 4:8–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them in Philippians 4:8? What eight types of things does he mention? What does he tell them to do with these things? What things does he now mention in Philippians 4:9—in what four ways have they come to know these things? For what purpose do they have such knowledge? What/who will be with them to bring this about? 

The end of Philippians 4:9, “and the God of peace will be with you,” points back to that peace of God in Philippians 4:7 and the nearness of God at the end of Philippians 4:5. So the apostle has not yet changed the subject. He is presenting to us those habits of thought by which the Lord displaces anxiety and gives us peace and joy.

At what do we aim with our thoughts? That will make a big difference in how much we struggle with anxiety. The word translated “meditate” in Philippians 4:8 most often has the sense of considering, or reasoning, or even reckoning/accounting. Here, then is a list of the kinds of things that are to be continually brought to bear upon our minds: whatever are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report—anything virtuous, and praiseworthy. 

The first two words have to do with the genuine and lasting character of things. True: real. Noble: substantial, significant. The second two have to do with their moral quality. Just: according to God’s law. Pure: without blemish or corruption. The next two have to do with the godly’s perception of them. Lovely: that which is endearing. Commendable: that which sounds pleasant. But this list isn’t exhaustive, as the last portion makes clear: anything that is virtuous or praiseworthy.

So, we know what our thoughts should be filled with, but how do we get there? After all, our hearts are deceitful. But the apostle isn’t finished yet. All those “things” in Philippians 4:8 are “the things” at the beginning of Philippians 4:9. God has graciously maintained to us our reason, our conscience, and the principles of His law which remain upon our hearts; yet, we are still sinners and must have our judgments subjected to the Word of God. We are not abandoned to ourselves but rather given the apostolic teaching: “the things which you learned and received and heard and saw” in the apostle. The Lord Jesus, by His Spirit, has preserved for us in the writings of His apostles and prophets a comprehensive and perfectly reliable guide to anything virtuous or praiseworthy.

Our minds are the battlefield on which is waged the contest between biblical joy and worldly anxiety. The Lord Jesus taught a parable about this. In Luke 8:14–15, he talks about the competition between the heart controlled by the “cares, riches, and pleasures of life” and the “noble and good heart” that is controlled by the Word. If we wish to escape the clutches of the anxieties of this life, then we need to reject worldly riches and pleasures and instead take what the Scripture teaches as the guideline for what to keep our minds full of.

With Scripture as the guide, the “noble and good heart” is not merely theoretical but practical. Philippians 4:9 says, “these things… DO!” While the Christian life rests entirely upon what Christ has done, it is still a “doing” life, and the Bible is to be for us a doing book. As Luke 8:15 says, those who hear the Word with a noble and good heart “keep it and bear fruit with patience.”

How is the battle for your mind going? Upon what do you spend the bulk of your thoughts? How are you availing yourself of the Scriptures to shape this?

Suggested songs: ARP32B “Instruction, I Will Give to You” or TPH173 “Almighty God, Your Word”

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