The Bible says in Philippians 4:8, 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. This is a tremendous verse in the Bible that has to do with positive thinking. Some people think that the subject of the power of positive thinking is not Biblical, but that depends upon in what context positive thinking is emphasized.
According to Philippians 4:8 positive thinking is very definitely an important part of how a Christian should think. There is a positive side to almost everything. A glass of water may be either half-full or half-empty, depending upon how you look at it. Looking at the positive side of things should go hand-in-hand with being a person of faith. If I believe that God can do anything, and if I believe that God is involved for my good in everything that happens to me, then surely I can look for a positive side to everything that happens.
We are told to think about whatsoever things are true. In the world there is both truth and falsehood. You can look at that which is true and think about it, or you can look at that which is false and think about it. The choice is yours. In order to think about that which is true, you must be able to identify that which is true. A Christian should be good at that. We know the truth of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. If we study the Bible we can know the truth about many other things also. The truth is a very important part of being a Christian. We seek the truth; we believe the truth, and Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about that which is true.
We are also told to think about whatsoever things are honest. The word that is translated honest in this verse comes from a Greek word that refers to things that are reverend or religious in nature. Its other uses in the New Testament are found in First Timothy and Titus and are always translated with the word grave. When we think about things, there is a right way to think about them and a right way to interpret them. This good way of thinking about things has to do with the reverend and the honorable and the grave side to things.
When we think about things, we also need to think about whatsoever things are just. Of course, the word just means righteous. Justice and righteousness refer to the right thing. In the world there are things that are right and there are things that are not right, just like there are things that are good and things that are evil. We will not be doing ourselves any good or doing anyone else any good if we waste time thinking about all the things that are unjust. We can only think about so many things, so lets make sure we stay positive and think about whatsoever things are just.
We should also think about whatsoever things are pure. If you want to be pure then think pure thoughts. When you consider other people, give them the benefit of the doubt. Think pure thoughts about them. Do not blame other people for what you think about. No matter what other people do and no matter how other people dress, you have it in your power to think pure thoughts. If you think the right things, it will be much easier to do the right things. One good way to make sure that you treat the opposite sex appropriately is to take the advice that Paul gave to Timothy. He told Timothy to treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters. Of course, what you think about can be sometimes affected by what you look at. If certain activities of yours lead you to think things that you ought not think, then stop those activities. When we pray, we ask God to lead us out of temptation. Therefore, we should also remove ourselves from the place of temptation when it is in our power to do so. But ideally, you should be so disciplined in your thought process that no matter what you see, you still think only whatsoever things are pure. A young man should never blame a young woman for his own inappropriate thoughts no matter how immodestly she might dress. He has the capacity to think what he ought to think in every situation because he is told here in Philippians 4:8 to think about whatsoever things are pure.
Thinking about things that are pure refers to more than sexual purity. It means for us to think about the purest, highest, and most noble of thoughts in every thing, concerning every subject. Never give up thinking about the best way, hoping for the best way, and planning for the best way of doing things. Christians should always be striving for the purest way, the best way.
We are also told to think about whatsoever things are lovely. The stem of the word that is translated lovely comes from the Greek word phileo that means to love or to like in regards to friendship. Believers should think friendly and amicable thoughts. Unlike the carnal nature of man that is so easily antagonistic, unkind, and unfriendly; the believer in Jesus should strive to be a friend to those around him. It all starts by thinking friendly, amicable thoughts.
Good news is good for the soul. The bearer of bad news is not someone that any of us look forward to receiving. Of course, the gospel means good news. There is plenty of bad news in the world, and there are many people who spread the bad news and who talk about it. Maybe even some preachers of the gospel have forgotten that the word gospel means good news. When Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about whatsoever things are of good report, its talking about everything around us: all people and events that come our way. When we say that someone is famous, we are talking about what has been said about them. Good reports have been made about them. Christians should be people who make good reports because they think about the things that are of good report.
There is a good side and a bad side to almost everything. Look on the good side. Look for what is good in what you see and hear, so that you can think good thoughts, the thoughts of faith and hope. Philippians 4:8 says that if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Always have the highest of standards, but do not allow your high standards to cause you to become critical and negative towards things that do not meet your standards. This verse says that if there be any virtue and any praise, to think on these things. Do not think about the things that have failed to measure up, think about the things that have succeeded.
One of the most critical and most important aspects of the Christian life has to do with what you think about. Learn to train and exercise your mind. Many people exercise their bodies in order to increase their physical capacity, but how many exercise their minds to improve the quality of their thoughts. It can be done, because we are commanded here to do it. What you think about will result in what kind of person you are. What you think about will result in what you do and what actions you take in any given endeavor. In order to be a person of faith, there is a storehouse of good and positive thoughts that need to be filling our minds. What should someone think about who is a believer in the Almighty God and in His Son Jesus Christ? Philippians 4:8 makes it wonderfully clear: 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.
Its one thing to tell someone to do what you say, but you have no right to do so unless you can also tell them to do what you do. Paul said in Philippians 4:9, Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. The same things that the Philippians heard in Paul, they also saw in him. Too bad that more people who call themselves preachers of the gospel have not been able to have the same effect on their hearers. Actions speak louder than words. Jesus said, Blessed are those who do and say these things.
These people learned from Paul. They learned the gospel. They learned the principles of faith and love and hope. What were the elements that took place that resulted in these people learning? We saw in Philippians 4:9 the important point that the teacher of the gospel must back up his words with his deeds. We do not wish to underestimate the fact that Paul did bring to these people the right words. In order for someone to learn, that person must have a good teacher. One of the problems in the world has to do with people going to the wrong place and hearing the wrong teachers. A good teacher is a valuable commodity and a prized possession. Jesus was a teacher.
In order for learning to take place there must be a good teacher who knows how to teach and who has the gift to teach. But in order for learning to take place, there must not only be a good teacher, there must also be good students. There is a generation of people who have hard hearts and deaf ears, and who will not hear and will not receive even though very good teachings have been delivered to them. Paul said that the Philippians had learned and received and heard things from him. They learned because they willingly received. They were only able to receive because they heard. And they were only able to hear because the Apostle Paul came to them and spoke. Of course, the Apostle Paul came to them because He was sent by God and God opened the door that no man can shut.
Parents need to remember this principle of learning whereby there must be both a teacher and a willing student in order for learning to take place. Some people think that the primary responsibility of a parent is to be a punisher. Thats not true. One of the primary responsibilities of a parent is to be a teacher, teaching the child. The responsibility of the child is to be a good student, listening to the parent. If either one of these elements is missing; learning does not take place. If there is not a good teacher, then learning will not take place. If there is not a child willing to be taught, then learning will not take place either. If a child grows up to be foolish, it might be the fault of the parent who did not teach. On the other hand, maybe the parent did perfectly well as a teacher, but the child was an unwilling student who would not listen. In such a case it is all the fault of the child. In the Ten Commandments there is one commandment that refers to the parent-child relationship, and it puts the responsibility on the child. It says to the children, Honor your father and your mother. Part of honoring them is to listen carefully and respectfully to their teachings.
In Philippians 4:9 Paul told the Christians in Philippi to make sure that they do the things that they had learned from him. In the previous verse there was an emphasis on thinking the right things. The first part of this verse talked about learning and hearing, but there also must be a doing of that which is heard. Its one thing to hear and to claim to agree with what has been heard; but its another thing to put into practice what one has heard. Dont be hearers only, but doers of the word. Just as there is a danger that someone would be a preacher and not be a doer, there is also a danger that someone would be a hearer and not be a doer. The right way to listen to Gods Word is to use half of your brain to study it and think about it and use the other half to think of ways of putting it into practice.
In the rest of Philippians chapter four for the most part Paul speaks of his own material and physical needs and the relationship that he had with the believers in Philippi in this regard. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:10, But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me has flourished again; wherein you were also careful, but you lacked opportunity. Paul was in prison perhaps at the end of his life, close to the time of his own execution. He had been forsaken by some other Christians. It appears that perhaps he had suffered recently some time of desperate material lacking, because of the amount of time that he gives in writing to the Philippians about his material condition and their help in that regards. His response to all of this was to put into practice what he had told all of us to do. He said, I rejoiced in the Lord greatly. The greater the trouble, the greater the reason to rejoice in the Lord. Paul looked at the positive side to what had happened to him. The Christians in Philippi showed their loyalty and care for Paul in spite of the obstacles that made it difficult for them to do so. The Lord was still taking care of him, in spite of the enemies that he had and in spite of the difficulty of his circumstances. The Lord is able.
Copyright; 2001 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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