Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Read: Philippians 4:1-9
Consider: Paul opens this section of his letter to the Philippians with the words: ‘… stand firm in the faith …’ (Philippians 4:1). Notice that he calls the believers in Philippi ‘brothers and sisters’, ‘my joy and crown’ and ‘dear friends’. These were people he had a high regard and affection for. Yet in the next verse he mentions a disagreement between two women in the congregation (Euodia and Syntyche). Paul asks them to be reconciled, not at a superficial level, but to be ‘… of the same mind in the Lord’ (4:2). Paul highlights that Euodia and Syntyche had worked with him in spreading the gospel (4:2). This must have made it even more painful for Paul as he had worked closely with them. Paul’s purpose was to restore harmony between the women and thereby to increase harmony and unity in the Philippian church.
I particularly like Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things (4:8). We all know how hard it is sometimes to keep our minds focussed on spiritual things, rather than worldly concerns. Someone has said that Christians need to be careful that they do not become so heavenly minded, that they are of no earthly use. Does this stand contrary to what Paul is saying in the verse above? I don’t think so. Paul understood the pressures the Philippians were under to conform to the standards of the time in which they lived. His reasoning seems to be that whatever you think about most, influences all your thought patterns. In his letter to the believers at Colossae he said: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-2). This is basically the same exhortation he gives to the Philippians.
The church and believers today are not exempt from the pressure to conform to the world and its standards. It is all around us today with regard to issues like the sanctity of marriage, gender issues, the authority of the Bible and much more. There is a constant barrage in the media of information that expressly stands opposed to God’s standards. As Christians, we have the choice either to allow our minds to be filled with things that lift our focus to heaven, or draw our focus down to the world.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7)
Pray: Father, may we have the inner strength and resilience to stand firm in the Lord. May we keep our focus on you and your Son, Jesus Christ, so that our thoughts, words and actions truly reflect you. Give us your peace to guard our hearts and minds from negative influences. Amen