Summary: Part 9 of study of Philippians
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
Bible-Teaching Ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
Dr. Russell Brownworth, Pastor
As she opened her Christmas present, the wife saw he’d given her a beautiful skunk-skin coat. She exclaimed, "Oh, it’s beautiful, but I just don’t understand how this nice coat can come from such a foul-smelling little beast." Said her spouse, "Listen, I don’t expect any thank-you’s, but lay off the personal remarks, okay?"
Paul knew how to say thank you! In this short passage we find him unveiling the principle of finding contentment in any circumstance. He says, "...for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances" (11b).
That’s plain! That also describes the only framework for joy that is lasting and worthwhile.
I believe too many Christians have given up the idea that joy is for THIS LIFETIME. In a rather fatalistic approach to life, some have decided that we will only know real joy in heaven -- we’ll just have to wait. There is a Greek word that expresses that philosophy, baloney!
Joy is like the name of the candy my daughter buys occasionally, "Now & Later". There is no reason on earth why there shouldn’t be joy. Paul thought so; we should. Paul lived so; we should. Maybe you’ve lost some of that joy; you shouldn’t! I invite you to see Paul’s positive steps to reclaiming the joy...
Step One - Renew Your Thought Life
Finally, brothers, 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)
What we think is vitally important. Chuck Swindoll wrote:
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past -- we cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude -- I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it."
It is critically important for believers to reclaim our thought life. Today we are assaulted with audio and visual pollution. It’s hard to watch ten minutes of television without some attack on Christian values.
Paul says CHOOSE HIGHER!
Paul gives us a "shopping list" of values that helps us renew our thought life:
Situation ethics has become the norm in our society. In a recent survey only 23% of evangelical Christians expressed a strong belief in absolute truth. This was in response to the statement,
"There is no such thing as absolute truth; different
people can define truth in conflicting ways and
still be correct."
Wow! When believers have no framework for truth something needs to be reclaimed. The reality of the survey indicates that even a large segment of evangelical Christians has bought the concept of situation ethics, rather than accepting by faith the Scripture as absolute truth.
The impact of this is a society that makes allowance for every aberration that comes along, rather than a society that corrects. Our aberrations will not set us free, but truth will. Truth has a name -- we call Him Jesus.
What exactly is "noble"? The language of the Bible suggests that this is connected with the same root word as "holy". This means we are moving away from the physical and into the spiritual.
This word should be no stranger, as it captures what we would call "the American work-ethic". It generally refers to the sense of duty. There is a job to be done -- do it!
Paul returns to the root word for "holy" again. Slightly different, this refers to moral purity. A believer should concentrate on keeping his thoughts scrubbed-down. I do own a television -- I have determined that my eyes and ears, mind and heart will not profit by most of what is offered by today’s media, which seems to believe that "alley-cat" morality is preferable than moral integrity and sexual fidelity. In the end, it is difficult to "think on" pure themes if you are constantly filling your "thought-tank" with sludge.
I like this word a lot! It is a compound of two words that form an English phrase: "to kiss towards". One author said, "Lovely is found only here in the New Testament and has a fundamental meaning of ’that which calls forth love’ (prosphile’). It covers a host of qualities but basically means that the person should be attractive, lovable."