Summary: Sermon 11 and final in a study in Philippians
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
During the time I was a police officer I worked with a man I do not mind naming here. His name was David Diaz and the last I knew he had left our department to work for the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). That is a good thing; I’m happy that God has people in organizations such as that.
In the course of a conversation I had with Dave one day I mentioned that one of my favorite passages of scripture was Philippians 4:6-7
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
His response shamed me, not because he was trying to shame me but because it exposed my spiritual immaturity to myself and caused me to go away in soul-searching contemplation.
You see, at the time I saw verses 6-7 shallowly as a promise to take care of my needs and keep me from worry and that is what attracted me to them.
Then Dave said to me, “Yes, that is a great passage but I like the verses that come next” and he went on from memory to cite verses 8 and 9.
My selfish focus was on having the promise of the peace of God, where his focus was on having and honoring the God of peace.
In a recent email exchange I had with one of the pastors in our association, Dan Preston, he referred to the parable of the Prodigal Son and verse 31 of that passage, where the father says to the older son, “…all that is mine is yours”. Dan went on to say, ‘For me, realizing that I am His and He is mine, includes everything that He has He has given to me. Believing this, how could I ever be concerned with what I deserve as His son?” He ended saying that what we sometimes fail to recognize is “…that all who become His children share this limitless inheritance – the reward is Him!”
This might call to mind verse 19 of the chapter we are studying, when Paul assures the Philippian readers and also us that “…my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”. That is an assurance that God is well able to take care of His children in this life and the next, but Dan was right to indicate that if we have Him, in Him we have all we need.
MIND THESE THINGS
Going back to our text verses now, Paul is finishing his letter so he says ‘Finally, brethren”, and admonishes them, as we will see, concerning their thinking (verse 8) and their doing (verse 9).
First, I want to call something to your deliberate thought process in order to avoid any of us subconsciously receiving these next words of Paul as an encouragement to some sort of transcendental meditation; some ‘feel good’ philosophy, and then erroneously calling it Christianity.
Remember, this is the Apostle Paul. He was always thinking of Christ. His focus and his teaching was always of things pertaining to the cross and salvation.
We have also noted more than once in the past that there was nothing casual or accidental about his choice of wording. Paul was deliberate and chose his wording to say precisely what he needed to say. In addition to this we remind ourselves that this is the inspired Word of God.
So let’s go on to verse 8 with all of this fresh in our thoughts.
First, there is nothing unusual or mystical about any of these words. They are pretty straight up, and even though different translations may use slightly different words the meaning of them is simple enough.
So I went to the Lockman Foundation’s Amplified version in order to just get the fuller meaning of verses 8 and 9. Here is verse 8 in the Amplified.
“For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].”
Fix your minds on these things. Dwell on them. This is calling for much more than a passing notice. And this is not the only place Paul speaks of using our minds, is it?