Summary: What we think about matters - it matters in maintaining the peace of God, and it matters in how we respond and the things we do.
Thinking and Doing
Philippians 4 – part 2
October 14, 2007
Phil 4: 8, 9 NIV 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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
These two verses can be summed up in the title of this morning’s message: Thinking and doing
Paul tells the Philippians “think about such things,” and then in the next verse, he writes, “put it into practice..”
So, first, let’s think about thinking – how we think, and what we think about.
(Glass half-full vs half-empty - illustrate with a glass of water)
If you’re an optimist, you might describe the glass as half full. If you were a pessimist you might describe it as half empty. If you were a realist, you might respond to the question whether this glass is half full or half-empty like this: that depends on whether you are pouring or drinking. If you were a functionalist, you might note that the glass is simply twice as large as it needs to be.
If you were logical, you might say it’s not half full or half empty. It’s half full of water and half full of air.
If you were cynical, you might say that the glass will be broken soon anyway, so who cares?
If you were pathological, you might fear the contents of the glass, because water causes drowning.
Of course, the purpose of the question is to demonstrate that the situation may be seen in different ways, depending on one’s point of view, or attitude. Wikipedia
I read about a boy who brought home his report card. It was filled with poor grades. "What do you have to say about this?" asked his father. "One thing for sure," the boy replied, "Dad, you can be proud. You know I haven’t been cheating!" Morning Glory, August 12, 1993.
Here’s a boy who was really hoping his dad had a “glass half-full” viewpoint.
During his days as president, Thomas Jefferson and a group of companions were traveling across the country on horseback. They came to a river which had left its banks because of a recent heavy rain. The flooded river had washed the bridge away. Each rider was forced to cross the river on horseback, fighting for his life against the rapid currents. The very real possibility of death threatened each rider, which caused a traveler who was not part of their group to step aside and watch. After several had plunged in and made it to the other side, the stranger asked President Jefferson if he would ferry him across the river. The president agreed without hesitation. The man climbed on, and shortly thereafter the two of them made it safely to the other side. As the stranger slid off the back of the saddle onto dry ground, one in the group asked him, "Tell me, why did you select the president to ask this favor of?" The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the president who had helped him. "All I know," he said, "Is that on some of your faces was written the answer ’No,’ and on some of them was the answer ’yes.’ His was a ’Yes’ face."
C. Swindoll, The Grace Awakening, Word, 1990, p. 6.
In exhorting us to think about this list of things, Paul writes us here in Philippians chapter 4 verse 8 about having a yes face. He’s not necessarily writing about optimism, per se. He’s not writing about positive thinking. But he is telling us the importance of our thought life on our peace of mind.
Last week, you may remember that we talked about how Paul’s admonition a few verses earlier than this morning’s text – in verse 4, where he encourages us to rejoice in the Lord always – is not simply an admonition to positive thinking. Paul was real about his circumstances – he was genuine. He talked about his hardships, he talked about his suffering. He was real with the readers of his letters, which we refer to today as epistles. He was real with God – remember his prayer – three times, asking God to remove the thorn in the flesh that was causing him suffering?
But let me see if I can draw a distinction between positive thinking, and a positive attitude. Often, positive thinking, especially spiritualized positive thinking, tends to deny reality. For example, I can’t say that I have a headache when I really do, because somehow that negative statement has an impact on my headache. It might prolong it. It might keep God from granting me relief from my headache. At least that’s the way the theology goes. Positive and negative statements somehow create reality.