Summary: Christians must guard what enters their minds to gain the benefit of God’s peace in their lives.
In “How to Find Out Who You Are”, Nelson Price reports that 15 prominent college professors took this challenge: “If all the books on the art of moving human beings into action were condensed into one brief statement, what would that statement be?” The result of their deliberations was:
What the mind attends to, it considers; what the mind does not attend it to, it dismisses.
What the mind attends to continually, it believes. What the mind believes, it eventually does.
1. The human mind is amazing. It is capable of logical and abstract reasoning, deductive analytics, and the capacity for emotions such as joy, sorrow, confidence, and worry.
2. Consider the power of the mind in the healing of the body. For years, doctors have suggested that a positive outlook influences the healing of injuries and sickness. This seems feasible to us, given the control that the mind has over the body in normal operations, signaling events like heart rate, breathing, and motor skills.
3. It becomes obvious to readers of Philippians that Paul understood the mind’s influence in matters of Christian behavior; near the close of his letter, he encourages the believers at Philippi to rejoice in the Lord and not to be anxious about anything.
A. Not anxious about anything? What then is the alternative to worry? How does one maintain equilibrium in a world heaving with anxiety-creating situations? Paul’s answer: by prayer.
B. More specifically, Paul instructs them to pray with thanksgiving. To praise God for the fact that even in this awful situation, he is so mightily God, that his own can entrust their fate to him completely—such a beginning is the end of anxiety.
4. The result of this prayer with thanksgiving is “the peace of God”, an expression found nowhere else in the NT. It seems to refer to the tranquility of God’s own eternal being (Hawthorne, Philippians, p. 184), the calm serenity that characterizes his very nature.
A. Christians are welcome to share this “peace of God”. As they do, the inner strife of worry and anxiety ceases, but external strife resulting from disagreements among Christians must end as well (hence the reference to the women of v. 2).
B. Ultimately, “the peace of God” guards the hearts and minds of those who are in Christ Jesus, protecting them from the worry that pollutes their minds and corrupts their communion with Christ and each other.
5. From this exhortation, Paul moves on to describe six virtues that foster a healthy mind, one that is open and willing to submit to the Lordship of Christ. As one ponders these virtues, he trains his mind, improving his relationship to God and to others in the fellowship.
[As followers of Christ, we must guard what enters our minds to receive the benefit of God’s peace.]
II. Think about such things…SIX VIRTUES THAT FOSTER A HEALTHY MIND (v. 8)
1. Whatever is true: Accepting only those things that are truthful in every aspect of life, including thought, speech, and act. If believers in church at Philippi are to be harmoniously united, truth must be the standard by which they live. False doctrines or false accusations may cloud their judgment and invite animosity among the fellowship.
2. Whatever is noble: That which is lofty, majestic, lifts the mind from the cheap and tawdry to that which is noble and good. It is healthy for believers to meditate on things that stretch us. Paul says, “take your thinking to the highest level!”
3. Whatever is right: refers to the duty and responsibility of all Christians to God and each other. It concerns giving God and men their due. Each of us has instilled in us from childhood a sense of what is “right” or “just”; to deny that is to deny one’s self, too.
4. Whatever is pure: This refers not just to matters of sexual purity (as some suggest), but also to all matters that demand a Christian response, and includes purity in motives and actions, which indicates a pure heart.
5. Whatever is lovely: Set your mind on things that elicit from others not bitterness and hostility, but admiration and affection.
A. Do you know someone with this mindset? They are the most delightful people to be around! You enjoy being close to them, because they make you feel special!
B. Paul wants all the believers at Philippi to develop this trait. Imagine how great an effect it will have here at Fontana if we can develop this trait, too!
6. Whatever is admirable: In this context, admirable refers to “expressing what is kind and likely to win people, and avoiding what is likely to give offense” (Plummer, in Hawthorne, p. 188).
III. FROM THOUGHT TO ACTION (v. 9)
1. These excellent qualities are that which Paul asks the Philippians to focus their minds. However, virtuous thinking without virtuous action is of little consequence; therefore, Paul moves on to the closing statement of his instruction: Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me?put it into practice. Wow…what a statement! Let’s break Paul’s words down a bit: