Joy in Focusing on the Right Things (Philippians 4:8–9)
Paul finished his encouragements to the Philippian church by telling them: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me — everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8–9).
Paul had plenty of opportunity in Philippi to put what he taught into practice. It was shortly after he led a woman named Lydia to Christ that he and his companion, Silas, were arrested, severely beaten, bound in stocks and chains, and thrown in prison. Despite everything, Paul and Silas sang songs of praise in prison (Acts 16:16–40).
This was many centuries before anyone talked about anything like the power of positive thinking, but Paul pointed out the importance of right thinking. He encouraged the Philippians to put their focus on what is:
true and not on what is false
honorable and not on what is dishonorable
right and not on what is clearly wrong
pure and not on what is polluted
lovely and not on what is horrible
admirable and not on what is unworthy
Today, the question remains: How do we know what are good things to think on? Simply put, those are the things that God Himself thinks on, and we can find that out by reading, studying, and memorizing the Bible. It is there that we find out what God thinks about every subject important to our faith — where we learn truth, where we learn right from wrong, where we see what is honorable, where God shows us what is pure, lovely, and admirable.
Paul learned that in the midst of suffering, it';s important to make sure that you fix your thoughts on the things that will fill your mind and heart with joy — even when your present situation might make joyful thinking humanly difficult or even impossible. That is his final word to the Philippians, and it';s his message of hope and joy in Jesus Christ that has withstood 2,000 years of time.
What do you tend to think of when life seems difficult or even unfair? What do you think God wants you to think of?
Reread Philippians 4::8–9. What specific things should you think on at all times, particularly difficult times?