Philip. 4:8, 9: True believers must think on matters beyond ordinary thought, otherwise they will not remain true believers. “Whatever is true... honorable...right...pure...lovely...of good repute...if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise let your mind dwell on these things” (v. 8).
Just as “righteous Lot (was) oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men,” and his “righteous soul (was) tormented day after day with their lawless deeds,” believers in Christ are also oppressed and tormented by the same kind of people. And as God rescued righteous Lot, He is rescuing the godly people of our time from temptation and sin (2 Peter 2:7- 9). The Bible calls these rescued people righteous; we call them true believes. Our text tells us what we must think about if we are to be God’s righteous people.
We all know the meaning of these words but I have found it helpful to think on synonyms of these words. How better could we dwell on these things? And we must dwell on them in order to get these virtues deep down into hearts and live them out in our lives. Much or what gets our attention and dominates our thoughts are antithetical to these. This is why we need to be in the Word, share thoughts with other believers and spend time in prayer. Join me in a time of thought and reflection, concentration and application; join me as we “dwell on these things.”
l. Think about whatever is honorable (ethical, good, honest, respectable, worth while, worthy). During the recent hard-fought campaign, many false and ugly statements, as well as personalities, were heard and seen, which no doubt influenced our minds and lives. Did we watch too much television? Did we argue with TV images? Were we bombarded and provoked by ugliness and stinkin’ thinkin’, as recovering alcoholics say? Don’t we admire honorable people? They get that way by thinking on honorable things. We too must let our minds dwell on whatever is honorable.
2. Think about whatever is right (correct, exact, righteous). We will think about wrong things and how they contrast with right things, but we must not let our minds dwell on wrong things until they become our mindset. This is why staying in God’s Word is so vitally important. His Word is right because it is true. We should dwell on it and trust it to guard out hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
3. Think about whatever is pure (chaste, clean, virtuous, undefiled). Gold is refined by smelting until all the dross comes to the top and is removed; then it is considered pure. Let your mind and life be refined, as by fire, until it is purified; then keep it pure and undefiled by dwelling on whatever is pure.
4. Think about whatever is lovely (loveable, endearing). Albert Barnes wrote that even though it is difficult to love that which is unlovely and to cast one’s affections where they are undeserved, but a man must love his wife unconditionally, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. A lovely, loving wife is different, and a man is different who lets his mind dwell on his loving wife. Thinking about what is lovely makes the thinker lovely and loving.
5. Think about whatever is of good repute (esteemed, of good reputation). “A good name is to be chosen above riches.” And one gains a good name by thinking good thoughts and acting on them. Good role models are indispensable. Every true believe should guard his reputation because he or she is a role model to others.
6. Think about whatever is excellent (first class, worthy, surpassing others, eminent). It is said that one becomes like the God he worships. We have an excellent God, the only God, and we become like Him by dwelling on Him. And think of the many you know who have become like Christ by their fellowship with Him. Dwell on what is excellent and don’t fill your mind with unimportant matters.
7. Think about those things that are worthy of praise (laudable, commendable). Lord, help us to understand what is praiseworthy and what is not, and bless our efforts with character.
This is what true believers think about.
You are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.