Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.”
I want us to think about why Paul is concluding his whole letter this way. It is crucial to consider the verses before and after this list. Philippians 4:7 promises Jesus’s peace will guard our hearts, and Philippians 4:9 tells us to practice thinking in this manner, and God will grant you peace.
Paul said something similar to this in Romans 12:2, “2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Much of our joy in the Christian life is stolen when we think about the wrong things and take our focus off of the Lord God. If you ask the Lord to help you focus on these things, he will be faithful to help transform you and your mind, which will ultimately better equip you for serving him.
John 14:6, “6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus spoke these words to his disciples to remind them that they have witnessed his ministry and that everything he’s said and done is purposed to point them to God’s eternal kingdom. Truth cannot be swayed by time or emotion. Truth is unchanging, just as God is holy and unchanging. We have a very real enemy who is known as the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Your weapon against his lies is the sword of truth, Scripture.
Christian, you must be steeped in God’s word and know it so well that any hint of a lie from our enemy will trigger truth that we’ve gleaned from Scripture.
Paul uses “honorable” here to mean revere, or to have high regard to treat with deep respect. Paul is encouraging us to think about the weight of eternity and live in response to it. Although Scripture says our lives are like a mere vapor, we are not meant to live with irreverence for our life’s purpose. We are meant to be Christ imitators and reflect God to others, which is why we must heed Romans 12:2, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Renew your mind with Scripture and prayer daily. You must do it every day. Cling to Jesus and his word and spend time in communion with God.
Right thoughts about God from His Word are righteous thoughts. Thinking of right or righteous things is to consider holiness, which should lead our thoughts to God. God’s holy nature is most clearly revealed to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ, whom we should model our own lives after.
1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,”
Jesus is the only truly right man ever to exist. He graciously grants us access to his righteousness through giving us the deposit of his Holy Spirit, who dwells within us. He gives us his Spirit to bring us closer to God. Cling to biblical truth of and desire right thinking that God has placed in His Word.
Pure minds think on the Lord and consider his commandments and then obey by filtering their actions and words through the obedience of God’s word.
Pure hearts are selfless. They do not cling to selfish desires, but they desire to serve and care for those who God has placed in their lives. Pure hearts and minds are focused on Jesus and aim to emulate him.
In Paul’s context, lovely here isn’t a physical beauty, but that which is pleasing, agreeable, and attractive to one’s soul. Our enemy tries to attract our attention to the world’s lovely, temporary things to get our focus off of Jesus Christ.
There’s a common saying in the health and wellness community, “You crave what you eat,” meaning if you force yourself to eat foods that are bad for you, then you’ll continue to crave them. The opposite is also true. You can train your taste buds to crave things that are good for nourishing your body if you have the determination.
The same is true for your soul. If you feed yourself the daily bread of God’s truth by studying Scripture and spend time exercising prayer and communion with him, you will find yourself delighting in it and craving to feast and exercise godliness more. Only then will the things of God become sweet, desirable, and lovely.