Some Things to Think About
Bible Reading: Philippians 4:1-9
Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Years ago, when I was in the still in the Navy, and a new believer in Jesus, I did something that proved very helpful to me in my Christian walk. I went to a Christian bookstore and bought a little pack of Scripture memory verses. I had lots of free time on board the submarine, so I’d pull out those memory verses and worked on sticking them in my thinking. Philippians 4:8 was one of those verses. I remember some years later, when I was on watch at Trojan Nuclear Plant, how I was checking on the cooling tower, going over and over the various elements of this verse in my mind—thinking about thinking!
The word “think” in our verse is a present tense command to “reckon or take into account or ponder.” We are given here certain things that are to occupy our thinking. Now this is especially and extremely important, considering the nature of things in our society. Access to information has never been easier. Access to things to think about, contrary to this list, has never been easier. There’s a need to rein in our minds and our thinking such that our thought life is what it ought to be (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Have you ever heard the phrase, “garbage in, garbage out?” It is typically used with respect to computers, but it can be applied to our thinking. Proverbs 4:23 says “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” It is as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” Our destiny is tied directly to and starts with our thoughts. Biblical change takes place as our minds are progressively renewed through the working of the Spirit of God as He applies the Word of God to our hearts and minds. But we are active participants in the process, as we think on the things listed here.
Paul gives a list here of things and I don’t think it’s meant at all to be comprehensive. You may have noticed that the list is divided into two groups: six “whatevers” and two “if theres.” The verse has been deemed to be a brief biography of Christ since every one of these virtuous things is ultimately fulfilled in Him. To think on these things is to think of Christ, and to spend time considering His perfection in all these various ways. The things listed here are also true of the Word of God, which makes sense for it is the Word of Christ and He is its grand subject (Colossians 3:16; John 5:39).
Ray Pritchard has commented on this passage, “Did you know that the average person has 10,000 separate thoughts each day? That works out to 3.5 million thoughts a year. If you live to be 75, you will have over 26 million different thoughts. Already most of you have had over 2,000 separate thoughts since you got out of bed this morning. You’ll probably have another 8,000 before you hit the sack tonight. Then you’ll start all over again tomorrow. The principle behind Paul’s words is simple: Sin always begins in the mind and so does holiness. When Paul says, “think about such things,” the command is in the present tense: “Keep on thinking about these things.” Find what is true and think about it. Find the lovely and think about it. Find the virtuous and think about it. Do it and verse 9 says “the God of peace will be with you.” You can literally change your mind if you want to. How? By remembering that all that is best is embodied in a Person! I am speaking of Jesus Christ. If you link yourself with him, you are joined with the highest moral power in the universe. He is the embodiment of everything Paul has commanded us to do. It’s all in Jesus. All virtue, all beauty, all holiness, all truth, all that is good and right is found in him. This is not some abstract philosophy but a call to a personal relationship. My exhortation is simple. Hold on to Jesus! Think about him! Rest in him! Live in him!”
BE THOU MY VISION
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one
Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art
High King of heaven, my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all