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Citizens: A Study on Philippians (Part 17)
October 11, 2020

Citizens: A Study on Philippians (Part 17)

October 11, 2020

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Citizens: A Study on Philippians

(Part 17)

We are coming to the last few words of Paul

  • In his letter to a church he started years earlier
    • And as much as these words gave strength/hope to those Xians
    • They give strength/hope to us as well
  • It’s amazing 2 think what the H.S. is revealing to us in our situation
    • Is the same in many circumstances as in the very first church
    • What I’m going thru in my life
      • There could be a man in Philippi going thru the same
      • As much as someone going thru what you are dealing with
  • Sorrow… frustration… confusion… weariness
    • And the Holy Spirit speaks truth to you and I…
    • The same truth he spoke to these people 1000’s of years ago

Last week we cont’d the last chapter 

Paul continues w/ examples on his final command to STAND FIRM

  • He wants us to see what that looks like in day 2 day life
    • Be of the same mind (v.2)
    • Rejoice in the Lord always (v.4)
    • Let your gentleness be made known to all (v.5)
    • Do not be anxious for anything (Last week)
  • And last week we saw that the key to fighting anxiousness
    • It’s prayer WITH thanksgiving
    • It’s rejoicing not in our circumstance… but our Savior
    • And the peace we can’t understand will guard our heart/mind

Today we pick up the story in verse 8

Phil. 4:8-9


Paul starts with this word FINALLY

Meaning we are wrapping up and here is one last thing I want u to get

  • And the ONE LAST THING is “Think about such things”
    • That word “THINK” in the Greek is La-geez-o-my 
    • Can translate: Think/Ponder/Reflect/Imagine/Meditate
  • In fact many translations opt 4 meditate b/c Paul is a Jewish Rabbi
    • Even tho it’s a Greek word… imagery is of Hebrew meditation
    • Think of Psalm 1 – Blessed is the man who meditates on the law
  • And Paul says: Think about or meditate on such things…
    • But there’s huge difference b/w eastern & Hebrew meditation
    • Eastern meditation is all about emptying your mind
    • Hebrew medication is all about filling your mind
  • So it’s not just about getting the toxic thoughts out of your brain
    • Its about putting life giving/healing thoughts into your mind
    • Paul is calling the Philippians & Us to fill our minds (with what)

Paul gives list of what we should think on

First: Whatever is TRUE

Greek: A-Lef-a-tase – That which corresponds with reality

  • Which ties into what Paul just said on anxiety (don’t be anxious)
    • Anxiety/Worry is all about what is UNTRUE
    • It’s all about the “What If”… the “Hypothetical”
    • Its not about reality – But what may or may not become reality
  • That’s why 90% of what we worry about never happen
    • We toss/turn/worry/can’t sleep
    • And most of that stuff never even happens b/c its not reality
  • Paul is saying we should think about “reality” not the “what ifs”

Which is why it is so important to read the scriptures every single day

  • B/C when u open your Bible and read… you fill ur mind with truth
    • Oh ya… that’s reality – This is what God says about me and life

Second: Whatever is NOBLE

Which was a word used for behavior fitting for Nobility or Royalty

  • Think of English royal family… if those poor kids did anything bad
    • It was an instant scandal… Diana/Harry messes up
    • But why always a scandal… Same as many other 20 year olds
    • It’s b/c they are royalty so people expect them to act that way
  • Funny b/c in a sense the same is true about you and me
    • You and I are sons/daughters of the King of the Universe
    • Eph – Walk worthy of the calling you have received
    • Or another way: Live up to who you really are
  • Paul is calling us to act but also think about what is fitting for us
    • Not to think on what is innoble/crass/trashy

Think about what is on TV everyday… or the internet

  • Average American spends 5-7 hours a day watching TV
    • That’s average… I’m not saying there is anything wrong w/ TV
      • Well maybe that much TV…
    • Love sitting down at end of day to watch a show w/ Michelle
      • Or turning on Jeopardy – American Ninja Warrior w/ family
      • I don’t see anything wrong with that…
    • But how much of what we watch is NOBLE… even the news
      • Regardless of what news u watch – Hard to say its all noble
  • And 5-7 hours per day… it’s basic mathematics
    • If you are reading the scriptures for 10 minutes per day
    • Watching TV/NEWS 7 hours per day
    • Which one is going to shape how you think about the world
  • Paul saying… the negativity… junk… isn’t what u should focus on
    • If you want to stand firm – Focus on things that are noble

Next Paul says: Whatever is right (Just)

Early on this word was used for weights/measurement in a market

  • It was the right way to measure b/c it was how God intended it
    • The end of Phil. 4 has tons of Edenic (eden) language
    • What the world was like b4 sin & injustice entered the world
  • Paul is saying that is what you should allow in your mind
    • Not so much about all the wrong & terrible things in the world
    • And YES we live in a world filled with pain and suffering
    • But the world is also filled with things that are RIGHT
  • And I think that is a huge problem in our world today
    • Just think about all the headlines we hear every single day
    • Headlines that get clicks not on good people doing good things
    • They’re Killer Death Hornets/Massacres/Death Counts/Scandals

B/C the news media feeds off what is wrong w/ the world

  • It’s why people who obsess over their favorite news feed…
    • Are the same people ready to fly off the handle at any moment
    • All you have to say is “DONALD TRUMP” or “NANCY PELOCI”
    • And they are ready to go crazy
  • Why? B/C all they think about is what’s wrong with the world
    • And trust me… there is a lot that is wrong in the world
    • But the news media is not an accurate representation of reality
    • It’s business… profit… and it’s so easy to live off headline bait
  • And we forget about what is right/just/good in the world
    • We forget that Jesus is the King of the universe
    • And his KINGDOM is spreading
  • Case in point: There’s more peace today than ever in world history
    • But yet so many believe world is falling apart at the seems
    • B/C we have more access 2 violence than ever b4 thru media
    • And its so easy to get sucked in
      • And yes there’s a time/place for that… fight injustice/evil
      • But Paul says… think of what’s right

Next up is PURE (Hag-nos)

Means: Not mixed or adulterated with any other substance/material

  • Pure… as in not to let ur mind be mixed w/ things contrary to God
    • That can mean lust
    • That can mean hatred
    • That can mean deception
  • Get away from things that compromises the purity of ur mind
    • If ur saved… those things have no place in your mind/life
    • Because they mix the world with the spirit living inside of you

Then Paul says: Lovely & Good Repute (Admirable)

Lovely things are those which you can tell are good and beautiful

  • Think of the feeling when we have a gorgeous Arizona sunset
    • Or you feel the awe of the Grand Canyon
    • Those things you feel inside when you see pure beauty
    • Or when a couple getting married with an awesome love story
  • And u can look & say: Ya… I know in my soul this is right and good
    • Its beautiful
    • I can admire that
  • Not things that are ugly and make you feel wrong
    • And again… we don’t ignore those things
    • We still fight the ugly and darkness in our world…
    • But what we meditate on (fill our minds with) should be lovely

Goes on (adj > noun) If there is anything excellent

Excellent in the Greek: A-rit-tay – word used for virtue or virtuous

  • And virtue was immensely important in the Greek world view
    • And think about where Paul is…
    • He uses this word in Philippi… middle of Macedonia
    • The epicenter of Greek culture
  • But in this culture: Virtue was always tied to function not morality
    • Virtue allowed you to perform proper function with excellence
    • And everything had its virtue – From tools to humans
      • So virtues allow us to function properly as a humans
      • And Godly virtue allowed u to function properly as a Xian
  • Paul says think on things of virtue – Enabling u to function as a Xian
    • To walk in function and fulfill your goal
    • Not on the opposite… things that inhibit you to walk out ur life

Last on list is things that are praiseworthy

So anything that deserved praise… anything commendable

  • Paul saying are the things that fill up your mind commendable
    • And would you be praised if people saw what occupied ur mind
    • B/C Paul is reminding us that we need to meditate on the good
      • And in that we will eliminate the bad
  • Not just emptying your mind of all that is unpraiseworthy…
    • No we need full minds… but of things are worthy of that place
  • I think so many times we just want to get the bad thoughts out
    • And in that we leave this empty space… eventually will be filled
    • Paul says – Make sure its something worthy of praise

Paul says 2 focus on God’s goodness – let that drive u

And one thing to point out in this list Paul gives us…

  • In all of what Paul says… None of this is distinctly gospel
    • Philippians as a whole is crawling with the gospel
    • But this list could have been in any ancient book on virtue
    • If Aristotle read this list… he would love it
  • And its b/c you can find truth in all of creation…
    • The Gospel is written on every rock… tree… mountian… wave
    • And Paul calls us not to just look for God in our God circles
      • Church/Home Group/Worship Concert
      • We far too often say “Man God showed up” and he did…
      • But he also shows up when u walk out ur front door too
  • Paul calls us 2 celebrate God’s goodness in all creation
    • Not just in the church stuff… see the fingerprint of God all over
    • In science and medicine/art/music/fashion/food…
    • The world is full of the beauty of God
      • But it’s so easy to miss it… oblivious to Gods goodness

NT Wright

The command in verse 8, to think about all the wonderful and lovely things listed here, runs directly opposite to the habits of mind instilled by the modern media. Read the newspaper, or open your new app… read the opinion section, the journalism or breaking news. How much of that is a true representation of God’s good and beautiful world?

How are you going to celebrate the goodness of the creator if you feed your mind only on the place in the world which humans have made ugly? How are you going to take steps to fill your mind instead with all the things that God has given us to be legitimately pleased with, and to enjoy and celebrate?

Because that is God’s heart for you – Fill you up with all that is good

  • But that begs the question… WHAT ABOUT evil in the world
    • Well lets keep reading

Phil 4:9

How do we know what is good/evil – should/shouldn’t think about

  • 1st: Whatever u learned from my teachings (All the letters)
    • And received… term 4 authoritative tradition passed down
    • In today’s terms that would equate to the Bible
    • Paul is saying: Listen… read the scriptures every single day
      • That is how you know what is good/evil – think on or not
  • 2nd: Or heard from me or seen in me
    • Meaning… look at my life
    • I’m a living example of what to do

1 Cor. 11:1

  • And Jesus is THE FILTER/LENS on how we should view the world
    • Jesus (Gospel) is how we know what is evil and what is good
    • Because we have to know and identify both
  • Most people wanna go heavy on 1 side / ignore the other (either)
    • Gen 1: God created heaven & earth… it’s good – lets party
    • Gen 3: The world is sinful… lets bunker in at church
      • Reality is that both are true
      • God created the world… food/drink/beauty & it was good
      • BUT we messed it up in garden… sin corrupted a lot of it
  • Yes… there is evil in the world – Jesus’ Gospel is filter and standard
    • Paul says… find the good in creation – we know all about evil
    • We hear it constantly from everywhere in our world
    • But find the goodness b/c it’s all over the place

Last Paul says: If u do that – God of peace be with you

Notice – Connection b/w how you think and peace (thinking & feeling)

  • Its not only true theologically.. but even scientifically – God wired
    • What starts in your in your mind… thoughts… meditation
    • Ends up coming through your heart… emotions… feelings
  • If u think on what is true/noble/right/pure… God of peace w/ you
    • The bummer is that the opposite is true as well
  • If you think about what is untrue/ignoble/impure
    • Then you will be filled with the fear… anxiety… anger… darkness
    • B/C your thinking and feeling are interconnected
  • Sometimes I think the church talks so much about the HEART
    • But we never want to talk about the mind
    • B/C the life of the mind is central to the way of Jesus

Matt 22:37

  • We love God with our heart and soul… BUT ALSO with ur mind
    • UR mind is either in worship to God / Rebellion against God
    • So what is your mind like… my mind like
    • Is it filled with Good or Evil… false assumptions or truth & hope

Prov 23:7


Men are not prisoners of fate but prisoners of their own minds

  • So much truth there – Some are prisoners of ur own mind
    • And we are the ones who close the door… we are the jailer
    • And create locked doors that only exist in our minds

2 Cor 10:3-5 (NIV)

What a powerful idea… Paul says there are strongholds in your mind

  • Strongholds: Used 4 military fortress in the side of a mountain
    • Completely unbreachable and impenetrable
    • There r strongholds in ur mind… dictate how u think of world
      • And they are anything but true/nobile/right
      • And Paul says we need to demolish those lies
  • Interesting – What Paul calls strongholds… we call neural pathways
    • Brain made of billions of neurons – all connected
      • When u repeat thought/action – start forming pathways
      • Thoughts start to flow thru your brain at a quicker pace
    • And the more you repeat a thought or action…
      • More those pathways form and become set in stone
      • And it causes you to “Think” automatically

Maybe you have heard of something called Neuro-plasticity (science)

  • Idea that our brains are like plastic… meaning not set in stone
    • Psychologist use to think by 20 u are who you are… no changing
    • “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks”
    • But now that is scientifically proven to be false
  • Your brain can actually change and grow
    • And if you have pathways of negativity… u can change that

Also heard about something called “POSSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY”

  • These psychology majors realized they only study unhappy people
    • Thought why don’t we study happy people
    • Instead of just making miserable people normal
    • Lets take normal people and make them happy
  • 15 years ago… that had never been done before
    • So these phycologist started to study happiness
    • And what they found is exactly what we already know
      • American myth “Success = Happiness” isn’t true
      • Happiness isn’t about circumstances but your brain
      • Its all about how they think about the world
  • One study on happiest people in the world – their 4 take-a-ways
    • 1 – Meditation or Prayer (are we fans of those)
    • 2 – Gratitude (write down 3 things a day ur thankful for)
    • 3 – Conscious acts of kindness (Serve, help, bless, share)
    • 4 – Invest in healthy relationships (think of others b4 yourself)
      • Crazy that all of these are seen in Jesus and the Bible
      • Christians have known this for centuries (all in Philippians)

But the difference b/w self help and the Gospel

  • With self help… the end is happiness – Gospel the end is Jesus
    • Paul says think on what is right/true/noble… all of that
    • But his end isn’t “And then you will be happy” (true)
    • No – He says “And then the God of peace will be with you”
  • To Paul this is about God interacting with you and your life
    • It’s about you and I being filled with the Holy Spirit
    • Enveloped by the peace of God
  • What Paul is saying… that even science is understanding now
    • How you think MATTERS
    • What a man thinks… he becomes – That is the truth
      • If u think on the hate/anger/fears/revenge… u will become
      • But if you think on right/noble/true things… u will become

And that is my prayer for all of us today

  • It the coming weeks/months/years (not change in a sermon)
    • May you demolish the strongholds in your life
    • Fear/Negativity/Perfectionism/Self-Loathing/Hate/Anxiety
    • May you relearn how to think as an act of worship to living God
      • And the God of peace will be with you


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