Philippians 4:8-9

"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.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me,
or seen in me-put it into practice.
And the God of peace will be with you."
Philippians 4:8-9
When I ran track in high school, my coach would often remind us that ‘you get out of it what you put into it.’ Meaning, if you consistently train hard in practice, you will be rewarded by running faster times in your meets. The opposite is also true, when you fail to train hard or train at all, your times will be significantly slower.

This principle is similar to what Paul says in Philippians 4. If we allow ourselves to focus on angry thoughts and have anger in our words, angry actions are sure to follow. If we harbor bitterness in our minds, true forgiveness and reconciliation is impossible. When our hearts covet our neighbors’ belongings, it becomes difficult for us to be generous. It can become difficult to be generous whether we have a lot or very little.

The question remains though, how? How do we think about these things?

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones offers us some practical advice in this area. He said ‘you cannot truly deal with the negative unless you are at the same time doing the positive. The way to get rid of the defects is to cultivate the virtues’.  What Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones states that we can’t just solely focus on stopping the negative thoughts in our minds. We must simultaneously become proactive by placing positive thoughts in our mind as well. This is exactly what Paul is getting at. Paul offers a solution that isn’t an either or. It’s being protective of the negative thoughts that creep into your mind, while also fixing your mind on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable.

No matter how hard we try and as much as we hate to admit it, it’s impossible to just stop having sinful thoughts. This is why we must be careful to protect our minds, and we must be equally proactive to direct our minds. The only way we direct our minds is by focusing our eyes on Jesus. When we fix our eyes on Him, our mind begins to see whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. We are able to see these things not because of our strength, but because that is who Jesus is.  Jesus is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. So, fix your eyes on Jesus today.
Questions for reflection:
  1.  What area(s) do you especially struggle with focusing on angry thoughts?
  2.  Specifically, what thoughts can you bring to mind to replace negative thoughts when they arise?
Jay Quick | Student Ministries Director

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