1 So then, my brothers, you are dearly loved and longed for—my joy and crown. In this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends. 2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I also ask you, true partner, to help these women who have contended for the gospel at my side, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 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 moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. 9 Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Writing this letter to the Philippians, Paul not only wanted to express his gratitude for their support and friendship, but he also wanted to remind them to always strive to be like Christ. He was concerned for their spiritual growth and the advancement of the gospel.
Paul tends to give very specific and attainable goals to those he trained. He takes the initiative during this wrap-up of his letter to encourage unity, peace, joy, prayer, and even thought-wrangling! This transparent letter allows us to see the heart of a great apostle.
In Philippians 4:8, Paul urges his fellow believers to wrangle their thoughts and concentrate on the things of Jesus: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.”
Why would Paul want to encourage them and us to dwell on the true and pure? Why was this one verse so important to include in this personal letter?
Do you know how many thoughts, words, and images cross your mind in a day? Some experts estimate that we’re confronted with up to 5,000 visual images each day in America. Other experts tell us that 100,000 words cross our eyes and ears in a single 24-hour period.
Sure, the Philippians didn’t have access to that many, but Paul knew they too had images and words entering their brains all day every day.
Our brains create circuits that loop. If we dwell on negative thoughts or memories, it continuously loops negatively and results in worry, anxiety, and depression. However, if we consistently feed our brain with positive and pure thoughts, it will loop positively and result in happiness, peace, and joy.
Choosing to focus on Christ and the positive aren’t always easy. This is why Paul urges us to guard our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ. To guard is to watch over in order to protect or control.
Therefore, if we dwell (meditate, linger, think about at length) on positive and pure things—the things of Christ—then we’re choosing to guard our hearts and minds. We allow the peace and joy of Jesus to guard us as we travel the road to Christ-likeness.
One way I try to “dwell on the pure and lovely” is choosing to listen to positive music throughout the day. I find that even if the music is on in the background, I tend to be calmer and more upbeat. I also find that I will often wake up with these songs playing in my brain.
Other ways I encourage and fill my brain with positive neutrons are by: Scripture reading (even if only time for one verse!); choosing positive, encouraging friends; and serving others.
The hard one that God has to remind me of, more times than not, is to be still. In this hurry, hurry, world of 500,000 images, 100,000 words, and endless to-do lists, this is the hardest for me. However, it’s the most effective. Of course, it works best for me if I first turn off everything, then spend a few moments reading Scripture and praying, and then try to quiet the anxiety train running through my brain.
When I’m successful in truly laying my worries at the throne of Jesus and sitting still, God brings to mind Scriptures of promise, the words to a song I’d long forgotten, and an indescribable peace and lifting of the soul.
This week, take a few moments to dwell on the true and pure. How?
- If you normally listen to talk radio, take a break from the anxieties the world is putting out there. Change the station to a Christian music station or pull out the CD of Old Hymns and listen to them for one day.
- If you don’t normally have time to read Scripture daily, I encourage you to read one verse a day. Go ahead and type up seven verses. Print them out and place them in places that you do normal routines—on the bathroom mirror, above the stove, as your cellphone background, on your washing machine lid, and even on your car steering wheel.
- Some verses to start dwelling on: Proverbs 17:22; Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 12:2; Hebrews 4:12; John 3:16; Matthew 11:28-30; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19.
- Unplug. Make a date for yourself and God. Whether it’s 30 minutes or an entire day, turn off your electronics. Skip TV, e-mail, and cell phones. Enjoy God’s creations in nature. Talk to God. Listen to God. Dwell on His goodness.