Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

We have been on a sermon series on Phil. 4:4-8 and today we wrap up that series.

Four weeks ago, we talked about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4)

Three weeks ago, Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

Two weeks ago: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)

Last week: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

Today, Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

Think about it, if we could control our thinking we would have a lot of our problems conquered, wouldn’t we?

Whatever gets your attention gets you! Whatever we think about flavors our whole outlook. The human mind always finds an object to fix its attention on. We control the choice of that object. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, he exhorted them to discipline their minds and set their attention on godly things. [1]

Let’s read Phil. 4:4-8:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

  1. Think on these things.
    1. Paul begins with “finally.”
    2. Paul has told them to rejoice in the Lord always.
    3. Paul has told them to let their gentleness be made known to all.
    4. Paul has told them the Lord is near.
    5. Paul has told them to pray about all things instead of being anxious.
    6. Paul has told them to pray with thanksgiving.
    7. Paul has told them then they will have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
    8. Paul now tells them what else to fill their minds with.
    9. So, our minds should be filled with rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving. But in case we are still having problems we can think on the things listed in verse 8.
      1. Think on what is true. Things you can rely on; things that are certain. Examples include the Bible and the truths displayed in God’s creation. Dwelling on false or uncertain things can confuse your perspective and get you off course.
      2. Think on what is honorable. Things that are highly moral; honorable and awe inspiring. Examples include “taking the high road” or “turning the other cheek” when tested. Vengeance, retaliation and resentment make you unworthy.
  • Think on what is right. Things that are proper and just. This includes our high calling to treat each other righteously and with justice. Taking unfair advantage of a person is wrong.
  1. Think on things that are pure. Things that are clean, unstained or free from defects. Examples include sexual innocence or motivations that are untouched by worldly influences. Sordid, shabby or dirty thoughts separate us from God.
  2. Think on things that are lovely. Things that inspire love or are spiritually attractive. Examples include sympathy, patience, forgiveness, and adoration. Hateful or divisive thoughts only destroy.
  3. The rest of the verse is a summary section. Think on anything that is of good repute. Think on anything that is excellent or worthy of praise.
  4. In 2 Cor. 10:5, Paul talked about taking every thought into captivity into obedience to Christ. That is what we must do.
  5. In Col. 3:1, Paul wrote to set our minds on things above. That is what we must do.
  6. We must set apart our thinking.
  7. We do this through thinking on the things listed. We do this through rejoicing instead of grumbling (Phil. 4:4 and 2:14).
  8. We do this through being gentle instead of angry (Phil. 4:5).
  9. We do this through our prayer life and thanksgiving.
  10. We could go further. We do this by living out Romans 12:1-2: making our bodies living sacrifices…
  11. We do this through living out Phil. 2:3-4: consider others more important than yourselves.
  12. We do this by humbly following the Lord.
  13. John Piper shares: the peace of God results in a certain type of thinking and practicing. This does not mean the “peace of God” was not with you before. The peace of God is when He reigns in our hearts and that results in a certain type of thinking.
  14. If we have the peace of God, He changes our thinking.
  15. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stressed purity of thought. Matt 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
  16. Heart means the intellect, affections and the will. Jesus said adultery (and other sins) begin in the mind before an outward act is performed. If a person mentally decides to do evil, although the act is not done because of lack of opportunity, he or she is still fully responsible for the guilt of that act. Godly thinking helps keep us from sinning.[2]
  17. Applications:[3]
    1. Don’t let a disturbing thought upset you. Give it to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6).
    2. Give thanks for the opportunity to learn and grow in every situation (Philippians 4:6).
    3. Fill your mind with good thoughts. Be proactive in your thought life, rather than reactive (Philippians 4:8-9).
    4. Remove things from your life that tempt you to think wrong thoughts (Philippians 4:9; Matthew 18:8).

Swindoll shares the following:

Thoughts are the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life. If I feed my mind upon doubt, disbelief, and discouragement, that is precisely the kind of day my body will experience. If I adjust my thermostat forward to thoughts filled with vision, vitality, and victory, I can count on that kind of day. Thus, you and I become what we think about.

Neither Dale Carnegie nor Norman Vincent Peale originated such a message. God did. “For as [a man] thinks within himself, so he is” (Prov. 23:7). “Therefore, prepare your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13).

The mind is a “thought factory” producing thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of thoughts each day. Production in your thought factory is under the charge of two foremen. One we shall call Mr. Triumph, the other Mr. Defeat.

Mr. Triumph specializes in producing reasons why you can face life victoriously, why you can handle what comes your way, why you’re more than able to conquer. Mr. Defeat is an expert in the opposite. He develops reasons why you cannot succeed, why you’re inadequate, why you should give up and give in to worry, failure, discouragement, and inferiority.

Give a positive signal, and Mr. Triumph will see to it that one encouraging, edifying thought after another floods your mind. But Mr. Defeat is always standing by, awaiting a negative signal (which he would rather you call “reality” or “common sense!”), and when he gets it, he cranks out discouraging, destructive, demoralizing thoughts that will soon have you convinced you can’t or won’t or shouldn’t.

Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilized with constant repetition. That may explain why so many who are gloomy and gray stay in that mood . . . and why those who are cheery and enthusiastic continue to be so.

What kind of performance would your car deliver if every morning before you left for work you scooped up a handful of dirt and put it in your crankcase? The engine would soon be coughing and sputtering. Ultimately it would refuse to start. The same is true of your life. Thoughts that are narrow, self-destructive, and abrasive produce needless wear and tear on your mental motor. They send you off the road while others drive past.

You need only one foreman in your mental factory: Mr. Triumph is his name. He is eager to assist you and available to all the members of God’s family.

His real name is the Holy Spirit, the Helper.

If Mr. Defeat is busily engaged as the foreman of your factory, fire yours and hire ours! You will be amazed at how smoothly the plant will run under His leadership.

Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.[4]


[1] Discipleship Training, Level 2, week 7

[2] I am grateful for Discipleship Training, Level 2, week 7 for these

[3] I am grateful for Discipleship Training, Level 2, week 7 for these


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