The plea and desire of Philippians 4:8 is for us to “think about these things.” We have been looking weekly at each of “these things” but today I want to think about “think.” What do you think about being urged to think?
I like to look closely at words in scripture by checking out what translators have done with those words. Most Bible translations make our verse say, “think on these things” or “think about these things.” NASB and CSB prefer “dwell on these.” I like that. We are meant to spend more than just a little time thinking. We are directed to camp out on each of these things and live there or “dwell there” a while. CEV offers “don’t ever stop thinking about” these things. Whoa! Let’s not go that far.
I most like what the New King James Version (NKJV) does with this. “Meditate on these things.” The word “meditate” may scare some people away. Meditation is a mental exercise connected to various eastern religions or non-Christian philosophies. We may not identify meditation as a Christian discipline and may fear it as a less that spiritual practice.
Richard J. Foster, in his classic book Celebration of Discipline, lists meditation, prayer, fasting, and study as what he calls “the inward disciplines.” Meditation for Christians is the practice of giving ourselves the time required to look deeply into the things of God, allowing His Holy Spirit to inspire us and open our minds and hearts to greater understanding of divine truth. Thomas Merton said, “True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace.”
The psalmist understood the place of meditation. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, . . . his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). We find reference to “Meditation” in the book of Psalms nineteen times.
Philippians 4:8 calls for us to do more that momentary consideration of “these things.” For us to find release from worry and great fellowship with the God of peace, we must think, dwell and meditate on God’s word. Here are a few godly things to meditate: whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy. And as we meditate on them, let this be our prayer. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).