There are several Christian life principles at play in Philippians 4:8. These principles are best observed and understood when we take the challenge of the verse in context. Paul implores us to think about these things: whatever things are true . . . noble . . . just . . . pure . . . lovely . . . of good report . . . and any virtue . . . and anything praiseworthy. Meditating upon these things provides us at the very least some moments of wholesome and healthy thinking. It also provides us an exercise involving these aspects of the Christian life:
- Practicing contentment
- Practicing gratefulness
- Counting our blessings
- Honing our core values (see July 2, 2020)
- Contemplating righteousness
- Anticipating eternity
The context of Philippians 4:8 is of course our love relationship with almighty God, our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, our lives yielded to the leadership of The Holy Spirit, and the entire Word of God. The immediate context of our text is the conversation surrounding it. Specifically, I want to direct our attention to four verses in close proximity to our text.
Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s goal is reaching forward, pressing forward, and looking upward. Philippians 4:8 has this goal in mind.
Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul’s direction in Philippians 4:8 is to a community of believers who can easily turn its attention from a decaying culture full of lies, dishonor, impurity, ugliness, evil report, lack of virtue and nothing praiseworthy to anticipating eternity and recognizing all the good God has created.
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Our ability to meditate upon “these things” with sanity and clarity while being bombarded on all sides by lies, evil temptations, wickedness, rottenness, and filth, is enabled by a God of peace who is our shield and our fortress against those things. Our minds and our hearts are cleansed and made healthy and whole by the power of God who is able to keep us.
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” As Paul implores us in Philippians 4:8 to “meditate on these things,” he does so with this assertion in mind. You can do it! Jesus is our strength. You can do it! You can explore the depths and heights of all “these things” because we are “pressing toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” because “we eagerly wait for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, because “the peace of God . . . will guard our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ,” and because it is “Christ who strengthens me.”