Meditate on These Things

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Meditate on These Things

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Philippians 4:8-9




We are in the midst of some of Paul’s final admonitions to these good brethren at Philippi. In chapter 4 we have noted Paul’s call for unity as he encouraged two sisters to be of the same mind and the brethren to help them achieve that.   We also noted the call to rejoice in the Lord always, and in our last lesson we addressed gentleness and overcoming anxiety with prayer to God. Today, we continue with another rich verse that gives us direction as we strive to be faithful – Paul lists some things we are to meditate upon.

Meditate on these things

  1. What does it mean to meditate?
    While a good word to describe what we are talking about, the word meditate is sometimes associated with Eastern thought (Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) and the idea of peacefully sitting silently and letting the forces that be enlighten or calm you. But that is not what is meant here.
    The word is defined – to think about something in a serious, detailed and logical manner.   The NASB – “dwell on these things”; KJV – “think on these things”; ESV – “think about these things”
  2. The Greek word is found about 40 times in the NT including
    – Mark 11:31, where after Jesus challenged religious leaders about the baptism of John we are told “they reasoned among themselves” (they discussed their options);
    – Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”
    – Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which is to be revealed in us
    – Romans 14:14, “…but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
    – 1 Corinthians 13:5, love “thinks no evil
    – 1 Corinthians 13:11, When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
    Hebrews 11:9, concerning how by faith Abraham offered up Isaac, “concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead…
    This is also the word sometimes translated “imputed” or “accounted” dealing with Abraham’s faith.
  3. So the idea of this word is that we ought to seriously think about and seek to fully understand the qualities God wants us to apply as we live Christian lives.
    We sometimes speak of the cow “chewing the cud” – while a crude illustration, the point is the cow after grazing will find a spot and regurgitate the grass.
    That is what we need to do with God’s word.   Consider Psalm 1:1-2, Psalm 63:6, “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.”
    Psalm 119:97-99, Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.
  4. When we emphasize the importance of Bible study (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15), and even properly reading God’s word, what we are addressing is this idea.   It’s about carefully weighing the message and asking serious questions about it – Such as: What does the text actually mean (in context)? What does this mean to me (i.e. How do I need to apply it)?   Am I doing what God wants me to do in relation to this?

What things are we to “meditate” about?

  1. As we consider WHAT we are to meditate about we ask, “Where is your mind at?”   This is very much about what we might call “the Christian mindset.” It’s the TYPES of things Christians ought to be thinking about.     It’s the mind that is focused on God’s will and not on the world – Romans 12:1-2 – it is the one who is transformed by the renewing of his mind.
    Colossians 3:1-2, the one who has set his mind on things above.
    2 Corinthians 10:5, the one who has brought “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
  2. So what are we to “meditate” about, according to this text?
    1. Whatever things are true – a word meaning factual. The idea is that which is genuine or real.   This text is not specifically appealing to God’s word as true (though it is – John 17:17), but that is certainly an application.
      However, we also see in this word that WE are to be true – genuine and real.
    2. Noble – KJV translates this “honest”, and the NASB “honorable”.   The idea is that which is of respectable character.     This would be things worthy of respect.     Contrast this with the cheap and sleazy thoughts of deceit and immorality.
    3. Just – a word meaning to be morally right (NASB – right).   When we think of true justice, it means fairness and equality and even-handed mercy in our dealings with others.
      We often speak of the justice of God and it is something we need to strive for in the way we treat others
    4. Pure – a word associated with holiness.   This is the idea of being unpolluted before God – in words, deeds and even our thoughts.
    5. Lovely – the idea of being pleasant as much as you can.     We talk about the disposition that is lovable and easy to be around.
    6. Of good report – having a good reputation., something worthy of praise.   The types of things that will give you a good reputation – being honest, reliable, responsible, controlled, etc.
    7. Virtuous – possibly a summary of the above mentioned qualities.   It is a word meaning “moral excellence” – This is the “virtue” added just above our “faith” in 2 Peter 1:5-7.   I associate it with integrity and character that is impeccable.
    8. Praiseworthy – anything deserving of praise.   I see this as similar to “and such like”.
  3. Clearly, these are qualities, and I suspect the list is not complete, we ought to strive to develop and let them develop our very character.
  4. Paul’s point is we need to be THINKING about these types of things.
    Recall how Jesus noted that what comes from the heart reflects who you are – Matthew 15:8-9. The heart is VERY much related to what we think about and how.
  5. What types of things are we meditating on? It is worthy of note that if we fill our minds with worldly ways, we are going to be worldly. What are doing to keep our minds on a spiritual focus?

Applying what we think about

  1. In 4:9, Paul challenges them to not only let such qualities be in our mind, but also to apply them.
    In the original Greek text there is an additional “and” (kai) toward the beginning that is not presented in most major translations.   Some commentators observe that it unfortunate that it is left out. Paul is very likely tying this verse to the previous one.
  2. He appeals to the things you have learned, received, heard and seen – these do.
    We are reminded that being a Christian involves the way we live –   Matthew 7:21-23, Luke 6:46, James 1:22, etc.     It is not enough to render lip service, we MUST apply it to our lives.
  3. Paul describes these things using 4 terms:
    • They had learned them – they had been taught the truth.   Paul, along with others in their midst, both in writing and in presence had revealed to them God’s word.   Romans 10:14-17 tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God, which is taught. The gospel is designed to teach us – Matthew 28:19-20.
    • Received them – they had accepted the teachings as true.   This goes back to application of what you learn.   1 Thessalonians 2:12 – they had received the word of God which they had heard and welcomed it as the word of God…
      This is the same word found in Colossians 2:6 which speaks of having “received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him
    • Heard – Paul had actively taught them.   Again we are reminded that faith comes by hearing.   But it is possible here that they had heard things ABOUT Paul, his stand for truth, his suffering, etc. and such had emboldened them and others (cf. Philippians 1:12-14).   Also he had hear about them (Philippians 1:27).     Paul has addressed his consistent character in this letter.     Though Paul was not there as he wrote, they KNEW of his integrity and faithfulness.
    • Seen in me – in Paul’s example.   Paul often appeals to his example.   We have seen it in this letter – (Philippians 3:17).   1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me as I also imitate Christ”, etc.
      And we know that this applied not only to his actions, but His attitudes (as reflected in the previous verse).
      When Paul was with them, he conducted himself honorably.
    • These do – the word here means to make something a habit.   The NASB uses the word “practice”.   Again, we HAVE TO do what God wants.   Lip service is not enough!
  • And the God of peace will be with you – we talked about this peace in our last lesson.   It is a peace that the world might not understand, but it is a promise that gives us comfort.   God KNOWS when we are thinking and dong the right thing.


And thus we see Paul’s encouraging thoughts to these brethren.   There are many wonderful lessons we can apply in our lives.   We know the importance of godly living AND we know that such starts in our heart and the way we think.   So how is your thinking?