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Think on these things...

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

Paul concludes this section, in which he repeats the admonitions, with quite a rhetorical statement (Philippians 4:8, 9). In so doing, he sums up themes he has emphasized throughout the letter. He began by stating his desire for them; “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters...” (see Philippians 1:9-10). He wanted their thinking to be influenced by their claim that they are Christians. He admonished them to let their actions be manifestations of them being in Christ. Paul’s emphasis is having Christians focus upon thinking and acting. How one thinks about things determines how he or she acts. So the whole motivation for this moral living is different from that of the moral philosophers contemporary with Paul. “Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoic philosophers refer to the main body of teaching of Paul on virtues. The difference, of course, is the source of that virtue. For the Christian, the source is Jesus Christ; to the Greek philosophers, the source is in the human will. It should be God’s character as the grounding for moral behavior. “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.” Jesus is true because His words and His actions agree with reality. The true, rather, potentially includes every component of human experience. Jesus discussed the truth in His claim as being “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The point here is not that one can attain the state of righteousness by merely thinking about it. Rather, being “in Christ,” that is, having the “mind of Christ,” one is therefore enabled to think on things God has declared as just.


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