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Consistency in thoughts and actions

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 NLT

Paul’s admonition for the believers is to fix their minds on what is “pure.” The word is often used of moral purity or faithfulness; “I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). Here it seems to carry the basic meaning of unmixed or pure actions. In this sense, Paul again reflects upon the opening of the letter. There he described those who serve Christ “out of selfish ambition, not sincerely” (Philippians 1:17). The meaning here, then, is that the Philippian Christians are to reflect upon pure genuine actions. The next admonition is to fix their thoughts on whatever is “lovely.” The Philippian Christians are to think about those things that bring out from others an awareness of the lovely. Then, believers are admonished to think of those that are “admirable.” It means “well-spoken,” that which will be heard as gracious speech likely not to offend. Paul moves from this list of what believers should fix their minds on to focusing upon their actions (Philippians 4:9). The competent teacher of Paul’s day not only taught a body of material, but served as a model to his students. First, they are to practice whatever they “have learned” from him and “received” from him. It is to pass on a specific body of material to others. That is exactly what Paul himself had done earlier, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures …” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4). Christians ere to “receive” the teachings of God’s word in order to communicate it to others. The second two verbs of the passage (Philippians 4:9) focus upon the ways that Paul himself is to be an important source for their behavior. They are to do what they “heard” from him. Finally, they are to do what they saw him do. Perhaps the most confident message a Christian can proclaim is “do as I do.” While the old proverb says, “Actions speak louder than words,” or “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one,” and “What you do speaks so loud I can’t hear what you say,” may not be completely true, Christian testimony and Christian conduct must be consistent. This is what God wants for every believer. When words and actions are consistent, then “the God of peace” will be with them (Philippians 4:9).


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