Philippians is an oft-quoted book. Be it having the mind of Christ (2:5), learning contentment (4:11), not complaining (2:14) or relying on prayer (4:6-7), Christians seek wisdom from the book of Philippians on a regular basis. Rightly so! Paul penned this epistle by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and so all of the words are worthy of implantation in our hearts. Still, there are a few verses that slip through the cracks. I ran across one the other day that I thought might be worth your time to consider.
In Philippians 4:8, Paul writes an admonition of things Christians should think about. This is one of those oft-quoted verses. I even have a wooden block sitting in my living room with these very thoughts etched carefully into it. The verse reads, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Clearly, this is not a slip-through-the-cracks kind of verse. But what about the verse that directly follows. Any clue what that says? Yeah, I didn’t either. But here’s what comes next:
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
This is a crucial text! Definitely worthy if implanting in our hearts and exercising in our daily lives. Here, Paul is saying (in a completely paraphrased way), “Examine my life! Whatever you’ve heard from me, whatever you’ve seen me do, whatever example I’ve given…do that! Practice that! And when you do, God will be with you.”
Can you say that? Can I say that? Can we boldly tell people — hey, look at my Facebook profile! Whatever you’ve seen me wear, wear it! Whatever you’ve heard me say, say it! Whatever activities you’ve seen me be in involved in, go do them! Because if we’re imitating the apostle Paul (who is imitating Christ – 1 Cor. 11:1), then we’ll gladly ask others to look closely at our lives and do the very things we do.
We’ll want people to worship how we worship. We’ll want people to give how we give. We’ll want people to pray how we pray. We will expect that people say what we say, not say what we won’t say, and dress how we dress. We’ll long for people to worship as regularly as we do. Sing praises with the same fervor we do. Proclaim the excellencies of Christ as much as do. And if we don’t…if the thought of someone examining your life completely and utterly terrifies you…perhaps you need to reexamine Philippians 4:9.
Paul says, “practice” the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen. That word literally means ‘accomplish’. The things Paul accomplished, you accomplish. A close relationship with God. A zeal for His cause. An amazing work ethic in Christ’s kingdom. Practice those things. Accomplish those things. Work with all of your might to do those things.
Philippians 4:8 is a fantastic verse, shaping our minds into what they need to be. But it is all the more lovely when coupled with Philippians 4:9, because that verse is shaping our lives to be what they need to be. Making our actions conducive to gospel living. Making our lives reflect the teachings of our Lord.
May we all strive this week to not only think on worthy things, but to be imitation worthy. May our lives, when closely examined, lead others closer to Jesus.