“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
Paul is not teaching the world’s or religion’s philosophy of the “Power of Positive Thinking.” His teaching is the complete opposite of the false teachings of a self-esteem gospel, health & wealth gospel, humanistic psychology, eastern occultism and New Age religion. These say Paul taught that we can see our wishes materialize through the power of the controlled conscious. Sadly, these heretics and false teachers have practically taken over the 21st Century Christian world and have even made deep inroads into once sound and fundamental churches.
Putting the science of psychology above the Word of God is cultist and blasphemy before God. With this said, I acknowledge that science has proven many aspects of how our mind and body work together for our over all well being. To neglect this is just as foolish as putting it above God’s Word. The Mayo Clinic says a POSITIVE attitude can result in longer life, elevated moods, lowered stress, boosted immune system, stronger sense of well-being and better coping skills during stressful events. Studies show that mental attitude can play as much as a 90% role of our illness. A problem, humanisticly speaking as much as 75% of everything we think is NEGATIVE, directly affecting us physically, emotionally and spiritually. This leads to fatigue, cardiovascular stress, sleep disorders, emotional issues, physical problems, and a susceptibility to colds and flu.
THE NEGATIVE ATTITUDE
Why do we easily have a NEGATIVE attitude? It is a natural instinct to protect us against failing. Our humanistic logic becomes this: the more NEGATIVE we think, the more POSITIVE the outcome. Jeff Galak, a Carnegie Mellon behavioral scientist who worked on a study concerning this logic, suggests that the reason we remember hardships as worse than they actually were is so that when we face those experiences again, they will be less painful than expected.
Spiritually, a NEGATIVE attitude is a downward spiral. Mark teaches us that it starts “from within, out of the heart,” materializing our inward attitudes into outward actions. We have all been there one way or another — our anger, resentment, and self-pity sets us up for a downward spiral into failure.
“That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”
By dwelling on NEGATIVE thoughts, this makes us feel miserable, act miserable, treat others miserable, get treated miserable, and we finally feel we have a valid reason to be NEGATIVE. The end result is anger and bitterness.
- We begin to remember every miserable thing done to us
- We hold grudges, though we say we don’t.
- We stew over the slightest NEGATIVE comment made by others
Lest we forget, the battlefield is in the mind:
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Praise God, the battle can be won. It is a matter of were we keep our thoughts focused, which can turn our downward spiral into a desperately needed upward spiral! The question is, where are our “affections,” or by definition, our thinking? If it is on “things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2), then we can “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Paul taught this to the Colossians and the Ephesians.
“Set your affection [to think] on things above, not on things on the earth.”
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.”
THIS IS WHAT PAUL IS TEACHING IN PHILIPPIANS 4!
- Our thoughts matter!
- NEGATIVE thinking leads to NEGATIVE attitudes
- NEGATIVE attitudes leads to NEGATIVE living
THE POSITIVE ATTITUDE
THE POWER OF A POSITIVE ATTITUDE starts with our thinking. Philippians 4 teaches us 2 important points, first is the IMPORTANCE OF A POSITIVE ATTITUDE and then the needed FOUNDATION OF A POSITIVE ATTITUDE, which is our thinking, then the application found in one word, “DO!” in verse 4:9.
IMPORTANCE of a Positive Attitude
The IMPORTANCE is outlined straightforward in Philippians 4:
- Our FELLOWSHIP with other Believers (4:2-5)
- Our JOY as a Believer (4:4,6-7)
- Our PEACE as a Believer (4:6-7)
- Our OBEDIENCE as a Believer (4:10-12)
FOUNDATION of a Positive Attitude
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
The foundation where our minds must rest is upon “whatsoever things are true.” Early in our lives, and early in our days, we must prioritize thinking on these things. It is only by God’s absolute Truth that we are capable of a POSITIVE ATTITUDE. In this verse, “true” is defined as “loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful.” The question is, where does our love and affection lay?
God and His Word are TRUE – THINK ON THESE
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth”
THINK on things that are honest
- honest = Honorable, reverend, noble, serious
- Living honest leads people to the truth
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
(I Timothy 2:1-4)
THINK on things that are just
- just = righteous, observing divine laws
- Thinking just is thinking righteous by modeling ourselves after the righteousness of Christ
“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.”
(I John 3:7)
THINK on things that are pure
- pure = pure from carnality (sins of the flesh)
- Thinking carnally and not pure is hatred against God
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity [hatred] against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
THINK on things that are lovely
- lovely = to cause pleasure, to be acceptable
- This word is not used anywhere else in the Bible, but the definition speaks for itself
THINK on things that are good
- good report = praise worthy, commendable
- From the Greek word we get the English word “euphemism.” This is the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend. For example, using “eliminate” as a euphemism for the word “kill.”
- good report is something pleasant towards something offensive
THINK on things that are virtuous
- virtue = moral virtue
- virtue is to be the first thing added to our faith
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;”
(II Peter 1:5)
- As a baby Christian, one of the first things we must do is stop any behavior that is not in line with God’s moral virtues as revealed in His Holy Word. A good starting point after salvation may be the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 and the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, all in the effort to be molded into the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
Think on things that are praiseworthy
- praise = excellence
- Think of the GOOD in people not the BAD. We know the phrase, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Maybe we should change our thinking to, “If you can’t think something nice, don’t think anything at all”
- We should be POSITIVE and praiseworthy toward people, rather than NEGATIVE and critical. We must challenge ourselves to say and to think about only POSITIVE things that will lift others up and give them praise
The POSITIVE attitude is revealed in one word, “DO!”
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
As hard as we may try, we can never separate outward actions from our inward attitude. The Christian life involves proper thinking (4:8), but it also includes DOING righteous deeds (4:9). As we put THESE THINGS into practice, it is then that we will enjoy the presence of the God of peace (4:7)
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Some of the most miserable people, with absolutely no peace in their life, are those with NEGATIVE attitudes!