Let’s turn to our passage Philippians 4:8-9.
One of India’s well known author, noble price winning economist Mr.
Amartya Sen has written a book called ‘The Argumentative Indian’. In his book
he talks about our Indian culture and how its built on arguments, arguments
made between kings, politicians, religious leaders & the common men in our
According to Mr Sen today’s culture is a product of those arguments, our country in run based on such arguments, our constitution is built on such arguments, our company policies are made on such arguments, our society is built on such arguments, our family values & traditions are decided on such arguments, we live and look at life through the lenses of such arguments and suggestions made by people all around us.
We are often told that to live a prosperous, productive and fulfilling life we need to hold on to these values, traditions, policies, rules that has been passed on to us by our ancestors. And even though they aren’t all bad, it does bring some sort of order and discipline in our lives, we need to know that they only bring external changes in us, and it can never ever bring permanent, true & lasting joy, peace and hope in our life.
Therefore, to experience true love, joy, peace, hope what we really need to hold on to are the things that bring internal heart changes.
Paul is concluding his letter to the Philippians and in the passage we just read he is asking the church to think about and to hold on to the things that will truly bring heart transformation and will lead us into experiencing true and genuine love, lasting joy, unimaginable peace and ever growing hope.
Therefore this morning I want to urge you brothers and sisters to refocus our time, energy, efforts, our thoughts towards such godly virtues and not what the world around us is talking, arguing and pressing on us.
And unlike the people of the world (leaders, politicians, family
members, managers, bosses) Paul isn’t a hypocrite who is telling us to behave
in a certain manner without living it out himself, he spent and sacrificed his
whole life for the things that were true.
In verse 9 he says “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” It is very rare in today world to hear someone say that way.
There are 6 things Paul is asking the church to think about and hold on to, because of time constraints I won’t expound on all six, rather I will spend more time on the first one (which I think is most important) and then I will just introduce you the rest 5 and share some thoughts for your to ponder on when you go back home.
Paul isn’t offering us counsel; he’s giving us a command.
Think about or hold on to whatever is …
It is important to know the Truth.
Illustration of the room being a spaceship
Unless we know what is TRUE we can never be free.
Jesus said “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free”John 8:32
But what is the truth we need to hold on to?
Just like the example of this room being a space ship, we were all born in this tiny little world (tiny compared to the vast universe), and every day we are trying to discover more about this world through experiences and through arguments with each other. And what we call as traditions, rules, logic is the intellectual outcome of our thinking which may not be true. Because no matter how hard we try, we keep failing by destroying this good earth every single day.
And we when we realize the futility of our actions, the destruction we are causing to one another as we seek our own pleasure, our dead religion, corrupt politics, sick traditions etc Its important to know the truth.
The truth about who we are?
The truth about why we are?
The truth of what’s going to happen?
The truth about how we are getting out of this place?
And the only way we get know the truth about our story is when we understand the story of the one who created us, created the universe – God.
Let’s understand the story of God as revealed to us through his divine providence. BTW we only know the story as much as he has revealed to us in the bible. The bible, even though it is written by men it is inspired by God, and everyday this word of God confirms its power and authority over our lives by transforming the hearts of men all around the world.
And the story of God, according to this scripture tells us that when he
created the world he also created us in his own image and likeness out of sheer
delight, to share a loving relationship. He wanted us to multiply and have
dominion over the earth, but he wanted us to do that under His authority and
rule. But because we were made in the image of God we also inherited his
qualities, one of them been the power to choose and make decisions for
Now God wanted us to use that power he gave us to willingly choose to honour him and worship him and enjoy this good earth he created for us.
But instead of choosing the right thing we chose the opposite. When the
evil one told us that by disobeying God we will be like him, we liked the idea
and ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. But we forgot that God is in control
and has all authority in heaven and earth to do what he pleases.
Using his authority, God had to throw us out of the garden and separated us from his love. God wanted us to know that without Him we are a wreak, we will destroy ourselves if we pursue to become our own gods. And because we chose that in Roman 1:24-26, 28-31
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 28 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
Now the question is how do we get out of it?
The answer is “Only God can get us out of this”
This is how God brought us back to him.
John 3:16 says “For God the Father so loved the world he gave his only begotten son to die for us so that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”
God the son, Jesus himself came down on this earth, lived the life we
were supposed to live, made the choices we were supposed to make, lived a
perfect live our behalf, and then exchanged that life with us. He took the
penalty of our wrong choices upon himself and instead gave us his
righteousness. He defeated Sin and death for us and is now seated on the right
hand of the Father and guess what he is doing?
He is interceding for us to the Father. Even after becoming a child of God, because of our indwelling sin we do commit sin again in our flesh, but when we fall, realize our mistake, go back to God in repentance. Jesus looks at his Father as says I’ve already paid for that which he just committed, he is worthy of love and forgiveness.
And the only way we can be set free from this sick body and this sick world is when we humbly accept and repent of our sins and receive his grace by putting our faith in Jesus.
And unless we grab hold of this truth daily, remind ourselves, soak ourselves, we will never experience internal heart change, we will never live the life God wants us to live. And that is why Paul is insisting that we constantly think about what is truth.
In the bible, honor means to respect, esteem or give “weight to”
Matthew 19:19 – Honor our parents
Matthew 18:2-6 – Honor children
1 Timothy 5:17 – Double honor to pastors and church leaders
Ephesians 5:33 – honor husbands
1 peter 3:7 – honor wives
2 tim 2:21 – honor God
Honor is about serving and respecting others. It requires humility, integrity (honesty) and a constant pursuit of righteousness.
Because Jesus exemplified in all the above, It is only by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus that we may keep our minds fixed on ‘whatever is honorable’. To walk in honorable ways with one another won’t be hard if we fix our eyes on Jesus.
Go back home and read and think about the ways in which Jesus exemplified in honoring God and honoring people.
God sets the standard for what is just and right.
How did Christ treat us justly? – followers of Christ are to follow his example.
Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
How do I think pure thoughts?
We think pure thoughts when we are awestruck by God’s wisdom, his character, his power, his HOLINESS.
Go back home and read and think about these things, the true definition of PURE is only found in God, therefore as we think and meditate on his purity, we will see how wrethed we are and therefore the cross will look more beautiful each day.
To think about whatever is Lovely is to think about everything that’s we’ve drawn from God’s mercy and grace. Starting with salvation, for the joy and peace we get to experience each day, the family God has given us, the church, the city we live in.
John 1:16 says “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.”
This morning I was drawn to think about the lovely things God has done in each of your life. the way you have grown and matured in the last few years, what God is doing in your life.
And finally he says, think about and hold on to whatever is commendable.
What should we think of whats commendable?
“For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4).”
“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom” (Psalm 145:3).
“You are worthy, our LORD and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11).
Brothers & sisters, lets refocus our time, energy & efforts to think about these virtues that change us internally and produce long lasting fruits.
As we take communion here’s one more opportunity for us to think and meditate on his love.