Hi, welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for the Daily Challenges. Yesterday we read a Bible passage about joy and peace for Christians. It can be hard, we admitted, to be the picture of peace in situations that are difficult.
Today we’ll read about the practice Paul recommended. I like to think of it as a form of Christian prayer akin to meditation or mindfulness. It’s distinctly Christian, keeps God at the centre rather than ourselves, and intensely practical.
Here’s Paul’s practice for anxiety in chaos:
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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:7-9 ESV)
Paul wants Christians in Philippi to dwell on these positive things – to set up camp there. He wants them to spend serious time on those kinds of thoughts, which means sacrificing the time they would normally spend worrying or anxious.
So how do we do this, and what do all those words mean? We are supposed to focus on whatever is:
- True: Found in the Bible, or consistent with the Bible.
- Honorable: Describes a dignity or worthiness. Not trivial, everyday or earthly, but honorable.
- Right: Whatever is good and right according to God’s standard in the Bible.
- Pure: Holy, morally clean, free from sin.
- Lovely: Sweet, gracious, generous or patient. Things that the Bible describes as pleasing to God.
- Commendable: Don’t just live as if the world is watching; think that way in your inner life!
He has the courage to summarize that people should practice what they’ve seen and learned from him. This is risky – lots of us are hypocrites who don’t practice what we preach.
But he was willing to say this, and probably lived what he preached! When he wrote Philippians he was in prison – so he had lots to worry about. Perhaps that is where he perfected this practice of dwelling on the godly things, since he was surrounded by ungodly things! He was in dire circumstances, so this was the perfect time to watch how he responded and draw from the same well of peace that he was experiencing – the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.
Question: Why is Paul’s reference to himself as an example not egotistical? In what situations would it be right and even necessary to offer yourself as a model?