Paul closes a teaching section with this exhortation.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (NKJV)
While this sounds very nice, how do we apply it in practice? Our first task is viewing the passage in context. My own experience, and that of many others, is that at times we try to apply some truth or principle in scripture and end in the place of frustration. If His word is true the often painful conclusion is that there is some problem at our end. So, let’s look at the context.
1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. 2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:1-9 (NKJV)
Paul begins this short teaching by telling us to stand fast in Jesus. He then tells us how. Our first task is laid out in verse 2. We need to be in unity with those we fellowship with. There is no guarantee we will ever be fully in unity on all matters but we need to be united in heart in terms of our relationship with Jesus. Paul reminds us that even if we do not agree here, if we know Jesus our names are written in the Book of Life there. Our next step is cultivating a worshiping and thankful heart. A by product of a worshiping and thankful heart is a gentle spirit. When we cultivate a life and habit of thankfulness the fruit of the Spirit is manifest in our lives, one aspect of which is gentleness. Why can we be gentle? Because Jesus is there empowering us. Flowing from this Paul tells us to replace anxiety, yes anxiety is not a fruit of the Spirit, with intercession. That is, instead of worrying or praying the problem, focus on His heart. The need for specificity in prayer is highlighted in the Amplified bible.
6 Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. Philippians 4:6 (AMP)
We are to be definite in our prayer life and blend thanksgiving with our prayers. Lastly, we need to walk as Paul walked, in obedience to Jesus and His word. My experience over the years is that often we look for the harvest at the same time as we sow the seed. Any good farmer will tell you that after you sow you need to watch over the crop and water and weed before you receive a harvest. Paul doesn’t spell that out here, though he does elsewhere in Galatians 6.
8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:8-9 (NKJV)
The key to all of this is biblical meditation. Our hearts and thoughts focused on that which is good, true, right etc. Verse 8 covers all aspects of what we should dwell on in our thinking. This is where the battle lies, training our minds to focus on what is good, true and right. One example of doing this is gently and continually throughout the day drawing our hearts back to verse 5, Jesus is at hand and if we focus on His presence we can experience Him throughout the day whenever we focus on Him. We may not always strongly sense His presence but we can encounter Him when we turn to Him. As further explanation, biblical meditation means to think deeply on or ponder something. We need not breathe or sit in a special way to meditate on truth, though frankly sitting in a relaxed focused state is very helpful in encountering Jesus on a regular basis. As David wrote.
10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)
To paraphrase David, we could say, ‘Be still and be intimate with Me.’ Engaging our minds to encounter Jesus is a series of right choices that produce a harvest over time. It is a relationship worth nurturing.