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Philippians 4:8 – Weigh and Discern, Based on These



“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.”

If you have ever read Philippians 4:8 and it leads you to the conclusion that you must be cautious regarding what you fill your mind with or that you need to be engulfed with positive thinking, walking around with a “glass half-full” perspective towards life, then you have likely missed the point of this verse.

In Romans 12 there is an appeal that we should not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of our mind, that (by what?) by testing we may (do what?) discern the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  This is exactly what Philippians 4:8 is about, testing and discerning so we may know what is appropriate for conducting our lives and pleasing God. 

The Greek word Paul used, logizomai, in some of your translations is translated as “meditate” and others as “think on.”  This Greek word means to take into account, to weigh, to judge, to deem, to reckon.  We are constantly to be thinking about, weighing, judging and deeming, or discerning, what is the will of God that should be reflected in our lives, which is characteristic of what is listed in Philippians 4:8. 

As Paul wrote to the Romans in Romans 8, those who live according to the flesh are those who set their minds on the flesh and those who live according to the Spirit are those who have set their minds on things of the Spirit.  By this statement we know that if we are constantly discerning the will of God and focused on what He expects to be reflected in our lives, the fruit of that focus is produced, transforming our lives and revealed in the conduct of our lives.

What Paul lists in Philippians 4:8 are all characteristics of a lifestyle to which God expects us to live, and therefore essential for us to weigh and discern what fits these characteristics so that our conduct can become a representation of these.  Let’s take a quick look at each, but with an understanding that a deeper study of each term beyond what can be provided in the limited space of this article is necessary for a fuller understanding.  

Whatever things are true: As Pilate stated, “what is truth,” the world has great difficulty with discerning what is true. For us, this isn’t the case.  We have Christ, who is the Truth and the Way (Jn. 14:6).  Thru Him, delivered by the Spirit, we have God’s word which is true so we may know and be guided in all truth (Jn. 16:12-15; 17:17).

Whatever things are noble / honorable:  We must continuously discern what is worthy of respect and dignity against what will bring dishonor, ensuring that we conduct our lives in such a way before all men that is blameless and glorifies God.

Whatever things are just / right:  The most common use of the Greek word “dikaios” is in reference to having an upright, righteous, virtuous characteristic.  Typically it’s in reference to the keeping of God’s commands.  Our thoughts should be centered on knowing and understanding the commands of God, and obedience to those.

Whatever things are pure:  We must determine the things which defile us and abstain from those sins, setting our minds on only that which will allow us to maintain purity before the Lord.

Whatever things are lovely:  This word is in reference to that which is acceptable, a conduct that is pleasing, and it is made up of two words: “towards” and “friendly”.  We must question if our interaction with others reflects a pleasant, loving approach.

Whatever things are of good report / admirable:  Consider those things that God has deemed to be admirable, the activities that result in a good reputation before God, the brethren, and even before all men, and won’t bring disgrace.

If there is any virtue / excellence:  Understand the moral virtues of God so you may discern what reflects moral excellence and what does not.

If there is anything praiseworthy:  Recognize what God considers worthy to be commended.  Make these things such a focus that they become your conduct.

Certainly the brief descriptions do little for expanding your understanding of each characteristic, so I hope you will take this study more in-depth.  From this article, I hope what we gain is a clearer understanding that the characteristics Paul lists in Philippians 4:8 make up a lifestyle of which God expects to be reflected in our lives.  If we wish to walk according to the Spirit and be pleasing before God, we must weigh every action of our life against these characteristics.  The more we make this our focus, the easier it becomes to produce such conduct in our lives.