|Vol. 14 No. 1 January 2012||
Adam B. Cozort
As Paul concluded the letter to the Philippians, he exhorted them to “Rejoice in the Lord alway” (Philippians 4:4). In order to do that, an individual must first set his mind to have the proper outlook, allowing one to rejoice in any situation. Because of that, Paul gave these brethren a list of things they needed to think on (Philippians 4:8).
The word translated “think” comes from a word that means “to reckon, weigh the reasons, deliberate” (Thayer). Therefore, Paul called upon the Philippians to reckon on and weigh the following things.
Whatsoever Things Are True These are things that are proven to be true. They are not assumptions, suppositions or wishes; instead, they are facts based upon evidence. More problems and sins have entered the body of Christ because people have stopped contemplating truth and instead followed their own suppositions than from any other cause. If we are to continue to be able to rejoice in the Lord, we must continue to think on truth.
Whatsoever Things Are Honest Literally, Paul was emphasizing the need to think on the things that are honorable. There are people who seem to spend all of their time focusing on people and actions that are disreputable instead of those things that are honorable. We should not be concerned with all the celebrity gossip and worrying about all the bad things that others are doing, but instead we should focus on those things that are right and honorable in the sight of God.
Whatsoever Things Are Just Christians have an obligation to be constantly concerned with what is right and just. It requires time and effort to find the answers to problems and situations that arise, but the Christian must be willing to search God’s Word to find the just response.
Whatsoever Things Are Pure This point goes hand in hand with that of being honorable. Those things that are pure are the things without flaw or blemish. We are not to be those who have the attitude of seeking to see how close to the line we can get without crossing over. Instead, the Christian must continue to look at things from the perspective of purity.
Whatsoever Things Are Lovely This term literally means those things which are “acceptable, pleasing” (Thayer). Therefore, we are to think on those things that are acceptable and pleasing. Some might try to contort this to say if it feels good, do it. However, if one’s mindset is already placed upon the previous four statements, it will be readily understood that those things that are acceptable and pleasing will come from God’s Word.
Whatsoever Things Are of Good Report These are things that sound good, are well reported and attractive. It is often the case that people will do things with one group of people, or by themselves, that they would not do with another group because it would be perceived as wrong or unwise. Our endeavors should be to think, talk and act upon things that are above reproach. If we are doing things before others we would not do before Christians, we need to begin thinking on things of good report.
If we are to be people who are found virtuous before God and ones who praise Him both in word and in deed, these things must be the focus of our lives. If we “think on these things,” we will be able to lead lives that are above reproach. Such a life will be rich in spiritual blessings and fulfilling in our work both toward God and toward man. It is taking thought of these things that will finally and truly allow us to “rejoice in the Lord always.”
Thomas was one of the twelve apostles. Thomas followed Jesus during His ministry on earth and witnessed many miracles. There are several secular traditions about Thomas. It is stated that he was a carpenter like Jesus. It is stated that he died in India. One tradition states that he was Jesus’ brother. The Bible does not tell us any of these things.
However, the Bible does tell us a few things about Thomas. On the night that Jesus was betrayed, Jesus was eating with the disciples. Jesus told them that He was going to prepare a place for them. He told them they know the way He was going. Thomas was the one who replied that they do not know the way. Thomas was not scared to admit that he did not know. He did not hesitate to ask how they could know. All of us should be willing to ask that question. How can we know the way to where Jesus went? Jesus replied that He is the way. If we follow Jesus, then we can be where He is. We can thank Thomas for asking that very important question.
After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to the apostles. However, Thomas was not there. Later, the others told Thomas that Jesus was alive. Thomas would not take their word for it (although he should have). He wanted evidence. He said he would believe if he saw Jesus and His scars in person. About a week later, Jesus appeared to Thomas. When Thomas saw the evidence, he fully believed the facts. He did not attempt to come up with excuses not to believe. While we do not see Jesus in person, we have overwhelming evidence of His resurrection. The Bible gives us an accurate account of Jesus and His life, including death, burial and resurrection. Jesus stated in John 20:29 that those of us who believe but have not personally seen Him would be blessed. Jesus was not saying that we are blessed because we believe without any evidence. He was saying we are blessed because we believe the biblical evidence we are given.
Are you a Thomas? Do you ask the right questions? Do you want the right evidence? Study your Bible. Learn all you can from it. Obey God.