What a simple two letter word … “do” … yet it seems that to “do” what is right is one of the most difficult things for man to achieve. “Do” can take on so many meanings so let’s narrow it down to three basic definitions:
- perform – practice, accomplish, act, put into action, complete, achieve, make, execute, carry out, get something done
- fix – prepare, organize, ensure, see to, sort out, look after, make sure of
- solve – resolve, work out, figure out, puzzle out
Why is it so hard for man to “do” what is right? An easy answer is that while God created man in His own image, He also gave man the ability to choose. One can conclude that it’s by choice that man makes most of his own decisions and turns those into his own actions. The choice to “do” the easy thing, the convenient thing, the popular thing, the tempting thing, the thing that seems right unto man … almost always results in a poor choice. On the other hand, the choice to “do” what is right, what is Godly, what is scriptural, what is tough, what is not convenient, what is not popular … always results in a good choice.
Paul was so thankful for his friends at the church at Philippi. They had provided him a special offering to support him while he was in prison. Though Paul was undergoing such tough circumstances he wrote a powerful and positive letter of thankfulness to the Philippians encouraging his dear friends to put into action those Godly things that they had recently experienced. His words to the Philippians ring true in my ears even today. They are God’s words and are inspired by God Himself.
All scripture is KJV unless otherwise noted:
Philippians 4:8-9 – 8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do, and the God of peace shall be with you.
Let’s break down these two verses by doing a word study to discover the full meaning of Paul’s advice. In the context of these verses, each of these words describes an attribute of Christ that His followers are to emulate as His children who are created in His image.
- true – true as to fact; true and in accordance with God’s Word; not man’s perverted and selfish view of what is true; God is the final test of what is true and what is right;
- honest – the focus is on what is “right” in God’s sight … honest based on God’s honesty, not man’s; not determined by man’s definition of honesty which is so often clouded by situational ethics and/or convenience. 2 Corinthians 8:21 says in part … “not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of man.”
- just – “… that which is altogether just shalt thou follow …” Deuteronomy 16:20; “just” as defined by God who wants what is best for man; man’s justice is often perverted by man’s desire for vengeance and getting even; God sets the standard; see 1 John 3:7-8 – “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
- pure – not tainted with foreign matter; highest in quality; unadulterated; refined; holy; see James 3:17 – “… wisdom that is from above is first pure.”
- lovely – what is pleasing, agreeable, attractive; in the context of Phil. 4:9, pure and attractive as in Jesus is “lovely”; the root of the word is love (charity) which is so well-defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Lovely means much more than good looks. It encompasses the idea of long-suffering, kindness, unselfishness, wanting the best for the one who is the object of the affection; this type of love never fails, is full of hope, and endures to the end.
- of good report – speaks well of someone; a deserved reputation. 1 Samuel 2:24 relates that a lack of good report leads to sin and transgression; God alone is good; we will stand before Him and be judged according to God’s standards and His mercy; “There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12b).
- virtue – excellence as in moral virtue; what else needs to be said?
- praise – not the praise of men; every attribute and act of God is praiseworthy; Isaiah 38:19 “The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness”; see also Psalm 22:25, Romans 2:29, and John 12:43.
- think – think as in “program your minds” by consistently recalling these attributes; incorporate them into your every response; concentrate on clean thoughts.
- learned – acquired by experience; read or observed in another.
- received – incorporated into one’s own self; to receive into one’s mind.
- heard – to understand; to perceive; to give ear to a teaching; to comprehend.
- seen in me – seen in action in the life of Jesus; observed in another (in this case Paul) and know that it is right.
- do – to act with the mind of Christ in you; to practice continuously; done with the idea of getting better at it overtime; to perfect; to exercise.
In Philippians 4:8-9 Paul exhorts Christ’s followers to develop a Christian thought life and then “Do!” Paul’s focus is not at all on the flesh. The focus is on Christ and Christians emulating Him through their actions. Christ put God’s Word into action in every aspect of His life. All power belongs to God (Psalm 62:11), the Master and Creator of everything. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Man had no part in God’s creation. The power belongs totally to God. He gives power to man for His reasons … not ours. And He admonishes us through his servant, Paul, to “think” and “Do!”
In closing, Paul’s teaching is diametrically opposed to that of the “the power of positive thinking” gospel popularized by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and countless others. Neither is it akin to the “health and wealth” and “name it and claim it” movements commercialized by so many TV evangelists.
Consider these lessons derived from this brief scripture passage:
- As a disciple and pupil of Christ, things are learned by devoting one’s self to the Master Teacher, Jesus Christ.
- Guard what goes through your mind and comes out in your actions. Keep it clean and pure.
- Do! Put into practice the things you have learned and know to be true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, are virtuous, and result in praise of and to the Lord God Almighty.
How does your thought life stack up with that described in this passage? What kind of things do you think about? What kind of actions do you regularly “do”? Are your choices based on doing what is right in the sight of God?
Final note: Friend, if you find yourself unable to “think” and “Do!” as it is described herein, perhaps it is because you haven’t yet taken the first step by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and the Lord of your life. I invite you to follow this link for advice on how to do so: https://jimdavenport.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/how-to-become-a-christian/.
- Seven Keys to Successful Christian Living (jimdavenport.wordpress.com)