Combat Training with God – Philippians 4:8-9

All Character Building Starts in the Mind

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Clarifying Contemplations

Paul lists several things upon which Christians should meditate (fill your mind with the Word of God, then prayerfully seek to understand the meaning of what you are dwelling upon as it relates to the rest of the Word of God and its application in your life as the Holy Spirit reveals its meaning to you):

  • True
    • Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”  He Himself is worthy of thinking upon and pondering.  Additionally, we should see what is true.  So much of the world we live in is built upon historical revisionism and incorrect understanding, that it is worthy to seek the truth and then to dwell upon it.
  • Noble
    • From the Greek, semna – to be grave, honorable, venerable
    • We are encouraged to seek out that which is deserving of honor and dwell upon that as well.  So much in the world is crass and dishonorable.  This helps us to remember what should be kept in a place of honor.
  • Right
    • From the Greek, dikaios – to be just, righteous
    • God is both Just and Righteous.  We should also think about events and actions that exemplify these Godly characteristics
  • Pure
    • From the Greek, hagna – properly, clean: i.e. (figuratively) innocent, modest, and perfect; and therefore chaste, clean, pure.
    • We are to discard the filth in our lives – anything that brings crassness to our speech, actions, or thoughts.  Instead, we are to focus on what is chaste, clean and pure.  This will realign our thinking from the base things of this world and remind us of the purity of things above.
  • Lovely
    • From the Greek, prosphilE – pros (to be for or inclined towards) and philE (to love with a brotherly love)
    • The fruit of the spirit starts with love.  We should think upon things that are lovely since God Himself is love.  It will help us to align our character with His.
  • Admirable
    • From the Greek, euphEma – well-spoken of, respectable, of good report
    • We should also dwell upon those things that are commendable.  They remind us of what we should be doing, that our actions would be commendable as well, that God would be glorified through them.
  • Excellent
    • From the Greek, aretE – valorous, excellent, to be praised, virtuous
    • We are to set our minds upon those things that are courageous, excellent, virtuous, rather than what is despised, selfish, and otherwise deserving of shame.  We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.
  • Praiseworthy
    • From the Greek, epainos – a commendable thing, praiseworthy
    • Since all glory, honor, praise, power, dominion, and strength belong to God, and we are the image-bearers of God, we should also focus our minds upon those things that are praiseworthy and commendable, as they will help us to train our minds to do the same when we are in difficult situations.

Experience Exercised

Paul encourages believers to look at his life and to do what he is doing that fits this criteria.  We should be looking towards leaders who exemplify these characteristics, and then emulate them as we are enabled to do so.  It is through practice that we are able to refine our skills and hone them to a sharpness that is able to cut through the garbage and be effective.  Watch what good leaders are doing.  Identify their commendable traits as proscribed by the Word of God, and implement them practically into your everyday life.

Peace Perceived

Paul leaves us with a promise.  When we put these characteristics into practice, God’s peace will be with us.  These do not make us any more commendable to God, for it is the righteousness of Christ that is upon us that does that.  The implementation of these characteristics by dwelling upon them in our minds will lead to actions of like kind.  God is pleased when we are living out our imputed righteousness, as we are image-bearers of God, after all…

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Is what I am putting into my mind going to lead to the type of character development that God is seeking?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I praise You for You are worthy of all honor, glory, praise, power, strength and dominion.  You have seen fit to make me, and to give me the task of bearing Your holy image – Your character.  Father, install within me today a better sense of Your holiness, that as I put things into my mind, that they would be beneficial to the growth of the type of character that You desire to see in me.  Help me to put aside anything that does not glorify You, and fill my mind with all that does.  Strengthen me that I would be able to put into practice all that You teach me through this.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Forgiven by God – Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

It is a blessing to be forgiven. What a relief!  It is also expected that we will forgive as we have been forgiven.  So why is it so hard to forgive when we have been forgiven so much?  We suffer three injuries every time we forgive:

  • The Initial Offense – We suffer from the harm that happened because of the event
  • The Pain of Reconciliation – We must come to terms with the pain of offense and let that pain go, since we consider it as though it never happened
  • The Absence of Justice – We suffer knowing that since we have chosen to forgive, justice will not occur for the offense

Yet, we are called to forgive as we have been forgiven.  But why does it seem that every day people are getting more evil than ever?  Perhaps this is why (Matthew 24:12-13):

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Besides, everything has already been paid in full already.  Just as some physical injuries take longer to heal than others, the pain of sin and forgiveness can take longer for certain events.  Either way, we are called to be perfect like God.  So, like everything else in life, practice makes perfect – make forgiveness the first state of mind when someone wrongs you.  And let God take care of the rest.  Lean on Him for strength and healing.  For:

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Be an oak of righteousness; forgive as God has forgiven you.  And let God give you the oil of joy and a garment of praise.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have forgiven us more that we can even comprehend.  From the worst of sinners as Paul described himself to the ones who led good lives, we have all sinned and fallen short of Your glory.  Forgive us this day our trespasses, and help us to forgive the trespasses of others.  Strengthen us as we deal with the consequences of not only our own sin, but the sin of others.  Help us to remember what it cost You to forgive our sins, that we might put everything into perspective.  Touch our hearts and comfort us as we draw close to you.  This we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?