“…think on these things…” (Philippians 4:8)
Paul and Jesus agree that we should think our way to peace (in addition to fervent prayer.) Jesus challenged us: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23)
Jesus was talking about how we think and look at things – our mindset and outlook.
Paul gives us the same counsel in this condition for peace: we can decide how we are going to think, and how we are not going to think. He challenges us to think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good news. How much time do we spend thinking about things that are untrue, dishonorable, unjust, impure, ugly, and bad news?
Isaiah wrote, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) Paul and Isaiah agree that if trust is always, peace is perfect and perpetual. If trust is up and down, peace is up and down. If there is no trust, there is no peace, because we must keep our minds continuously fixed on God, trusting.
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was in prison chained between two soldiers 24/7. Guards changed every 4 hours, which means he never had a moment of privacy. He had to practice this condition for peace continually: “Fix your minds on whatever is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and praiseworthy,” then, “the peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”
In the context of our own experiences of terrifying stress, like combat, being violated by a crime, a terrible accident, surgery, prison, the news that we have a malignancy, or the final stages of an illness, this prescription can give us peace.
“Think on these things…”
Dick Woodward, from “A Prescription for Peace”