How Does Philippians 4:6-8 Instruct Christians to Have Joy?
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Christians have joy when they begin to unfold the principles that are given to the m in Philippians 4:6-8. In that passage it unfolds the mindset that produces joy. People want to have joy as an emotional state, but that emotional state is really coming from what they are dwelling upon. He gives a list of things to dwell upon. He says at the end, “dwell upon these things”, this idea of dwelling is this idea of filling your mind with them.
If I have a sink or a bathtub, my kids have a bathtub at home where they have all their plastic toys in the bathtub—little boats and octopuses, and things like that. If I fill that bathtub with water, it would eventually be filled to the point that even those plastic toys would float up and flow out. It is that same idea with Philippians 4:8. That we are to fill out minds with these things.
And as we fill our mind with them the things that are joy-robbing or joy stealing begin to flow away from us. So, if we focus our mind on whatever is true (that is what Paul says in Philippians 4:8). Truth is anything that is true about God and as well as anything that is true about reality. Often people fill their minds with a way of thinking that is contrary to a biblical way of thinking. They do not have a biblical worldview or biblical way of looking at life, and then wonder why they do not have a joy. It is because you are not looking at life from God’s perspective and dwelling upon truth.
So, he says “whatever is true” dwell upon that, and then “whatever is noble”. We do not think about nobleness very often. But nobleness is an important thing to think about. If other people heard what was going on in my mind would they respect me for what I am thinking about. Am I think naturally about Spirit-filled things or selfish things, things that will be rotting or are unholy or impure? Am I thinking about those things or about noble things?
Similarly, Paul says “whatever is lovely” that is the same idea. He goes on to say “of good repute, if anything is excellent, if anything is deserving of praise.” I need to fill my mind with things that are pure and lovely and deserving of praise. And as I do this, he gives this promise, he says, “dwell on these things and if you do this the God of peace (v9) will be with you.”
So how do we have joy? Ultimately joy is a manifestation of peace in our life. And how does that come? That comes by dwelling upon the right things. Starts off in verse 6 being in prayer and goes on to filling our minds with whatever is true, noble, just, pure, excellent, and worthy of praise.
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