The “Thing” Principle

The abiding message of the book of Philippians concerns the nature and grounds of Christian joy. For Paul, the author of the letter, joy is independent of outward conditions and is possible even in the midst of adverse circumstances. His secret? The “thing” principle.

Chapter four can easily be nicknamed the “thing” chapter. In it, Paul gives us a pattern of victorious living through six things. If we follow this blueprint, peace, joy, and life abundant will be within our grasp,

The first thing is no thing. “Be anxious for nothing” (v.6). This is a command not just a suggestion. To be anxious is lacking trust and faith (Rom.14:23). The word anxious means “to give careful thought to.” In other words, anxiety comes when we think about something over and over and over again to the point that it begins to rule over our hearts.

Next is everything. “But in everything, by prayer and supplication..” (v.6) God already knows your need but we must ask God for it…in faith not anxiety. God hears our requests and always gives us an answer. His answer replaces our anxious thoughts with peace and trust. (See WORD WISDOM for a deeper study of ask)

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord (Jas.1:6-7)

Because we place our hope and trust in God’s response to our prayers, we can give thanks for “all things” with thanksgiving in our hearts. (v.6). If we can learn to be grateful for all the things that happen to us, both good and bad, God’s sovereignty and Lordship become paramount to the circumstance and blessing. God really is in control.

The fourth thing is good things.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil.4:8)

Instead of allowing our imaginations and our thoughts lead us away from trusting God, Paul tells us to meditate on God’s goodness and greatness. If we think victoriously, we will live victoriously.

So now we must do the right thing. What are the right things? The first four things!

The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, practice these things and the God of peace will be with you. (Phil.4:9)

The word practice means, “to perform repeatedly or habitually.” These things have to become as natural an outpouring as breathing. But that only happens through a supernatural transformation with the help of the Holy Spirit.

And finally, when we understand and exercise all the other things we can make this bold declaration:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil.4:13)

What Paul is saying is that he can do all the things…be anxious for nothing, pray about everything, be thankful for all things, think on good things, and practice the right things. And that is what leads to living a victorious life through all things! Amen! There will always be other things that draw our attentions and pull at our hearts. There will be things that bombard our minds with fear and doubt. We will even do things that offend God. But in the end, there is always the “Love” thing…it bears all things, hopes all things, and endures all things…it never fails! (1 Cor.13:7)

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