YOU HAVE LEARNED AND RECEIVED AND HEARD AND SEEN IN ME: a kai emathete (2PAAI) kai parelabete (2PAAI) kai ekousate
(2PAAI) kai eidete (2PAAI) en emoi: (Phil
3:17; 1Co 10:31, 32, 33; 11:1; 1Th 1:6; 2:2-12,14; 4:1-8; 2Th 3:6, 7,
8, 9, 10) (Macarthur on
Pentecost writes that...
In Scripture, a man who knows what
he ought to do and does not do it is called a hypocrite. The sin of
hypocrisy is constantly dealt with as one of the cardinal sins with
which believers must come to grips. It is that which the apostle has
uppermost in his mind as he pens the words of Philippians 4:9 (Pentecost,
J. D. The Joy of Living: A study of Philippians. Kregel Publications)
The things - Referring to
those things mentioned in Php 4:8.
Eadie says that manthano...
refers to instruction. Ro 16:17;
Col. 1:7. The next term, parela/bete, denotes the result of
instruction, the appropriation of the knowledge conveyed, or the fact
that they had assented to it or had embraced it. 1Cor. 15:1; Gal.
1:12; 1Th 2:13. They had been instructed, and they had accepted the
instruction, and therefore were they bound to abide by it. (A
Commentary on the Greek Text - Online)
(manthano related to the noun mathetes = disciple,
literally a learner! The shut mind is the end of discipleship!) has the basic meaning of directing one’s mind to
something and producing an external effect.
Manthano refers to
teaching, learning, instructing, and discipling. Manthano
to genuinely understand and accept a teaching, to accept it as true
and to apply it in one’s life. It was sometimes used of acquiring a
Zuck writes that according
learning is a matter of a pupil
acquiring knowledge of content through a teacher to the extent that
such knowledge is experienced in the life. (Bibliotheca Sacra)
MacArthur adds that
refers to teaching, learning,
instructing, and discipling. Paul is referring here to his personal
instruction and discipling of the Philippians. (MacArthur,
J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press
Richards has an informative
note on manthano and the related word mathetes...
In Greek culture prior to Socrates,
manthano described the process by which a person sought
theoretical knowledge. A mathetes was one who attached himself
to another to gain some practical or theoretical knowledge, whether by
instruction or by experience. The word came to be used both of
apprentices who were learning a trade and of adherents of various
philosophical schools. After the time of Socrates, the word lost favor
with the philosophers, who were not at all happy with its association
But the concept of discipleship was most popular in the Judaism of
Jesus' day. Rabbis had disciples who studied with them in a
well-defined and special relationship. The need for training was
intensely felt in the Jewish community, which believed that no one
could understand Scripture without a teacher's guidance. A disciple in
Judaism had to master--in addition to the Scriptures of the OT--the
oral and written traditions that had grown up around the Scriptures.
Only after being so taught might a person become a rabbi himself or
teach with any authority. This notion is expressed in the Jews' amazed
reaction to Jesus' public teaching: "How did this man get such
learning without having studied?" (Jn 7:15). Jesus taught with
authority without having gone through the only process that the Jews
felt could qualify anyone to teach.
Several aspects of the rabbi-disciple relationship in first-century
Judaism are significant. The disciple left his home and moved in with
his teacher. He served the teacher in the most servile ways, treating
him as an absolute authority. The disciple was expected not only to
learn all that his rabbi knew but also to become like him in character
and piety (Mt 10:24; Lk 6:40). The rabbi in return provided food and
lodging and saw his own distinctive interpretations transmitted
through his disciples to future generations. So when Mark says that
Jesus chose twelve men "that they might be with him" (Mk 3:14), he
accurately reflects contemporary understanding of how future leaders
should be trained. (Richards,
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
Detzler writes that...
The emphasis on discipleship in
Greek is not formal school learning, but rather fellowship with the
teacher. It is seen in two situations. First, it refers to the
followers of a certain philosopher. They derived not just information
from their teacher but also inspiration. Disciples learned the
teacher's entire outlook on life, not just the facts which he taught.
Second, discipleship had a religious context. It was seen in the
pre-Christian mystery religions and in the Greek schools of the
Epicureans and Stoics.
Discipleship involved two principles. First, it meant that the
disciples had fellowship with their teacher. They lived with him as
Jesus' disciples lived with Him. Second, disciples carried on the
tradition of their teacher. After he died they taught the same things
that he did. Disciples were the main means of perpetuating teaching in
the ancient world, since many great teachers wrote no books. (Detzler,
Wayne E: New Testament Words in Today's Language. Victor. 1986)
Manthano is used 25 times in
Matthew 9:13 "But go and
this means, 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not
come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Matthew 11:29 "Take My yoke
upon you, and learn
Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for
Matthew 24:32 "Now
parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender,
and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near (Comment:
Jesus wanted the disciples to learn in their inmost beings what He was
teaching, to understand and receive it with regard to its great
Mark 13:28 "Now
parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender,
and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.
John 6:45 "It is written in
the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone
who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
John 7:15 The Jews therefore
were marveling, saying, "How has this man become learned,
having never been educated?"
Acts 23:27 "When this man
was arrested by the Jews and was about to be slain by them, I came
upon them with the troops and rescued him, having learned that
he was a Roman.
Romans 16:17 (note)
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions
and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn
away from them.
1 Corinthians 4:6 Now these
things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos
for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what
is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in
behalf of one against the other.
1 Corinthians 14:31 For you
can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may
1 Corinthians 14:35 And if
they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at
home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
Galatians 3:2 This is the
only thing I want to find out (learn - manthano) from you: did
you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with
Ephesians 4:20 (note)
But you did not learn Christ in this way,
Philippians 4:9 (note)
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in
me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.
Philippians 4:11 (note)
Not that I speak
from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever
circumstances I am. (Comment: John MacArthur writes that
learning in this context "is much more than mere head knowledge; it
involves genuine acceptance of a truth and determination to live a
life consistent with it")
Colossians 1:7 (note)
just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow
bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,
1 Timothy 2:11
a woman quietly receive
1 Timothy 5:4 but if any
widow has children or grandchildren,
them first learn
to practice piety in regard to their own family, and to make some
return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.
1 Timothy 5:13 And at the
same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to
house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking
about things not proper to mention.
2 Timothy 3:7 (note)
always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the
2 Timothy 3:14 (note)
You, however, continue in the things you have learned
and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned
Titus 3:14 (note)
And let our
people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing
needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
Hebrews 5:8 (note)
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things
which He suffered.
Revelation 14:3 (note)
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living
creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song
except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased
from the earth.
There are 24 uses of manthano
(Exod. 2:4; Deut. 4:10; 5:1; 14:23; 17:19; 18:9; 31:12f; 1 Chr. 25:8;
Est. 1:1; 4:5; Job 34:36; Ps. 106:35; 119:7, 71, 73; Prov. 6:8; 17:16;
22:25; Isa. 1:17; 2:4; 8:16; 26:9f; 28:19; 29:24; 32:4; 47:12; Jer.
9:5; 10:2; 12:16; 13:23; Ezek. 19:3, 6; Mic. 4:3) Many instances refer
to learning to fear the LORD.
Deuteronomy 4:10 Remember
the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD
said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My
words so they may learn (Hebrew = lamad = accept, learn,
be taught; Lxx = manthano) to fear Me all the days they live on the
earth, and that they may teach their children.'
Deuteronomy 17:19 And it (a
copy of the Law) shall be with him (the king of Israel - he was to
write for himself a copy of the law on a scroll in the presence of the
Levitical priests), and he shall read it all the days of his life,
that he may learn (Hebrew = lamad = accept, learn, be
taught; Lxx = manthano) to fear the LORD his God, by carefully
observing all the words of this law and these statutes,
Deuteronomy 18:9 When you
enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not
learn (Hebrew = lamad = accept, learn, be taught; Lxx = manthano)
to imitate the detestable things of those nations.
Psalm 106:35 (Spurgeon's
note) But they mingled
with the nations, And learned (Hebrew = lamad = accept, learn,
be taught; Lxx = manthano) their practices,
Psalm 119:7 (Spurgeon's
note) I shall give
thanks to Thee with uprightness of heart, When I learn Thy
Psalm 119:71 (Spurgeon's
note) It is good for me
that I was afflicted, That I may learn Thy statutes.
Psalm 119:73 (Spurgeon's
note) Thy hands made me
and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Thy
Isaiah 1:17 Learn to
do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead
for the widow.
[word study] from pará = from or alongside, beside +
lambáno = take, receive) characteristically means to accept a
fixed tradition. This word in the Greek was used regularly of
receiving truth from a teacher. In the present context, paralambano
then stands for the accepted teaching which Paul had handed on to the
saints at Philippi. In other words, the Philippians not only
understand it clearly, but also give assent to it and in so doing they
were now responsible to live out the truth. This is always the
principle when we learn and receive truth from a pastor or a teacher.
God will hold us responsible to live according to the light we have
Receiving truth should
always accompany learning truth. It is one thing to learn
a truth, but quite another to receive it inwardly and make it a part
of our inner man. Facts in the head are not enough; we must also have
truths in the heart. This is inner receipt of the Word is seen in the
saints at Thessalonica, Paul writing
And for this reason we also
constantly thank God that when you received (paralambano) from
us the word of God's message, you accepted (accepted
deliberately and readily = you put out the welcome mat for the Word!)
it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God,
which also performs its work in you who believe. (1Thes 2:13)
(akouo) means to hear with attention or hear effectually as to
perform or grant what is spoken. This could refer to what they heard
Paul teach and also what they heard about Paul's impeccable reputation
Eadie writes that and
heard and saw in me...
...is connected with both verbs.
The apostle has referred to his public instructions, and now he
concludes with his personal example. What they heard in connection
with him is the report about him circulating in the church—the
character which was usually given him. Php 3:17....
“And saw in me”—what they
had witnessed in his conduct and character. His appeal is as in 1Th
2:9, 10, 11, 12. The two first verbs seem to refer to his official
conduct, and the two last to his private demeanor....
It is not simply Paul the teacher,
but Paul the man, how he was reported of, nay, how he demeaned
himself. It is not, do as I taught you, but also do as ye heard of me
doing and saw me doing, in reference to all the elements of virtue and
Commentary on the Greek Text - Online)
(horao) describes not merely the act of seeing, but also the
actual perception of the object. They had observed Paul's character
during his time in Philippi, and they knew his walk matched his talk!
Personal example is an essential
element of effective teaching. The teacher must demonstrate in action
the truth he expresses in words. Lips and life should match.
As A T Robertson reminds
The preacher is the interpreter of
the spiritual life and should be an example of it
Remember that before the completion
of the New Testament Scriptures, the lives of the apostles furnished
the main source of divine truth. The apostles were the source of
doctrinal truth and also modeled the standards of Christian behavior
(compare Paul's exhortation "join in following my example"
The saints at Philippi literally
"read" the book of Paul's life. This dynamic is the essence of multiplication of
disciples which Paul outlined for his young protégé Timothy
the things which you have heard
from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful
men, who will be able to teach others also. (2Ti 2:2-note)
Edwards adds that...
Paul now covers the spectrum of
things he wants them to do. We see Paul's great heart for discipleship
here as well as his total commitment of life to Christ... The truth is
first demonstrated, then declared. From that point the Philippians
accept it and then finally embrace it. This ought to be our pattern of
discipleship. We are responsible that the men we are working with see
and hear the truth in us. Then they must respond by accepting and
embracing the truth we have transmitted. The goal of all this, though,
is that they do the truth they have embraced. It is not enough for us
to accept and embrace the truth, we must be equally zealous to do it
THESE THINGS AND THE GOD OF PEACE SHALL BE WITH YOU: tauta prassete
(2PPAM): kai o theos tes eirenes estai (2SFMI) mete humon: (Dt
5:1; Mt 5:19,20; 7:21,24, 25, 26, 27; Lk 6:46; 8:21; Jn 2:5; 13:17;
15:14; Ac 9:6; 2Th 3:4; Jas 1:22; 2Pe 1:10; 1Jn 3:22) (God of peace =
Php 4:7; Ro 15:33; 16:20; 1 Co 14:33; 2Co 5:19,20; 13:11; 1Th 5:23;
Heb 13:20,21) (With you = Is 8:10; 41:10; Mt 1:23; 28:20; 2Ti 4:22) (Macarthur on
Php 4:9 Obedience)
(prasso) refers to repetition or continuous action. Practice as
present imperative thus
commanding believers to continually practice these things as their
normal way of life.
This verb practice or "do"
is the key word in this passage, for to hear truth and not to do it is
to delude one's self as James says. We must each...
prove yourselves doers of the word,
and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (James 1:21)
Our English word "practice" has a
similar connotation for we speak of a doctor as having a practice,
because his profession maintains a normal routine. Christians are to
make it their practice to lead godly, obedient lives.
Truth must be into practice to
achieve its intended purpose as Pentecost emphasizes writing that...
Truth is communicated to a person
through the channel of his mind, and truth is grasped by the mind. But
unless that which is received by the mind is loved with the heart and
translated into action by the will, the truth has not done its proper
work. Truth is designed to possess the total person. Truth is not
designed simply to teach the mind; truth is communicated so the heart
might respond in love for the truth and the will might respond in
obedience to the truth... Blessing does not come on the believer by
saturating his mind with the truth; blessing comes on the believer as
he translates into action the truth that his mind has received...
maturity in the Christian life is not measured by what a man knows but
by what he does. Let that be indelibly impressed upon your mind.
God of peace is one of Paul's favorite titles for God (Romans
1Corinthians 14:33; 1Th 5:23-note)
Who is characterized by peace and Who is the only source of true
peace, which believers experience when they walk in fellowship with
The phrase God of peace is parallel
to the preceding one—peace of God. In the former case the peace is
described in its connection with God, and now God is pointed out as
the inworker of this peace. It characterizes Him...The presence and
operations of the God of peace are like the peace of God —they pass
all understanding. And this sounds like the apostle's farewell—a
pledge of peace to those who were aiming at the high Christian
excellence described in the two previous verses, in whom the faith of
the gospel had wrought a change which might ripen at length into the
perfection of ethical symmetry and beauty. (A
Commentary on the Greek Text - Online)
MacDonald explains that...
Those who are faithful in following
the example of the apostle are promised that the God of peace will
be with them. In verse 7, the peace of God is the portion
of those who are prayerful; here the God of peace is the
Companion of those who are holy. The thought here is that God will
make Himself very near and dear in present experience to all whose
lives are embodiments of the truth.
(MacDonald, W., & Farstad,
Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and
New Testaments. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
><> ><> ><>
has the following devotional entitled "To Others, An Example"
IT is well when a man can with
advantage be so minutely copied, as Paul might have been. Oh, for
grace to imitate him this day and every day! Should we, through divine
grace, carry into practice the Pauline teaching, we may claim the
promise which is now open before us; and what a promise it is! God,
who loves peace, makes peace, and breathes peace, will be with us.
“Peace be with you” is a sweet benediction; but for the God of peace
to be with us is far more. Thus we have the fountain as well as the
streams, the sun as well as his beams. If the God of peace be with us,
we shall enjoy the peace of God which passeth all understanding, even
though outward circumstances should threaten to disturb. If men
quarrel, we shall be sure to be peacemakers, if the Maker of peace be
with us. It is in the way of truth that real peace is found. If we
quit the faith or leave the path of righteousness under the notion of
promoting peace, we shall be greatly mistaken. First pure, then
peaceable, is the order of wisdom and of fact. Let us keep to Paul’s
line, and we shall have the God of peace with us as He was with the
><> ><> ><>
Walking Our Faith - Often we
Christians are urged not just to "talk the talk" but to "walk the
talk." The same advice may be expressed in these words: Don't let your
behavior contradict your professed belief. At other times we are
admonished to be sure that life and lip agree. If our conduct doesn't
harmonize with our confession of faith, however, that discrepancy
nullifies the testimony of the gospel which we proclaim.
As far as we can know, Mahatma Gandhi never became a Christian, but he
made a statement that we who follow Jesus would do well to ponder.
When asked to put his message into one short sentence, he replied, "My
life is my message."
Certainly we should explain the gospel message as clearly as possible.
Yet the clearest explanation isn't going to win hearts for our Lord
unless His love is embodied in our lives. To quote the apostle Paul in
1Corinthians 11:1, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." And
holding himself up as a pattern, he wrote in Philippians 4:9, "The
things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these
do, and the God of peace will be with you."
Pray, then, that like Paul we may live out our saving faith before the
watching world.—Vernon C Grounds (Copyright
RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in
All His wonderful passion and purity!
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine,
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. —Orsborn
The world is watching us—do they see Jesus
F B Meyer in
his devotional commentary The Epistle to the Philippians
THE GOVERNMENT OF OUR
Phil. 4:8, 9
Finally, 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.
Those things, which ye have both
learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of
peace shall be with you.
The God of Peace. We last spoke about the peace of God which,
like a white-robed sentry, keeps the heart with its affections, and
thoughts, with all their busy and sometimes too promiscuous crowd. We
have now to speak about the God of peace; and blessed though the peace
of God may be, to have the God from whose nature peace emanates is
infinitely preferable. One main constituent of our text is the word
think; another the word do.
Thinking and doing are the
conditions on which the God of peace will tarry in the heart. To think
rightly, and to do rightly--these will bring the blessed dove of
heaven to brood in the nest of your soul. Almost everything in life
depends on the thoughts, as the forest lies in the acorn, and
Scripture itself lays stress upon this. The wise may says: "Keep thy
heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life;" and,
again, we have it: "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." In this
context we notice that the peace of God is to keep our thoughts; and,
again, our text says: "Think on these things." The control of your
thought, the government of your mind, this is all important for three
THINKING AND DOING.
(1) Because thinking about things prepares you for doing them. If
you allow a matter to revolve in your mind, if you turn it over and
over and consider it from every aspect, and dwell upon it, it becomes
comparatively easy to do it. It is as though the thoughts lay down the
tram lines, upon which presently the car of action proceeds. The
thoughts lay the wires which presently convey the message. No doubt
many of you have again and again experienced this, that when you have
come to some great crisis in your life, you have passed through it
with perfect ease, because you had so often rehearsed the matter. When
you came to act, it was as though you had passed through the
experience before, your thought had so entirely prepared you for it.
It is of the utmost importance therefore that you take care what you
think, because thought is the precursor, herald, and forerunner of
THOUGHT AND CHARACTER
(2) Thought is also important, because it has a reflex effect upon
the whole character. As you think, so you are almost without
knowing it. Wordsworth refers to this; he says:
"We live by admiration, love, and
As these are well and wisely fixed,
In dignity of being we ascend."
If a man cherishes bad thoughts,
almost unwittingly he deteriorates; he cannot help it. There is a
profound philosophy in Rom. 1, where it says that because they refused
to retain God in their minds but cherished their vile lusts, God gave
them up to their passions to defile themselves. If a man is
perpetually cherishing unholy, impure, and untrue thoughts, he will
become an unholy, impure, and untrue man. Our character takes on the
complexion and hue of our inward thinking. If a man is ever cherishing
noble thoughts, he cannot help becoming noble; if he is generous in
his thought, he will be in his act; if he is loving and tender in his
thought, he will be loving and tender in his bearing. Thoughts are the
looms in the wonderful machinery of the inner life, which are running
day and night, and weaving the garments in which the soul shall be
arrayed. If you will care for your thoughts, the thought will mould
character reflexively and unconsciously.
THOUGHT AND IDEALS
(3) Thought affects us because we naturally pursue our ideals.
Columbus, after long thinking, came to the conclusion that the earth
was round, and that conviction determined him to launch his little
boat and steer westward. Washington thought that government must be
based on universal suffrage and free vote of the people, and this led
to the formation of the United States. Wilberforce thought that every
man was equally free in the sight of God, created and redeemed to be
responsible to God only, apart from the holding of his fellow-man.
Young men and women may read these words in whom great thoughts are
formulating themselves, and if they are not to be mere enthusiasts,
mere weak dreamers, the time must come when they will yoke the car of
their thought to the star of their ideal, and presently a life will
tower up before their fellows that shall leave a definite impression
for blessing upon the race. If you are to be any more than a dreamer
and enthusiast, young friend, your thought must, sooner or later, take
shape in your industry and energy, even in the sweat of your brow, and
the suffering of martyrdom.
Thought Often Unnoticed. It
is a remarkable touch in John Bunyan's description of Ignorance, as he
walks beside the two elder pilgrims, that he says: "My heart is as
good as any man's heart"--and adds, "As to my thoughts, I take no
notice of them." Probably there are scores of people who take no
notice of their thoughts. They leave the castle gate of their soul
perfectly open for any intruder that may wish to enter, either from
heaven or hell; and so it befalls that the thoughts of the world, of
vanity, of impurity, thoughts which are inspired by demons, but which
are arrayed in the garb of respectable citizens, pour into the great
gateway of the soul, filling the courtyard with their tumultuous
uproar. Without discrimination, thought, or care on their part, they
allow themselves to be occupied and possessed with thoughts of which
they have every reason to be ashamed; they teem in and out, and do
just as they will. This is the reason why you sometimes find your
heart filled with passion; it is because Guy Fawkes has entered in
disguise with his fellow-conspirators, and under long flowing robes
has introduced explosives. This is why our hearts become filled with
hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness, with thoughts against God,
and against our fellows. We do not watch the great courtyard gate.
Think Reverently. Think
carefully, think reverently, says the Apostle; take care how you
think. We might almost say you can live as you like, if you are only
careful how you think. At the great dock gates they will feel down the
casual labourers before permitting them to enter the great warehouse,
and again when they come out. We are told that in some of the great
hospitals they will search the visitors, especially on Sunday
afternoon, lest they should introduce deleterious food, which might
neutralise the physicians' treatment. When there was the dynamite
scare in London, how carefully the policeman examined everybody who
had business in the House of Commons, lest a bomb might be introduced.
If only we had a scrutator standing at the door of our heart to
examine every thought as it entered; nay, if we could have there the
Angel Ithuriel, of whom Milton speaks, and the touch of whose spear
showed that the devil lurked in the toad that squatted by Eve's ear
and whispered her his secret, how often in what seems a respectable
thought entering the courtyard gate we should discover a traitor, who
had come from the very pit to set our heart on fire with sin.
The Conflict of Thoughts. It
would appear that to arrest the tide of evil thoughts that threatens
us is what St. Paul means when he says he is crucified with Christ.
When newly converted there is nothing that we suffer from so much as
the collision between the intrusion of those thoughts and the new
divine principle, which has entered us. Just for a few hours watch
carefully at the gateway of your hearts, and see if it be not
sometimes almost an agony to exclude those which you must suspect. In
beginning to do this, many would learn, perhaps for the first time,
what the Cross of Christ means. It might bring the very perspiration
to your forehead, in the awful conflict against certain fascinating
thoughts, so winsome, so bright, so attractive, that offer themselves
with the most insinuating grace. In earlier days, when one's standard
was not quite so high, when one was less aware of the insidious
temptation that lurks in the most graceful and attractive thoughts,
one would have permitted them to enter, but now how great a fight goes
on at the great gate of the soul, not only against bold bad thoughts,
but against the more pleasing and seductive ones.
But supposing we were left merely
with this constant watching and antagonising of evil thoughts, life
would be almost intolerable.
Remember, therefore, that not the
negative only but the positive, not destruction only but construction,
is the law of the Christian life. Not the grave of Christ, but the
resurrection power, is our hope; and hence St. Paul says, "Think on
these things"--and he gives you six standards of thoughts.
Let these six sisters stand at the
gateway of your soul, and challenge every thought
(1) Think on the True.
"Whatsoever things are true." Keep out of your mind the false, but
admit the true, because every life, every government, all politics,
all business, all great commercial undertakings, all books and
systems, which are not founded upon truth crumble sooner or later. If
you could visit this world in the future, you would find that the
falsehoods which now stalk across its arena, and seem as strong as
thistles in spring, will have passed away. Consider things that are
(2) On the Honourable.
"Whatsoever things are honourable." The word in the Greek is
grave--reverent--respect-compelling--every-thing which is respectable,
which makes for itself a court of respect. Exclude from your mind all
that is dishonourable, and admit only what is worthy of God.
(3) On the Just.
"Whatsoever things are just." Be absolutely just to other people in
your estimate, in giving them their dues. If they be above you,
criticise them justly; if on your level, deal with them as you would
wish them to deal with you; if beneath you, be just. Everything unjust
in speech or habit prohibit; everything which is just foster.
(4) On the Pure.
"Whatsoever things are pure." Here is the fight for a young man's
life, to arrest the impure, however bedizened and bedecked, and to
admit into his heart only that which is perfectly pure, pure as the
lily, as God's ether, as the light.
(5) "Whatsoever things are lovely."
That conduct which is consistent with 1 Cor. 13, which proceeds from
the heart of love and thaws the ice of selfishness, which has
accumulated upon others.
(6) And on the Things of Good Report.
"Whatsoever things are of good
report." Like the elders who obtained a good report; like Mary, of
whom Jesus said, "She hath clone what she could"; like the man with
his ten talents, to whom the Lord said, "Well done, good and faithful
servant." Anything, the Apostle says, which is virtuous, and anything
which wins praise of God or man, think on these things.
Let these six sisters stand at the
gateway of your soul, and challenge every thought as it offers itself,
admitting only those thoughts which approve themselves as true, just,
pure, lovely, and of good report. O God, let these six angels come
into our souls, and from now until we meet Thee, let us give the
entire control of our nature up to their serene, strong, wholesome
restraint, that all that is inconsistent with them may be abashed, and
everything which is consistent with them admitted to infill and dwell
A High Ideal. You say the
ideal is high. Yes, but listen; we must believe that each of these
attributes was won by Christ for us all--won by Him. They were native
to Him but they were won because He pursued them through temptation.
He kept them as His own, face to face with the most terrific
temptations ever presented to a moral being. Having endured all, He
died, rose, and bore to God's right hand a humanity in which these
things were eternal and inherent. Thence he sent down the Holy Spirit
to reproduce His risen humanity in every one who believes.
But Attainable by Faith. Faith is the power with which we receive
through the Holy Ghost the nature of Jesus Christ into our hearts; so
that instead of talking about justice, purity, and self-restraint as
so many abstract qualities, we speak about Him in whom those
attributes are incarnated. By faith we receive Him, and having
received Him, we receive them. Let the Holy Spirit reproduce Him.
Just now we said, Let those six
sisters stand at the gateway and test all our thoughts. But it is
better to say, Let Jesus Christ stand at the gateway and test them,
because He can not only test but roll back the tide of evil thought,
as easily as He could make Niagara leap back, did He choose. It is
mere stoicism and stoical philosophy to say: Watch your thought. It is
Christian philosophy to say: Let Christ keep your thoughts, testing
them, hurling back the evil, and filling the soul with His glorious
This is the secret of the
indwelling presence of the God of Peace. He abides where the heart is
kept free from evil thoughts, and filled with the Spirit of the Son.
"The God of Peace shall be with you." (F. B. Meyer. The Epistle to the
Devotional Sermon by George
Morrison (circa 1900)...
How to Control Your Thoughts
"Those things…do"— Philippians 4:9
The Power of Our Thoughts
We are all familiar with the
difference that is made by the thoughts that arise within our hearts.
Often they cast a shadow on our universe. A man may waken in the
morning singing and address himself cheerfully to duty, and then,
suddenly, some unbidden thought may creep or flash into his mind—and
in a moment the heavens become cloudy and the music of the morning
vanishes and there is fret and bitterness within.
Things have not altered in the least. Everything is as it was an hour
ago. The burden of the day has not grown heavier, nor has anybody
ceased to love us. Yet all the world seems different, and the
brightness has vanished from the sky under the tyranny of intruding
No one can achieve serenity who does not practice the control of
thought. You cannot build a lovely house out of dirty or discolored
bricks. The power of our thoughts is so tremendous over health and
happiness and character that to master them is moral victory.
A Moral Task
This mastery of our thoughts is difficult, but then everything
beautiful is difficult. The kind of person I have no patience with is
the person who wants everything made easy. When an artist paints a
lovely picture, he does that by a process of selection. Certain
features of the landscape he rejects; other aspects he welcomes and
embraces. And if to do that even the man of genius has to scorn
delights and live laborious days, how can we hope without the sternest
discipline to paint beautiful pictures in the mind?
So is it with the musician when he plays for us some lovely piece of
music. Years of training are behind the melody that seems to come
rippling from his fingers. And if he has to practice through hard
hours to produce such melody without, how can we hope, without an
equal effort, to create a like melody within?
There are two moral tasks that seem to me supremely difficult and yet
supremely necessary. One is the redemption of our time; the other is
the mastery of our thoughts. Probably most of us, right on to the end,
are haunted by a sense of failure in these matters. But the great
thing is to keep on struggling.
We see, too, how difficult this task is when we compare it with
mastery of speech. If it be hard to set a watch upon our lips, it is
harder to set a watch upon our thoughts. All speech has social
reactions, and social prudence is a great deterrent. If you speak your
mind, you may lose your position, possibly you may lose your friend.
But thought is hidden—it is shrouded—it moves in dark and impenetrable
places; it has no apparent social reactions. A man may be thinking
bitter thoughts of you, yet meet you with a smile upon his face. A
typist may inwardly despise her boss, yet outwardly be a model of
obedience. It is this secrecy, this surrounding darkness, that has led
men to say that thought is free, and that makes the mastery of thought
Think on These Things
Now, the fine thing in the New Testament is this, that while it never
calls that easy which is difficult, it yet proclaims that the mastery
of thought is within the power of everybody. Think, for instance, of
the Beatitude "Blessed are the pure in heart." Whenever our Lord says
that anything is blessed, He wants us to understand that it is
possible. Yet no man can have purity of heart, as distinguished from
purity of conduct, who is not able to grapple with his thoughts. Again
by our thoughts we shall be judged—that is always implied in the New
Testament. Christ came and is going to come again, "that the thoughts
of many hearts may be revealed."
But I refuse to believe that men are to be judged by anything that
lies beyond their power—to credit that would make the judge immoral.
Then does not the great apostle say, "If there be any virtue...think
on these things?" It would be mockery to command us to think if the
controlling of our thoughts were quite beyond us. It may be difficult,
as fine things always are, but the clear voice of the Word of God
proclaims that it is within the capacity of all.
If, then, someone were to ask me how is a man to practice this great
discipline, remembering the experience of the saints, I think I should
answer in some such way as this: You must summon up the resources of
your will. You must resist beginnings. You must remember the most
hideous of sins is to debauch the mind.
You must fill your being so full of higher interests that when the
devil comes and clamors for admission, he will find there is not a
chair for him to sit on. Above all, you must endeavor daily to walk in
a closer fellowship with Christ. It is always easier to have lovely
thoughts when walking with the Altogether Lovely One.