Philippians 4:7-8, And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (7) 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. (8)
Other than your Pastor, how many Christians do you know that are truly sold out for God and consistently moving forward in their spiritual lives? How many Christians can you say are striving toward living a Godly life in every aspect of their lives? We can perfect one area, like what music we listen to, but if we leave inappropriate reading aside, we are straddling the fence. We are sitting on the fence of do-nothin’. I love that expression – my Sunday School teacher loves to use it
When you don’t move forward toward righteous living, you are making the decision to sit on the fence. Jesus said it best:
Matthew 7:13-14, Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (13) Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (14)
This speaks of the road to salvation, however, take notice that the believer has to enter at the straight gate and go down the narrow road. The person who sits on the fence is not in motion. The believer who enters in at the straight gate and then sits on the fence is not moving forward down the narrow road. He is sitting still and is not making any progress on his spiritual journey.
What is causing you to straddle the fence today? Is it impure thoughts? Is it covetousness? Is it what you watch on TV? Is it the music you listen to? To whatever you expose yourself, you should ask yourself if it meets with the Philippians 4:8 criteria. Any Christian who does not desire to grow spiritually needs to ask himself why he is so indifferent about his progress. Is it because the things of this world are more pleasurable than the things of God? Is it because you would rather continue in these worldly ways? The devil’s delights are pleasurable but only for a short time. God’s delights are eternal!
David took leave of his walk with God and allowed himself to straddle the fence. While he sat on the fence, his eyes caused him to covet another man’s wife (Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba). He straddled that fence a little longer and the devil wreaked havoc with David’s thoughts (adultery). Next, David began thinking of ways to remove the obstacle out of his way which prevented him from fulfilling the his lust (having Uriah killed). However, after David was chastised (the death of his son) and convicted of his sin; he repented and moved forward from that point on. We don’t see any accounts of his falling deep into sin after that. Can you see what straddling the fence does? It always comes with a cost! Any time you are idle in your thoughts, you will be tempted to wander. That is why Paul exhorted us to “think on these things”!
Where is your thought life today? These types of thoughts in Philippians 4:8 are fixed on heavenly things. What are you thinking about? The latest movie out of Hollywood? The latest romance novel? What the argument was all about with your neighbor? How many minutes/hours does your mind dwell on thoughts like these – even when you’re reading that book or watching that movie. Compare it to how many minutes/hours your mind dwells on Godly things.
Paul exhorts us to think of things that are true – only God is Truth – His word is Truth. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17)
Are you thinking of honest things in all areas of your life? Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:12)
Are you thinking of things which are just? (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. (Romans 2:13)
Are you thinking of pure things? The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (Psa 12:6) If your thoughts are not focused on the Word, which is pure, they will be focused on the world. The believer should be in motion on this one – he should be moving forward working toward purifying himself. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (1 John 3:6)
Do you think on lovely things? Not things the world has to offer – but things that God offers. Do you think about what Heaven will be like? Do you think about God’s creation? Do you think about the message you heard on Sunday? His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem. (Song of Solomon 5:16) Thinking on Christ is lovely! He is altogether lovely!
What about thinking of things of good report? Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:7) A man considered for Pastor must have a good reputation so the lost don’t have reason to doubt him. Are you thinking about your reputation and keeping it honorable?
What about thinking on virtuous things? Do you think on morally good things? According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2 Peter 1:3) God has called us grow in this area. The more we think on morally good things, the less we’ll have time for the ungodly works of the flesh.
Do you think about praises? [To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben, A Psalm of David.] I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. (Psalms 9:1) Even when you cannot think of one thing to praise God about, look at His wonderful creation and you’ll find something to praise Him for.
Why not take moral inventory of your life today. How much time do you spend in God’s holy word? How much time do you spend in prayer? How much time do you spend in church? How much time do you talk to others about the Lord? How much time to you study your Bible? Now compare it with how much time you do everything else in your life – be honest with yourself. Write it down on paper if you have to so you can see it in black and white. I beg you to do this assignment. Are you sitting on the fence of do-nothin’? This ought not be so! The path to Heaven is narrow and few are called. Why do you think this is? There is a cost to righteous living. It requires dedication and work! We must be growing in grace – growing in the knowledge and wisdom of the Scriptures. It is in this growing process that we come down from straddling that fence and move forward in the path of righteousness. Remember, not only does the devil own the wide gate but he owns that fence of ‘do-nothin’. He loves it when the Christian is not in forward motion!