Paul was a man like any other. He had his personal share of strengths and weaknesses. When presented with a challenge, he did his best to tackle it.
He devoted his entire life to the sharing of the gospel, grew in his relationships with other godly men, and went on several mission trips to share the Truth with others.
Sounds like a good life, doesn’t it? Well, this same man found himself in several shipwrecks, experienced persecution for sharing the gospel, and was cast into prison on multiple occasions. Not to mention he carried around a pretty intense back story.
Paul’s life was filled with ups and downs. Yet, God inspired him to write over 8 books in the Bible and gave him the opportunity to spread the gospel, not only to common people, but to government leaders.
If there was anyone who had the right to complain about hardship, it was Paul. Nevertheless, we find that Paul was one of the most joy-filled people. His life was one of steadfast prayer, contentment, and courage.
What was his secret? Let’s take a look into Philippians 4.
“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.” (Philippians 4:8)
In reality, Paul’s so-called ‘secret’ wasn’t much of a secret at all! In fact, what Paul writes in Philippians is more of an overview of what God tells us throughout the entire Bible.
David was faced with a giant, but he chose to meditate on the truth (that God was stronger).
Joseph was presented with a seductress (Potifar’s wife), but he chose to meditate on what was pure (that temporary pleasure wasn’t worth disrespecting Potifar and sinning against God).
Ruth’s husband died, but she chose to meditate on the noble thing to do (to stay with Naomi, her mother-in-law, and take care of her).
In Philippians 4:8, Paul is simply reiterating what Scripture has already been saying!
Our individual mindsets determine how we view our circumstances and the world around us. As we’ve already discovered, Paul had some rough spots in his life. Can you imagine being thrown in jail because you told someone about Jesus?
To Paul, his circumstances didn’t determine his mindset. He says in Philippians 4:11, “…I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”
Because he chose to meditate on the things of God (whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report), Paul was able to be joyful and content, even in the worst of circumstances.
We’re all in different places in life. Each of us have our own set of failures and victories. Just as Paul learned from his personal experiences how to be joyful in all things, we can too!
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says,
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, ” (emphasis added).
It’s not up to us to change ourselves. In fact, Paul stresses the opposite. He states that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, meaning our spiritual weapons are not things we can do of ourselves. Rather, our weapons are mighty in God!
Christ has given us the strength to bring every thought into captivity. That means that when we start to think on things that are not of God, we can grab those thoughts and give them to the Lord.
When we surrender our thoughts to God, He can replace them with the thoughts of Philippians 4:8; thoughts of joy and contentment.