Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. Philippians 4:9
As I helped my son with his math homework, it became apparent he was less than enthusiastic about doing multiple problems related to the same concept. “I’ve got it, Dad!” he insisted, hoping I would let him out of doing all of his assignment. I then gently explained to him that a concept is just a concept until we learn how to work it out in practice.
Paul wrote about practice to his friends in Philippi. “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9). He mentions five things: reconciliation—as he urged Euodia and Syntyche to do (vv. 2–3); joy—as he reminded his readers to cultivate (v. 4); gentleness—as he urged them to employ in their relation to the world (v. 5); prayer—as he had modeled for them in person and in writing (vv. 6–7); and focus—as he had shown even in prison (v. 8). Reconciliation, joy, gentleness, prayer, and focus—things we’re called to live out as believers in Jesus. Like any habit, these virtues must be practiced in order to be cultivated.
But the good news of the gospel, as Paul had already told the Philippians, is that “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (2:13). We’re never practicing in our own power. God will provide what we need (4:19).
What things do you need to practice as you seek to imitate Jesus? How can you practice in the power of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus, give me the grace to practice Your ways by the power of the Holy Spirit. Empower me to live my life in a way that bears the fruit of the Spirit.
Read Filled with the Spirit at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0301.
Addressing the believers in Jesus at Philippi, Paul encourages them not to be anxious about anything. The Greek word for anxious (merimnao) means “to be divided or distracted” in one’s thinking. Paul is suggesting that believers in Christ ought not to be pulled in multiple directions—like the doubter described in James 1:6–8. But he doesn’t simply leave the reader to figure out how to do this; he provides two-fold instruction for how to keep our minds focused. The first method for single-mindedness is taking our concerns to God in thankful prayer (Philippians 4:6–7). This will guard our hearts and minds with the peace of Christ. Second, the apostle encourages us to focus our attention on things that are true, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy (v. 8).