Philippians 4:8 - Thinking That Is Praiseworthy

Dr. Steve Viars April 13, 1996 Philippians 4:8

1.  For the last several weeks now, we've been examining the
    eight words that describe what righteous thinking is to be like ...

2.  Let's do a quick review -- we have studied thinking that is:

     * TRUE:  1) whatever is real as opposed to what is fake
              2) whatever is true as opposed to what is false

     * HONEST: thoughts that are serious and dignified -- as opposed to
               whatever is frivolous

     * JUST: as opposed to that which is unrighteousness, or not in
             conformity to God's will and standard

     * PURE:  as opposed to stained, dirty, immoral, or set apart to
              ungodliness instead of set apart to God

     * LOVELY:  planning or concentration which will bring about a
                loving act

     * GOOD REPORT (admirable):  thinking that searches for the good
                rather than the bad in another

     * VIRTUE (excellent): avoiding thinking that is undisciplined,
                questionable, or mediocre

3.  Now we come to the last, but surely not the least -- in fact, if
    any of these words could be a "cure-all" to evil thinking, this
    would be it!

    READ Phil. 4:8

    "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
    whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever
    is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything
    worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."

4.  The word we're studying today is "PRAISEWORTHY"

5.  We are going to center our study around 4 questions:

     1)  What is praiseworthy thinking?
     2)  What else has God said about this subject?
     3)  What will praiseworthy thinking help us to avoid?
     4)  How can you develop a habit of praiseworthy thinking?

- let's answer the first question ...

  I.  What Is Praiseworthy Thinking?

      - the word "praiseworthy" is a compound word in the original

      - it has a source word "praise" then adds a preposition "upon"

      - so we're talking about a very strong word Paul uses

      - at first glance, it may seem a little difficult to distinguish
        between the sixth word "admirable" or "of good report (KJV) and
        this word "praiseworthy"

          - but there is a difference

      A.  Praiseworthy is different than "admirable."

          - the difference lies in the OBJECT of the thinking

          - "admirable" thinking finds its object in other people,
             things, and events

             - it is the opposite of fault finding

             - it is thinking on the good of people, things and
               events around me

          - "praiseworthy" finds its object in God

      B.  Praiseworthy thinking is centered on the attributes and
          actions of God

          - we're talking about spiritual issues like the Word of God
            and what it reveals about our God

          ILL:  After preaching, a visiting pastor made this comment
                about a particular person in the church, "I don't think
                he enjoys spiritual things"

          - we're talking about the way we think about the spiritual
            issues -- we should be developing thoughts that are

          - thoughts that find their object in God -- specifically, His
            attributes and actions

          INPUT: What are some of the attributes (qualities) of God
                 that we should be focusing on?

                 (remember, these are what God is, not what He does)


          Q:  How would you complete this statement:  The God Who
              _____________ (act) can ___________ today

              - provided salvation        save men

              - gave us His Word          guide us into His will

              - gave us the Holy Spirit   strengthen us

              - parted the Red Sea        help me overcome temptation

      - let's ask some questions:

          1)  How often do I focus on the character of God?

          2)  Do I regularly think about all that God has done for me
              and allow that to motivate me to obey Him and serve Him?

      - let's be more specific ...

      C.  How should praiseworthy thinking affect the following areas:

          1.  Handling trial

              - gives us hope -- God is able and God is loving

          2.  Parenting/Family life

              - we discipline because God is holy and children are
                sinners in need of a Savior

              - we teach because we want our children to know what God
                expects and how to live life

          3.  Giving

              - thinking of who God is and what He has done should
                motivate us to be generous and consistent in our giving

          4.  Serving

              - we are debtors as Paul said

              - John, "We love Him because He first loved us"

      Point:  Praiseworthy thinking ought to impact our lives on a
              daily basis and help us to grow in our love for the Lord
              and for others

      - the foundation of our praiseworthy thinking is the character
        and mighty acts of our God

- let's move on to the second question

II.  What Else Has God Said About the Subject of Praise?

      - Scripture is full of commands and illustrations of praise

      - There are 305 references to "praise" or any form of the word in
        the NASB.

      - God makes it clear for us that ...

      A.  We should direct our praise toward Him.

          (read the following verses)

          * Psalm 33:1-3

          NAS Psa 33:1 Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones;
          Praise is becoming to the upright.
          2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him
          with a harp of ten strings.
          3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of

          * Psalm 34:1-3

          NAS Psa 34:1 {A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before
          Abimelech, who drove him} (away and he departed.) I will
          bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be
          in my mouth.
          2 My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall
          hear it and rejoice.
          3 O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name

          * Psalm 150

          NAS Psa 150:1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary;
          Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
          2 Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to
          His excellent greatness.
          3 Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and
          4 Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with
          stringed instruments and pipe.
          5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding
          6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the


      B.  God warns us about what happens when we don't develop
          praiseworthy thinking.

          Romans 1:21 "For although they knew God, they neither
          glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their
          thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were

          - there are some devastating results when we turn away from
            praise and thanksgiving

          - a person who would say, "I really don't have to give this
            area much attention" or "It's not that big of a deal" is
            very foolish

          - eventually, a person's thinking who neglects this area
            become futile, and ends in darkness

          Vandegriff "The light at the end of the tunnel really is an
          oncoming train.  Foolishness, futility, and ultimate darkness
          -- who would want that?"

      Point:  While God gives us a lot of instruction on the issue of
              praise, He is also loving enough to warn us of the
              consequences for rejecting His counsel.

III.  What Will Praiseworthy Thinking Help Us Avoid?

      INPUT:  What sins will praiseworthy thinking help you
              avoid?  What comes to your mind?

      A.  Worry

          We mustn't forget the context of our text, Phil.  4:8.

          READ Phil. 4:6-7 NASB

              "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and
              supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made
              known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all
              comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in
              Christ Jesus."

          It's certainly true that all of the characteristics of right
          thinking mentioned in this verse will help us avoid worry.
          Praising God will especially help us avoid worry.

          INPUT:  This is a two-part question.  What is something we
                  tend to worry about and how will praiseworthy
                  thinking help us avoid it?
                  - Money/Finances.  Praise God for how He has
                    bountifully supplied your needs (Are you worrying
                    about your "wants"?)
                  - How your child(ren) will turn out.  Praise God for
                    giving you your child(dren) and for giving you
                    clear instructions in His Word on how to bring them
                    up for Him.

      B.  Discontentment

          We are constantly seeing and hearing advertisements
          convincing us that we NEED their product, are we not?

          Chuck Swindoll calls this:

              "Shiny, slick, appealing print and pictures designed to
              hijack your concentration and kidnap your attention.
              Before you realize it, the Madison Avenue Pied Piper has
              led you into a world of exaggerated make-believe,
              convincing you that you simply cannot live without...

              - a new Polaroid camera stuffed with SX-70 film (that
                develops twice as fast!)

              - An elegant diamond solitaire (a diamond is forever!)

              - A Dodge Sportsman Wagon to pull your new outboard.

              - A set of Firestone's finest."

          Now these things are not inherently sinful, but the "I-gotta-
          have-it" thinking of covetousness certainly is.

          Later in Phil. 4 (which we will study in depth in the near
          future) in verses 11-13 Paul states,

              "Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be
              content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to
              get along with humble means, and I also know how to live
              in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have
              learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both
              of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all
              things through Him who strengthens me."

          Are you in the habit of praising God for His abundance in
          your life?

          Have you praised Him for His spiritual abundance for what He
          has provided in Christ?

              - When we focus on our spiritual riches and how He has
                blessed us, discontentment flees from the scene.

      C.  Self-pity

          Similar to discontentment is self-pity.

          The "poor-me" syndrome is certainly something praiseworthy
          thinking will help us avoid.

          John Vandegriff states, "The focus of self-pity is how bad
          everything is for me.  The focus of praise is how good God

      D.  Pride

          Pride is self-glorification.  "Look what I've done.  Give me
          your attention."

          It's the "I'm-better-than" habit:

              I'm better than anyone else at my job.
              I'm better than anyone else intellectually.
              I'm better than anyone else in athletic ability.
              I'm better than anyone else as a mother/father.

          Praiseworthy thinking helps us avoid pride as we give God the
          glory for anything good in our lives.

          A good rule is this: "I deserve the blame for any faults in
          my life and God deserves the glory for any good in my life."

              cf. 1 Cor. 4:7 NASB "For who regards you as superior?
              And what do you have that you did not receive?  But if
              you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not
              received it?"

IV.  How Can I Develop the Habit of Praiseworthy Thinking?

     INPUT:  How is it that we develop any godly habit?  What is the
             pattern of progressive sanctification in any area of our

             - Put off/Change Thinking/Put on

     And that's exactly how we are to develop the habit of praiseworthy

     A.  Put off thinking that is not praiseworthy.

         The areas we are to avoid that we just discussed -- worry,
         discontentment, self-pity, pride -- as well as all other
         sinful areas of thinking.

         1.  Recognize it.

         2.  Confess it.

             cf. 1 Jn. 1:9 NASB "If we confess our sins, He is faithful
                 and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us
                 from all unrighteousness."
             To confess is to say the same thing about it as God does,
             to admit that your thinking was wrong and ask His
             forgiveness for it.

     B.  Renew your mind with the Scriptures

         In addition to the Scriptures we earlier looked at, there are
         many, many others about praise.

IF TIME  Psa 9:14 That I may tell of all Thy praises, That in the gates
         of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in Thy salvation.

         Psa 21:13 Be Thou exalted, O LORD, in Thy strength; We will
         sing and praise Thy power.

         Psa 22:3 Yet Thou art holy, O Thou who art enthroned upon the
         praises of Israel.

         Psa 22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All you
         descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him,
         all you descendants of Israel.

         Psa 30:4 Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And give
         thanks to His holy name.

         Psa 33:1 Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones;
         Praise is becoming to the upright.

         Psa 40:3 And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise
         to our God; Many will see and fear, And will trust in the

         Psa 42:5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you
         become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again
         praise Him For the help of His presence.

         Psa 48:10 As is Thy name, O God, So is Thy praise to the ends
         of the earth; Thy right hand is full of righteousness.

         Psa 56:4 In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my
         trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?

         Psa 89:5 And the heavens will praise Thy wonders, O LORD; Thy
         faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones.

         Psa 99:3 Let them praise Thy great and awesome name; Holy is

         Psa 106:2 Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the LORD, Or
         can show forth all His praise?

         Psa 106:12 Then they believed His words; They sang His praise.

         - Commit one or two of these to memory and rehearse them in
           your mind after you've confessed an unthankworthy thought.

     C.  Put on thankworthy thinking.

         One way to do this is to make a praise list.

         List several things you ought to praise God for and refer it
         to it each time you struggle with unthankworthy thinking.

         Put it on a 3 X 5 card and put it in your wallet or purse, or
         post it at work or home or both.

         May we always remember the exhortation of Psalm 150:6:

         "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video