Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | September 16, 2021

Practice Makes Perfect

“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, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:8-9

I love lists. My desk and kitchen counter are littered with sticky notes filled with them. There are lists that accumulate items that need to be purchased at the next Walmart trip. Others remind me of project due dates for various clients. And other lists are general to-do prompts containing tasks that I get to cross off with giddy satisfaction. (If I accomplish something that is not on said list, I will immediately write it on there just to put a definitive line through it. Can I get an “Amen!”?)

These verses from the letter of Paul to the Philippians are some of my favorites! Although I could probably say that same thing about verses from almost every one of the 66 books of the Bible, this practical exhortation is pretty special. Here, Paul provides a very specific to-do list…and he follows it up with a promise. (This section of Paul’s to-dos-with-a-promise actually starts in verse 4, so take some time to dive into this whole chapter.)

First, he tells us what to dwell on (think about). This is awesome, because it’s so easy to occupy our minds on the negatives, whether it’s our own faults and failings—or the world’s. Instead, we’re given a clear list of what we ought to be thinking, pondering, and meditating about. And it’s a tall (and challenging) order! We’re to dwell on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and praiseworthy. I don’t know about you, but my mind does not naturally go to these kinds of things. Rather, keeping my thoughts here takes a lot of intentionality.

Next, Paul urges us to practice (do) what we learn from his letters, his actions, and the whole of God’s Word. Much like those thought-life instructions, these behavioral directives require deliberate effort. First, we need to know what the Word says—we must read and study it. Every day. When we know what’s required of us, we can take steps in the direction of obedience. We won’t be perfect, of course, but the more we learn and understand, the easier it is to do.

Finally, verse 9 ends with a promise: The God of peace will be with you. Similar to the promise in verse 7, which tells us the “peace of God” will guard our hearts, Paul is saying that when we practice the things, we will have peace. The more we learn and do, the closer our walk with God. Sister, God is peace, and He makes peace with us through Jesus. And He will give us perfect peace—peace that is incomprehensible to the natural mind—when we choose to follow His to-do list.

“Thank You, Lord, for giving me clear instructions in Your Word for walking through this dark world and walking closer to You. May I dwell daily on Your Truth.”

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith

TRBC Women’s Ministry

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