8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
When Paul says “finally”, it doesn’t mean this is the last thing he has to say. (He began chapter 3 with “finally” too.) It does indicate that this is what ties together everything he has been saying. He’s telling us to logically think through what really is true, noble, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, and to put that into practice – imitating Paul (3:17) and imitating Jesus (2:5).
Paul’s perspective is astonishing. Being in prison is good because it meant he could tell the gospel to the whole Praetorian guard (1:12). People preaching the gospel to cause him trouble is good because they’re preaching the gospel (1:18). Facing the real prospect of death becomes a choice between two good things: continuing fruitful life or being with Jesus (1:23). The things others call “praiseworthy” (all Paul’s Jewish achievements) are garbage compared to being in Christ (3:8).
Jesus is even more astonishing. God empties himself and becomes a man – a servant – dying a humiliating, dehumanizing death for our sake (2:5-11). And Paul tells us to have the same mind as Christ.
As my mind becomes like Christ’s, my life will become true, noble, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy – even if I’m in the middle of garbage, hostility, injustice or danger. My thinking and my life will finally be transformed because the God of peace is with me.
Written by David Cornell