God gives His peace to those of a pure or righteous heart and mind. The transition from Old to New Testament usage of "peace" strikingly illustrates its personal, internal application: Out of about 90 New Testament instances, 90% refer to heartfelt peace.
Martin G. Collins
Our prayers should reflect our gratitude toward God for what He has done in our lives and what He gives to us. Our everyday words and thoughts should reflect a positive mindset of hope and joy in thankfulness towards God our Father for His great plan of salvation and our parts in it.
Thankfulness is a form of contentment, or we could view it as peace of mind or tranquility. A truly thankful person is usually not an individual who worries a lot. Being thankful puts our thoughts on God, rather than on our problems. In Colossians 3:15, Paul writes encouragingly, "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts to which also you were called in one body and be thankful." The more we allow God's peace to be in control, the more settled and more thankful we will become. On the flip side, the more thankful we are, the more God's peace will rule our hearts and minds.
In our society, many problems like discouragement, depression, anger, and other mental and emotional troubles are treated with chemicals and drugs. These medicines are designed to offer some form of relief. Some work and some do not. Many have side effects that, in some cases, are worse than the original problem. Some are addictive. For us, though, thankfulness and praising God are effective and beneficial antidotes for discouragement, depression, and anger.
Supplication with thanksgiving will enliven our prayer life. It will lift us up and give us a more positive perspective. A thankful attitude will help to erase any doubts we may have as we pray, and it will also decrease uncertainty in our lives in general because we know where our help comes from (see Psalm 121:1-8). Proper thankfulness will help us increase our faith in God because we will constantly be relating to and reflecting on Him.
God is always deserving of our praise or thanks—indeed, we cannot thank Him enough. How does our heavenly Father feel when we express only a qualified "thank you" occasionally or not at all? How does He feel, knowing that He has done what is the absolute and perfect best for us, and we just shrug it off? How do we feel when this type of unthankful behavior happens to us? Our thanksgiving to God should be so effusive that He will never feel that way!
Ingratitude, whether passive or active, is a tool that Satan can use to turn us away from God and His Family. By succumbing to thanklessness, we can allow him to plant us as tares within the church and spread our ingratitude to others. A steady outflow of gratitude to God will knock this weapon from the Devil's hand.
Such a constant attitude of thankfulness and earnest thanksgiving, no matter the circumstances, is a gift from God to us. Gratitude spreads a healing balm among those with whom we fellowship, and it will help to speed us along the path to God's Kingdom.
Thankfulness is offered as a spiritual sacrifice. It is given in combination with other spiritual sacrifices. As a spiritual sacrifice, thanksgiving can be offered in the form of a prayer and/or praise. Prayer, praise, and thanksgiving are almost inseparable, and they are most often offered together. Thankfulness is a peace offering (Leviticus 7:11-13). It produces peace (I Timothy 2:1-2).
Martin G. Collins
We need to pay careful attention to this sequence of instructions because it contains much that can help us attain both good spiritual and physical health. In the past fifty years, men have come to understand how deteriorating and destructive stress is to life. Paul's counsel, written nearly two thousand years ago, tells us not to be driven by anxiety or fearfulness about life. Even earlier, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus admonishes us to "take no anxious thought." The stress of anxiety is wearying, setting us up for multiple afflictions. If we really "see" God, we should know that He is with us. Should we not feel great assurance in His promise never to allow us to be tempted above what we can bear? Faith is a prime solution for anxiety.
Paul continues, urging us to let God know our needs in every matter of life. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, He already knows our needs, but He wants us to recognize, evaluate, and communicate them to Him, accompanied by thoughtful expressions of thanksgiving for what He has already given, as well as His promises of blessings in the future. Do we see what this process achieves? It disciplines us to think within certain well-defined parameters that have Him and His way at the center of our life.
Paul then asserts that one benefit of this is tranquility of mind, respite from the restlessness so common to the carnal mind, which is constantly searching for new stimulation to satisfy its insatiable longings. This peace of God will stand guard over our minds like a sentinel, allowing us to meet and cope with the problems of life.
Verse 8 begins with the word "finally." While not technically wrong, it does not adequately convey Paul's intent. We can understand it better as "in this connection" or "in this regard as I close this letter." In relation to anxiety, the peace of God, and coping with the problems of life, our minds should be occupied with things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. Through this discipline, we program our minds with the right things; what goes into the mind determines what comes out in words, actions, and attitudes.
This is a biblical version of the "garbage in, garbage out; wholesome in, wholesome out" cliché. It specifically expands on Jesus' statement, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). We could take this further and say that out of the abundance of the heart the mind thinks and feels, and the body acts.
In verse 9, Paul defines what is wholesome specifically as what they had learned, received, heard, and seen in him. He is indirectly telling them to eat Jesus Christ because he, Paul, as His apostle to the Gentiles, was His agent to them and their teacher of His way of life.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Five)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Philippians 4:6: