"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." Philippians 4:8
Today's devotion brings us to the culmination of Paul's wisdom on thinking. We've talked about Whatever is:
And to sum it all up, whatever is of good repute, if there is any thing of excellence and if anything worthy of praise DWELL ON THESE THINGS.
Throughout this series, I have discussed the root meaning of Paul's suggestions. I think there is something to be said for seeking out the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy things. At the very depth of the root, we can assuredly say Christ fulfills all of these. But, through the Holy Spirit, we are given sight to see the crumbs of the Bread of Life even in the most stale seasons and places.
When it comes to the last three virtues on this list, I can't help but think of the old phrase: Turn a blind eye.
Perhaps, it is because there is so much emphasis on "reputation" and "excellence" to cloak an issue or a public figure with 4:8 language these days. But the dichotomy of Philippians 4:8 and worldly praise of humans and their issues is a deep, stark divide.
I mean, I live with a man who once filled his newsfeed with hateful, un-4:8 words and memes...a man who discounts the very root from where all goodness grows. Praise can not cover up what is not of God. Although, I will admit, it is easy to live there sometimes. To just pretend we're all good.
So, I thought, in this last devotion, I would make it clear what Philippians 4:8 is NOT saying.
It is not asking us to put on our rose-colored glasses and see only goodness, no decay.
There is nothing in this verse that implies we are to ignore the aspects of life that are the opposite of these things. I don't think Paul says to live in a bubble of happy thoughts and delightful ignorance. The man sat in a prison cell most of his ministry. He once beat and mocked and killed Christians. And, in his lifetime, he was beaten and mocked and witnessed the evil of mankind. I don't think he could really ignore the bad and bankruptcy out there.
It is okay to mourn. To bring suffering and pain to God. We don't turn a blind eye, we bend a weary heart to the Lord. Paul guides us even in that:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2Corinthians 1:3-4
My husband is the best father for my children. He is a good man with a good heart. And my marriage is strong, secure, and excellent in many ways. But, there are still broken pieces lying around my marriage. I cannot pretend, or turn a blind eye to those things. There is a time to tend to the weeds.
But, when I dwell on the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, things of good repute, of excellence and worthy of praise, I find Christ there, I find Peace there, and I find strength to endure the hard stuff.
We aren't to dwell on the broken pieces. We acknowledge them, we mourn them, but we don't dwell on them. We dwell on everything that makes those broken pieces worth tending to, because we have a Savior and his servant Paul who suffered enough to know how to get through it. Here are Paul's next words in Philippians 4:9:
" 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 4:9
Peace be with you, friend. Thank you for joining in the Whatever Is series.
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