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Virtues to Occupy our Minds

8 Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things. 9 Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

 

Last we left off, Paul called the believers to being unified through the joy and peace only found in the Lord, which would help keep believers away from being discouraged in their daily walks. Continuing on with that strong command style, Paul then suggests what should be within the minds of the believers rather than fear or doubt. Who better to give suggestions on what to focus on than Paul, who spent many years in prison and yet continued on in the faith, even writing letters of encouragement such as this one!

 

So, let’s look at these lists of virtues that Paul suggests we have within our lives.

·         First, “whatever is true.” Fear, doubt, anxiety sometimes come from a false understanding of the reality of a situation, overthinking and making a problem in life much larger than it already is. Instead, focus on the truth, which ultimately, is thinking upon the Truth, Jesus Christ (see John 14:6).

·         Second, “whatever is honorable,” as Max Anders describes, “lofty, majestic, awesome things, things that lift the mind above the world’s dirt and scandal.”

·         Third, “whatever is just,” meaning fair and right to everyone involved in a situation, fulfilling all obligations. Thinking in such a manner, seeing all sides, helps one avoid arguments.

·         Fourth, “whatever is pure,” meaning abstaining from sexual immorality which would help prepare oneself for worship to the Lord. Staying away from sin.

·         Fifth, “whatever is lovely,” meaning that which is attractive, pleasing to others. Just like just, would help bring people together in harmony and squash arguments and quarrels.

·         Sixth, “whatever is commendable,” meaning things that are worthy of praise or admiration, desiring a good reputation. Anders again sums up the purpose behind this virtue nicely, “Pondering ways to protect one’s moral and spiritual image in the community leads away from worries about circumstances and possessions that project a different image to the community and which thinking cannot change.”

Paul then summarizes all the virtues with two words, “excellence,” and “praiseworthy.” To pursue “excellence,” in one’s life means to strive to the highest degree in every aspect. In the context of our virtues, it is to be ethically best a person can be. To be “praiseworthy,” is to be respected by others, meaning that one strives to have a good reputation and good testimony.

Paul gives one final admonition in relation to these virtues, “dwell on these things.” With all these virtues on one’s mind coupled with prayer will lead to a lifestyle of worship to the Lord, casting away all fear, doubt and anxiety.

 

How is all of this possible? Can this be accomplished? Closing out this section in verse 9, Paul reminds the church at Philippi that it is possible, just follow his example, “Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” This is not ego or for his own praise, but should be something that every Christian strives for, to be an example of a mature Christian for other believers. In the same manner, may we be examples of these virtues in our daily lives, that ultimately, the Lord God may be worshipped and reflected in our testimonies, and that other believers may grow following in our footsteps as we follow in the footsteps of Christ.

 

Blessings,

Isaac De Guzman

 

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