Understanding a Culture of Faith

Phil 4:8 (NASB), 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 CSB translation uses the words true, honorable, just [right], pure, lovely and commendable [good repute]. This particular verse is guiding us to fill our minds with things that will inspire worship of God and service to others.

What is true is found in God, in Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. Honorable means noble, “worthy of respect”, believers are advised to meditate on whatever is worthy of awe and adoration. The believer is to think in harmony with God’s divine standard of holiness. What is right [just] refers to giving people what they deserve. Pure is that which is morally clean and undefiled. Lovely means “pleasing” or “amiable”. Of good repute [commendable] refers to that which is praiseworthy and highly regarded or thought well of – some scholars say that this in reference to what is generally considered reputable in the world, such as kindness, courtesy, and respect for others.

Philippians 4, as a Chapter, is full of some of the most glorious promises and practical wisdom for a life that is “well pleasing to God”, applicable to every generation on every continent for all time.

Two very different thoughts for consideration on this passage:

1. Some believers find this passage to be difficult. They have backgrounds that cause them to struggle with focusing on what this part of scripture is telling us, along with the rewards. Issues with varying degrees of abuse, family conflict, or time spent meditating on Him and His Word with no tangible results, etcetera. Yes, this person is allowing the world to consume their attention, they are asking for help, but they do not get it. Christians that find this scripture absolute, simple, and basic may view the believer that struggles to focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable to be someone that says they know God but they do not know God; yet, the person going through the struggle is not advised, guided, or assisted in this struggle. Instead, they are viewed as not being in touch with the Holy Ghost and believers think “Oh well, I pray that they get it”. Because we are working to operate in love, some believers may toss subtle hints at them which cause their struggle to deepen until finally, one day, they give up. Love means giving accurate and direct guidance to those that struggle, lift them up, inspire and encourage them. Show them Philippians 4, do not just preach to them. This may require a tad more intimate coaching and mentoring.

2. Founding Father William Samuel Johnson, a signer of the Constitution commended school graduates in his day to this very Chapter to inspire them. “Rejoice in the Lord always…Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God…“. Imagine the bewilderment and possible outrage that would consume William Samuel Johnson if a judge or school official today told him that it was against the Constitution for him, a framer and signer of that very Constitution, to deliver this Bible address to school students? The fact that judges and officials would undoubtedly declare this speech to be unconstitutional is a poignant demonstration of just how far modern America has strayed from its original moral and religious foundations.

If we wish to stop the outflow from the Church, we must not forget what this particular verse is telling us: Truth, Honor, Just, Pure, Lovely, and Commendable. It is not just inside the church, it is to help our fellow man fully understand the culture of faith and, if a believer is getting it wrong, help them to understand. Some of God’s children walk through life with a very heavy heart, or, they are hard headed to a point where patience and time are necessary. Do not give up, do not view the struggling believer with contempt, keep moving forward, for the struggle is real my friends – at least for some.

 

Beardsley, Edward E. (1886), Life and Times of William Samuel Johnson, LL.D, Boston Houghton, Mifflin and Company, pp. 141-145