For the past eight weeks, we’ve been reThinking Paul’s instruction found in Philippians. “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, NASB95) Our goal has been to reframe this verse and open our eyes to look for these attributes. To see their totality in God and the glimmers we often miss in each other. Before we close this series, however, there are two topics yet to consider- Worthy of Praise and Dwell on These Things.
Worthy of Praise
Paul’s instruction to dwell on what is worthy of praise is like a wrapper that contains all the others. While we struggled to understand a few words in the series, we understand praise.
Praise comes in many forms. A simple “thank you.” A positive comment about something someone else has said or done. My niece recently took part in a charity run, a praise worthy use of her time and energy. We may praise part of a meal we found tasty or satisfying. We may hear “good job” from a boss, co-worker, or even a customer. We may cheer when our team scores or wins. These are just a few examples of praise.
Worthy of Complaint
Along the way of our series, we’ve considered the opposite of the attribute in view to give contrast and understanding. Just like we well understand praise we also are familiar with its opposite. Call it complaint. The pointed finger that underscores what’s wrong, unsatisfying, in error, or just plain bad.
For many of us, seeing what is worthy of complaint comes easy. Too easy. It’s easier to be against what’s wrong than to show what is right. For example, we’ve recently had a few days of unusually cooler weather where we live. We’re used to August being hot and humid. But for a few days, August felt like the coolness late September. Here’s the irony, some people complained about it!
Some things are deserving of a complaint. What is wrong, however, often overshadows and nullifies what is right. Just because a waitress doesn’t refill my tea doesn’t ruin the whole meal. But for some folks it does. Those glaring and annoying faults we can’t help but see in someone shouldn’t overshadow the good that is also evident.
Our hope for this series is to refocus our eyes to see what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, and worthy of praise in a world filled with darkness, hopelessness, and hatred. God completely fits the bill on each one of these, but there are also examples around us every day we often miss. Even the thistle has a flower.
Dwell on these things
Paul’s instruction wasn’t just to see the attributes but to dwell on them. So often we ponder and brood on what is wrong. How much mental and emotional energy do we waste dwelling on the faults and mistakes of someone else or ourselves?
We must be careful here. Paul wasn’t advocating some kind of positive thinking/positive speaking mantra that refuses to see brokenness. The question is this – what do we lean toward? Do we assume the worst about someone or do we praise what is good about them? If we see something broken in someone or ourselves do we leap to conclusions about the state of their heart and soul or do we take the time to understand, to care, and to pray?
Perhaps we need to spend more energy considering how to encourage and love one another. Point the way forward in Jesus instead pointing out every that’s wrong.
Completing the Puzzle
Over the course of this series, there’s been a slowly resolving puzzle. It began as a jumbled gray mess. As each article was published, pieces fell into place, and the color more evident. That’s the journey of reThink48. To change the way we see the world and each other. From colorlessness and brokenness to the vibrantly colored faces God created.