Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Think on What has a Good Reputation
01/07/2007 - James White
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 (Phil. 4:8, NASB)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Phil. 4:8, ESV)
Whatever is of good repute, commendable, is praiseworthy (o[sa eu;fhma). This would continue the theme of thinking upon that which is in line with God's truth, in line with God's holiness. Of course, he is speaking of what is commendable and praiseworthy in God's sight and therefore in the sight of God's people. And today, that is far removed from what is considered commendable and praiseworthy in our society. For the believer today, what is of good repute is that which is laughed at by the world; what is commendable is that which is scorned; that which is praiseworthy is considered, by the world, worthless. The world praises those who run over others on their way to "success," but God honors the servant, the one who gives of himself in the service of Christ and others. The world commends selfishness, "taking care of number one," while Christians commend giving their lives for others, eschewing the things of the world, looking for that which has eternal value; the world praises the temporary, the now, the flashy, while believers praise that which glorifies God and has lasting value in God's sight.
Look at the string up to this point. "Whatever things are...." We have to exercise discernment here. We have to apply a heart of wisdom, built up by constant exposure to God's truth and regular worship with the people of God. We have to put out some discipline to keep our minds free of the twisted thinking of the world which seeks to conform us to its own image. We must remember the world never gives up. Our constant exposure to it means we are in just as constant need to be exposed to God's truth to counteract its effect upon our thinking. The world will adjust our sights a little at a time, convincing us that "this isn't so bad" or "I can enjoy this, too," all the while seeking, eventually, to sap us of spiritual vitality and eventually the peace of God by making us friends with the world. The process can be very subtle, which explains why we can see believers who, over time, move away from a vital faith to the point of capitulation to the world, even to the point of defending their love of things that are in no possible way true or honorable or right or pure or lovely or of good repute. The world rarely uses a frontal attack to accomplish this: it is an inward insurgency, sabotage on the small level over time, to accomplish final victory.
The believer thusly compromised is robbed of the peace of God, a vital spiritual life, and usefulness in the Kingdom of God.
Think on what is Lovely
01/01/2007 - James WhiteOur world is filled with ugliness. The ugliness caused by sin, caused by rebellion, by hatred of God and His truth. Ugliness caused by the perversion of God's goodness. Destroyed relationships, ruined marriages, are ugly. Lives marred by drug abuse and alcoholism---ugly. Beautiful women living in constant debauchery, adultery and fornication--ugly. Abortion as a birth control method, greed ruining lives. Ugly.
We cannot avoid seeing the ugliness that comes from the perversion of sin. But, we can refrain from wallowing in it. We can limit our exposure to it to that which God's calling in our lives demands: that is, the person who is called, and gifted, to face the ugliness of the world with regularity will be given the grace to handle the task. But it is the willful exposure of one's heart and mind to unnecessary ugliness that makes no sense. The more exposure we have, the less we will be appalled and repelled by it.
"Think on what is lovely." In the context, this is not simply a command to enjoy the beauty of goodness, of holiness, of what is pleasing in God's creation. It is a part of the entire string of commands, and truly, we are given a good idea of what "lovely" here means by seeing it in light of what has come before. God's creation is beautiful when it is in harmony with its Creator. The Christian who stares at the grandeur of creation can do so with an added level of depth that the one who remains in rebellion against God cannot. That which is righteous is lovely; that which is holy is pleasing to God, and to those who are at peace with God.
When we are purposefully seeking to discipline our thinking, our minds, we will know when we are indulging the flesh and thinking upon that which is not pleasing to God, which reverberates with the rebellious tones of the world. We should truly seek to be sensitive to the Spirit in recognizing when things are lovely, of a good report, and when they are stained with the revolting stench of the world.