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.