Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. – Philippians 4:8
A verse that keeps coming up in my pathway of life is Philippians 4:8. Although on the surface I pretty much understand what it means, I wanted to find what it truly is saying. I know that God is saying a lot with these words, and I want to understand them with a servant’s heart. So, I decided to first look up each word in the Webster’s 1828 dictionary (online since I have yet to be able to purchase one – it’s on my wish list). If you are a word nut like me, I pray that it will inspire you as it did me!
1. true: Genuine; pure; real; not counterfeit, adulterated or false
2. honest: Upright; just; fair in dealing with others; free from trickishness and fraud; acting and having the disposition to act at all times according to justice or correct moral principles
3. just: In an evangelical sense, righteous; religious; influenced by a regard to the laws of God; or living in exact conformity to the divine will.
4. pure: Free from moral defilement; without spot; not sullied or tarnished; incorrupt; undebased by moral turpitude; holy.
5. lovely: Amiable; that may excite love; possessing qualities which may invite affection.
6a. good: valid; legally firm; not weak or defective; having strength adequate to its support
6b. report – To bear or bring back an answer, or to relate what has been discovered by a person sent to examine, explore or investigate
7. virtue: Moral goodness; the practice of moral duties and the abstaining from vice, or a conformity of life and conversation to the moral law. The practice of moral duties from sincere love to God and his laws, is virtue and religion.
8. praise: To extol in words or song; to magnify; to glorify on account of perfections or excellent works.
9. think: To have the mind occupied on some subject; to have ideas, or to revolve ideas in the mind.
Looking at all of these definitions, it gives a clearer understanding of the verse. It helps put things into a new perception for me.
“whatsoever things are true”: This means we should meditate on the things that are real and not counterfeit. We should focus on God’s Word and not the world’s false doctrines. We should develop a prayer life and devotional life that will lead to thoughts that emulate Christ.
“whatsoever things are honest”: This means our thoughts should be fair and not crudely judgmental. It means we should not sugar coat things, but we should avoid critical thoughts as well. We should develop discernment on spiritual/moral principles and on fraudulent ways. Honesty is good (but needs to also be accompanied by tack). We should be just in our ways.
“whatsoever things are just”: Our Lord is a just God, which means He is holy and righteous. In order to become just, we must have Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, and we must develop an understanding of His Holy ways. In reality, if God were to give justice, every one of us would be in hell. However, He gives us grace instead. What this verse is saying is we should be meditating on the ways of God. As we become more Christ-like, we become more just in our thoughts and ways. Thinking just thoughts is reflecting upon the Divine Will of God.
“whatsoever things are pure”: We are born sinners, and we naturally have darkness within us. One of my biggest struggles is my thought life. Why? We unfortunately do not naturally think undefiled thoughts. We need Christ to help us with that. As we grow in the Lord, and begin to obtain wisdom, our thoughts will be cleansed. Suddenly, the pure thoughts of the Lord will be in our minds. These thoughts will not bear the corruption and negativity that the world breeds inside of us. These thoughts will be holy and untarnished.
“whatsoever things are lovely”: As we look at these first few, you may be able to figure out that they are important. However, an important element goes with it. That element is affection and excitement. These previous things do no good if your heart is not in it. One needs to do these things with affection and love, as well as think affectionate thoughts about others.
“whatsoever things are of good report”: A good report basically means to bring back an answer after examining with a strength of support. I take this to mean that after meditating on the other areas mentioned, after studying God’s Word, we should return with a stronger, more knowledgeable heart. We should have a dedicated heart full of God’s wisdom.We should share God’s Truth with others!
“if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things“: Out of sincere love for God and His Word, we should be able to decipher the moral goodness provided to us through the Scriptures and the Holy Ghost. In that, we should offer up praise, words that exalt and glorify our Father. We should lift up His name amongst the earth! In our minds, we should be dwelling upon the magnificent glory of God! Our minds should be occupied continuously by the Lord and His Greatness. Our hearts should be unceasingly meditating on the Will of God. [Sadly, I know most of our hearts are the opposite more often than not – mine included!]
I know this was a longer post, but I pray that it helped even just a little bit. I love word searches and breaking down the meaning of things. I am still learning and welcome any thoughts concerning this verse!
As a victim of critical thinking, I do believe this verse is not merely about thinking positively concerning others but also self. As a dear, sweet sister in Christ recently reminded me, we are bought with Christ’s blood, which means we do not hold a right to criticize ourselves. We are the property of God and should look at our lives as a precious commodity or a precious vessel. I struggle with this A LOT. However, God is working on me!