“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.” (Philippians 4:8 )
When I read this verse, my natural response is only to notice the command aspect of it: think like this. So it feels like a standard I have to measure up to. If I don’t think like this, I will have failed, and God will be disappointed in me.
It certainly is a command, and God does call us to think in a pure and holy way. But if that’s all it is, well, I fail all the time. I’ve already failed dozens of times in the past week. I think about dishonorable things. I get angry and want vengeance instead of justice. I certainly have impure and unlovely thoughts. And so do you. We sin in our minds every day.
So thankfully, this verse is not merely a command we can’t keep and a standard we don’t measure up to.
Reflect on that list: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise. What does that sound like? More specifically, who does that sound like? It sounds like a description of Jesus Christ. This verse isn’t primarily a standard we can’t meet but an invitation to reflect on Jesus, to think about Jesus, and thus to draw near to Jesus. It isn’t abstract. We don’t have to guess what kinds of things are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Jesus is.
And when (not if) we fail at it, it is Jesus who welcomes us back and offers us even more of Himself so that we can see and know even more clearly that He is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
I originally wrote this post for my church, Immanuel Nashville, in our Daily Pulse email. If you want encouragement from God’s word delivered Monday thru Friday to your inbox, I encourage you to subscribe!