This post is a continuation of focus on Philippians 4:8 in which Paul gives us a strategy for managing our thoughts and channeling them in a positive direction. The verse reads:
“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, ESV
This post concentrates on the second trait of what we should focus our thoughts on. Paul tells us we are to focus on what is honorable.
The Greek word that is translated as honorable has at its root the idea of fear or respect so it carries the connotation of something that evokes respect or should be honored. Lofty is another word that the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament offers as a possible English translation.
Another command by the Apostle Paul comes to mind when I read the definition of honorable.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”Colossians 3:2, CSB
So one way to look at this is to set our minds on things of which God approves, those that he commends to us in Scripture. Certainly, Scripture has to be our standard, and to have it as our standard, we have to read it, and seek to understand it.
We should also focus on God and his love for us. Jesus reveals to us the face of God and the extent to which he will go to bring us into relationship with himself. We serve an honorable God who loves us deeply. It is never a bad idea to remind ourselves of this in the middle of all the mundane tasks we need to muddle through on a daily basis.
I wonder if there isn’t another application to this. In 1 Corinthians 13:5, Paul tells us that one of the characteristics of love is that it does not keep a record of wrongs. Could it be that we are to think as well of others as is humanly possible? Maybe we should focus on the honorable parts of their behavior rather than focus on the negative aspects.
Certainly, this is difficult at times, who hasn’t been tempted to throw a pity party for himself when things aren’t going the way we think they should?
But part of maturity is to use our brains to redirect our emotions into a better expression than we might otherwise choose. I’m not referring to a Pollyanna-type denial of reality. This is more of an attempt to broaden the scope of consideration to take into account the promises of God toward those who are in relationship with him.
Yeah, I struggle with this as much as anyone. But maybe we can encourage each other to look up and see God in the midst of the mess.
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