Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” Philippians 4:8 (The Message).
Part of my regular daily routine is to check out what (imo) is of significance that is going on in the world and what to make out of what is happening and suggest ways people, especially Christians, should respond. I do this to the point of obsession. While I tend to prefer alternative to mainstream media because the latter lies, I try to apply the principles of truth and balance but recognising there is much we don’t know and, even if my gut instinct tells me one thing, I need to go on facts, leaving a lot of what is observed in that drawer that is added to daily and that I return to when I know more.
But it can be a heavy undertaking and when yesterday evening I came across yet another depressing story, which if I were to dig more deeply would be shown to be conspiracy fact rather than theory, I decided then I had to stop and ration the number of rabbit holes I go down in the search for truth. When I went to bed, the Bible verse we began with came to mind. It is from Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi, which I have read many times, preached on and memorised some of its memorable key verses, as those quoted.
If we consider our text in context, there is so much powerful stuff preceding it, including the verse to do with always rejoicing in the Lord, something I often fail to do; praying to the Lord concerning all matters, something I don’t do nearly enough of; and enjoying the peace of God which passes all understanding, a salutary reminder when things seem far from peaceful. And then onto Chapter 4 and there we get to today’s text. True, honest, just, pure, lovely, good report (for KJV readers), and true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious if we are reading from something more modern, like the Message. These are the very things that we are told to think regarding as opposed to things we might think about, especially when reading about bad things happening in the world and we should avoid dwelling on thoughts not edifying.
I can imagine a preacher who makes this his text might well elaborate and give examples and applications concerning these six things that should be filling our minds, encouraging his listeners to put these into practice. But I will leave it to readers to do his/her own meditation on what is a powerful antidote to the dark thoughts that can so easy occupy us. Indeed, may it be regularly so: “my meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord”.