“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
This verse, right here, is extremely practical. I will restate the obvious in order to make a point:
WHATEVER is true
WHATEVER is honorable
WHATEVER is just
WHATEVER is pure
WHATEVER is lovely
WHATEVER is commendable
IF THERE IS ANY moral excellence
IF THERE IS ANY praise
Whatever you can find concerning a difficult situation or a problematic person to be true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and if there is any moral excellence or praise DWELL on those things. Why? Because these are the noble things, these are the things God sees as highly valuable. If you can only see a fraction of honor choose to dwell on that fraction as opposed to the chunk that is dishonorable. If you see only a fraction of lovely and a whole lot of ugly dwell on that tiny bit of lovely. If there is ANYTHING you can give praise to, give it.
It may seem remarkably easy to notice the lousy attributes of a person or situation because those can seem to stand out like a spotlight on the darkest of nights but to look past the blaring elements and see the lovely takes an exceptional kind inner strength. The kind of drive that comes from a life grounded in humility. Another benefit of seeing the ‘whatever’ and ‘if there is any’ will not only assist you in taking note of the good in others, but it will help you tremendously when your circumstances seem bleak.
If I feel as though I have been mistreated or not valued by someone, it is easy for me to keep staring at the hurt which then causes me to spiral into negative thinking and disparaging thoughts. If, however, I choose to LOOK for the ‘whatevers’ I can cling to those positive things. While clutching these godly attributes, I can pray with a heart full of thanksgiving while clinging to the buoy of that one good thing while in the still, the current, or the avalanche.
The appeal is so vital that we can find another similar adage by turning back two chapters. “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal.” (Philippians 2:1-2)
Words matter to God. In Genesis 1:2, God did not curse the darkness when it covered the surface of the ocean, He merely said, “Let there be light.” We do not have to be amazed by the audacity of the darkness we merely copy God. In the face of darkness, He proclaimed light. It is all about perspective. When Paul and Silas were in prison, bound by chains and suffering the sting of a beating they choose the attitude of worshipping God instead of railing about how servants of God should be receiving honor instead of shame. The result of their viewpoint brought freedom, even though they had no idea it would. The abused simply chose to view their perspective through the lens of holiness as opposed to interpreting through the lens of human nature.
God tells us life and death are held in the power of the tongue. Do you choose to curse the darkness that surrounds you or do you decide to speak God’s word in the midst of that darkness? It is ENTIRELY about your perspective. Do you prefer to see the ‘whatever’ and ‘if there is any’? The outlook is yours to determine. It certainly does not mean it will be easy or will not come without cost, but absolutely will mean life and death to you.
Thank you, Lord, for Your Word. You are faithful, and You will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able, but with the temptation, You will also provide a way of escape so that I am able to bear it. I choose Your perspective when I am in the midst of darkness. I prefer Your viewpoint when I am tempted to despair. You are my escape when darkness closes in. I choose to praise You in the midst of darkness. In the name of Jesus, I pray and believe, amen.
In His grace,