Sweet Surrender
Foreigners in Your Land


Whatever IsPhilippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.


Don’t you just hate that response? I remember the first time I heard it from my kids. It’s such an expression of sarcastic resignation and total apathy. Hearing it from a spouse often puts the tough decisions about what to eat, watch or do right back in our own hands.

But my opinion of ‘whatever’ changed when I read Philippians 4:8. Those ‘whatevers’ are my favorite things! I have been reading fairytales and fantasy books filled with those since I was a child. Philippians 4:8 quickly became my favorite verse – perhaps my life verse.

Thinking on the best and most praiseworthy things is wonderful advice for at least three practical reasons. Of course, the biggest reason is just because God said it. But the practical reasons hint at why God said it:

FIRST, all of these qualities are the attributes of God Himself and by extension, of Jesus as He lived His earthly life. God is saying, ‘think about me.’ He loves our praise and worship. Meditating on His Word and Works and Son which all so powerfully demonstrate these qualities is the essence of worship.

SECOND, this is the ultimate ‘self-help’ advice. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones is proven to lift us out of depression and increase contentment. But for Christians, it’s so much more. We are called to become more like Jesus, and these are the attributes we should be manifesting in our life. These are the fruits of the Spirit that should be ripening in us. With the help of the Holy Spirit, meditating on these things yields the renewing of our minds and guarding of our hearts that the Bible instructs us to do in Romans 12:2 and Proverbs 4:23.

FINALLY, thinking on these things regularly will instruct our future actions towards others. It takes a lot of courage to do the noble, just or gracious thing in this world. The opportunities for compromise and inaction are too many and too strong – UNLESS you have trained yourself. Police, Dancers, and Athletes train for countless hours, rehearsing in their minds regularly so that they will be able to perform a particular series of movements perfectly, without thinking, when that stressful moment of action arrives. Similarly, we need to prepare ourselves to do the right thing when the time comes. Like the great saints and martyrs of old, this is a tremendous witness to the world. Even if it’s just learning to bite our tongues and be gracious when someone is rude, or to be honest when a lie would make life easier, or to be inconvenienced in the service of others even if we suspect they’ll be ungrateful – these are our witness in the world. Others are watching and they’ll wonder why we dare to be so different.

It feels odd to many of us to think that Truth, Justice, Purity, Graciousness, and Excellence would make us stand out as different these days. I feel like these used to be the golden standard that our society was built on in the past. But maybe they’ve always been aspirational and inspirational, the stuff of fairytales, fantasies and Hollywood movies. God, however, calls us to this higher ground. He calls us to transformation and sanctification, setting us apart for His purposes. That process will never be fully complete in our mortal lifetimes, but by ‘thinking about such things’ we can bring a little taste of Heaven to earth now.

PRAYER: Holy Father, show me ways to do ‘whatever’ for you. Help me to think and do what is true, what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, what is admirable, excellent and praiseworthy to bring glory to You. Amen.






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