If you watch futurist movies, you know one of mankind’s greatest fears is someone figuring out everything you and I think about. Yet, what we’re thinking defines almost everything else about us. So, why the deep fear? And, how do we overcome it?
We find the answer in the book of Philippians, chapter 4, verse 8. It says: “Finally, brothers, 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.”
This verse’s eight key words perfectly describe the Lord and His Word and fill its pages from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. As well, the eight terms describe a number of biblical heroes.
Best of all? These eight words can describe you and me.
Here’s something else interesting: Many of the biblical heroes are women, both ideal and real. Ideal women like Wisdom and the Virtuous Woman. Real women like Ruth, Rebekah, Rachel, and many others. Yes, it’s good to think about them. Notice how frequently their names show up below. Let’s unpack each of these eight things Paul encourages us to think about:
Up to the last page of Scripture, “true” describes the Lord and everything He says. After all, we’re told emphatically that God “does not lie” (Titus 1:2) for “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). But that’s not all. The term “true” also describes the words of those who trust God and obey Him. So, “true” can describe you and me and what we aspire to think about.
An exceptionally “true” verse: “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). To believe this is to safeguard ourselves from a thousand errors.
The word “noble” describes the Virtuous Woman (Proverbs 31:10, Proverbs 31:29, and see Proverbs 12:4), Ruth (Ruth 3:11), Jesus Christ (James 2:7), a good-hearted person who receives God’s Word and produces a great harvest (Luke 8:15), the Bereans (Acts 17:11), the work of elders (1 Timothy 3:1), and you and me.
In everything you and I think, say, and do, we can aspire to be noble.
My favorite “noble” verse is, “But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand” (Isaiah 32:8). Tip: This is a super easy verse to memorize. Go for it!
The word “right” and its synonyms appear more than 925 times from Genesis 4 to Revelation 22 in all but four short books each in the Old and New Testaments. “Right” describes the Lord, His Word, Jesus the “Righteous One,” and those who trust God and obey Him, including you and me.
I love this “right” verse: “All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right” (Luke 7:29). May you and I do the same!
The word “pure” describes the Lord, the gold in the Tabernacle and Temple, and much more (especially in Job and Psalms). As well, it is one of the first words taught by Jesus (Matthew 5:8) and is used in Paul’s writings to describe devotion to the Lord.
Do you remember the last time you met someone whose heart clearly was pure? Thanks to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we can have that same kind of heart.
A “pure” prayer: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10).
I encourage you to post this prayer where you’ll see it every day. Pray it from your heart for 14 days in a row and you’ll be more pure.
The word “lovely” and synonyms describe the Lord, the Promised Land, Jerusalem, the Tabernacle, the Temple, and the New Jerusalem. As well, they describe Job’s daughters (Job 42:15), Sarah (Genesis 12:11-14), Rebekah (Genesis 24:16 and 26:7), Rachel (Genesis 29:17), Moses (Exodus 2:2 and Acts 7:40), the garments of Aaron and sons (Exodus 28:2 and 28:40), David (1 Samuel 16:12), Abigail (1 Samuel 25:3), Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2), Tamar and her niece by the same name (2 Samuel 13:1 and 14:27), Abishag (1 Kings 1:3-4), Vashti (Esther 1:11), Esther (Esther 2:7-12), the Two Lovers (Song of Songs 1-7), the Herald of Good News (Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15), and godly women (1 Peter 3:3-4).
That last entry means I can add my wife, Renée, to the list. Together, we actively worship the Lord for who He is, which is beautiful. What’s more, how good that we can thank the Lord daily for His sovereignty (greatness), providence (guidance and goodness), holiness (glory), love (graciousness), and mystery (“God alone knows”).
A “lovely” psalm: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!” (Psalm 84:1).
The word “admirable” and synonyms describe Abel (Hebrews 11:4), Enoch (Hebrews 11:5), Job (Job 29:11), Paul and Silas (Acts 15:40), Phoebe (Romans 16:1), and elders (Titus 1:7). Like other terms listed above, it describes both someone’s character and what he thinks about. Each day, may you and I be admirable thinkers. For me, the best way to do that is to start every day with prayer, inspiration, and Scripture reading.
An “admirable” proverb: “A sensible person wins admiration, but a warped mind is despised” (Proverbs 12:8).
Yes, the world is awash in fake news, angry tirades, pornographic images, and other warped messages. In all you and I do, let’s stick with what’s admirable.
The word “excellent” and synonyms describe Wisdom (Proverbs 3:13-20 and 8:1-35), the Virtuous Woman (Proverbs 31:10), and Ruth (Ruth 3:11), whose book immediately follows Proverbs in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures. It can also describe you and me, especially if God’s love flows in and through us.
An “excellent” verse right before the Love Chapter: “And yet I will show you the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).
The word “praiseworthy” and synonyms likewise describe Wisdom, the Virtuous Woman (Proverbs 31:30), Ruth (Ruth 2:5-16 and 3:11), and you and me, especially if we develop praiseworthy character, integrity, genuineness, and integrity. It’s hard, but I truly long to be immune to the world’s applause and to live every moment filled with the Holy Spirit, just like Jesus.
A “praiseworthy” verse: “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done” (Psalm 78:4).
Like the apostle Paul, let’s actively choose to think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. If so, what you and I say and do will eventually reveal our Christ-like character to a watching world.
David Sanford coaches leaders passionate about demonstrating the relevance of Jesus Christ in every major sphere of life. His book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, and Amazon. His speaking engagements have ranged everywhere from The Billy Graham Center at the Cove (NC) to UC Berkeley (CA).
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