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.
Phillippians 4:8 (NIV)
The final word to the Church in Philippi from Paul has become something of an anchor scripture for Kathy and I in
teaching the principles of worship for the past 40 years. It's such a simple, yet profound, encouragement from the most prolific New Testament scripture writer, whose impact on Church doctrine is immeasurable. Here are just a few observations to encourage you in your worship life.
1.Finally A profound "word choice" from the Apostle, whom I believe put a clear priority on the encouragement that follows in that scripture: Truth, nobility, purity, justice, loveliness, admirability, excellency and praiseworthiness are to be the foundation of all our thinking as believers, and especially those of us given to worship leading. Human nature loves to think otherwise. You would think that the final words of wisdom from a strong leader would begin with this phrase “Make sure you….., make sure you…….Don’t do this, don’t do that" But it was quite the opposite! Paul said, “think about the good things you see.” It is easy and natural to see problems; more challenging however, to be the person who constantly searches for, and points out, nobility and loveliness. Thank God for His gift to us: the Holy Spirit who, contrary to what is often taught, is not looking for or at our faults, but looking for and pointing out the fruit and goodness of admirability that comes from God’s indwelling presence in a believer. This is our foundation, worshipers: seeing and declaring goodness!!
2. Abundance While this word is not used in Paul's encouragement, there is an “abundance” of descriptive terms used for assisting us in finding goodness all around us. Just picking one of these adjectives per day and focusing on it is enough of an assignment to keep any one of us busy for, well, eternity! For some reason, the word “noble” has stood out to me, and I’ve been so exercised in my faith daily, watching for noble acts, thinking about them, and pointing them out. Actually, they are all around us friends, and not all of them coming from Christians. So many acts of nobility are often done by well-meaning human beings. Of course we do see it in the Church, and I believe this is the reason for the tradition in the Catholic Church of “Saints”. Acknowledging those of our brothers and sisters that have been noble in their Christian walk is so important. Certainly, it is easy to cross the line and overdo honoring nobility and worshiping people and their good deeds rather than Jesus; but it's a certainty we find it much easier to see fault first in others and in the circumstances of life, rather than nobility. May the Holy Spirit assist us today in seeking to see the abundance of noble things that go on about us every day.
3. Think One of the words that unfortunately gets way overused and misinterpreted in today’s Christian verbiage is a word related to the word think, and that is the word repent, which literally means to change your thinking (metanoia in the Greek language). Repentance as a word often takes on a certain religious meaning that is misleading and can sometimes be spiritually harmful! While the word for “think” that is used in Philippians is a different Greek word (logizomai, or, “consider”), it does involve the process of how we consider circumstances, as does the word metanoia concerning changing the way you think. Mostly, when you hear the word repent, it connotes thinking that is dogmatic and harsh, and does include in some cases the requirement of some form of mental punishment, or sometimes actual physical self-punishment. This misunderstanding of repentance is meant to be a metric for whether or not you are a serious Christian. The true understanding of these two words in the context of the scripture in Philippians is crucial for us, as it gives us just some of the ways we can begin to change our thinking (metanoia) when we “consider” (logizomai) our everyday circumstances through the lens of the guidelines Paul mentions. This understanding of thoughtful consideration or reckoning in our daily lives can begin to take place in our hearts and minds solely through the power of the Holy Spirit, and His ability to point out all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
So…finally friends, as our brother Paul has said…consider (logizomai) these things that are true, noble and right, those things that are pure and lovely, admirable, excellent and praise worthy, every moment, every day, and the change of mind (repentance-metanoia) will begin to manifest through the power of the Holy Spirit.