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. Philippians 4:8
The kind of “excellence” about which Paul speaks here has to do with moral excellence. It’s not about students doing an excellent job on their math exam or someone’s excellent singing performance on stage. It’s about how one conducts oneself morally.
The original term for excellence here also carries with it the sort of virtue that enriches those around them and not merely what one does in private before God.
Greek scholars also point out that this word has to do with a person living in such a way that fulfills their God-given “purpose,” like a 75-watt bulb that exudes nothing less than all 75 watts worth.
To summarize, we’re talking about a moral excellence that benefits others by living into one’s eternal purpose.
Notice that for these final two qualities on Paul’s list which are worthy of our careful consideration are prefaced with, “if anything is…” as though he’s admitting that these qualities are so rare that we’re likely to have a hard time locating them in our world. “If anything is excellent…” None of us actually lives up to our eternally determined wattage, but we make every effort toward that end. We shoot for the moon and if we hit the top of the trees, at least we got off the ground!
Yet there is Someone who lives into his luminous perfection, whose excellence shines like the sun and the stars throughout his universe! Meditating on him and his perfections is a sure bet for the beginning of a healthy mindset.
“Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.” (Proverbs 4:23 – Contemporary English Version)
Take a moment and meditate on God’s ineffable qualities …
Stay tuned for the final quality worthy of our concentrated meditation: “Applauding the Laudable.”