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
This is the final quality of the eight that Paul suggests for meditation. If you haven’t already, scroll down for previous ones including the introductory post.
Have you ever been part of a crowd someplace––a religious gathering or a political rally––and when it was time to applaud you joined in the ovation even though what had just been presented didn’t square with what you know to be true? Going along with the majority seemed like the polite thing to do at the time. You didn’t want the people near you to notice you were not joining in on the undeserved adulation of the crowd, so rather than go against the grain you were carried along with groupthink and cheered on cue.
Is what you applaud actually worthy of your praise or are you just cheering shallow ½ true crescendos in sermons, chanting bumper sticker slogans at rallies, or reposting unworthy Facebook memes?
Notice Paul doesn’t say, “You should think whatever the majority of your Christian friends think,” or “Whenever or whatever your favorite preacher shouts, shout back an ‘Amen!’” If anything, instead of just taking the word of the most demonstrative person in the room, he advocates for Christians to practice critical thinking. The Lord would have us think on what is genuinely worthy of praise, not what bounces around in the echo chamber we have chosen to inhabit.
I confess to my tendency toward being a half-empty glass guy. I’m more inclined to notice what’s wrong with something than to appreciate the good, so I have to work a little harder at applauding the laudable things in this world. I’m no harder on others than I am on myself, but that’s no excuse for overlooking and failing to praise the praiseworthy.
Some things are easier to applaud––random acts of kindness, justice won for a vulnerable person, an umpire’s call that goes in favor of the San Francisco Giants. Then there are the outstanding and noticeable contributions of certain people––Lincoln, Einstein, Mandela, Tim Fraser. (Tim kept an older kid from beating me up in the 2nd Grade. Tim, if you’re listening, thanks again!)
So, take a few minutes right now and soak in the praiseworthy, people and their contributions to the world that are genuinely worthy of adulation. If you can’t think of any offhand, anything and everything about Jesus will do.