As I was growing up, my mom’s favorite verse was Philippians 4:8
“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.”
I can remember growing to cringe everytime she responded to our questions with that verse.
“Mom, can we go see this movie?”
“Is it pure and lovely?”
“Well, it’s PG-13, so probably not”
AUGH! How frustrating for a teenager! Nothing in the world is pure and lovely! Wait. Maybe that was her point. As I’ve grown up and had the opportunity to look back at my upbringing some, I realize that my mom was teaching us to be discerning about what we let into our minds and hearts. If we couldn’t apply that litmus test to the upcoming activity and come away clean, then it’s something we probably didn’t need to do.
Today, as I was thinking about conflict in relationships and how sometimes we get so far down a road before we realize that it was misunderstandings or assumptions that got us there. Sometimes it’s hiding the truth, not telling the truth, or being afraid to confront with the truth. I then ran across this verse again (which, by the way, has now become one of my favorite verses). And, I wondered what it would be like if I started applying this to my dealings with people.
“Whatever is true…”
“Is it true that she said or meant that? Hmmm….maybe I shouldn’t “think on it” until I know it’s true. Let me ask”
“Whatever is noble…”
“Noble? What does that mean?”
“Having or showing qualities of high moral character, such as courage, generosity, or honor”
“hmmm…If I choose to react this way, will it show qualities of high moral character? When I think of this, will I see it as noble?”
“Whatever is right…”
“Am I in the right? What is right? What would be the godly response?”
“Is there sin involved? In my heart? In the situation?”
“Whatever is pure…”
“Are my intentions pure?”
“Is this action pure?”
“Is this beyond reproach and worthy of the high calling of Christ?”
“Whatever is lovely…”
“Hmmm….when is the last time I’ve heard gossip described as ‘lovely’?”
“Will the words of my mouth be ‘lovely’ to the Lord if I choose to utter what I’m thinking?”
“Are my thoughts ‘lovely’?
“Whatever is admirable…”
“What is to be admired in this situation?”
“In what ways will I be worthy of admiration in the way I handle this person or situation?”
“Excellent or Praiseworthy…”
“Seriously…how will God’s name be lifted up in this?”
We’re all guilty of missteps in relationship. It’s a product of living in a fallen world and allowing ourselves to be tempted. I know I’m guilty of saying things out of spite or with the hope that someone will be hurt. There’s nothing pure or lovely about that. I know I’m guilty of covering the truth or shying away from it because I’m afraid I may lose favor with the other person if I really speak what’s on my heart (or in the Scriptures). There’s nothing right about that. I’ve also been guilty of not giving someone the benefit of the doubt before obsessing over what I heard they said or think they mean. I didn’t focus on the truth at those moments. I have handled things in ways that are certainly less than admirable. And, I’ve grieved over the times when I, not only failed to lift the Savior up, but also managed to do damage to the reputation of His Bride.
So, maybe I’ll take my mom’s words a step farther than I have in the past and let the wisdom of this verse stretch over all areas of my life. What a beautiful thing it would be if this was the filter that was applied to my thoughts and words. I’ve a long way to go, but a promise awaits. (Philippians 4:9)
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”