“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8)
I never understood this verse. I thought it to be really flowery and I usually skipped over it. But recently, I began to understand its meaning! And oh how it has been transforming my thought patterns! In relationships (I see it springing up a lot with my fiancée), I hold expectations on people. When they fail to live up to some of those expectations, I am let down. The thoughts that run though my mind are usually not loving and affectionate, but rather critical and harsh- narrowing in on the other’s faults and weaknesses. Entertaining this pattern, will only lead to a cold, distant, and sometimes bitter, heart toward that person.
Elizabeth Elliot teaches that we let people live up to about 80 percent of our expectations. The other 20 percent we desperately want to change. We can either persistently and bitterly chip away at that 20 percent for the rest of our relationship with that person (without reducing it very much) OR we can simply enjoy the 80 percent and both will live happily.
Paul enlightens the truth that we are all sinners in desperate need of change, and instructs us to rather think about these things– whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise. In doing so, we are choosing to delight in the radical nature of the other’s gospel change and evidences of grace annnd give glory to the Father! Not only will we feel affection toward that person when we might otherwise feel disappointment or frustration, but we will grow in our own sanctification, and feel the satisfaction of God being most glorified. Amen.
Father we humbly ask- change our thinking.