Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
In verses 8 and 9 we’re given what we need to ponder and what we need to practice.
Our minds dwell on many things contrary to items on this list of “beautiful” words, including a host of issues that we worry about (see v. 6). You have to wonder if being a “news junkie” isn’t violating all these rules!
He goes on to put some editorial control into our hands, as good can be extracted from many things, and we should do our best to find what’s admirable and redeemable in our experiences and observations and discard the rest.
As far as what we do is concerned, outside of making tents, Paul was actively and wholeheartedly pursuing God and fulfilling his mission to the Gentiles. He said in 2:22 that to live on would mean more “fruitful labor” for him. Matching his work ethic would be daunting for most of us. But I don’t think that’s what’s requested here. It’s more about emulating Paul’s character in practicing his particular calling. We can work ourselves silly in the cause of Christ, but to do so nobly (one of the “beautiful” words listed above) is almost unworldly, and he was almost there.
Still, our attention to honorable engagement in all walks of life should be painstaking. Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 9:27: “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
For us to exercise such self-discipline is one tall order. As some solace, we are urged to practice this rather than to flawlessly execute it.
Whew, that’s a relief!