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.
This is not a typical holiday season verse. Yet may this verse, and its grand counsel and instruction, be our lantern and compass through the ups and downs of this holiday season! May it bring us peace and strength and focus ~ in and through the Lord ~ so that throughout the holidays, we do not lose sight of Jesus and His love and care for us. So that we, then, may carry Him and His love and care to others!
As we come into the holiday season, it is often ushered in through a good deal of hurry on our part ~ the rush and flood of details to keep track of during holiday preparations. Or, at the other end of the holiday spectrum, the holidays can be a time and season of painful battle: mourning lost loved ones, or facing yet another holiday season that’s supposed to be warm and thankful and joyful while feeling anything but that because of loneliness, depression, ill-health, trauma, pressing monetary issues, and a host of other issues that bind us or keep us separated from the general flow of joy in the holidays. In this coming holiday season, let us gather to this verse and let it gather us into the Lord!
“Finally, brethren” ~ The wisdom of Philippians 4:8 might not be the first set of thoughts that comes to our mind and heart in this season. Yet let us seek to keep it close at hand, or even committed to memory, so that the Holy Spirit may then bring us finally to this place of wise-walking, just when we need it! (Psalm 1)
“Whatever is true” ~ may the Lord lead us to Himself in all of our holiday season ~ in the preparations for and the days of holiday themselves. Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” (John 14:6)
“Whatever is honorable” ~ we all know and are painfully aware that our society is becoming increasingly full of that which is not honorable. May it be our prayer that the Lord will continually “create in us a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us” (Psalm 51:10) in the midst of these days so that in our part of the world we can hold to and hold up that which is honorable.
“Whatever is right” ~ There is great and growing debate in this day and age about the reality of “right” and if it exists. The world at large, having rejected the truth of God, has nothing to stand on in determining “right” any more. Yet we, as children of God, do know what is right and we have the Word of God to stand on as our foundation. In these coming days, let us hold fast to this instruction of the Lord, especially while we are among those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16)
“Whatever is pure” ~ In this day and age? Is it possible to find what is pure? Among the dictionary’s offerings for the definition of “pure” are these statements: “free from what weakens or pollutes” and “unmixed with other matter”. This puts us on a little more familiar territory and so may our prayer be that the Lord will keep us “free from what weakens or pollutes” and bring us further in the Word of God “unmixed with other matter”.
“Whatever is lovely” ~ What is lovely? Here is a bit of what the Bible says is lovely: “How lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts!” (Psalm 84:1) That’s us! We are now the dwelling places of the Lord on the earth. Look for the lovely in your brothers and sisters in Christ as you encounter them in the holiday season. “Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely.” (Psalm 135:3) Amen and amen! May the Lord help us to sing praises to His name often in this holiday season! “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation…” (Isaiah 52:7) May it be our prayer that despite our busy-ness or our burdens, the Lord will shine through us and open our mouths to bring the Good News of salvation to those who are without!
“Whatever is of good repute” ~ The dictionary tells us “repute” is “the state of being favorably known, spoken of, or esteemed”. What is deemed of good repute in this day and age may or may not be so in the Lord’s eyes… So let us keep as our standard for what is of good repute that which lines up with the Word of God. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
“If there is any excellence” ~ again the dictionary informs us excellence is “the state of being excellent” and then defines excellent as “very good of its kind: eminently good”. There is much that is still excellent around us and excellence is not unattainable by man, yet there is more beyond the excellence of man’s attainment. At the end of 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul says, “And I show a still more excellent way.” and from there goes on to the famous exposition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. May that “excellent way” be our way in these holidays by the grace of God at vibrant work in us through His Holy Spirit!
“And if anything worthy of praise” ~ may there be much around us this holiday season that is worthy of praise! Let us pray for it for the sake of those around us and not just for ourselves. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
“Dwell on these things.” ~ Again our friends who write the dictionary tell us that “dwell” means “to remain for a time” and “to keep the attention directed”… In the rush, or the trials, of the holiday season to dwell ~ to remain for a time or to keep the attention directed ~ on anything else is difficult. May the Lord bring Himself to mind for us often in this season and help us indeed to dwell on Him so that the Reason for the Season ~ Immanuel, God with us ~ will not be lost in the hustle or the hurt of this holiday season.
~Bible reference from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)
~Dictionary definitions from Merriam-Webster Online (m-w.com)