Whatsoever Things

Sam Stinson

 

  "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you" (Philippians 4:8-9, KJV).

 

 

  In these verses the apostle Paul discusses whatsoever things to set our minds on. We can easily list eight things he mentions in the eighth verse, things that are (1) true, (2) honorable, (3) just, (4) pure, (5) lovely, (6) of good report, (7) virtuous, (8) praise-worthy. It is clear in this context that we ought to also avoid heretofore things that do not meet the criteria that Paul expects for Christian minds, things that are (1) false, (2) dishonorable, (3) wrong, (4) defiled, (5) lacking affection, (6) of bad reputation, (7) without virtue, (8) or worthy to be condemned. Paul also offers himself as an example of the first list, exhorting the imitation of these qualities as the church has seen in him.

 

 

  By classifying what is worthy of imitation, Paul also implies that our examples are to be such that we act in becoming ways, clearly focusing our minds and clearly focusing our behavior afterward. After all, what good would it be to have a mind set on things above if our feet are constantly taking us to the things of the second list, heretofore things below and not whatsoever things above?

 

 

  But these qualities are not developed automatically. Notice that Paul says Christians must be observant, noticing the contour and shape of our hearts and minds, noting our walk, looking and thinking through our motives. Paul does not only make classification, he invites his readers to do the same, categorizing good for the benefit of proactive preparation in peace. We are to be open to the example of others, discerning while we learn, receive, hear, and see and thus "these things do."

 

 

  Are you learning? Receiving? Hearing? Seeing? Are you making observations about the life and conduct you have? Of that of others? Remember that Paul here is calling upon imitation of the good, to focus so much upon that which is worthy that we grow tired and discontented with the worthless. We must constantly learn the lessons of our neighbors, recognizing their failures as our potential pitfalls. We ought to be patient enough to recognize our faces on the bodies of the men and women of scripture, the men and women of the world, and the men and women who we encounter on a regular basis. We are not any better than they; far from it! We are lower, knowing that the moment we focus our minds away from Heaven and away from getting there, we risk alienating ourselves from our Lord. Brethren, let us constantly be thinking on the whatsoever things!