Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Thinking About Righteousness
What separates man from animal is the ability to reason and think. Created in the image of God, man has been given the gift of eternity in the image of the Heavenly Father and the responsibility to discern between right and wrong. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve knew the significance of the trees in the midst of the garden. Given a choice by the Lord, they partook of the forbidden fruit because their willful thoughts rebelled against the command of God. Sin plunged humanity into the dark abyss of separation from the glory of the Lord until the coming of the Son of God who brought eternal light into the world. Through Christ, redemption is found in those who choose to turn their hearts toward the love and mercy of God finding peace and salvation. The battleground that man has always struggled with is the heart and what a man thinks in his heart.
Paul defined clearly the challenge faced in fighting Satan. On the one hand, the devil entices the hearts of men to consider his lies as true, his virtues as just and his will as pure. He attacks the eight pillars of righteousness that will destroy man. The Holy Spirit admonishes the Christian to fight against the wiles of the devil to think of things on a higher plane. Righteousness is built upon what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good and virtuous and worthy of praise. Truth pervades the mind as the foundation of life. Honesty is the virtue of speech and action. The Christian does what is right in the eyes of God. Purity fills the mind not allowing the pollution’s of the world to make the heart and eyes to stray. A heart of courage guides the mind to the lovely things of life seeing good in the will of God. Instead of dwelling on the bad and evil, children of God are good-thinking people who desire to know decency in dress, speech and character. The crown of the Christian character is a virtuous mind that sees the image of the Father and seeks to live reflecting that image. When the seven lights of Christian character shine through, the heart lifts up praise and glory to the Father and God is pleased.
All of the characters of the Christian are manifested in living each day reflecting the virtues of Jesus Christ. What Paul described in this atomic particle of scripture is the mind of Christ. Examining His life is a commentary on those things that are true, noble, just, pure, and lovely, of good report, virtue and praise. Imitating Jesus is clothing the heart with these beautiful tapestries of God’s love. Sin cannot stand against these pillars of holiness. Whatever challenge we have in life can be defeated implanting these guardians of spiritual warfare in our hearts. Spend time every day reflecting these virtues in your life and the devil will never have hold of your heart. Marriages will flourish, relationships will blossom and faith will be exalted to the throne of God. The world will be seen through the eyes of a meditated heart focused on righteousness. Think on these things. Think hard. Blessings await. Lives will be changed. Let the glory of God shine in your heart.
It would be as wise and reasonable to say that it does not matter which way the rudder swings as the ship moves, as to say that it does not matter what a man thinks. (W. J. Dawson, The Making of Manhood, 1895)