Whatever is Honorable
For the citizen of Heaven, life on this earth is a battle. Our sin-cursed nature constantly tries to grab us away from victorious living. But we do not always notice the hostile attempts as we are silently lulled into a comfort zone that counterfeits peace. We long for a battle-free zone, and therefore rejoice at any hope of rest.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.1 Peter 5:8–9 NLT
As we concentrate on our thinking as directed by Philippians 4:8, we may believe that our focused efforts can all be summed up in thinking “whatever is true.” Undoubtedly, that is an overarching theme; however, Paul adds to the thinking list, “whatever is honorable” (NLT, NASB, ESV) which is also translated “whatever is noble” (NIV, NKJV, NIrV), “whatsoever things are honest” (KJV).
In our American culture, the concept of the Greek lemma semnos is difficult to grasp. After all, one who is “serious, grave, dignified, majestic, respectable,”1 is often mocked. As we shout tolerance for all, is it acceptable to label someone as “not deserving blame or criticism” as the dictionary defines honorable? How does the person on the street define honorable? Are they consistent with their speech and actions when it comes to defining noble? Is there a standard of honesty? The tide has turned and our understanding of semnos is dim.
So how do we think “whatever is honorable” when the circumstance leaves us floundering? How can we clearly see what is noble when the cultural context disdains such behavior? When we focus our lens of truth to view what is honorable we must acknowledge that God sets the standard. We can see a noble lifestyle exemplified in the life of Christ. It is only as we follow in His footsteps that we can think and choose to demonstrate His honorable character. The models of society cannot enlighten the path to what is respectable. Because He is the epitome of majesty, it is only by keeping our eyes fixed on Him that we may keep our minds fixed on “whatever is honorable.”
In the wake of every dishonorable circumstance is the prospect of God sovereignly redeeming us from the harmful effects. The evil intent of Satan working upon us through the sinful actions of people actually provides an opportunity to know Christ more profoundly. Painful situations allow us to connect with Jesus in a most desperate manner as He redeems us from our difficulty. This sovereign grace asserts that from the foundation of our greatest pain arises the impetus for our most productive ministry. God strategically works in our hearts to prune away all that hinders the branch from being the most productive.
Lord, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, help me throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let me run with perseverance the race marked out for me, fixing my eyes on You, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before You, You endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Remind me that You endured such opposition from sinners, so that I will not grow weary and lose heart.Heb. 12:1–3 NIV
This blog post is part of a series on Philippians 4:8 – Think These Things: Whatever is True , Whatever is Honorable, Whatever is Right, Whatever is Pure, Whatever is Lovely, Whatever is Admirable, Whatever is Excellent, and Whatever is Praiseworthy.
1 Ceslas Spicq and James D. Ernest, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 244.
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