8 Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
In this verse, the apostle Paul exhorts us to sift the world looking for any truth, honesty, justice, purity, beauty, or good report with a goal to think on whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.
What is the standard for determining what is true, honest, just, pure, beautiful, and virtuous or praiseworthy? The Bible is the only logical answer. Everybody has a standard of truth, but the Bible is THE standard of truth.
Sifting the world with the Word of God is a challenge for all Christians. This means that everything that we see, hear, read, or think is filtered by God’s thoughts and ways. Why is this needed? Isaiah 55 sheds some light.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Since our thoughts and ways do not naturally align with God’s thoughts and ways then we need to compare and evaluate. The comfort for Christian’s is that everybody in the Body should be using the same standard of truth. This standard becomes our common ground for regulating our behavior, thinking, and relationships.
Notice what Philippians 3:8 does not say.
- It does not say that when we hear something that we disagree with that we stop our ears and walk away.
- It does not say that when we see something that offends us that we turn our heads.
I believe that this is one of the keys for befriending sinners, a trait of Jesus.
My family likes to vacation in the mountains of North Carolina during the summers. One of our favorite past times is to go gem mining. This activity involves going to a gem mine, buying a bucket of dirt, and then sitting down in front of a trough with running water. A scoop of dirt is placed in a framed screen. The screen is slightly submerged in the running water which washes away the dirt. As the dirt washes away then some gems are discovered. The joy is to unearth the few gems in the bucket of dirt.
This reminds me of Philippians 3:8. Just like gem miners will spend hours looking for a handful of gems in a bucket of dirt so are we instructed to look for the few uplifting, positive, Godly things in the world’s bucket of dirt.
This investment requires patience, time, and knowledge of the Word, but the rewards are great.