Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The ABC’s of Discernment: I is for Ideal

We have learned that good has two aspect: Pleasing presentation and edifying content. However, understanding what makes a presentation pleasing or content edifying can still be difficult to figure out. That’s where Philippians 4:8 in. Here we have a concise definition of the ideals of good:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

However, Philippians 4:8 is also greatly compressed. Our eye easily slides over the words, our brain reading but not absorbing. Yet each of these words is a treasure trove. So let’s briefly examine these gems that we might fully appreciate the beauty of good’s ideal:

True (avlhqh,j / alēthēs): Reflecting reality. This includes the scientifically sound, the historically accurate, and those things which affirm moral law. (Moral law: Spiritual laws written into the universe, e.g. you reap what you sow and the man who sins will die.)

Noble (semno,j / semnos): Handling life with seriousness and dignity. Both integrity of character as well as the dignified treatment of people and subjects are built into this word.

Right (di,kaioj / dikaios): Conforming to the standards, character, and will of God. The Ten Commandments are an example of God’s standards; love and justice are two aspects of God’s character; and conformity to Christ’s character is one thing God wills for us.

Pure (a`gno,j / hagnos): Freedom from contamination. Just as pure gold is 100% gold, so we should pursue those things free from sin—or will free us from sin—that we might be 100% Christlike.

Lovely (prosfilh,j / prosphilēs): Literally, “toward affection.” Those things which please the senses and spur the heart toward love and compassion—these are the lovely.

Admirable (eu;fhmoj / euphēmos): Gaining a good reputation. While being spoken well of is not our ultimate aim, it is a virtue worth seeking.

Excellent (avreth, / aretē): Going over and beyond. Mediocrity is never encouraged in Scripture. We should aim for the best.

Praiseworthy (evpainoj / epainos): Glorifying God. In the end, it’s all about Him.

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