Philippians 4:8-9 Virtues that Attract God’s Favor
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Paul as a fitting conclusion reminded them of the virtues that will attract the presence of God and prosper their community. These virtues influences the way they relate with God, with one another as well as their moral mindset. The more believers dwell in these virtues and persevere in them, the more they will see God’s presence and favor be manifested among them.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
At the closing of the letter, Paul summarizes the virtues that allow the community to live in harmony and abundantly. The word “whatever” can also mean “as much as” is repeated six times to give credence for each virtue. Believers are to persevere in exercising these virtues: dwell on these things, under all circumstances so that they may prosper as a community.
“True” refers to being committed to the truth concerning Christ’s values system and the believer’s covenant with God. “True” here pertains to the faithful covenantal relationship and transparency between God and man. In fact, all godly virtues have their foundation in the virtue of being true to God in all things.
“Honorable” refers to living life in a respectable way according to the image God has invested in us. As believers are sons of God in identity and nature, we are under obligation to live according to that calling. Therefore, believers are to live honorably, with integrity as a reflection of the holiness of God.
“Right” in a narrow sense pertains to our dealings with others that make for a well-ordered society. It refers to uprightness in all our dealings, being just and fair to all people. Not given to double standards, to corruption or nepotism.
“Pure” in a narrow sense refers to sexual purity. In a general sense, it refers to being free of evil motives, being uncomplicated, but principled, transparent and unmoved by temptations.
“Lovely” refers to a friendly temperament, being approachable, humble, and unassuming. A lovely person tries to help others feel at ease and accepted. A lovely community readily accepts newbies and integrates them.
“Good repute” pertains to a culture of honoring one another, and being always ready to speak favorably of others.
“Excellence” also means “moral excellence” that describes an uncommon character of high morals; one who has been approved to make upright decisions even at great inconveniences and costs.
“Worthy of praise” refers to motives and actions that are commendable and acceptable by God. The believer is worthy of praise when his actions, thoughts and intents of the heart are found commendable and acceptable by God.
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Paul once again encourages the believers to emulate him especially in the six virtues mentioned above. In practicing these virtues conscientiously, God’s presence will be there to give them perpetual peace in all circumstances. The presence of these virtues is paramount if God is to dwell in their midst. On the other hand, the community that does not practice these virtues repels God’s presence, for they are consumed by all kinds of immoralities, in deceiving and hurting one another.
- Members of a healthy church or community must first develop a vertical relation with God through the virtues of being “true”, “honorable”, whose actions are “worthy of praise”. Such a community holds on to God’s Kingdom values and is not easily swayed by circumstances or attacks. They fear God and place Him as the highest priority of their lives. God and His truth becomes the center of the community and every member is a reflection of His image and holiness. As each member seeks to please God through his thoughts and actions, such a church will continue to manifest the beauty and the power of God regardless of circumstances.
- Members, having developed the necessary virtues to relate with God, begin to possess the mindsets of “excellence” and “purity”. Such is a community that possesses high moral standards and pure motives leaving no place for temptations or darkness to fester within its members. Such a community is solid as a rock, being able to stand firm in the face of false and radical teachings of worldliness. Her leadership remains unfazed by the temptations of lust, materialism and pride.
- A community with God at its center will naturally possess moral excellence and build up one another in harmony. A healthy vertical relationship with God will enable healthy lateral relationships with one another within the community. Healthy lateral relationships involve relating to one another through the virtues of being “right”, “lovely” and “good repute”. They possess a culture of inclusiveness and “loveliness” who is always ready to accept and draw new members into their midst. They are humble and do not see themselves as more superior or inferior than others but are equal members of God’s kingdom. They are also people of “good repute”, who seek to bring out the best in others by reminding one another of their gifting and achievements. A community of “good repute” honor and recognize each member as vital contributors of the community, with members dealing with one another in an upright manner, showing no favoritism and being fair to all.
Are you a believer who is true and transparent towards God, whose demeanor is a reflection of His holiness and whose actions are acceptable to Him? Such a member will be a source of light, a rock in times of turmoil for other members of the church. Churches have a tendency to focus their efforts on resolving inter-member problems or personal moral issues. If each member would focus their efforts on maintaining a true relationship with God, it will not be too hard to resolve interpersonal problems or moral issues. Make plans to spend adequate time in reading the word and in prayer, we will become an enduring foundation for a healthy community and church.
Dear Lord, as I discipline myself in reading the word and in prayer, create in me a pure heart, of high moral excellence, with the ability to encourage others. I pray for my church, that you cause us to build our vision, culture and activities around you and your truth. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.