Whatsoever is Just…
Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
In our continuing look at Philippians 4:8 we come to the third of the list of things Paul admonishes us to be thinking on – whatever is just. It is so important for us to guard our thought life because it is from our thinking our actions follow. Christ says in Luke 6:45 (ESV) The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. As we have already said in our prior discussion, what goes into our minds will come out in our actions. If we want good to come out in our life, we need to have good treasure in our hearts!
So, what does it mean to think on that which is just? We live in a world today where just and justice are hot issues. We are being confronted by social justice warriors, SJWs, who tell us that the greatest evil in our society is racial and gender inequity, and it is the duty of everyone to right not only the wrongs of the present, but the wrongs of the past. Anyone who does not take an active role in this pursuit is seen as bigoted, hate-filled, and racially insensitive. Those who may question the excesses of this thinking are ridiculed, shut down, and even cancelled. Statements someone may have said decades ago are used to discredit and shame those same people today, even when they no longer believe what they may have believed years ago.
However, when we look at the root meaning of this word, we get a different sense of what this word really is telling us. The word in the Greek language is dikaia – which means righteous. The verb form is dikaioo which is translated “justify” in Romans and which means to be acquitted before the bar of God and declared righteous. In fact, the primary meaning of this word is to be righteous, to be right before God, and even to act in the same way as God acts. Personal justice is then an outworking of what it means to be right, to be like God.
If we are to think on righteous things, then we are to think on the things that God would think on as well. Since God is perfectly righteous, every thought of his is right, both morally and practically.
So, how can we put this into practice in our lives? Here are some suggestions.
One – watch what you watch. Too often Christians fill their minds up with the vanity of the world through the entertainment mediums that are so readily available to us. I do not think we need to get rid of all entertainment – there is certainly a place that which is wholesome. But how much of what passes for entertainment on television is deleterious to our pursuit of thinking on that which is righteous? I often wonder what would happen if we invented a time machine and brought the Apostle Paul to the present and had him watch what passes for entertainment on TV? What would his thoughts be? I believe our problem is that we are so used to that which is detrimental to a righteous thought life we think nothing of it. Perhaps it is time for us to reassess our entertainment choices. I remember many years ago hearing someone say that according to a hotel manager he talked to the greatest use their adult entertainment channels occurred during a pastor’s convention. Why was that? No one was looking and it was easy to get away with it.
Two – watch where you surf. The power of the internet can be used to further the kingdom of God and aid us in our spiritual growth, or it can be one of the greatest curses invented by modern man. When I was young, if you wanted to see pornography you had to get a magazine or sneak into an X-rated movie theater. Now you can get all of that in the comfort of your own home, and no one will know what you are doing. Think on how much time you surf the internet getting nothing in return, but a mind filled with vanity, endless discussions about things of no importance, and even the most unrighteous content imaginable. Perhaps it is time for us to throttle back our Facebook and YouTube time?
Three – pay attention to what you hear. There are thousands of great sermons and Bible studies on the internet that can aid you in your pursuit of thinking on that which is righteous, or you can fill your mind with the songs of the world that drag you the other way. Think about some of the most popular songs of the day that glorify violence, immorality, substance abuse, and just about every other vice one can think of. I would suggest instead of listening to that kind of music and entertainment, fill your mind with the things God. Find good, Christian music to listen to – and of course find some solid Biblical teaching that can help in your pursuit of thinking on that which is righteous.
Four – watch what you read. I remember many years ago talking to someone who was lamenting his lame devotional life. I asked him what his nightly routine was and found out after getting home from work and eating supper he spent over an hour and a half reading the newspaper and watching the nightly news on television. That left little time for any pursuit of spiritual things. If we want to think on righteous things, perhaps one of the quickest ways to do that is turn off the news feed on our phones, cancel our subscriptions to news magazines, and take a leave of absence from the cable news channels. Instead spend time in God’s word – you may find that you quickly begin to have a new thought life based on that which is right, and not that which is the vanity of the world.
So, in conclusion…
Watch what you watch!
Watch where you surf!
Watch what you hear!
Watch what you read!
Because if we do these things, we will begin the process of thinking a bit more like God!
Whatsoever things…are just…think on these things!