We close out this sermon series talking about how building our lives off of what is told to us in Philippians 4:8 can become a lifestyle – something that defines us.
EXCELLENT: Virtuous – anything that has virtue. This is the only time we see this word in Paul’s writings. It was used more commonly to refer to codes of ethics – a Greek philosophical idea. These were codes people dedicated themselves to live by.
It’s kind of a summary of everything he’s already said. He’s saying, “you’ve seen how other people around you dedicate themselves to a way of living. This is like that.”
PRAISEWORTHY: We think about “praising” someone as encouraging them, commending them. Here, it’s actually talking about worship, and it’s a word that relates only to God, or whatever in our lives represents God. “Praise” is something that only belongs to and is rendered to God.
These last 2 phrases are about putting all 8 of these words (TRUE, RIGHT, PURE, LOVELY, ADMIRABLE, EXCELLENT, PRAISEWORTHY) into a life that is lived out before others, but that starts in our minds.
When Paul says to think, it’s not just a mental exercise, but to dwell, to embody, to engage with daily. It’s a lifestyle.
Think of runners, collectors, musicians, people who follow a band, people who dedicate their life to a career, to their children. Their time is spent skewed towards that one thing. In a sense, they do everything else in a way so that they can do that thing. It’s the foundation they orient everything else around that thing as much as they can.
And then they stick with it. Think about a diehard sports fan. They show up to cheer for their team regardless of if the team is 12-1 or 1-12. They do it when it’s hard, when it’s downpouring, when they have to say no to other things. When no one else will do it with them.
Lifestyles are not something that finds us, they are something we choose daily. When we choose a lifestyle, one of the first things we do is to find other people who have chosen the same lifestyle.
And, here’s something we don’t often think about, lifestyles are exclusive. When we choose to build your life in one place, you are also choosing to not build it in a different place. Choosing a lifestyle forces you to move in a direction – toward something, away from other things.
Have you every thought about the face that whenever you say “yes” to something, you’re also silently saying “no” to a bunch of other things?
We think about the “yes.” We don’t often think about the “no.”
When you choose to move in the direction of noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, you’re also choosing to move away from their opposites. And vice versa.
You have to move in a direction. You can’t waffle back and forth. The bible calls a person who does that double minded. Have you ever tried to follow one of those on the highway?
So how do you begin, and sustain, a lifestyle? There’s this other word that Paul uses in the verse that follows that. It’s something that must happen as a result of us choosing a lifestyle, and something, which if we misunderstand, will undo us and cause us to quit.
Philippians 4 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard form me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
This is the secret. And it’s something we often misunderstand, especially when it comes to living a life that’s TRUE, NOBLE, RIGHT, PURE, LOVELY, ADMIRABLE, EXCELLENT, PRAISEWORTHY.
Have you ever thought about trying to play the guitar? You think you can just pick it up and start, especially if you are musically inclined. However, for any of us who have attempted it, it’s actually really hard to play. And it hurts, literally your fingers, as you learn to play it. Most people will give up and go back to something easier and more familiar. Because the time, the long wait for results, and the effort, were just not there.
If we are going to be the people of TRUE, NOBLE, RIGHT, PURE, LOVELY, ADMIRABLE, EXCELLENT, PRAISEWORTHY, we have to start somewhere. And a lot of us are going to be bad at some of these.
And when we don’t see the results we want to see immediately, it can frustrate us. It’s easier to put the guitar back in the closet and reach for something easier, more familiar. That gets us the satisfaction we want faster.
We have to be willing to be bad at this, and stick with it, and not give up.
In the long term, there are results that come from choosing a lifestyle. Depending on the lifestyle, some of these are good things, and some are not. But they take time to show up.
There are results from choosing this lifestyle – something we can use to test how we’re living. Look at the last part of verse 9.
In a time where peace seems so hard to come by and where we’d love to “see God” in so many places, knowing we’re not alone, don’t these results seem like something we’d all want?
It’s actually the results by which we can know if we’ve been building our lives here. The fruit that grows over time.
Let’s be people who make this our lifestyle. It’ll require us to say “yes” and at the same time say “no” to other things. To be really transparent about that. But then to commit to a life of practice. Even when it seems like it’s not working, even when it hurts, costs us, takes time, or is frustrating.
Only in that long view does the fruit emerge.
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