Philippians 4:8 reads, “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.”
Professor and author Donald Whitney recommends using this verse as a guide for meditating on a passage of Scripture. You simply choose a passage of Scripture, walk through the list of traits in Philippians 4:8, and ask how the passage reflects each trait.
A question to ask for each trait is, “What is _____ about it?”
So what is a truth from the passage that we need to remember? What about this passage is honorable? And it’s a simple as that.
Using Philippians 4:8 in Meditation
To give an example, let’s walk through Romans 5:6-11:
“6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.“
1. True– We were spiritually weak, lifeless and enemies of God. We were unlovable and undesirable before God saved us. When I think about the depth of my sin, past and present, I am also reminded of the depth of God’s mercy.
2. Honorable– What more honorable act is there than a perfect person sacrificing Himself for His enemies? And Jesus did this willingly.
3. Just– It took the death of God’s Son in order for justice to be served. Jesus had to give everything to pay for my sin.
4. Pure– Jesus never sinned but instead lived a completely pure life. In His death, His unblemished and pure blood was shed in order to make us right with God.
5. Lovely– The death of Jesus is the ultimate proof of God’s love. Whenever I doubt God’s love, I can look back to the cross and know that God loves me with an everlasting love.
6. Commendable– God did more than just forgive me and give me a clean slate. He justified me and gave me the righteousness of Christ.
7. Excellent– The wrath of God has been satisfied by Christ. I no longer fear condemnation or eternal punishment for my sin. Jesus bore the punishment that we deserved in order to save us.
8. Worthy of Praise– Even though I was once separated from God, I now enjoy the benefits of being reconciled to Him and having relationship with Him. I can rejoice knowing that I will be fully redeemed because of Jesus’ perfect life. Praise God!
Tips for Using This Method
As straightforward as this method is, there are still some things that I have learned that may help you.
-Use a Bible concordance or a website like Blue Letter Bible to see the meaning and synonyms of the 8 traits listed in Philippians 4:8.
-Think through the passage with a focus on the Gospel and how Jesus exemplifies each trait.
-Personalize the text when appropriate, taking God’s promises to heart.
-Try using this method with different genres in the Bible and with longer and shorter passages. For example, try it with a story in the Gospels or if you are up for a challenge, try it with only one verse in the epistles.
If you are interested in more content on meditation, you can check out my post The Forgotten Spiritual Discipline: Meditation.
Now to you. Have you heard of this method before? If not, does it sound like something you would like to try?