As I try to learn this verse in a new translation, I’m using some of the memory methods I have used in the past. Unfortunately, the first letter of each word won’t work with this one as I try to remember the list of true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable. Pronouncing “thjplc” sounds more like spitting…unless my friends who speak polish or one of the Slovak languages can pronounce that, I think this method won’t work as well. “thj” “plc” might work. You’ll have to try it out. That seems to be helping me. Don’t ask me why!
If you have any helpful memory devices, please let us know!
Today, I want to get to a section of this passage that doesn’t get discussed as often. It is the very last section. The part that most obviously applies to one of the purposes of this blog. Obviously, we can’t ignore the first part. It is crucial to the last part!
First, we need to fill our minds and words with the true, pure, just, pure, lovely and commendable. That is basic. We won’t do it perfectly for sure. If we did, we wouldn’t need Jesus! His death for us would have been redundant.
So going in, this is the direction we are moving…not with a pharisaical, perfectionistic attitude of rule-keeping. But living with this guiding us as we take in information…and pass it on.
What is Paul saying?
Paul says to his followers, “What you have learned, received, heard and seen in me…put into practice.” That’s all. WOW! It isn’t an arrogant comment. He is saying to them, “Do you want to know what a Christian looks like? Look at my life. How have I lived in front of you? What have I taught you? Put it all together and do it. The way I live, the truths I teach, the love I have shown you? The whole package shows you what a Christian is.
Practice, practice, practice. I have taught you what you need to know…and we have that written down for us…and more. I have lived in front of you like a human being, not a robot. You have seen me make mistakes and repent and make mistakes again….and repent again. You will never outgrow your need for Jesus…ever! That is a good thing!
Follow my example. And as you put into practice all these things I have taught you and showed you, may the GOD of peace be with you. This won’t be a burden. You won’t be following a list of rules. You will be living the life GOD gave you to live in the way you were meant to live it…following my example and the example of the many who have gone before you…the many who are available to help you even now.
What is your response?
This is both exciting (for all of us who are growing in Christ) and scary (for those of us who have been growing for any length of time). We all have a responsibility to those who are watching. Not because we are worried about “what do people think?” but because we are responsible to help and encourage those who are weaker and need help…and all of us do at different times.
Being weak is not a sign we are young Christians. It is a sign that we are weak and know it. Just as we are sinners and know it.
We don’t need to be lone rangers. GOD has given us the community of the local church…as broken as it can be at times, to build up the weak, to encourage the discouraged, to heal the broken. This doesn’t refer only to new Christians. It refers to a continuing process that is taking place among a group of people who are living in a broken and fallen world!
It is a mutual event for all of us all the time as we learn to love each other, care for one another in very practical ways, pray for one another and find the ways that communicate love to each other.
Finally, brothers, (and sisters)
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.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—
practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Whose human example do you follow that is like Christ?
Who follows your example?
Is there a challenge hidden there?