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. (Philippians 4:8)
This verse is often applied like a Band-Aid over a gushing wound. Someone is depressed? Tell them to think about whatever is honorable. Someone is angry? Tell them that they should think about what they justly deserve. Someone is struggling with lust? Tell them to think about what is pure.
But this makes this gracious balm into a heavy burden. Just training our minds to wander religiously back and forth from what we are doing that is wrong to what we should be doing that is right doesn’t heal the deep wound. Behavior modification and positive thinking is like taking Tylenol for cancer—it won’t fix us. As Mary Karr has said, “However deep the wound is, that’s how deep the healing needs to be.” Jesus came not for the healthy but for the sick, for the sinner. His wounds are the only medicine for our wound.
And so: I’m convinced that this verse is telling us to think about the gospel of Christ Jesus, for it is the very power of God unto salvation.
Nothing is more true than Jesus.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No on comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Nothing is more honorable than his sacrificial love for the undeserving.
"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)
Nothing is more remarkable than the Just One becoming Justifier of the ungodly.
It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:26).
Nothing is more lovely than the message of good news and peace that bring happiness.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7)
Nothing is more commendable than the One who washed the feet of the least deserving whom he died for.
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:3-5)
Nothing is more excellent than grace that knows no bounds.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Nothing is more praiseworthy than our precious Lamb slain for us.
saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:12-13)