This post is part of a series called Yeah, Whatever – a reflection on Philippians 4:8. The premise for the series is that abstract concepts sound great but do us a fat lot of good unless we can start to wrap our brains around them. Therefore, each post includes a note card especially designed to help you (and me) start training our minds to think in a way that’s helpful. By taking time to think about what each of these concepts entails and jotting down an example or two, the hope is to grow in Christ-pleasing thoughts (which become actions, which become habits, which become character). What if list-making could become life-changing? Read on!
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Cool-Looking but Kinda Useless
You know those washcloths compressed into the size of a half dollar? Magic pop-up towels? Sometimes they’re shaped into hearts, snowmen, cars, etc. (Fun gifts for kids.) The first time I bought one, I knew it was supposed to expand with water, but – while cool – its flat, shriveled state seemed useless.
That’s how I felt about approaching this topic. All I could think of was medieval aristocrats, Jesus dying on the cross for my sins, and people dying to rescue each other. I know dying to save another is the pinnacle of nobleness, but in my head, it all felt too neatly shrink-wrapped and two-dimensional. For anyone planning to live longer, what else besides dying could noble look like?
I looked up the definition, pondered the synonyms, and came to two conclusions, based on the fact that noble is both a noun and an adjective.
First, considering whatever is noble (high-born, noted, titled) could very well mean considering the fact that Son-followers are heavenly nobility.
“From the distant past, [God’s] eternal love reached into the future. You see, He knew those who would be His one day, and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:29 (Voice)
Second, considering whatever is noble (virtuous, good, honorable, upright, decent, worthy, moral, ethical, unselfish, generous, magnificent, splendid, stately, imposing, dignified, striking, majestic, glorious, awesome, and regal) could very well mean to consider the price tag of love.Considering “whatever is noble” means considering, and upholding, the price tag of love. Click To Tweet
Considering the Price Tag of Love
I thought of single parents breaking their backs to raise kids, parents caring for special needs children or aged parents who have been altered by Alzheimers, loving the unlovable, spouses faithfully caring for one another despite disease, singles wanting to be married but refusing to be embittered, parents bravely apologizing to their kids, children forgiving their parents, rescue efforts, law enforcement, armed forces, teachers pouring themselves into the next generation…
Each scenario comes with its price tag of attention, affection, time, money, resources, energy, words, thought, presence, giving up of dreams, etc. And the steeper the price, the higher the quality of love it displays. Whatever is noble…
Noble is not just Love 101, it’s the masters degrees and PhD levels. The highest quality of good toward another when that good necessitates great cost to oneself.Reflecting on “whatever is noble” is reflecting on expensive love and those who have deemed it worthy to pay the price. Click To Tweet
And that brings me full circle back to the highest price that could possibly be paid – God giving His Son, Jesus, to meet my deepest need of forgiveness.
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 (NIV)
Reflect & Respond
When I reflect on God’s noble character and the steep price tag others have also paid to love – not just the Mother Theresas but ordinary people quietly giving themselves away every day – it kinda stops me in my tracks. I have been the recipient of some amazingly expensive expressions of love. My first reaction, honestly, is guilt. I don’t deserve them. But then grace reminds me that my opinion doesn’t matter. God says His grace has enabled my gratitude and service to Him in response.
It also reminds me that we are each stamped with the imago dei, image of God. Noble acts uphold human dignity and the worth of real love. And they inspire the possibility that if they can, maybe I can, too.
What expensive expressions of love does this bring to your mind? Ones you have witnessed? Heard about? Benefitted from? As we help each other reflect on whatever is noble, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
If it is helpful, you can download and print this note card to record your thoughts. CLICK HERE to download the .pdf
Here are a few of mine to get you jumpstarted:
- A shut-in, single lady suffering debilitating pain prays for her friends every morning and calls to check on them.
- A child kindly asks his mother, after the mother loses her temper and snaps at him, if she is dehydrated and offers her a glass of water.
- A dying man uses the last of his strength to cook his sister a meal.