These Things

This morning I’m chewing on a command with a promise. Actually, as I look at it a little deeper, it’s two commands with a promise. Both commands centered on these things.

But what’s weird is that, at least at first, as I hovered over these things, I had forgotten who was writing about these things?

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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me —  practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)

These things. Think about these things. Practice these things. That’s what caught my eye, filled my mind, and stirred my heart this morning.

Things which are true, honorable, and just. Things which are pure, lovely, and commendable. Excellent things. Praiseworthy things. Things that have been learned and received, heard and seen. Consume yourself with these things. Be marked as one who is habitually busy with these things.

I know Paul wrote this letter; I should have known that it’s Paul writing about these things. Yet, for some reason as I read “in me”, I instinctively reached for my blue colored pencil–my color for Christ–and shaded “for me”, as in “for Me.” And it became a passage about Jesus speaking. Jesus who is true, honorable, just, pure, and lovely. The Son of God as the one who embodies excellence. The risen Savior, alone worthy of praise. Think on these things, think on Jesus. Things learned and received and heard and seen IN JESUS. Be like Jesus, by the power of Jesus, through the indwelling of Jesus, and practice these things.

And the passage, for a few moments, became a command to be so enraptured with Jesus that, by His grace, I emulated Jesus. To be so taught at His feet, and a witness of His works, that it influences how I direct my steps and carry out my duties. Think about Jesus. Learn from Jesus. Live like Jesus.

And then I realized that the “me” in the passage isn’t actually He. It’s Paul.

So, what was that about? Did I totally miss the point of what Paul was saying? Maybe not. Another verse then popped into my head.

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

(1Corinthians 11:1 ESV)

Would I be stretching it to suggest that at least part of thinking about Jesus things and practicing Jesus things is spurred on by seeing Jesus things in other believers? Not perfect people by any means, nevertheless people who have been crucified with Christ and who have Christ living in them and through them (Gal. 2:20).

When we rub shoulders with those people, we see things that are true, honorable, just, and pure. As we fellowship with other “new creations” in Christ (2Cor. 5:17) we’re exposed to what is lovely, commendable, excellent, and, to the glory of God, worthy of praise. Hanging with the family of God can prime the pump of thinking about these things.

Moreover, as we learn from one another, receive from one another, hear one another, and are close enough to see one another in action as they do life as children of God, it encourages us to live like one another and thus, practice these things as well

True, it is all about Jesus. But isn’t it also about Jesus in others so that it can be about Jesus in us? I’m thinking.

Hmm . . . shaded it in blue. Weird.

But perhaps also Spirit led? Could be.

Only by His grace. Always for His glory.

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