Philippians 4:8 - part 2
“…whatever is honorable…think about these things”
Next in Philippians 4:8 is the word “semnos” which can mean venerable, reverend, honorable, highly respectable, highly regarded, and – because of it’s root word (“sebō”) – can even carry the connotation of being worshipful (not in the sense of worshipping the person or act, but in the sense that the person or act drives you to want to worship God). Some older bible translations render “semnos” as “grave”, meaning serious or somber.
There are only 3 other references in the entire bible that use this word, and they are all adjectives of people:
- 1 Timothy 3:8 – “Deacons likewise must be dignified…”
- 1 Timothy 3:11 – “Their wives likewise must be dignified…”
- Titus 2:2 – “Older men are to be…dignified…”
In the references above, “semnos” is a quality that is required for those who serve and lead the church. This is necessary because the Church carries the most important message of all – the Gospel. If the Gospel is being told and portrayed by people who are not honorable, it does not get taken seriously because they undermine the message by how they live. This truth is reflected in Proverbs 26:6, “Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet…”. God desires the people of His Church to be honorable.
Whether a thought is honorable or dishonorable can be answered with one question: does that thought drive you to express your worship of God, or does it drive you into seclusion to self-indulgence?
How much of your thought life is honorable? What percentage of your thoughts would you classify as being of high regard? Do the majority of your thoughts give you an urge to worship God? Men – when you see a beautiful woman, are your thoughts about her respectable? Women – are your thoughts about friends and family honorable, or just preparation for gossip?
One reason that our thought life remains so secret is because there is so much of it dominated by what we know to be dishonorable. Those thoughts keep us imprisoned in our own minds, driving us inward to become more and more secluded. But, if our mind was dominated by what is honorable, we’d have so much more we could share which would drive us outward to deeper life with a community of people.
We treat people consistent with the manner in which we think of them. The problem is, too often we think about people in dishonorable ways. For men, perhaps you treat women as objects because your thoughts about them are dominated by viewing them as objects. For women, perhaps your friendships are so fickle because when there is no people to gossip about, there’s just nothing to talk about.
The Gospel changes our minds because it bestows honor upon people. We can now think about people in honorable ways because the Holy Spirit is continually at work in us to conform us more to the image of the most honorable One of all – Jesus. As we submit to and cooperate with the work of the Spirit, that which is dishonorable has less and less of a place in our mind. Our dishonor has ultimately been covered by the blood of Christ – our thoughts, actions, everything – and we’re made honorable being given the honor of Jesus.