Philippians 4:8 - part 8
“…if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
The last word Paul uses to describe what our thoughts should dwell on, is the word epainos. This word is a compound of epi meaning on, and aineō meaning praise and is generally used to refer to something that is commendable or praiseworthy.
Biblically speaking, praise is something that is a response to what God has done. Many times, it’s a miraculous event – like the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:13, 20), the miracles Jesus did (Luke 19:37), or miracles done by God through the Apostles (Acts 3:8-9). Other times, it’s not necessarily a spectacular miracle, but the normal moves of God to save people in His Church that produces praise (Acts 2:46-47).
There are many instances when we stop to give praise or commendation. When a world-renown instrumentalist or vocalist gives a stunning performance, the entire audience stands to their feet in applause. When the home team scores the winning goal, everyone shoots up from their seat and cheers loudly. Certainly, Christians can – and should – appreciate things that are extraordinary in this life. But even the talents of the best artist, the greatest musician, and the top performer are but a dim shadow compared to the praiseworthiness of Jesus Christ.
Imagine being diagnosed with the most deadly cancer known to man and you only have 2 weeks to live. Suddenly, a new doctor comes in who provides a cure in which, you are instantly healed. Would you just sit there and quietly give the doctor a golf-clap, yawn, and nod-off to sleep? Probably not. The bible describes our salvation as being “…to the praise of the glory of [God’s] grace” (Ephesians 1:6, 1:12, 1:14). In other words, when we think about what Jesus has done for us – His life, His death, His resurrection – we should respond in absolute roaring commendation of God’s grace.
Unfortunately, even Christians often forget who is truly praiseworthy. As fallen human beings, we do so many things just to receive praise and approval from people. How many times have we even let slip our seemingly good, generous deeds so that people might praise us for our “humble” generosity? Jesus said that if we do things just for that purpose, that’s our reward (Matthew 6:5). But what about being praised by God? The bible describes praise as not only going to God, but coming from Him. Romans 2:29 says that those who have been inwardly changed by Jesus, receive praise “…not from man but from God”. Likewise, 1 Corinthians 4:5 tells us that God praises those who serve Him. When we hear the words of Matthew 25:21 “…Well done, good and faithful servant…”, our ears will have heard no sweeter praise from The Creator of the universe.
Eternity is not the only time that we will hear praise from God, hopefully. He also speaks through people – mentors, teachers, pastors – encouraging and reminding other Christians in their pursuit of Christ. Most people may only think of teachers and mentors as only correcting the imperfect and rebuking the wrong. That is completely necessary. But how discouraging if the mentor never shares the good they see, or the improvement and growth they notice. If what Jesus says is true, that “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45), then perhaps we simply aren’t dwelling on things that are worthy of commendation. Mentors should praise the good growing in their disciples as Jesus praised his disciples at times.
Earlier in Philippians, Paul prays for the believers in a few specific ways. As they grow in love, knowledge, and discernment, as they increasingly make godly decisions based on their hope in Christ, and as they become more and more like Jesus, all that is “…to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11). So all stages of our spiritual life – from being born again, to being made more like Jesus, to glorification – are all to the praise of God’s glory.
This means that, as we serve God, as we share the Gospel, and as we live lives that reflect the fact that we are trusting in Jesus – we can enjoy the praise God has for us now, share praiseworthy things with others, and joyfully await the day when He says to us, “…Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:23).