Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure…
I. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A BUILDING UP OF CHARACTER.
1. It is more than belief of certain truths, the sustaining of certain religious emotions; it is the continuous working into the warp and woof of our life every good and excellent quality, until we arrive at the measure of and stature of the fulness that is in Christ.
2. Of course there must be a foundation, and a good one; but it is poor sort of work to be always laying foundations with so few buildings showing signs of growth, much less of completeness.
3. May not this partly account for the slow spread of the gospel? We can show many who have begun to build, but is that an inducement for others to begin also?
II. IT IS JUST BY THESE THINGS THAT WE ARE JUDGED BY THE WORLD.
1. It is very true that the world is not discerning in its judgments. It sees professors doing disreputable things and immediately exclaims, "There is your religion for you." With just as much justice as if after Satan had transformed himself into an angel of light, he again assumed his demoniacal form you were to say, "There's your angel for you."
2. But that is no excuse for giving the world occasion to speak slightingly of the gospel. And it is just by the neglect of things virtuous and praiseworthy that we provide worldlings with arrows to shoot at Christ's cause. What can the world think when men who profess to be sure of heaven grumble at everything that goes on in earth; when those who profess to have received mercy are unforgiving, close fisted, and hard to deal with.
3. It is not by our professions of faith that the world judges us: it cannot judge of the new birth, faith, the indwelling of the Spirit; but of the outer life it does judge, and has to some extent a right to judge. How watchful and prayerful we should be that it does not misjudge the Master through us? How careful we should be to be living epistles known and read of all men.
III. WE SHOULD LEARN OF ALL MEN WHATEVER IS VIRTUOUS OR PRAISEWORTHY IN THEIR LIFE. Let the Church learn punctuality and business habits from the merchant; the Christian, courtesy from the outward politeness of the man of the world; the Protestant, that zeal which is so self-sacrificing and the devotion that is so warm in the Roman Catholic or Mohammedan; the believer, patient and impartial study of truth from the man of science. From any and every quarter let whatsoever is of good report be welcomed.
IV. LET NONE IMAGINE, HOWEVER, THAT ANY EXCELLENCY OR VIRTUE CAN RE A SUBSTITUTE FOR FAITH IN CHRIST. Paul was a model of every natural virtue before his conversion, and yet none needed conversion more than he. The young man whom Jesus loved was the same. Paul counted his virtues loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and nothing but that knowledge will save your soul.
(R. J. Lynd, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
WEB: Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.